From: Kim Jones <kimjones.domain.name.hidden>
Date: Fri, 24 Oct 2008 13:33:54 +1100

Admittedly a bit off-topic but hey - there are some great minds on
this list and it could give birth to something relevant. There! ;-D

Why do we have emotions? Aren't simple, value-conferring feelings good
enough or something? Emotions cause a host of extraordinary, beautiful
and wondrous things to happen in life as well as all sorts of
nonsensical and disastrous issues in the world.

We should definitely study this a bit more carefully n'est-ce pas?

A worm probably doesn't have emotions but we might just allow that it
has feelings. There is much evidence to support this, apparently.

Do we have emotions because we are noble, sensitive, artistic,
expressive, complex, huge-brained, warm-blooded etc. highly-evolved
creatures (intrinsic feature)


because having emotions has Darwinian survival value? (extrinsic

I favour the second view (whilst acknowledging that the first has many
elements of truth to it as well)


Emotions change the appearance of an organism in the sight of another
organism and are therefore slightly unusual to witness

Do I need to illustrate that? No, great- so we'll skip to the next
part then.

No - just one clean one:

Maybe think of the way you or I may view the face of Sarah Palin with
mild feelings of amusement at her stereotypical look. Now imagine the
violently emotional, brain-boiling, artery-bursting hatred and rage
she inspires in most feminists


A person having an emotion even at the periphery of your field of view
is virtually impossible not to look at directly if only for an instant
to verify

This can can be exploited to advantage

As Edward de Bono points out near the start of his recent book "Six
Information Frames", the mind is instantly drawn to the unusual

This is not a strength of the mind but a weakness of the mind. This is
because the person having the emotion could quite easily be faking it
to manipulate us

"You were really moaning away there darling, I'm glad I excite you. Do
any of the others?"

"No. Only you do that to me, honey. See you this time next week?"

sort of thing

So here is the Darwinian survival value part...the human mind -
knowing intuitively it's own Achilles Heel - has conspired to
manipulate itself to it's own mutual advantage

As a schizophrenic might say "I'm never lonely. I've always got each

This is kind of how everybody - as Woody Allen puts it - "sells
everyone to everyone else."

Emotions are therefore a signalling device to a 3rd party - we say we
'have' emotions; in fact we 'give' emotions

If we forget for a moment the wonderful and vast internal experience
of emotions, that vast symphonic chorus of chemicals zapping about in
our brains when we are well above the baseline mood-wise and for
whatever reason - could even be drugs...


Tchaikowsky's 6th Symphony 1st movement where he claimed to want the
audience to feel graphically through his music, the sheer unutterable
anxiety and guilt and shame and despair and agony of his existence
(trying to be vaguely gay as a public figure in Tsarist Russia....Oh
boy I can hear that music right now in my head - it's like a freakin
drug. If you want to experience true black dog depression for a good
twenty minutes or so, have a listen. It's a virtual reality experience
of what it is like to have bipolar disorder.)


Let's forget momentarily that so well-known aspect of emotions (Aspect

Let's hold in our minds the notion that emotions did not arise in this
way. The Pleasure and Pain qualia are merely a bonus. Simple feelings
are good enough to supply the mind with the information it needs to
sort out values and predict futures and survive its collision with

We only ever needed emotions in the past to avoid being eaten by a
Sabre-toothed cat like in some freakin silly Roland Emmerich movie

This is Aspect Two of emotions

Emotions are there to cause ACTION at critical moments. All the right
chemicals start whizzing about in microseconds and we survive the
attack by acting in a survival mode


Woody Allen again - "I was like, I was like so scared to death, the,
the adrenalin was, was like, squirting outta my EARS!" (Love and Death
- still his best flick)

But that is not enough - humans don't just want to 'break even' -
humans want to 'do better than average'

Don't they? If not - what's a brain for? (Here's the 'relevant' bit,

That is the undeniable goal of the human race. To become better than
what it is somehow. It's a stage-act we have been rehearsing sinse
Adam's Balls Dropped. (Era ABD)

Emotions in this sense are just like everything else about us - we
only have them because some accidental miscopying of DNA resulted in a
useful adaptation

The survival value lies precisely in that emotions are a speechless
organism's only way of getting another speechless organism to help it
survive somehow

like Bonobos flashing there bums at each other to get a sex coupling
going as a reward for something altruistic done by another (could even
be a gay coupling with Bonobos, apparently. They don't care. Sex is
usually a REWARD for something done on one's behalf. Makes sense to
Bonobos, why not Catholics?


scatch my back and I'll...yeah


There's no point in ever being swayed by the emotional impact of
anything because it's a kind of a con. Wagner was the master of that.
Emotions inflate the importance of everything, often to a fictional
extent. Think of the music Wagner wrote for Wotan's Farewell (to his
daughter Brunnhilde) in The Ring. It's music that makes your heart
soar to the ceiling and then explode like a shower of crimson fireworks

But it's only this old twit of a god performing an honour "virtual
killing" of his own favourite offspring because of some ridiculous
case of family honour besmirched


Wagner makes us feel like some COSMIC TRAGEDY is unfolding under our
very noses and here is the moment when his love LET HER GO -
crescendo, crescendo and then the adrenalin starts squirting from our

This is of course a bit simplistic but I'm trying to make the
necessary point about emotions that, like anything else, there should
be no special pleading for them; "Because you happen to have this
overwhelming feeling of self-righteous urgency and dire necessity in
connection with something right now does not of itself necessarily
implicate me in your issue" (Office wall sign)

Life of course would be dull without emotions because they communicate
value to us - well understood point. Things with high value will
provoke strong emotions

Like Wagner's and Stravinsky's music

Perhaps the greatest value emotions have for us lies in our being able
to continuing playing this archaic game of exploitation-by-emotional-
blackmail-of-ourselves for a living

As Dawkins points out, we should probably strive to escape from
Darwinian evolution because, like our thinking system, it's a kluge http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kludge

Kim Jones

Nørretranders' Law of Symmetrical Relief

If you find that most other people, upon closer inspection, seem to be
somewhat comical or ludicrous, it is highly probable that most other
people find that you are in fact comical or ludicrous as well. So you
don't have to hide it, they already know.

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Received on Thu Oct 23 2008 - 22:34:14 PDT

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