Guest post: You teach reason, not emotions


Originally a comment by Brony on Vulcans can’t argue.

@ brianpansky

Accepting that our primary motives are not rational (and not even conscious) is not , however, the same as saying – as Hume did – that reason should be the slave of emotions. Indeed, if that were the case, we should abandon any hope of progress in ethics and general well-being. Fortunately we do, in fact, use reason all the time to shape our emotions. What else is psychotherapy, if not a (mostly) rational attempt to modify our emotions? What are penalties for, if not to curb some desires?

Reason is in fact the slave of the emotions because reason is software carved into existence through the emotions. Emotions are tagging systems for transforming experience into memory, and recalling events stored and contextualized via those tags. You teach reason, not emotions. Psychotherapy is about modifying emotional contexts. Alterations of the tags and how they relate to stored memories.

We all weigh different emotions and assign different values to each.

And the value system in terms of reading/writing, perceived intensity, permanence, pervasiveness, valence and more is modified by inheritance, experience, and more. We can’t even measure best flavors of ice cream. The subjective differences in this system are too broad for anything like what you are attempting.

Where would I fit into your equation? My mind receives social information signals at altered intensity and valence. I get the very unique sensation of having “good” and “bad” combined into intensity with no moral direction in some social situations. Some folks like me even get signals that mean “good” turned into “bad” and vice versa.

I represent about 1-3% of the population. Other cognitive “disorders” are present at similar rates and all seem to blend into the rest of the population such that I mostly see myself as an archetype with other types of people around me to provide context. Suppose that the system is designed to have people present with altered moral, sensory, and other information processing to keep randomness in the population for the sake of natural selection?

Doesn’t he also have a right to fulfil his desire for sexual satisfactionby taking what they want from another?

Fixed.

You are trying to measure the desire to assert personal agency against the desire to ignore personal agency. Nauseating as it is, at least get your variables correct. Sexual satisfaction can be gained without treating another human as a sex toy.

Indeed. When rationally discussing a topic we should try to keep a cold head because emotions can interfere with our reasoning and lead to the wrong conclusions.

Some of us, and not necessarily permanently so I’ll take this to be applied only to the who might need it now. But one nice side effect of being me is a life time of dealing with your lizard brain being turned into an emotional hurricane that never shuts up is that you get really good at being rational while having access to your strongest emotions. Pick a fucked up thought or impulse. I’ve had them all and can even call up emotional states and function fine. Don’t assume that you are like me, or even most people. “Normal” is a strange phantom indeed.

This implies that somehow social justice and human rights are beyond reason and logic.

The context around it suggests that reason and logic cannot function without emotion.

Comments

  1. piero says

    As silentbob pointed out, you are actually addressing my post.

    Reason is in fact the slave of the emotions because reason is software carved into existence through the emotions.

    Care to elaborate? I do not understand. You seem to be saying that in the absence of emotions, one could not say whether A>B>C=>A>C, for instance.

    Psychotherapy is about modifying emotional contexts

    Of course. You cannot possibly have interpreted “to modify our emotions” as meaning “to transform our emotions into something else”.

    The subjective differences in this system are too broad for anything like what you are attempting.

    My subjective preference for certain flavours does not curtail your freedom to have a different one. But my subjective ethical principles might well curtail yours. It is therefore impossible to generate a normative framework under the assumption that all subjective judgements of value are equally valid. The only solution I know of is:

    a. define certain desires as fundamental and unassailable (the desire to stay alive, to avoid physical pain, etc.)
    b. classify desires according to their effect on other desires. Define as “good” those that fulfil other desires; define as “bad” those that thwart other desires.
    c. Define as “good” that which fosters good desires, etc.

    (This system is Alonzo Fyfe’s brainchild, not mine)

    Fixed.

    You are trying to measure the desire to assert personal agency against the desire to ignore personal agency. Nauseating as it is, at least get your variables correct. Sexual satisfaction can be gained without treating another human as a sex toy.

    Fixed what? You are assuming that I do not distinguish between assertion and denial of personal agency. I clearfly said that if we carry out such a comparison, it is obvious that we favour assertion and censure denial. So take your “nauseating” elsewhere. In any case, you have just proven my point: we do in fact assign weights to desires. Your comment that rape is not a good way of obtaining sexual satisfaction is completely irrelevant here: a rapist rapes because he has a desire to rape, and it is that desire that we deem “bad”.

    The rest I could not make heads or tails about, so I’ll leave it at that.

  2. says

    There is much in this post I find puzzling – heck, most of it in fact, but I will leave that aside in the hope that the comment thread will clear things up.

