For *those that have just lost their keys *those that are well-versed *inebriated ones *wanderers *mermaids *those that belong elsewhere *whippersnappers *marvelous ones *those that are not included in this classification *those that flutter because the moment is fleeting *boundless ones *those colored with slippery fingerpaint *others *those that resemble someone I know from a distance

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Descartes can suck it.

This is one long entry, chock-full of fact-filled goodness. Cause I'm a geek when it comes to embodiment, emotion, and metaphors. It's geeky to have even thought of that sentence.

I am reading Emotional Intelligence, and somehow it is stirring up old thoughts about, well, thoughts - mostly ideas from Philosophy in the Flesh about how humans think.

From Emotional Intelligence we learn...
1. "The emotional mind is far quicker than the rational mind," working so rapidly and automatically that its appraisals never enter conscious awareness.
2. However, there are two paths to emotions, one quick and one slow. "Because it takes the rational mind a moment or two longer to register and respond than it does the emotional mind, the 'first impulse' in an emotional situation is the heart's, not the head's. There is also a second kind of emotional reaction, slower than the quick-response, which simmers and brews first in our thoughts before it leads to feeling. This second pathway to triggering emotions is more deliberate, and we are typically quite aware of the thoughts that lead to it.... In this slower sequence, more fully articulated thought precedes feeling.... By contrast, in the fast-response sequence feeling seems to precede or be simultaneous with thought."
3. The emotional mind is symbolic. "The logic of the emotional mind is associative; it takes elements that symbolize a reality, or trigger a memory of it, to be the same as that reality. That is why similes, metaphors, and images speak directly to the emotional mind.... one object symbolizes another; one feeling displaces another and stands for it; wholes are condensed into parts. There is no time, no laws of cause-and-effect.... What something reminds us of can be far more important than what it 'is....' While the rational mind makes logical connection between causes and effects, the emotional mind is indiscriminate, connecting things that merely have similar striking features."
4. The emotional mind is childlike. It is categorical, seeing things in "black and white, with no shades of gray.... Another sign of this childlike mode is personalized thinking, with events perceived with a bias centering on oneself.... The childlike mode is self-confirming, suppressing or ignoring memories or facts that would undermine its beliefs and seizing those that support it.... The emotional mind takes its beliefs to be absolutely true and so discounts any evidence to the contrary." This means "actions that spring from the emotional mind carry a particularly strong sense of certainty."
5. The emotional mind reacts to the present as though it were the past.
6. The emotional mind is state-specific. "In the mechanics of emotion, each feeling has its own distinct repertoire of thought, reactions, even memories."

All of the above came from Appendix B of Emotional Intelligence, which is so far the most interesting part of the book. Since, I don't have Philosophy in the Flesh here with me, this part will be a lot shorter and mostly taken from an interview with George Lakoff about the book.

His three main points are...
1. The mind is inherently embodied. "What our bodies are like and how they function in the world structures the very concepts we can use to think.... Conceptual structure and the mechanisms of reason arise ultimately from and are shaped by the sensory-motor system of the brain and body."
2. Thought is mostly unconscious (see above for partial discussion of this)
3. Abstract concepts are largely metaphorical, "based on metaphors that make use of our sensory-motor capacities to perform abstract inferences." Metaphor is "not a minor kind of trope used in poetry, but rather a fundamental mechanism of mind."

So, in conclusion...
Human beings are more like words than numbers
We are more like poetry than equations
We are more like dancers than computers
We are more like dreams than encyclopedias
We are more like gods than robots
We are more like unknowing than knowing
We are more like chaos than order
We are metaphors



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