On Emotions

I don’t blame anybody for our widely pervasive inaccuracy; it’s an inherited misperception… but…

Saying, “Human beings have emotions”, is like going to a restaurant and eating the menu!!!

First, an analogy: (Football game in a stadium)

Coordination; statistics; skill; training; heart; passion; preparation etc., are all things the sportscaster may comment ABOUT what is happening on the field. Said more technically, these are all statements made in the conceptual domain. Concepts represent a thing, but they are not the thing itself.

Running is a description of an action. But… When you say, “…running”, you are not actually running.


There is a whole field of study regarding words that are not actually in the conceptual domain, but in the ontological domain. (Ontology is the study of being). Words such as “promise”, when used in a sentence can be actual actions.

For instance: "I promise to try my best to confront consensus understanding (risking mounds of automaton “Earth is flat”, Galileo-style retaliation), regarding distinctions we take for granted which are really misconceptions.

If I were to make that statement, I would be actually doing something; and, not just talking about something. It would be a statement made from the ontological domain. I would actually be promising something. The word “promise” in that statement is a speech-act.

Back to my analogy.

When I look down on the football field, I don’t see any skill or coordination (if there is any, try pointing to it?). Now, that is not to say that there is no value in seeing things from the conceptual domain! It deepens appreciation; makes things exciting and is fun to listen to - BUT - in most cases it has ZERO impact on the quality of play on the field.

Now, the coach also talks. But the coach has learned to talk from a very special domain. When the coach talks, he/she can actually have an impact on future behavior. The coach can (but not always), speak from the generative domain. But that’s an entirely different conversation - I just thought I’d mention that domain.

Back to emotions…

Almost everything human beings have to say after the word “is” - is a lie. (Even that statement). Why? Because we are taking something from the Ontological domain and putting it in the Conceptual domain. “I am hungry” (no, I am not the phenomenon hunger); “She is smart” (no, she is not the concept intelligence) etc…

Why am I risking life and limb to make this distinction? Well because if we go forward thinking that we need to recreate emotions in our artificially intelligent algorithms - we need to be very clear about what we’re trying to reproduce, or we’re going to waste a lot of time!

It may lend insight to speak about emotions from the conceptual domain, but we need to identify it as exactly what it is - and not misperceive it to be “real” or Ontologically bound - as if we need to actually inject an emotion into something! We characterize the release of hormones and physical sensations and a repertoire of behaviors as “emotions” - but to what extent are they actually there?

Hell, when we talk about having a stomach ache - most people couldn’t point to their actual stomach organs to save their lives!

Not saying that our consensus reality regarding the things we “know” are bad or wrong. Just saying that we have to have more rigor with these things if we are actually going to reproduce intelligence, maybe?

Please discuss?

A post was merged into an existing topic: Discussion about Emotions