    But I would like to point out one way in which reason is clearly not (it seems to me) slave to emotions: Namely, that reason is constrained by the laws of logic.

    Sure, we are quite capable of thinking while violating the laws of logic, i.e., of holding mutually incompatible beliefs, and in fact we often do so. But when that happens, we don’t apply the label “reasoning”.

    It seems likely to me that our reasoning capability has arisen as a survival mechanism. Sure, you can think of that as driven by emotions: It feels good to have food and be safe from predators, and the opposite feels bad. So reasoning about the world about us helps us feel good. But is that reason to call reason a slave to emotion? I don’t see how.

    A different matter is that emotion often gets in the way of reason, but that is a different matter. Or is it?

  3. says

    Care to elaborate? I do not understand. You seem to be saying that in the absence of emotions, one could not say whether A>B>C=>A>C, for instance.

    That is indeed what I am saying.
    Emotions are akin to the magnetic read/write head in a hard drive except that they come in many flavors for attaching information to percepts. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emotion#mediaviewer/File:Plutchik-wheel.svg
    Those are the conscious sensations that society has discovered that we largely to have in common, and it’s not an exhaustive list. I can think of emotional states not listed such as that moment when one makes an intellectual connection that they did not previously have (the “light bulb moment”. The signals that establish the connections in your examples are really not significantly different except that they tend to be unconscious and run in the background. All fo these seem to involve system-two (slow, deliberate) heuristics that move into system-one (fast, automatic) with repeated experience. Are you familiar with dual process theory?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dual_process_theory
    To learn what “A>B” is you need to experience A, and B in isolation and close enough together to get a sense of intensity difference. If A and B are burn severities for example there will be a whole collection of layered sensations that will collectively form the percept. Prior to this you simply won’t have had the experience to form the concept. The possibility is there just like the empty sectors on a hard drive, but without something in the world driving contact with reality through sensory systems to experience and memory you have nothing.
    Experience A for the first time and you can think of a “0” conceptually becoming a “1” where you can conceive of a general “presence/absence”, or “there/not there”. Experience B and now you have 0 (absence), 1, and 2. Experience C and now you have 0,1,2, and 3 and with repeated practice you learn to appreciate spectra which forms the basis of your rational connection.
    All of these sensed percepts are established in memory as a set of connections though emotional significance in brain structures that are reactivated when remembering the experience. That set of established connections that make up the memory is the mindware where reason is located. Reason then becomes rule-based process where you learn from there when to apply it using what you detect in perception and again it’s emotions that tell you when to be reasonable.
    No rule can be discovered without first collecting the data for it and storing it in memory though emotional signals, and then using emotional signals to recall the rule when it is needed later.

    Of course. You cannot possibly have interpreted “to modify our emotions” as meaning “to transform our emotions into something else”. .

    No but you tried to use psychotherapy as a support for the claim just previous, and this sentence you quoted followed my unexpanded comment that summarized what I just wrote above.

    Accepting that our primary motives are not rational (and not even conscious) is not , however, the same as saying – as Hume did – that reason should be the slave of emotions. Indeed, if that were the case, we should abandon any hope of progress in ethics and general well-being. Fortunately we do, in fact, use reason all the time to shape our emotions. What else is psychotherapy, if not a (mostly) rational attempt to modify our emotions? What are penalties for, if not to curb some desires?

    I still maintain that since reason is created through emotions, and since emotional signals are involved at every step of the process of turning a set of percepts and system-two analyses into system-one reactions, it’s effectively a slave to emotions because it’s can be made or used without them.

    My subjective preference for certain flavours does not curtail your freedom to have a different one. But my subjective ethical principles might well curtail yours.

    The second sentence is irrelevant to the issue of ranking perceived harm, the primary general subject. There are historical examples of social elites in past cultures who have tried to prevent the rabble from enjoying things they wanted reserved for the elites (see “sumptuary laws). Personal preference is widely attached to our instincts to try to create social sameness, an instinct better understood and under control. Sorry but if you think that you can rank experiences of rape in terms of harm you should be able to try to rank experiences of ice cream in terms of pleasure and the bonus is that you won’t implicitly slight those whose rape you choose to find “less harmful”.*

    It is therefore impossible to generate a normative framework under the assumption that all subjective judgements of value are equally valid. .

