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  1. Today
  2. "Emotions are tools of cognition."

    It's not whether emotions are tools of cognition--for they aren't. Introspection is a tool of cognition. Introspection studies the data and emotions are data. --Brant
  3. "Emotions are tools of cognition."

    Yes, at the link. It is necessary to register an account with JSTOR, in this instance, and you can only read it online (no copy-pasting or local storage). I will check around to see if it is available more directly, through the Journal of Ayn Rand Studies ... I will add a link here if it is available without registering. [Added] Tony, Marsha has the full text of her journal article at her website: ... it is not in the published format, but we/you/I can copy-paste extracts from it, unlike with the format at JSTOR. [+] See also a neat semi-introduction to her thoughts on emotion -- here at OL during her time commenting here:
  4. "Emotions are tools of cognition."

    I did reply to the lobotomizing scenario. I said more or less, it precisely and elegantly plays into Rand's insights. Since, remove the pleasure-pain "mechanism", there can't exist value. Choices? Cognition? Survival? Life-value? Never. There will be all the same dullness... For more, I just remembered Rand's "indestructible robot" - in her writing about value. It can't feel and is immortal, therefore cannot experience values, while man can and does. I must add, that Rand obviously wanted it to be understood, that ~alignment~ of reason-values-emotions is the goal - and such is attainable. She would have named that integration, probably. Absolutely then, there should not be denial (self-repression, contradictions, and so on) of emotionality. IF, one is rational and has rational values.
  5. "Emotions are tools of cognition."

    "If emotions are not tools of cognition, what are they?" Nutshell: Signals of values. (which can equally mean, of one's dis-values also). Enright's essay would be appetizing. Is it available in full, William?
  6. "Emotions are tools of cognition."

    Tony, I don't (although I can see how he arrived at his conclusion). If reason is man's tool of survival (as per Rand) and when you deny emotion from cognition, you can't use it for survival (as demonstrated by the lobotomized folks), what the hell kind of tool is that? I'll tell you what. Crossword puzzles. Try surviving doing crossword puzzles and nothing more. Michael
  7. The Epistemology of Intimidation by Hatred

    Tony, Unfortunately for those who try to hold on to Rand's universality in her theory of concepts, that is arguable. Just as Rand's claim is arguable that sensations are not retained in memory or that, mentally, man is born as a blank slate. (As an aside, on this last point, we come with an innate fear of things that look like snakes and spiders and this is well documented in the earliest of infants. Where did they learn that? They didn't. Like all good mammals, they inherited knowledge of certain things by evolution. They can override that knowledge later, but they can't not not have it at birth.) But back to point, not only are many sensations retained in memory, they--and percepts for that matter (which is a term I don't like as it is a vast oversimplification)--have to have an emotion attached to them in order to be registered in long term memory. No emotion, no memory. Seriously. That's the basic rule and it's true for the overwhelming majority of long-term memory (semantic, episodic and process, autobiographical, etc.). So how do you make concepts without memory? Notice something else. Rand had very little to say about human memory. To Rand's credit, she claimed her theory of concepts was to be considered a theory and nothing more. The good news about her theory of concepts is that it has applicability in some areas and her notions of conceptual common denominator and measurement omission are extremely useful. She flounders, though, on the lower processes of the mind, the part she would call the automatic processes, and in the interaction of these lower automatic processes with conceptual awareness, which she called psycho-epistemology (sometimes with and sometimes without hat tip to Barbara, who coined the term). When Rand dismissed the is-ought problem in "The Objectivist Ethics," she was closer to the truth than even she suspected and outside the bounds of her claim that emotions are not tools of cognition. To the human mind, there is no is without an ought, at least not in human memory. Even the lobotomized folks had emotions attached to their memories when they were formed, although they were unable later to trigger the neural pathways during retrieval because they had been surgically damaged. And even then, new long-term memories in these poor souls were able to be formed with the emotion of curiosity attached. If you want a rather irritating book, but a very good one, on emotions, I recommend How Emotions Are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain by Lisa Feldman Barrett. I read this thing and it was EXTREMELY illuminating. The irritating part is that Barrett kept making the same mistake as Rand, that is, she presumed that if she observed ONE correct thing about emotions, that applied to ALL things about emotions. In Rand's case, Rand claimed she could detect the cause of all her emotions through introspection, which is impossible. (Rand made some other presumptions that don't reflect the reality of the brain, too.) In Barrett's case, she kept claiming, over and over like a mantra or broken record, that her discoveries (which actually are dynamite) prove that man has no free will. When I read the book, I kept thinking, jeez, she sounds just like a Randian villain. But her information was too valuable to dismiss like that. I can dismiss her philosophical musings and still keep her science. Anyway, I think she repeated the mantra so much because, underneath, she knew it was bullshit. However, to be fair to her, there are many cases when you feel like you are making a decision, but your subconscious mind has already made it and you are already acting on it on the neurochemical and hormonal level, not to mention muscular motions--and this has already transpired at the time you think you are making the decision. In these cases, your conscious mind only thinks it is making a choice, but it is lagging behind what your lower brain already did. It's like an optical illusion, except it's a cognitive one. This is a fascinating topic and there is a lot of wonderful stuff out there now to look at. You can limit your understanding of these things to what Rand wrote and, although some of it will be wrong, at least it is organized and you have a somewhat functional framework to think about things. But I cannot recommend strongly enough building out from that framework and seeing what else is out there. The technological advances in understanding this stuff is taking off like a rocket blasting through the roof. And the good news it there is plenty in layman's language and it is backed up by repeatable science. Michael
  8. Yesterday
  9. The Epistemology of Intimidation by Hatred

