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feeling vs facts


jfoldbar
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im not sure what section this topic should be in, so feel free to move if necessary.

i was discussing a topic with a work mate and wanted some input. also the topic/question may be hard to explain, but here goes.

 

the way our brain works seems to be a mix of of calculations and feelings.

we get up in the morning to go to work(calculation) we see on the tv that its snowing outside and get warm clothes(calculation) we go to the toilet (it could be argued this is a biological calculation) we are hungry(calculation) but then we have to choose what to eat (feeling).

another scenario

we can calculate that by driving faster we are more likely to crash. but then we get a 'feeling' that the traffic ahead is getting heavy, even though we dont notice that we actually observed that, so the calculating mind slows down a little.

 

so my question is, do "feelings" actually exist or are they ALL just calculations in a sub-conscience that we are not even aware that our mind is doing?

what we think may be a feeling that the traffic ahead is getting heavy could be the calculations our sub-conscience  is doing..... (((3 cars in front brake lights came on for a second. the red car thats beside me that is usually driving faster than me is today going a little slower than me. there seems to be a few extra trucks up ahead than usual.back at the servo i think i saw a mobile crane pull out onto the road as i was going in to get petrol.)))))

 

we could get a "feeling" that we want to go out for a steak,or that we like jenny more than sarah, or a "feeling" that bob is gunna call us asking if we saw his wallet anywhere. but these can be explained but calculations that our sub-conscience is doing.

 

do feelings actually exist?

 

 

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2 minutes ago, jfoldbar said:

do feelings actually exist?

I assume by "feeling" you mean some sort of "intuitive understanding" (rather than emotions). In which case, it depends how you define "feelings" and how you define "calculation". Which you seem to have understood by the hedging around this terms in your post.

Clearly, the brain does some "calculation" that we are not aware of, and we may only become aware of the result as a "feeling".

You might want to read Thinking, Fast and Slow where Daniel Kahneman looks at these two ways of thinking, how they each work, the effects they have, etc.

https://www.amazon.com/Thinking-Fast-Slow-Daniel-Kahneman/dp/0374533555

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5 minutes ago, jfoldbar said:

so my question is, do "feelings" actually exist or are they ALL just calculations in a sub-conscience that we are not even aware that our mind is doing?

False dilemma. It doesn't need to be either/or. I think most of what people label "feelings" are really unconscious calculations, but there is certainly an emotional aspect that can override those calculations. You may unconsciously register all the things that are predicting traffic will slow down dramatically very soon, but you may hit the brakes because you flashed on a car crash scene in a movie you saw last night, and got a little scared.

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1 minute ago, jfoldbar said:

this could be argued as a calculation

Everything the brain does, including "feelings" (however you define that), require the brain to do some sort of processing of inputs, memories, etc to produce a result. So it is all "computation" (however you define that).

Unless you can show that "computation" and "feelings" are actually different things, the question doesn't really make sense.

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3 minutes ago, Phi for All said:

I think you're defining "calculation" differently than I am. Do you see fight and flight as equally calculating, or does one involve more uncontrollable emotion? 

on the outside we could see fight or flight as a feeling. but deep in our thoughts we are processing :::::: what are the chances of me surviving if a run/fight, ive only been in 1 fight before and i lost, i have been in 3 races before and i won 2 of them, it has just rained and the ground is muddy/slippery, i twisted my ankle 3 weeks ago.......... all calculations that our brain does instantly without us even noticing. so we label the decision our brain makes a "feeling". but it is in fact very fast calculations

9 minutes ago, Strange said:

Everything the brain does, including "feelings" (however you define that), require the brain to do some sort of processing of inputs, memories, etc to produce a result. So it is all "computation" (however you define that).

Unless you can show that "computation" and "feelings" are actually different things, the question doesn't really make sense.

hhhmmm. are you suggesting then that feeling dont actually exist but are something that the human mind has put a label on in order to function as more than a purely biological entity.

 

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Anecdotal, of course, but I've experienced plenty of instances where people succumbed to an emotion that was at complete odds with any kind of reasonable, calculated behavior. I've seen people injure themselves severely trying to avoid a bee sting (no, it turned out they weren't allergic). Many people see a wild animal and let their emotions ("look how CUTE!") override their common sense, and they have to approach it like their house cat.

3 minutes ago, jfoldbar said:

on the outside we could see fight or flight as a feeling. but deep in our thoughts we are processing :::::: what are the chances of me surviving if a run/fight, ive only been in 1 fight before and i lost, i have been in 3 races before and i won 2 of them, it has just rained and the ground is muddy/slippery, i twisted my ankle 3 weeks ago.......... all calculations that our brain does instantly without us even noticing. so we label the decision our brain makes a "feeling". but it is in fact very fast calculations

In that case, you're purposely using a definition of "calculations" that can be applied to every situation, which renders your opening question meaningless. I've shown there are times when an emotional "feeling" can override a calculated assessment, so I think it's necessary to have a definition of "calculations" that encompasses that.

Btw, there are situations where all the calculations in the world can't override what your emotions are doing to you. Did you know it's practically impossible to raise your arms above your head to wave for help when you know you're drowning? If you were doing your version of calculations, you might think that would be a great time to scream for help, but your fear blocks that tactic as well. You can't do anything but push downwards with your arms and gulp air, no matter how you calculate.

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I think what's been described as a feeling, is more to do with memories than calculations. 

The mind uses similar events in the past to project what might be happening in the present. There's a bit of calculation involved, but you are really assessing how similar this event is to a range of previous ones. 

I have had mistaken feelings when dealing with problems, on rare occasions. You can make a mental picture of what you think is going on, and get fixated on it so that you become convinced that your mental picture is real, and you block out the actual real-life explanation.

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