Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum
VECT

Difference between human emotions and animal instinct

Rate this topic

Recommended Posts

At this moment I am trying to fully understand Objectivism's model concerning this subject rather than whether or not that model is valid...etc.

 

In terms of animal instinct, I think so far what has been posted suggest my current understanding, that instincts are hardwired cause & effect circuits (automatic knowledge). How would this theory explain animals learning hunting techniques from their parents? I guess they would learn though pure experience and pattern recognition.

 

Sensory Percepts ---> adjusted instinct circuits

 

 

In terms of human emotion, my current understanding then is that the process is thus:

 

Sensory Percepts ---> Volition fuelled Rational Faculty processing ---> produced Concepts <--- Emotional Response

 

(do correct me if I'm wrong here)

 

If the above process is correct, then what is the element that dictates which emotional response is attributed to which concept?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

At this moment I am trying to fully understand Objectivism's model concerning this subject rather than whether or not that model is valid...etc.

 

In terms of animal instinct, I think so far what has been posted suggest my current understanding, that instincts are hardwired cause & effect circuits (automatic knowledge). How would this theory explain animals learning hunting techniques from their parents? I guess they would learn though pure experience and pattern recognition.

 

Sensory Percepts ---> adjusted instinct circuits

 

 

In terms of human emotion, my current understanding then is that the process is thus:

 

Sensory Percepts ---> Volition fuelled Rational Faculty processing ---> produced Concepts <--- Emotional Response

 

(do correct me if I'm wrong here)

 

If the above process is correct, then what is the element that dictates which emotional response is attributed to which concept?

Psychology?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes the answer is pretty clear. The extent to which humans use concepts is far greater than what non-human animals can achieve and that can be seen when contrasting measurement omission and abstractions from other obstractions with first order level concepts or perceptual generalizations which non human animals are capable of.

What would be interesting to see is how Orcas or chimpanzees fair agsinst marginal humans.

Yes, the answer is pretty clear. People who don't know any science can pretend that tey do by using pretentious words such as 'fundamental'. Other wise, in terms of sctually doing science, the mosr interesting biological study is to understand how each species behaves within its own niche.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Never mind my last question, rereading the lexicon illustrated that automatic value judgement is the element that determines what emotional response will the mind have towards concepts.

 

If a person truly stops believing something is important due to emergence of new facts or a discovery of prior logic error, then he/she stops having an emotional response towards that thing.

 

If a person wants to stop having a emotional response towards a thing but doesn't/unable to change their belief that the thing is important, then they will fail and keep on having emotional responses.

 

Too many unaccounted contradictory value beliefs is then attributed to chaotic emotional states. A person can change their beliefs through volition, in that sense they have control over their emotion and emotion is not incompatible with reason. However, people cannot control how they react emotionally towards established beliefs.

 

That seem to make sense so far.

Edited by VECT

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If a person truly stops believing something is important due to emergence of new facts or a discovery of prior logic error, then he/she stops having an emotional response towards that thing.

 

If a person wants to stop having a emotional response towards a thing but doesn't/unable to change their belief that the thing is important, then they will fail and keep on having emotional responses.

 

Yes, that describes the process in essentials I believe but it isn't that simple in practice. Even if you completely correct the error through logical reasoning that you know to be true, emotions can continue to persist for a while. I believe Peikoff describes (I have no citation for this) a process of sort of dis-integration. Getting rid of a certain context or hierarchy in your values that you hold which gives rise to clashes in your values even when you've logically corrected your error. I think that this sort of theory is consistent with phenomenon like needing to go through a mourning process after losing a significant value.

 

 

 

Too many unaccounted contradictory value beliefs is then attributed to chaotic emotional states.

 

Yes, and this also is important when considering Ayn Rand's definition of happiness: a state of non-contradictory joy. I think what's she's saying is that when your values are non-contradictory, your emotional responses will all be in alignment. The joy you feel will be non-contradictory because the achievement of your value didn't interfere with any of your other values.

 

 

This, of couse, is not to say that there are no 'fundamentals' within science....

 

But not with concepts?

 

 

Metaphysically, a fundamental characteristic is that distinctive characteristic which makes the greatest number of others possible; epistemologically, it is the one that explains the greatest number of others.

http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/fundamentality,_rule_of.html

Edited by CriticalThinker2000

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, that describes the process in essentials I believe but it isn't that simple in practice. Even if you completely correct the error through logical reasoning that you know to be true, emotions can continue to persist for a while. I believe Peikoff describes (I have no citation for this) a process of sort of dis-integration. Getting rid of a certain context or hierarchy in your values that you hold which gives rise to clashes in your values even when you've logically corrected your error. I think that this sort of theory is consistent with phenomenon like needing to go through a mourning process after losing a significant value.