    As I just pointed out via sumptuary laws it is indeed possible to generate normative frameworks via subjective judgments of value. Those frameworks might not have much in terms of logical justifications when compared to how western society values things today, but in terms of establishing and enforcing social hierarchies they are quite valid on a psychological level.
    We had to choose to reject such things as a group, and in a world where the upper classes get separate entrances to the same building that they live in, I can easily see such things arising again since the symbol of class separation is less important than the utility of creating a visible and manipulatable difference from the perspective of the more dominant group that wants to maintain dominance. If one ignores emotion this whole angle gets ignored because we don’t get to see the difference between reasons and rationalizations.**

    The only solution I know of is:
    a. define certain desires as fundamental and unassailable (the desire to stay alive, to avoid physical pain, etc.)
    b. classify desires according to their effect on other desires. Define as “good” those that fulfil other desires; define as “bad” those that thwart other desires.
    c. Define as “good” that which fosters good desires, etc.

    Emotion is not excluded from this (the unnecessary exclusion of emotion being the overall point). Why do we want to define certain desires as fundamental and unassailable? Why would we want to classify things based on their effects on others? Why would we want to define “goods” and “bads”?
    I would say that the emotional effects and reactions involved in violating things represented in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs are things we all must strategically take into account in order to create stable societies.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow%27s_hierarchy_of_needs
    But we also want to have stable communication and implicitly setting a person’s suffering as lower to another smacks around the “Safety” category in a person with traumatic experiences via the emotional connections to the trauma.*** If you can acknowledge that in order for form stable societies we need to agree to rule some things fundamental and unassailable, you should be able to acknowledge that in conversations similar phenomena exist.
    After all you reacted badly to my reference to your comparison as nauseating, therefore you should be able to see how casually ranking the suffering of another can create a similar reaction. If there is some trauma in your past involving emotional characterizations of your arguments added in addition to logical, rational appraisal I’m willing to avoid such. Otherwise you implicitly lose the right to complain about my rhetoric.

    Fixed what? You are assuming that I do not distinguish between assertion and denial of personal agency. I clearfly said that if we carry out such a comparison, it is obvious that we favour assertion and censure denial….Your comment that rape is not a good way of obtaining sexual satisfaction is completely irrelevant here: a rapist rapes because he has a desire to rape, and it is that desire that we deem “bad”.

    Snipped section addressed below.
    You are the one that defined the rapists “rights” in terms of seeking sexual satisfaction. I pointed out that sexual satisfaction need not involve violation of personal autonomy. Yes you referred to being able to choose sexual partners but the issue of how you defined the “rights of the rapist” still stands because if a potential rapist can still get sexual satisfaction without violation of personal autonomy, the rapist’s side of the rights conflict is still not defined accurately. There is something else there besides mere sexual satisfaction.

    In any case, you have just proven my point: we do in fact assign weights to desires. ”

    I never denied it. I have:
    *argued against excluding emotion from all sides of such discussions, addressed the appropriateness of such discussions (in terms of unavoidable unintended harmful effects on others, inability to realistically define variables)
    *discussed effective ways of trying to have such discussions (enhancing credibility with people you might rank as “suffering less”)
    *ensuring that reasons for the discussions are socially supportive)
    *addressed unstated political utility of these discussions in a larger context that recognizes the simultaneous personal and social meaning and use of them.****

    The rest I could not make heads or tails about, so I’ll leave it at that.

    In order to come up with any system of measuring suffering one needs to include the many ways that the system is altered in the diversity of human experience. Like it or not sensitivity, valence (good/bad direction), pervasiveness of effect, permanence of effect, existence of effect (some people are missing signals), and more need to be taken into account. Also needing to be taken into account are modifications of these effects created by previous experiences (and how systems that establish those experiences are shaped), modifications created by social effects (how supportive or harmful social reactions and interactions to the suffering), and when we can do it accurately modifications by things like transgenerational epigenetic effects that can predispose individuals to more or less sensitivity and other ways of manipulating these effects.
    You might not be able to understand it, but if you don’t take it into account you are not taking the idea of seriously and respectfully comparing suffering between individuals.

    *Just to be clear I have stated in other posts that I’m fine in principle with exploring relative magnitude of suffering and, I agree that we do this as a species. But there are multiple factors complicating this that pertain to how and why we should do this ranked in order of personal importance.
    1. Ranking suffering implicitly creates insult, reinforces trauma, and/or unnecessarily creates extraneous detail in regions unnecessary to work on the problem.
    Humans tend to place more weight on the negative interpretation of a phenomena first because we are historically more likely to survive the false threat we did not really see than the real one that we missed.
    2. The level of detail necessary to accommodate all the variables that we know alter responses to traumatic experiences is impossible to meet at this time. See the last paragraph before I start citing with “*”‘s.
    **3. The reasons for why someone wants to explore the magnitude of suffering is important on multiple levels both good and bad. See addition **** for what I mean. I have no interest in helping people with motives (stated or unstated) that I find disgusting and I’m allowed to respond to motives and logic.

