The Nature of Consciousness

Piero Scaruffi

(Copyright © 2013 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions )
Inquire about purchasing the book | Table of Contents | Annotated Bibliography | Class on Nature of Mind

These are excerpts and elaborations from my book "The Nature of Consciousness"

Emotional Questions?

The amygdala is a major center for the creation of emotions. Animals whose amygdala was removed showed no emotions.  It turns out, though, that the neurons of the amygdala are continuously generating what appear to be emotional states, just like the heart beats all the time.  This goes against our belief that emotions are due to our reaction to external stimuli.  Instead we seem to be producing emotions all the time, regardless of the external stimuli.

Are emotions just like phenotypic variations, antibodies and neural connections? Are they produced randomly all the time and then the environment (the situation) "selects" which ones get to survive?

Could emotions be yet another Darwinian system?

Emotions are useful for my survival in the world. But do “I” also have to "feel" the emotion? Couldn't the brain just send a signal to the organs without bothering “me”? Why am I aware of it?

A possibility is that being aware of an emotion means that the self can preempt the mechanic activation of a response in cases in which it would be counterproductive. Sometimes fear or hunger can lead us to actions that we may regret. If we were not aware of our emotions, we would not be able to stop the consequent actions.

Do emotions need a brain to occur? Presumably they don't need a brain as complex as ours. I feel pain in my foot. I feel anguish in my heart. There really isn't any need for an additional piece of body. If the brain is the place where emotions communicate with the "I", then that would explain why emotions also need a brain.

How did we come to build such complex emotions as, say, love? Love for a child is relatively easy to explain. But love for a woman is often a rather convoluted and turbulent affair. Most of the emotions that we feel during a day would be hard to be categorized as simple "fear" or "love" or "pain". Are they "evolutionary" consequences of primitive emotions (just like a human brain is the evolutionary consequence of primitive nervous systems), which are now part of our genetic program, or are they "social" consequences of interaction with other emotional beings: are they innate or acquired? How is a complex emotion formed from more elementary emotions?

What is the advantage of building more and more complex emotions? Could it be that more complex emotions express a better balance of reason and instinct?

 


Back to the beginning of the chapter "Emotion" | Back to the index of all chapters