 

 

Yes, and this also is important when considering Ayn Rand's definition of happiness: a state of non-contradictory joy. I think what's she's saying is that when your values are non-contradictory, your emotional responses will all be in alignment. The joy you feel will be non-contradictory because the achievement of your value didn't interfere with any of your other values.

 

 

 

But not with concepts?

 

http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/fundamentality,_rule_of.html

i believe that to speak of fundamental concepts is a bit redundant, and here's why:

 

We form concepts as generalizations from individual entities. For example, we might define a discreet set of 'water-dwelling animals' as 'hsif', those with gills are 'fish' and those withot are 'mammal'.

 

If our intenet were to construct a phylogeny based upon the aquisition of selective-adaptive traits, 'fihs' would be irrelevant, while fish and mammal impostant.

 

Suppose, OTH, we were simply on an island looking for a meal. 'Hsif' would be relevantly subclassified as to possibility of capture, resistance, and aquisition of protein and carbs per energy spent.

 

What, then is conceptually 'fundamental woud depend upon situation. Or rather, simoly say that our minds would conceptualize 'hsif' because it's meaningful, and reject Linneus because his classification was not.

 

Moreover, our island-dwelling children would learn a hsif-system, and not the Linnean.

 

In short, the essentail value to both 'concept' and fundamental dwells in the sense of meaning: what's classified and how depends upon need and utility. The scholastics said as much when they conceptualized supernatural entities as neitherthing nor word. It simply corresponded to their world view, or fram of reference,,as it were.

 

Of course, the huge collection of ethnographic materaial that deals in nomenclature suppots this view.....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

i believe that to speak of fundamental concepts is a bit redundant, and here's why:

 

We form concepts as generalizations from individual entities. For example, we might define a discreet set of 'water-dwelling animals' as 'hsif', those with gills are 'fish' and those withot are 'mammal'.

 

If our intenet were to construct a phylogeny based upon the aquisition of selective-adaptive traits, 'fihs' would be irrelevant, while fish and mammal impostant.

 

Suppose, OTH, we were simply on an island looking for a meal. 'Hsif' would be relevantly subclassified as to possibility of capture, resistance, and aquisition of protein and carbs per energy spent.

 

What, then is conceptually 'fundamental woud depend upon situation. Or rather, simoly say that our minds would conceptualize 'hsif' because it's meaningful, and reject Linneus because his classification was not.

 

Moreover, our island-dwelling children would learn a hsif-system, and not the Linnean.

 

In short, the essentail value to both 'concept' and fundamental dwells in the sense of meaning: what's classified and how depends upon need and utility. The scholastics said as much when they conceptualized supernatural entities as neitherthing nor word. It simply corresponded to their world view, or fram of reference,,as it were.

 

Of course, the huge collection of ethnographic materaial that deals in nomenclature suppots this view.....

 

Fundamentality is contextual. In what way does this make fundamentality redundent? Redundent in what respect?

 

Where is the redundancy in Rand's example?:

 

 

For instance, one could observe that man is the only animal who speaks English, wears wristwatches, flies airplanes, manufactures lipstick, studies geometry, reads newspapers, writes poems, darns socks, etc. None of these is an essential characteristic: none of them explains the others; none of them applies to all men; omit any or all of them, assume a man who has never done any of these things, and he will still be a man. But observe that all these activities (and innumerable others) require a conceptual grasp of reality, that an animal would not be able to understand them, that they are the expressions and consequences of man’s rational faculty, that an organism without that faculty would not be a man—and you will know why man’s rational faculty is his essential distinguishing and defining characteristic.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Fundamentality is contextual. In what way does this make fundamentality redundent? Redundent in what respect?

 

Where is the redundancy in Rand's example?:

We form concepts by aggregating individual things and facts together. The scientific motive for aggregation is called 'cause', which gives the sort of meaning that scientists think is important. Concepts, then, are aggregates that we think are important.

 

So, of course, fundamentality is contextual because to say something is meaningful --hence, conceptual--means that we feel that this particular way of aggregating is 'fundamental' relative to other possible ways.

 

Again--to belabor the point a bit-- a tribesman on a pacific island classifies all things that swim in the sea in meaningful, fundamental ways that fit the culture's needs. Concepts, based upon differences deemed contextually imporant are thereby formed. Or fundamentally' important, if you please. same thing.

 

We now know that other animals create concepts because they have language--which was not generally known during Rand's life. IMHO, to edit out her statements that were based on factualities that are now known to be false would be of great service to her memory.

 

During her life, Rand talked and wrote with intelligence, passion, verve, and vigor. She was indeed a master at conceptualizing facts. which is to say endowing them with a remarkable sense of meaning.