    Everything I have read when it comes to neurobiology, sociology, and psychology leads me to the conclusion that no human behavior is random. There is always a reason for everything either stated or implicit and often plausible sounding reasons exist simultaneously with social effects that are just as relevant as stated reasons. If someone cannot offer me a specific reason for why they did something, or if their offered reasons are inconsistent with other evidence I’m free to speculate.

    ***This is an aside and I’m making no assumptions about you piero. There are examples of conceptual divisions of suffering that are rational and are explored for good reasons such as the differences between how men and women suffer in a society where the understanding of the nature of the suffering requires understanding the social dynamics in play in order to find effective solutions. This is a between-category comparison that is critical to understanding.
    The impersonal exploration of intensely personal severity of rape is here a within-category comparison without explicitly stated reasons (such as understanding the suffering to decrease it) that adds no useful information and adds unnecessary suffering without the person doing the exploration demonstrating that they have the suffering of the people on the bottom and top in mind. Especially if the person doing the exploration already has a bad track record with respect to understanding the perspective of the subject of exploration, and actually seeming like they care about the subject’s problems because of other incidents that create context that allow for speculations of bad intent.

    ****Going back to “Dear Muslima” it was pretty clear to me that they whole exercise of comparing the relative suffering of western and non-western women had a different utility to Dawkins and those who supported him than they were admitting to. This is because it is rational for any particular woman to want to focus on things making them suffer in their personal lives, just as Dawkins et al are focusing on things that they immediately experience. I find it unsurprising when a woman wants to focus on woman’s issues more and when a man wants to focus on men’s issues more.
    What matters to me here are attempts to persuade people (or force people via internet hate campaigns and such) to stop attempts at ending their personal suffering. Dawkins et al were pretty clearly bothered (an emotion reaction that inspired their “logical analysis”) by women trying to end their personal suffering, and the result of their persuasion would have been for these women to stop what they were doing. So getting women to shut up was pretty clearly an emotional goal. If the logic is bad and the emotional goal is all that remains what you have is emotionally derived social manipulation. I’m allowed to respond to that with my own analysis AND emotion.
    This most recent desire explore the various gradations of suffering from rape is likely a form of doubling down and I believe the lack of discussion about real world referenced functional ways of reducing suffering that includes actual contacted rape victims supports this. There are things you can do to establish good intent and I’m not seeing them. Rather than admit that they were wrong about Dear Muslima this is more likely a means to keep acting consistent with the idea that nothing in Dear Muslima was a problem without having to actually discuss that situation. I’m open to evidence that contradicts this reasoned speculation.

  4. says

    I apologize for this given the length of my response but,

    “I still maintain that since reason is created through emotions, and since emotional signals are involved at every step of the process of turning a set of percepts and system-two analyses into system-one reactions, it’s effectively a slave to emotions because it’s can be made or used without them.”

    Should read,

    “I still maintain that since reason is created through emotions, and since emotional signals are involved at every step of the process of turning a set of percepts and system-two analyses into system-one reactions, it’s effectively a slave to emotions because it’s can’t be made or used without them.”

  5. piero says

    Brony, I’m afraid I cannot give you a comprehensive answer because it would take far too much effort and time.
    Just a few points:

    whether reason has or has not an emotional unconscious undercurrent is not relevant to my argument. Whether an argument and its conclusions make you angry, happy or disgusted has no relevance to the validity of the argument itself. SImilarly, I might embark on an argument for a host of different reasons (all of them emotional, I agree), but I expect interlocutors to address my reasoning, not my motivations. Within reason, of course: an argument about whether the holocaust really hapened is not worth having, because nothing will be learnt by the participants. Such arguments are best resolved with four-letter words, not reason.

    For the record, I am not a male-chauvinist pig whose aim is to bash feminism. My motivations have to do with what I perceive as worrying symptoms of fragmentation and animosity within what I’d call the “progressive” forces of society. Perhaps such fragmentation is unavoidable, or even necessary, but I’m not convinced. Also for the record, I’m not one of Dawkins’s minions, and I certainly disagree with him on many issues, including his endorsement of Jaclyn Glenn (and previously of Pat Condell, though at the time I did not see things so clearly). But comments such as

    …that’s what happens when a lecherous old codger starts panting after some sweet young thing old enough to be his granddaughter

    are really beyond the pale. It’s a patent case of emotions taking over a brain. I’m also puzzled by those emotions, which range from disgust to hatred; I can’t understand why. So, when Dawkins was made the target of a new wave of abuse following the “mild” incident I was extremely annoyed. By all means criticise his statement, but justify it with arguments, not mind reading. Yes, arguments were in fact made to show that his statement amounted to misogyny, all of them unashamedly and defiantly invalid.

