the origin of subjective 'feelings'

From: Jonathan Standley (
Date: Thu Feb 06 2003 - 15:26:42 MST

I posted this on the wta-arts yahoo group today, I was wondering what your
thoughts were on the topic it addresses. the >'ed paragraph is part of the
post I was replying to...

> As an example, I hear people speaking of there being "new"
emotions. So
> how can the viewers identify with the hero's "plubertness" if
niether they
> nor the actor nor the director has the faintest idea what it means
to feel
> plubertness or what it is? Be interesting, in a dramatic
presentation, to see if
> anyone could handle an invented "new" emotion in a reasonable way.

interesting idea...

I realize this is tangential to the point of your post, but:

I have serious doubts as to the possibility of 'new' emotions
(without radical changes in the brains architecture). Not that
there is an unsurmountable technical barrier as such, but rather
that we already posess the full range of emotions 'possible' for a
system that is similar to our brain. As such, I think 'new'
emotions would only be a possibility once one's mind was 'running'
on a structure quite unlike that of the natural human brain.

My reason for making these statements is my beliefs as to the nature
of emotions. ask yourself: what is the cause of emotional responses
in the human brain? The answer is rather simple in concept, though
the details of it are still largely unknown.

this isn't the place IMO for technical discussion of neuroscience,
so I'll cut to the chase :) I believe that when one
subjectively 'feels' emotions, what you are feeling is changes in
the dynamic information patterns that is 'you'. SSRI's make
you 'feel' mentally balanced, but how can you feel a chemical? what
you feel is the changes in neural activity that the chemical induces.

The gross architecture of neural activity patterns is similar
in 'normal' people; schizophrenics and others who are mentally ill
show significant deviation from baseline neural patterns. If you
accept my arguments of the previous paragraphs, then it follows that
emotion is not intrinsic to the chemicals in your brain. And that in
turn suggests a certain universality of emotions...

Just some random thoughts ;)

Jon Standley

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