 

In the citation that you sent, her position was clearly staked with respect to the old assumption that only humans possessed language. Knowing what we know today, she'd not have written this.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We now know that other animals create concepts because they have language--which was not generally known during Rand's life.

Which animals?

Animals can communicate with each other, certainly. I understand that ants use a sophisticated system of pheramones in order to communicate with each other.

But I do not believe that secretions really count as language; do you?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Which animals?

Animals can communicate with each other, certainly. I understand that ants use a sophisticated system of pheramones in order to communicate with each other.

But I do not believe that secretions really count as language; do you?

One of the key tests for language is to rig up an experiment to see if, say, a fire ant fron one mound can understand the instructions given in another.

 

This has been done many times; the first assay was with bees, in order to test EO Wilson's 'instinctivity'. If animals are born with a set  of instructions, these are good for anywhere within the species.

 

But they aren't. By whatever manner bees, ants, etc communicate, it's learned within the group,

 

Finally, lot's of what assumed was animal silence was communication in a language that's outside our human sensory range. The best two examples of this are whales and elephants.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Finally, lot's of what assumed was animal silence was communication in a language that's outside our human sensory range. The best two examples of this are whales and elephants.

Outside our human sensory range. How convenient. Would that be just the unaided sensory range, or would it extend to the aided as well?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We form concepts by aggregating individual things and facts together. The scientific motive for aggregation is called 'cause', which gives the sort of meaning that scientists think is important. Concepts, then, are aggregates that we think are important.

 

 

Can you add to what is meant by aggregating individual things and facts together in order to form concepts?  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Can you add to what is meant by aggregating individual things and facts together in order to form concepts?  

Yes, if you please...

 

From the pov of math.or even, say, a visitor from another dimension, there is no intrinsic means of fitting facts or things together to make a generalization, or 'concept', as it were.

 

Moreover, our experience with other cultures (Anthropology) indicates that things are classified and divided in a number of different ways.

 

That being said, philosophy tries to demonstrate the justification for having organized the world of facts and things in a certain way. Here, three words seem to be operative: metaphysics, epistemology, and ontology.

 

* Metaphysics is the final big picture (Wittgenstein's frame of reference)

* Epistemology is the justification for such and such an arrangement (coherent vs foundational)

* Ontology is the search and argument (polemic) as to which arrangement is more essential, or primarily more important.

 

Several comments on people, please:

 

Kripke famously wrote that words themselves cause meaning, or actively serve the purpose of aggregating.

 

Deleuze rejected Epistemology, using 'agencement', or agency to describe how people organize the world according to will and utility.

 

Quine said that the study of philosophy is should only be about the generation of facts through science.

 

He also remarked as to how the tweaking of several small facts can radically alter a theory. big pictures are inherantly unstable.

 

Cartwright wrote that general laws lie.  Only local systems are causally true.

Edited by frank harley

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was looking for something a little closer to this excerpt from concept-formation

 

To form a concept, one mentally isolates a group of concretes (of distinct perceptual units), on the basis of observed similarities which distinguish them from all other known concretes (similarity is “the relationship between two or more existents which possess the same characteristic(s), but in different measure or degree”); then, by a process of omitting the particular measurements of these concretes, one integrates them into a single new mental unit: the concept, which subsumes all concretes of this kind (a potentially unlimited number). The integration is completed and retained by the selection of a perceptual symbol (a word) to designate it. “A concept is a mental integration of two or more units possessing the same distinguishing characteristic(s), with their particular measurements omitted.”

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was looking for something a little closer to this excerpt from concept-formation

 

To form a concept, one mentally isolates a group of concretes (of distinct perceptual units), on the basis of observed similarities which distinguish them from all other known concretes (similarity is “the relationship between two or more existents which possess the same characteristic(s), but in different measure or degree”); then, by a process of omitting the particular measurements of these concretes, one integrates them into a single new mental unit: the concept, which subsumes all concretes of this kind (a potentially unlimited number). The integration is completed and retained by the selection of a perceptual symbol (a word) to designate it. “A concept is a mental integration of two or more units possessing the same distinguishing characteristic(s), with their particular measurements omitted.”

My point was that your (Rand's) formal description as to how concepts are formed says nothing of content. For example, what determines 'sameness' of charactaristic? What disninguishes a 'distinguishing characteristic'?

 

Lastly, in science, one does describe a thing or a group of things by using a particular word-- without referencing quantities that make that thing what it is. For example, we say, 'boson' and 'fermion' with the understanding that the first has a 1 spin and the second a half.

 

In Chemistry, the elements are called names, as well. But what references these are atomic numbers and valences. The only 'omission' of 'particular measurements' is for reasons facilitating linguistic use---hardly a deep 'epistemological' issue.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My point was that your (Rand's) formal description as to how concepts are formed says nothing of content. For example, what determines 'sameness' of charactaristic? What disninguishes a 'distinguishing characteristic'?

