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Chapter 2: Of Appetites and Emotions 
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Post Chapter 2: Of Appetites and Emotions
As I stated in the Ch. 1 thread I have always been confused about the difference between emotions and feelings. Here is the paragraph that made it click for me.

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It is legitimate to ask at this point why emotions precede feelings. My answer is simple: We have emotions first and feelings after because evolution came up with emotions first and feelings later. Emotions are built from simple reactions that easily promote survival of an organism and thus could easily prevail in evolution.
Emotions are an outward display an organism uses to communicate something to another organism, OR to react to stimuli. The display of anger or aggression might warn away a potential adversary, thus avoiding a potentially life-threatening conflict, and thereby increasing the probability that the genes that promoted that display of anger or aggression will be passed on to offspring.

Anyone ever read The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind by Julian Jaynes? His book is my first exposure to the concept that consciousness evolved, although the idea should be common sense for anyone that supports Darwinian evolution. I mean...of course consciousness evolved just as our bodies evolved. But I had never thought about it until Jaynes.

Jaynes argues that consciousness evolved when it was needed, and not a moment sooner. Evolution is thrifty, as we all know. There was a time in the evolution of our ancestors that conscious awareness didn't serve a purpose. Does a sponge need to be consciously aware of its environment?

Chris

"When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward,for there you have been, and there you will always want to be."



Fri Jan 09, 2004 6:19 pm
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Post Re: Chapter 2: Of Appetites and Emotions
Chris,

I also gained a lot from the section that discussed emotions preceding feelings in the evolutionary history of life. I do think that his point can be an evidence for the precedence of emotions over feelings. I feel that Damasio presents stronger evidences by using experimental data, such as the Parkinson's patient that displayed emotional behaviors of sadness (sobbing, body posture, facial expressions, etc.), followed by "feelings" of sadness when a certain region of the brain was stimulated by electrical current. I was fascinated by the strong emotional behavior and associated expression of feelings that took place without an actual "stimulus" other than an electrical current.


As a side note, I do wonder if we should insist that something MUST biologically precede another just because it evolved first? I am sure that examples can be presented of things that evolved at a later date that superseded or even eradicated the need for earlier evolved attributes. Does anybody else (perhaps somebody with a better scientific background than I) have any thoughts regarding this?

Eric




Fri Jan 16, 2004 1:13 am
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