Posted by: Edward | January 8, 2007

Feelings are your Dashboard.

“Go to your bosom; knock there, and ask your heart what it doth know.” Shakespeare.

Rather than being based on lack as such the drives are based on health. They are part of a homeostatic cybernetic loop. We maintain our vitality rather than pursue what we lack. Feelings are a status signaling device like the dials on a plane dashboard. Connecting the feelings back up with the drives and motivations they derive from would give you greater ability to interpret the signals.

Damasio defines a feeling as “the perception of a certain state of the body along with the perception of a certain mode of thinking and of thoughts with certain themes” (86).

If we talk about ‘The “feeling” of a certain musical note, we actually are referring to the affective feeling that accompanies our’ perceptions (92). Feelings are strongly related to somatosensory activity but are distinct from tactile sensation (106). Feelings arise from the maps of body-states not the states themselves (112). That is, feelings are metadata about our sensations rather than sensations themselves.

Feelings and consciousness are mutually arising phenomena. Without consciousness feelings as such do not exist but self depends on this sense of feeling (110). You don’t choose an emotion they happen before you are conscious of the stimulus (60).

Both External events and mental images can trigger an emotion, “if the stimulus is emotionally competent an emotion ensues, and only the intensity varies” (57).

When some of the pattern of an emotion is performed the rest of the pattern arises to complete it. The emotional response “process spreads laterally into parallel chains of events and amplifies itself” (65). Feelings are interactive perceptions and because of the feedback effect, the act of feeling changes the feelings experienced. This is where there is an opening for us to effect this process. In empathy and emotional simulation, a virtual map is overlain on the real map to create a new composite map (116).

Feelings are gestalt signals of complex and multifaceted bodily conditions that are organized in an abstract functional fashion. They are subject to feedback loops and are at least partially amenable to conscious selective activity.

Damasio, Antonio. (2003). Looking for Spinoza: Joy, Sorrow, and the Feeling Brain. Orlando: Harcourt, Inc.


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