    Tony, That's not what I was talking about. I was talking about those passages in fiction where Rand goes into the characters musing over things and what and how they thought. I'll repeat it again. She did that with Dagny and Hank, and even Jim Taggart (and Peter Keating), etc. etc. etc. Remember Wynand sitting with a gun observing whether he felt boredom or not so he could decide to blow his brains out or not? (Granted, this example is emotion, but I'm pulling this post out of where the sun doesn't shine instead of looking things up and that came to mind. ) How many times does Rand have a villain evader stare long and hard at a button or something like that to avoid thinking? This is a case of blocking introspection. I could go on and on, but my point is she portrayed the act of introspecting over and over in some of her fictional characters. Sometimes they observed their own emotions. Sometimes they observed their own thought processes. Sometimes they observed their own questions. And so on, Notice she did not do that with John Galt--we never get to see him introspect, we only see him from outside his head--and only a little with Howard Roark. If you want a story that is practically nothing but a portrayal of introspection that covers the gamut of mental actions, see "The Simplest Thing in the Word" in The Romantic Manifesto. Michael
  10. "Emotions are tools of cognition."

    One more recommendation, this one from the Objectivist fold: Marsha Familaro Enright's "If "Emotions Are Not Tools of Cognition," What Are They?: An Exploration of the Relationship Between Reason and Emotion." -- excerpt from first page:
  11. "Emotions are tools of cognition."

    William - Jerry put the case very well, I thought.
  12. Charlottesville Unite the Right Rally Madness

    I, too, like Preston's approach very much. I didn't listen to the podcast, however. I only listen to podcasts if I think they're something of extreme importance. Thanks for quoting that line about "Revenge of the Nerds." Spot on. Ellen
  13. The Epistemology of Intimidation by Hatred

