Re: the origin of subjective 'feelings'

From: Jonathan Standley (
Date: Fri Feb 07 2003 - 16:29:03 MST

Greetings, Durant

you wrote:
> I think of emotions as putting people into states, like we're big fuzzy
> Finite State Machines, and in these states, the likelihoods of various
> behaviors are increased or decreased. Emotions may be compounded where
> various states might exist simultaneously with varying degrees of
> activation.
> In this framework, new emotions could either come from new structural
> additions to one's mind, or perhaps a novel combination of already
> known emotions could be considered a new emotion. Or perhaps there
> are emotions you haven't felt yet.

I agree w/ what you said about emotions putting people into states. I
personally view the functional purpose of emotional states as being
primarily vectors acting upon mental states, which can result in behavioral

>> Hmm, if you really don't want a technical discussion of neuroscience,
> this might not be a good paragraph :) I read The Chemical State of
> Consciousness and from hearing about things like Prozac and other
> "mood altering drugs" I'm sure there's a correlation with chemicals.
> I saw a documentary about alcohol delaying the synapse fining in the
> brain, so there is evidence (if it is right) that chemical and
> electrical activity are both involved in mood regulation.

Indeed chemicals and electrical activity are involved in mood regulation.
Take the example you gave about alcohol delaying synaptic firing: these
delays are what you feel, not the alcohol itself. If one were to devise a
way of creating such delays using a totally non-chemical means, you would
feel the same way as you would if those delays were caused by alcohol.

That's what I mean by emotions not being intrinsic to chemical effects.
IMO, emotions are states and changes in brain activity patterns - and that
the whole of brain activity is what gives rise to the 'mind'. As such, what
causes a given shift in activity is essentially irrelevant to the subjective
experience of emotion. The change is what you feel, not the underlying

keep in mind that my original post was a re-post of a message I posted on
the wta-arts group, which is not a technically oriented group. :)

J Standley

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Wed Jul 17 2013 - 04:00:41 MDT