    You insist on criticising my “inability to define variables”. You are wrong. When comparing a woman’s desire not to suffer harm and a rapist’s sexual desires, it is obvious that “sexual desires” in the context of the phrase means “his sexual desires as a rapist”, i.e. entwined with a desire to demean and subject his victim. It would make no sense when interpreted as you did. Indeed, I find it hard to believe that you really interpreted it that way, and most probably your contempt for my “nauseating” comparison was feigned (see? I can play the attribution game too.)

    As for the rest, all I can say it that you seem to be confusing actuality and necessity. The whole tirade on the inner workings of brains could, at best, show that in human brains emotions initiate the process of reasoning, not that reason ing cannot exist in the absence of emotion.

  6. says

    Brony, I’m afraid I cannot give you a comprehensive answer because it would take far too much effort and time.

    Or you can just come back later. So you can’t answer now. That’s fair, we all have different restrictions and schedules. But if it’s important enough to you I can always look in later.

    whether reason has or has not an emotional unconscious undercurrent is not relevant to my argument. Whether an argument and its conclusions make you angry, happy or disgusted has no relevance to the validity of the argument itself. SImilarly, I might embark on an argument for a host of different reasons (all of them emotional, I agree), but I expect interlocutors to address my reasoning, not my motivations. Within reason, of course: an argument about whether the holocaust really hapened is not worth having, because nothing will be learnt by the participants. Such arguments are best resolved with four-letter words, not reason.

    I’m not saying that people should not address your reasoning, but I am a supporter of both logic and emotion in communication. It is up to the person saying that a particular emotion is a problem to demonstrate it. Did I only provide emotion? Or did I present emotion and content in my response, even if you ultimately disagree with my content? If I respond to a person’s substance and I use emotion and they tell me to stop using emotion I’m simply not going to listen because emotion creates effectiveness because of evolution. Sure it can be used to deceive, but I can also use my butter knife to commit murder. Taking away everyone’s butter knives is not a very rational response.
    The reality of human emotions is that they will often do what they will do no matter what the logical nature of reality and that includes completely ignore your reasoning if you tweak someone’s emotions in the right way, or completely ignore the way they feel about something. Like it or not it feels powerfully relevant (because it is since it accents the objects in communication) and as an ultimately neutral system it can be mastered and used ethically.

    There really is no alternative because emotions are basic to our condition even if the actual expression of them is variable in the population. Logic and rationality have to be built into that system and the underlying impulses that drive connections between percepts and memories don’t go away and they are informative. They provide extra meaning that tells you how important things are to people, or how traumatic, or how funny. The raw descriptions of reality are vital and critical but only part of what we are as beings that communicate. The deceptive use of emotion is a separate issue and does not argue it’s banishment. If you choose to ignore emotion you are basically choosing to ignore the personal context of the being you are communicating with. You are free to do so but I will remain unsurprised when situations like rape victims feeling slighted by being ranked by worthiness of suffering arise.

    We are talking about a system that evolved under very different circumstances than which it is operating right now and as a result you get realities that basically tell logic to fuck off. Psychiatrists can tell you tons of tales about people that know logically that they should not feel certain ways, but do anyway no matter what precise descriptions of reality you have. As a result you have things like people that develop literally deathly fear of things like clowns, and others that become sexually stimulated to lists of things that most folks can’t believe. You have things like borderline personality disorder, anxiety disorders and my own tourette’s syndrome. You can be a logical as you want but our emotional systems are powerful, ever-present, and not going anywhere. You can either learn to experience and master what you have and adapt when you realize you stepped on someone’s lived experience, or you can try to micromanage discussion environments and be continually disappointed when someone gets shoved over a line that they did not choose and shit blows up.

    For the record, I am not a male-chauvinist pig whose aim is to bash feminism.

    And you do not need to point that out since I never claimed you are. Defensiveness is an emotion. You should understand it.

    My motivations have to do with what I perceive as worrying symptoms of fragmentation and animosity within what I’d call the “progressive” forces of society. Perhaps such fragmentation is unavoidable, or even necessary, but I’m not convinced.

    I’m pretty convinced by the stories that I have witnessed and encountered here. I can understand your concern but I’m squarely in the necessary camp. Some people are simply not allies to me no matter how they wear the progressive label.