    By tools of *cognition*, surely Rand must mean: perception, integration, differentiation, evaluation, and concept creation. In other words, the entire gamut of reason. But if at one of the stages, an emotion (fear, hatred, etc. - or say, racial prejudice) is allowed by the thinker to cast any influence on his cognition, without doubt his outcomes - in evaluation and of conceptual knowledge - will be badly flawed. That has to be inarguable. Next step he will then act, emotionally and destructively, based on his 'emotional judgment' (evaluation) and false conclusions. "Man is born with an emotional mechanism, just as he is born with a cognitive mechanism; but, at birth, both are "tabula rasa". It is man's cognitive faculty, his mind, that determines the *content* of both. Man's emotional mechanism is like an electronic computer, which his mind has to program--and the programming consists of the values his mind chooses. But since the work of man's mind is not automatic, his values, like all his premises, are the product either of his thinking or of his evasions. ...Emotions are produced by man's premises, held consciously or subconsciously, explicitly or implicitly [...]" VoS (Profound, AR's value--emotion connection....): "The programming consists of the values his mind chooses". I quoted this excerpt, in light of the 'lobotomy of emotional centers' argument. I think Rand would strongly cite those experiments! Because what was surgically severed from his brain resulting in the paralysis of the patient's decision-making ability, is in fact his "emotional mechanism" -- without which the "programming" of his values CAN'T take place. No evaluation, no ability to choose values - psychotic indecision. If one can't feel pain and pleasure, all emotions are gone and "value" becomes null and void.
  14. "Emotions are tools of cognition."

    Thank you, Jerry. Interestingly put. A good locus of disagreement might be the plain-jane term "tool" ... or the more-fraught abstraction "cognition" I know so little about the Vulcan ideal. I had assumed fictional Vulcans made a conscious effort to 'control' their (as deemed by them unnecessary or dangerous or disruptive) emotions. But. I think emotion research will over time add value to the Randian project, even if some folks remain doctrinally-trapped or mentally fenced-in by a slogan. -- another interesting angle for research might be how Artificial Intelligence can become super-AI -- by grasping and manipulating the full range of animal and human emotion. Maybe super-AI can be trained or raised the Vulcan way! Snatched from the jaws of Google: See also the current Skeptic, which has several articles on the dangers of AI: SPECIAL SECTION: ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE DANGER Why We Should Be Concerned About Artificial Superintelligence by Matthew Graves Is Artificial Intelligence an Existential Threat? by Michael Shermer Artificial Intelligence: Simulation, Not Synthesis by Peter Kassan
  15. The Epistemology of Intimidation by Hatred

    Michael, Where's the disagreement? I don't follow. The act of a writer's mind 'imaging' an object or person or episode into literature, I said WAS introspection. "Indirectly" - from reality, ultimately - and "processed" by the author's mind and personal values. And your purpose and aim as an author, is for your reader to reverse the process, from your words, back into the same imagery you 'saw' as closely as possible, all-dependent on your skill with language and his. He too, then will introspect and provide his own mind's imagery, to the word-concepts. Writers are not actually thinking about thinking, they are inwardly "seeing", I believe. What we call "previsualization", in photography.
  16. "Emotions are tools of cognition."

    At the risk of stating the obvious: When a person's capacity for emotion is surgically removed, the intelligence as revealed by intelligence tests is unimpaired but the ability to make decisions is impaired. Ayn Rand's statement that emotions are not tools of cognition still stands but decision making apparently calls for more than just cognition. The Vulcan ideal, kolinahr, apparently can be achieved by surgery. But it is illogical. Lack of ability to make decisions is bad, not good. The correct ideal instead of kolinahr is integration of intellect and emotion into a harmonious whole, perhaps a synergy, the whole being greater than the sum of the parts. Spock, son of Sarek, is not the ideal. Vulcans are not the ideal. Ayn Rand was a better philosopher than Surak. If Ayn Rand had replaced Surak , Vulcans would not be so illogical. Intellect without emotion is thought without action, a computer. Emotion without intellect is action without thought, a bull in a china shop. The 2 integrated is the ideal human, capable of both thought and action.
  17. The topic of emotion in Randland has always interested me. My very first point of contact with Objectivish things online was the place of emotion in cognition. It is interesting to find myself in rough agreement with Michael all these years later. In the midst of a very intriguing conversation with my favourite South African Randian, this by MSK: It's not really fair to truncquote this bit, but readers can plunge back into the front porch thread to gain the flow of discussion, and the hinge-point of disagreement. But besides that, I think I can add a clarifying point in response to this (highlights added): This describes a similar-but-not-identical syndrome that I became aware of by reading the work of Antonio Damasio (whom I have mentioned a few too many times ...). Damasio worked with a neurological patient given the code-name "Elliot." I mentioned 'Damasio,' 'emotion,' and 'Elliot' in one post five years ago: The gist was this: "Here is a teaser from a popular article in the Sydney Morning Herald, Feeling our way to decision" -- which I excerpted in the 2012 post ... Back to Michael's post today ... I'd like to find the famous example ... perhaps Michael can introspect hard and come up with the details. -- this is roughly what I began to think when I learned of the case of "Elliot." I won't belabour the point here, since my "too many times" link above shows the same kind of discussion points I would make this time. Without emotion, one's thinking is crippled. An additional knowledge point would be what "emotional intelligence" is missing in psychopaths (and here I plug the brilliant synthesis of research given in Ken Kiehl's book, The Psychopath Whisperer). Here is a brief extract from the 2010 Scientific American Mind article "Inside the Mind of a Psychopath." -- imagine waking up to a world in which none of these bodily feelings were present in mind, but were mostly inaccessible ... and try to figure out which emotional circuits are blunted to the point of disappearance in the "rational" mind of a psychopath.
  18. The Epistemology of Intimidation by Hatred

