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Subjectivity and Emotion

18 November, 2015 - 17:13
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(Vaknin, Sam) Proposes that emotions are either sensory or internal:

  • Actions are sense data and motivations are internal data, which together form a new chunk of emotional data.
  • If more sense data (than internal data) are involved and the component of internal data is weak in comparison (it is never absent) – we are likely to experience Transitive Emotions. The latter are emotions, which involve observation and revolve around objects. In short: these are "out-going" emotions, that motivate us to act to change our environment.
  • Yet, if the emotional cycle is set in motion by Emotional Data, which are composed mainly of internal, spontaneously generated data – we will end up with Reflexive Emotions. These are emotions that involve reflection and revolve around the self (for instance, autoerotic emotions). It is here that the source of psychopathologies should be sought: in this imbalance between external, objective, sense data and the echoes of our mind.

So obviously emotions are going to be generated by either one or both inputs - internal and external. If you feel like (or are) responding to your internal motivations and feelings, then you are responding more internally. If someones environment is putting pressure on them (people in the environment, or other sensory inputs), then they would by definition be responding more externally.

What makes an emotion subjective? People feel emotions all the time, its just how they are - "Thats just how I feel" someone might try to communicate. It is too hard to assess where the emotion came from, if it was a logical one that made sense or an emotion that was subjective. What would an example of a 'subjective' emotion be vs. a 'logical' emotion?

An emotion that is strongly influenced by a motivation or desire is probably subjective. An emotion that is sensory, like a physical emotion, is more objective because you aren't influencing the emotion with your mind. People respond differently to different situations because they are different people and have different background beliefs, ideas, feelings, experience, etc.

I suppose you could say that some people respond to social situations more 'logically' than other people. If they aren't as influenced by their internal beliefs - earlier in this paper I cited the definition of 'mentalizers' - people who have their actions guided by beliefs, desires, goals, fears, etc. vs. 'systemizers', who rely on a problem solving strategy instead of intentions - then does that mean they are responding more logically? Someones emotions could be influenced by logical data just as much as someones emotions could be influenced by internal intentions (though I would guess in general the mentalizers are more emotional).

Do emotions arise from a persons problem solving strategy? One that is logical (systemizers) or one that is based on internal motivations (mentzlizers)? If that were the case, then systemizers would be distinctinly different emotionally than mentalizers. Or do emotions arise from perceiving external actions differently? Perceiving actions would be learned from experience, while someones problem solving strategy is based upon what they are thinking about. - So emotions could arise from perceptions of bodily changes (which is Damasio's theory) which I suppose could be observing other people in your environment, or they arise from a more internal, mental process which is based upon what you are thinking about, how you are thinking, etc. (systemizers vs mentalizers for example).