 

Lastly, in science, one does describe a thing or a group of things by using a particular word-- without referencing quantities that make that thing what it is. For example, we say, 'boson' and 'fermion' with the understanding that the first has a 1 spin and the second a half.

 

In Chemistry, the elements are called names, as well. But what references these are atomic numbers and valences. The only 'omission' of 'particular measurements' is for reasons facilitating linguistic use---hardly a deep 'epistemological' issue.

Well, you haven't been exactly asking these questions along the way. the 'sameness of characteristics' are given via perceptual given similarity, and later conceptually grasped similarity, where as a 'distinguishing characteristic' is the fundamental aspect that sets the concept apart from all the rest.

 

The epistemologically important issue in Chemistry would have been the process of identification used to arrive at the discoveries along the way, which led to and made possible the grouping the elements according to several distinguishing characteristics, i.e., the atomic number arranges them by the number of electrons, protons and neutrons, the horizontal rows per the number of shells, among other characteristics I would have to look up to list.

 

The "What do we know?" in the case of the periodic table, is the product of a long chain of concept formations performed over time. The deeper epistemological issue address the question "How do we know it?", essentially retracing the steps of the discovery.

 

I might add, frank, there are many threads on OO that examine concept-formation in the metaphysics/epistemological section of the forum, such as this sampling.

 

Edited: Added

Edited by dream_weaver

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, you haven't been exactly asking these questions along the way. the 'sameness of characteristics' are given via perceptual given similarity, and later conceptually grasped similarity, where as a 'distinguishing characteristic' is the fundamental aspect that sets the concept apart from all the rest.

 

The epistemologically important issue in Chemistry would have been the process of identification used to arrive at the discoveries along the way, which led to and made possible the grouping the elements according to several distinguishing characteristics, i.e., the atomic number arranges them by the number of electrons, protons and neutrons, the horizontal rows per the number of shells, among other characteristics I would have to look up to list.

 

The "What do we know?" in the case of the periodic table, is the product of a long chain of concept formations performed over time. The deeper epistemological issue address the question "How do we know it?", essentially retracing the steps of the discovery.

 

Edited: Added

In science, you say that the distinguishing characteristic is causal as opposed to descriptive.Tthe standard of 'perceptual given similarity won't get you anywhere because many things in chemistry look the same, but aren't. Moreover, most gasses give no immeduate perception, being odorless, colorless, and tasteless.

 

If epistemology indicates 'justification', then the episemological winners are the experiments that work, and that explain events better.

 

The periodic table, in any case, was the work of one guy (Mendeleev) with major revisions by another (Seaborg), who offered a clear explanation as to why he jerked out the unstables. His 'epistemology. btw, was widely debated prior to its acceptance.

 

Atomic # , btw, is only the number of protons.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Atomic # , btw, is only the number of protons.

My knowledge of chemistry is a bit rusty. Thanks for the reminder. Be that as it may, if you are interested more in depth discussions of concept-formation, you could start with the list in my last post that is based on a list of topics that have 'concept formation' in the title. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One of the key tests for language is to rig up an experiment to see if, say, a fire ant fron one mound can understand the instructions given in another.

What?

 

By whatever manner bees, ants, etc communicate, it's learned within the group.

 

What???  How did you arrive at that conclusion?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What?

 

 

What???  How did you arrive at that conclusion?

Simply reading up on animal behavior and their disputes with EO Wilson over instinctivity is not 'coming to a conclusion'.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One of the key tests for language is to rig up an experiment to see if, say, a fire ant fron one mound can understand the instructions given in another.

 

Do you or do you not see any difference between pheromone-trails and human symbolism?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Do you or do you not see any difference between pheromone-trails and human symbolism?

Pheremone trails can either trigger a comand mechinism or convey symbolic language. In the former, You can say that the command system varies genetically from one inbred mound to another. This is entirely possible in so far as on mound = one queen = one DNA.

 

Or you can say that chemical trailing is combined with language (gesture/ sound)

Or that the reception of a chemical trail is either learned of locked in my a genetic code that won't work in a new mound.

 

Within the realm of symbol, one has to distinguish 'sign' as a set command. for example, a hexagonal, when driving, means 'stop!. Yet in In the former, meaning slides. So as for other animals, yes, it's an interesting question as to how they might symbolize.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 Human emotions are left-overs from evolution that used to be a more complete package in our ancestors, but due to the advent of the rational factuality, are now only pieces of its former self.

Do you have evidence to support your assertion?

 

I say rationality makes it possible for me to safely exist with a much more powerful emotional capacity.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×