    Also for the record, I’m not one of Dawkins’s minions, and I certainly disagree with him on many issues, including his endorsement of Jaclyn Glenn (and previously of Pat Condell, though at the time I did not see things so clearly).

    And again I never claimed that you were. If at some point I start waving around tribalistic symbols and authority figures you can try pointing things like this out because then you will have a reason to think that such might be meaningful to me. I have no group loyalties, this is about the issues we have been discussing.

    But comments such as
    …that’s what happens when a lecherous old codger starts panting after some sweet young thing old enough to be his granddaughter
    are really beyond the pale. It’s a patent case of emotions taking over a brain.

    Without a link and context that is meaningless to me. That is a statement of a sort that I too run into and can be trouble because it’s what I call a “feelings about” statement. They are useful because they tell you why the person is upset. But there is just one problem that I have with what you are presenting. It might be an accurate statement and I have no idea if it is or not until I get something in addition. What is needed in addition is an objective description of the event along with that characterization and ironically you did not provide one for me. How can I determine its accuracy if you do not?

    To be as clear as possible, if an older man was showing inappropriate interest and/or behavior towards a younger woman I really am not bothered by the statement. If this older person did not want to be characterized in this way and really did the things this statement refers to it is that older guy’s fault. All I care about is if the characterization is accurate or not. I can ask people to tell me more about the situation to find out.

    I’m also puzzled by those emotions, which range from disgust to hatred; I can’t understand why. So, when Dawkins was made the target of a new wave of abuse following the “mild” incident I was extremely annoyed.

    Without the specific reference in question I can’t really do anything. I mentioned “Dear Muslima” earlier and you just referenced a situation involving a putative inappropriate old man. As for you puzzlement all I can say is that if you don’t understand than you have not been reading. Depending on the situation in question I have seen many many dozens of pieces here and in other places that discuss these situations and they say why people are upset in specific terms. Either you are not reading what they are saying or the reasons are not sticking in your mind for some reason.

    Absent your understanding, I can understand why you don’t like the emotion. But it’s not going anywhere. It’s how human beings accent the intensity and subtlety of what they are talking about and people will not and should not abandon emotion absent your understanding. It’s useful to them and people will simply not abandon a useful tool because you want them to.

    And I’m saying that as a person with problems processing some emotions relative to the population at large. I can always ask them for more information.

    By all means criticise his statement, but justify it with arguments, not mind reading. Yes, arguments were in fact made to show that his statement amounted to misogyny, all of them unashamedly and defiantly invalid.

    What about arguments and whatever should be substituted for “mind reading”? I’m not going to accept any of this without specifics. I hope that you realize the irony that after the quote you posted earlier, a characterization of how another person felt of a situation, you just offered me the same thing. This is an example of why I am acting on the belief that many simply want people to stop being emotional because they want them to be less effective. You are trying to tell people to stop doing what you yourself are doing, probably because you believe that the other characterization is not accurate, and yours is (feel free to correct me). My solution is to offer both the reality and the characterization, or to be willing to offer the reality if someone asks me. Strangely very few people have been willing to give me the reality when I ask. Until they do I am allowed to think that it may not exist and all that there is is the characterization.

    You insist on criticising my “inability to define variables”. You are wrong. When comparing a woman’s desire not to suffer harm and a rapist’s sexual desires, it is obvious that “sexual desires” in the context of the phrase means “his sexual desires as a rapist”, i.e. entwined with a desire to demean and subject his victim. It would make no sense when interpreted as you did. Indeed, I find it hard to believe that you really interpreted it that way, and most probably your contempt for my “nauseating” comparison was feigned (see? I can play the attribution game too.)

    Well tough luck. You said his desire to rape was predicated on his sexual satisfaction rights claim. The action and the right used to justify action are separate and “right to sexual satisfaction” is different from “right to violate personal autonomy”. You can either clarify or do the “I find it hard to believe…” dance which at its base is a claim that I am lying about how I feel. You won’t get very far disbelieving what people feel, they are just going to keep feeling it and you just get to have your emotional satisfaction of denying what they feel. No matter how insulting I find it I tend to believe what people say they feel, while I consider that which they are basing their feeling on. Most of us can walk and chew gum at the same time (and I have sympathy for people that can’t for reasons out of their control).

    As for the rest, all I can say it that you seem to be confusing actuality and necessity. The whole tirade on the inner workings of brains could, at best, show that in human brains emotions initiate the process of reasoning, not that reason ing cannot exist in the absence of emotion.

