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And another thing :) Emotion is 'just' a process? posted 04 August 2008 in NeuropathAnd another thing :) Emotion is 'just' a process? by Callan S., Auditor

I bet you thought I was going to argue it's more than that! Oddly, I'm just going to argue about it being judged in a negative way.

There's a few points where I would say emotive language is used to describe emotions as being 'just' a process. I think the word 'just' was used at some point (if pressed, I'll go check).

There's a sort of blind spot in describing emotions as just a process, and that is it's done with a dismissive attitude. A dismissive attitude would be another emotion - so it's an emotion process scowling and stamping its feet that other emotions are a process. If the other emotions are meaningless, then being dismissive of them is also a meaningless act - why go against them when to look down on them is just to vaunt the emotion process of derision above all other emotion processes? I'm thinking perhaps Scott is in that blindspot, looking down on an emotion even as that looking down is just another emotion, and so the character Neil is written to operate under that blindspot too - Neil is actually acting out a passion (disdain for mere process) while supposedly removing such illusionous emotion processes. (Kelhus too, me thinks, but that's another post).

Then again perhaps it's just trying to interrogate the idea your supposed to be spiritually beyond such processes (and some emotive language slipped in). But in that case - well, anyone who thinks in terms of spirituality accepts that if you die, you spirit isn't involved anymore. What's the difference between having say (sorry to be grisly) having all your head blown off, and having just a certain connector in your head broken? Doesn't that kill you just as much - like the guy in the book who can't recognise faces - what he was died? Aren't you spiritually beyond process if damage disconnects the true you just as much as death disconnects the true you from the body?

Sure, what's left might say 'Hey, it's still me!'. And...well, lets put it this way - if you wrote down a bunch of goals and were achieving them, then took the mental structural damage, then went on living saying 'It's me!' but checked the list and found you were just not doing all the goals you did before - you might recognise that your not the same person. Or you might like to put it that your only part of the spirit you were before - only part of that spirit you previously were is channeled through your mind. And maybe also a new type of spirit is also being channeled now - a mix of old and something new. That'd keep the idea of spirit intact.

Or you might not recognise it, but that doesn't make much difference. Plenty of people don't recognise they have gambling or drinking problems, but you don't assume they have lost the spirit you normally attribute to them. Just because someone wouldn't recognise they are not meeting the goals of their old selves, doesn't mean the spirit world you normally attribute to them is gone. Changed, perhaps, but that's life.

Am I covering the books main issues, or am I rushing in with a rationalisation like the book says people do? view post

And another thing :) Emotion is 'just' a process? posted 30 October 2008 in NeuropathAnd another thing :) Emotion is 'just' a process? by Tilberian, Commoner

Callan, I think you and I are kind of on the same wavelength with this. My problem, reading Neuropath, was the assumption that when we understand that all our thoughts and all our moral judgments come either from society or from our evolved behaviours, this somehow renders them invalid. It's as if Bakker is starting from the theological standpoint that morality must be outside of us and present in the mind of a divine being, or at least the universe, before it can really be called morality. If morality is made by humans, he seems to be saying, then it can't really be morality. My understanding of the book is that Neil is held to be correct and justified in doing the things that he does because of the strength of his Argument.

My question is: why is human-created morality not morality? And, before we say that it is not, don't we have an obligation to show that there is some other kind? Where, in the universe, do we find the Ten Commandments? Answer: nowhere. Without people, they would not exist, nor would any other moral code you can point to. Starting with the assumption that morals must be axiomatic universal absolutes presumes that there is such a thing that exists without definition by humans. Until we find aliens and compare moral ideas with them, we have no basis for claiming that there is such a thing as a universal moral code.

So we are stuck with human-created moral codes, as changeable and error-prone and subject to the limitations of our neurology as they are. Now that we understand that human morality is merely a belch from a process evolved to guide us to eat and mate in a stone-age environment, shouldn't we discard it? Can we be justified in holding on to it?

My question would be: what are the consequences of ditching human morality? I think the book answers that quite well. Could society function if everyone were like Neil? Obviously not, the guy is completely antisocial. Interestingly, our much-maligned, stone-age morality has a perfect answer for the problem of Neil and his Argument: ostracize and kill people who think and act this way. The problem with Neil is that he puts his thoughts and theories before the imperative of survival. This is a dead end for the individual, and therefore for any Argument that he holds.

I think all of this goes to your point about emotion, Callan, because the same assumptions are made about emotion in the book. When we understand that emotion is just exchange of ions across some neurons, we see it as illusion and are tempted to ignore it. But, having seen through the illusion, what then? We are still afflicted with emotions. We could take Neil's route and turn ourselves into brain-damaged monsters for the dubious benefit of being able to act without emotion, but how has that improved anything? Shouldn't we measure consequences as well as philosophical purity? view post


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