    At least characterize what I said correctly. Emotions:
    *Connect the percepts to storage of relevant elements for later retrieval based on the nature of the emotional signatures.
    *Connect groups of sub-percepts into rules that can be used to build more complex rules that start as deliberate conscious activity and move into faster automatic reactions over time.
    *Both sets of phenomena are triggered by the emotional content of what we perceive and emotional signals are involved in the effective establishment of binding percepts into rules.
    Until you find something that demonstrates emotion-free reasoning I’m perfectly happy with my take on what I read in Pubmed.

  7. says

    (Formatting fixed in this one. Can you delete the first one Ms. Benson?)

    Brony, I’m afraid I cannot give you a comprehensive answer because it would take far too much effort and time.

    Or you can just come back later. So you can’t answer now. That’s fair, we all have different restrictions and schedules. But if it’s important enough to you I can always look in later.

    whether reason has or has not an emotional unconscious undercurrent is not relevant to my argument. Whether an argument and its conclusions make you angry, happy or disgusted has no relevance to the validity of the argument itself. SImilarly, I might embark on an argument for a host of different reasons (all of them emotional, I agree), but I expect interlocutors to address my reasoning, not my motivations. Within reason, of course: an argument about whether the holocaust really hapened is not worth having, because nothing will be learnt by the participants. Such arguments are best resolved with four-letter words, not reason.

    I’m not saying that people should not address your reasoning, but I am a supporter of both logic and emotion in communication. It is up to the person saying that a particular emotion is a problem to demonstrate it. Did I only provide emotion? Or did I present emotion and content in my response, even if you ultimately disagree with my content? If I respond to a person’s substance and I use emotion and they tell me to stop using emotion I’m simply not going to listen because emotion creates effectiveness because of evolution. Sure it can be used to deceive, but I can also use my butter knife to commit murder. Taking away everyone’s butter knives is not a very rational response. Not to mention the fact that becoming versed in emotion in argument lets you see the problematic uses better.

    The reality of human emotions is that they will often do what they will do no matter what the logical nature of reality and that includes completely ignore your reasoning if you tweak someone’s emotions in the right way, or completely ignore the way they feel about something. Like it or not it feels powerfully relevant (because it is since it accents the objects in communication) and as an ultimately neutral system it can be mastered and used ethically.
    There really is no alternative because emotions are basic to our condition even if the actual expression of them is variable in the population. Logic and rationality have to be built into that system and the underlying impulses that drive connections between percepts and memories don’t go away and they are informative. They provide extra meaning that tells you how important things are to people, or how traumatic, or how funny. The raw descriptions of reality are vital and critical but only part of what we are as beings that communicate. The deceptive use of emotion is a separate issue and does not argue it’s banishment. If you choose to ignore emotion you are basically choosing to ignore the personal context of the being you are communicating with. You are free to do so but I will remain unsurprised when situations like rape victims feeling slighted by being ranked by worthiness of suffering arise.
    We are talking about a system that evolved under very different circumstances than which it is operating right now and as a result you get realities that basically tell logic to fuck off. Psychiatrists can tell you tons of tales about people that know logically that they should not feel certain ways, but do anyway no matter what precise descriptions of reality you have. As a result you have things like people that develop literally deathly fear of things like clowns, and others that become sexually stimulated to lists of things that most folks can’t believe. You have things like borderline personality disorder, anxiety disorders and my own tourette’s syndrome. You can be a logical as you want but our emotional systems are powerful, ever-present, and not going anywhere. You can either learn to experience and master what you have and adapt when you realize you stepped on someone’s lived experience, or you can try to micromanage discussion environments and be continually disappointed when someone gets shoved over a line that they did not choose and shit blows up.

    For the record, I am not a male-chauvinist pig whose aim is to bash feminism.

    And you do not need to point that out since I never claimed you are. Defensiveness is an emotion.

    My motivations have to do with what I perceive as worrying symptoms of fragmentation and animosity within what I’d call the “progressive” forces of society. Perhaps such fragmentation is unavoidable, or even necessary, but I’m not convinced.

    I’m pretty convinced by the stories that I have witnessed and encountered here. I can understand your concern but I’m squarely in the necessary camp. Some people are simply not allies to me no matter how wear the progressive label.

    Also for the record, I’m not one of Dawkins’s minions, and I certainly disagree with him on many issues, including his endorsement of Jaclyn Glenn (and previously of Pat Condell, though at the time I did not see things so clearly).

    And again I never claimed that you were. If at some point I start waving around tribalistic symbols and authority figures you can try pointing things like this out because then you will have a reason to think that such might be meaningful to me. I have no group loyalties, this is about the issues we have been discussing.

    But comments such as
    …that’s what happens when a lecherous old codger starts panting after some sweet young thing old enough to be his granddaughter
    are really beyond the pale. It’s a patent case of emotions taking over a brain.

    Without a link and context that is meaningless to me. That is a statement of a sort that I too run into and can be trouble because it’s what I call a “feelings about” statement. They are useful because they tell you why the person is upset. But there is just one problem that I have with what you are presenting. It might be an accurate statement and I have no idea if it is or not until I get something in addition. What is needed in addition is an objective description of the event along with that characterization and ironically you did not provide one for me. How can I determine its accuracy if you do not?
    To be as clear as possible, if an older man was showing inappropriate interest and/or behavior towards a younger woman I really am not bothered by the statement. If this older person did not want to be characterized in this way and really did the things this statement refers to it is that older guy’s fault. All I care about is if the characterization is accurate or not. I can read through the emotional accents and try to learn more and that is a good skill to have.

    I’m also puzzled by those emotions, which range from disgust to hatred; I can’t understand why. So, when Dawkins was made the target of a new wave of abuse following the “mild” incident I was extremely annoyed.

    Without the specific reference in question I can’t really do anything. I mentioned “Dear Muslima” earlier and you just referenced a situation involving a putative inappropriate old man. As for you puzzlement all I can say is that if you don’t understand than you have not been reading. Depending on the situation in question I have seen many many dozens of pieces here and in other places that discuss these situations and they say why people are upset in specific terms. Either you are not reading what they are saying or the reasons are not sticking in your mind for some reason.

    Absent your understanding, I can understand why you don’t like the emotion. But it’s not going anywhere. It’s how human beings accent the intensity and subtlety of what they are talking about and people will not and should not abandon emotion absent your understanding. It’s useful to them and people will simply not abandon a useful tool because you want them to.

    And I’m saying that as a person with problems processing emotions relative to the population at large. I can always ask them for more information.

    By all means criticise his statement, but justify it with arguments, not mind reading. Yes, arguments were in fact made to show that his statement amounted to misogyny, all of them unashamedly and defiantly invalid.

    What about arguments and whatever should be substituted for “mind reading”? I’m not going to accept any of this without specifics. I hope that you realize the irony that after the quote you posted earlier, a characterization of how another person felt of a situation, you just offered me the same thing. This is an example of why I am acting on the belief that many simply want people to stop being emotional because they want them to be less effective. You are trying to tell people to stop doing what you yourself are doing, probably because you believe that the other characterization is not accurate, and yours is (feel free to correct me). My solution is to offer both the reality and the characterization, or to be willing to offer the reality if someone asks me. Strangely very few people have been willing to give me the reality when I ask. Until they do I am allowed to think that it may not exist and all that there is is the characterization.

    You insist on criticising my “inability to define variables”. You are wrong. When comparing a woman’s desire not to suffer harm and a rapist’s sexual desires, it is obvious that “sexual desires” in the context of the phrase means “his sexual desires as a rapist”, i.e. entwined with a desire to demean and subject his victim. It would make no sense when interpreted as you did. Indeed, I find it hard to believe that you really interpreted it that way, and most probably your contempt for my “nauseating” comparison was feigned (see? I can play the attribution game too.)

    Well tough luck. You said his desire to rape was predicated on his sexual satisfaction rights claim. The action and the right used to justify action are separate and “right to sexual satisfaction” is different from “right to violate personal autonomy”. You can either clarify or do the “I find it hard to believe…” dance which at its base is a claim that I am lying about how I feel. You won’t get very far disbelieving what people feel, they are just going to keep feeling it and you just get to have your emotional satisfaction of denying what they feel. No matter how insulting I find it I tend to believe what people say they feel, while I consider that which they are basing their feeling on. Most of us can walk and chew gum at the same time (and I have sympathy for people that can’t for reasons out of their control).

    As for the rest, all I can say it that you seem to be confusing actuality and necessity. The whole tirade on the inner workings of brains could, at best, show that in human brains emotions initiate the process of reasoning, not that reason ing cannot exist in the absence of emotion.

    At least characterize what I said correctly. Emotions:
    *Connect the percepts to storage of relevant elements for later retrieval based on the nature of the emotional signatures.
    *Connect groups of sub-percepts into rules that can be used to build more complex rules that start as deliberate conscious activity and move into faster automatic reactions over time.
    *Both sets of phenomena are triggered by the emotional content of what we perceive and emotional signals are involved in the effective establishment of binding percepts into rules.
    Until you find something that demonstrates emotion-free reasoning I’m perfectly happy with my take on what I read in Pubmed.

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