    my ability to introspect is feeble compared to that or Normal People. I use my memory and inferential inclinations to solve problems, more than for figuring out why I did such and such.
  19. Charlottesville Unite the Right Rally Madness

    This made it to Real Clear Politics Video. It's a YouTube video by one Ms. Candace Owens (who goes by "Red Pill Black"). The media "muh racists" narrative is not penetrating the heartland among any of the demographic elitist "divide and conquer" divisions. Ms. Owens said the same thing most people outside the media bubble think: those who physically fight in demonstrations are losers who are not worth thinking about, black, white, it doesn't matter. And she, like me, believes that the media doesn't give a shit about normal people and the problems of normal people (the, to them, livestock of America). The media sure as hell don't give a shit about black people. Not really. Ms. Owens said the media is creating a reality show out of race while ignoring actual reality. Michael
  20. Sessions, leaks, security, Manafort and 'false news.'

    Gotta love Ann. Ann Coulter. Ann, pure sweet reason ... wrapped up in quick wit. Ann is a leetle bit upset with the "Emperor-God" Donald Trump, at least according to her remarks in an interview with the Daily Beast. Highlights:
  21. The Epistemology of Intimidation by Hatred

    So you don't. --Brant actually you do, but as described previously by you it's crude and cumbersome but you figured out how to modify your behavior for social reasons
  22. APS and the Global Warming Scam

    I read Goldberg's book--and recommended it to Nathaniel Branden. I know he read it for he spoke favorably of it. --Brant the professors are pimps--I didn't know until recently it was communism all along
  23. The Epistemology of Intimidation by Hatred

    Tony, I'm insisting on this because you are making an error here. Just because referents from reality are inside your mind, that doesn't mean you can't introspect about them. Example: If I think about a chair, I am not introspecting. If I think about my thinking about the same chair, I am introspecting. Just because a referent from reality is involved, that doesn't mean introspection is banished. I think it's even worse. This is one idea where Rand's statement is limited to things like syllogisms, but not for the rest of cognition (not even concept formation using her method). Emotions are tools of cognition. Great ones. They are just not the ONLY tools and, by themselves, they are useless for higher conceptual cognition. But without them, higher cognition means nothing. Here's a very simple example. Lobotomies used to be popular in America. Once the emotional centers were cut off by a gross pick that looked like a bent screwdriver being shoved into the upper part of the subject's eyes and scraped back and forth in their brain, some people (after recovery) were able to function perfectly in a rational sense. They just could not use the information. If they had to make a choice off a menu, for instance, they would take hours and starve until someone made the choice for them. This has been documented countless times. They even knew they didn't like some of the food on the menu, but could not make up their minds not to order it. In a famous example that was talked about a lot, although I am not sure of the details (it's been a long time since I read about it), they sat a man on a railroad track. He was fully aware a train was coming at him, that he would splat all over the place if it hit him, and he would die. But he wouldn't get off the track because he didn't find it important. He was taken off the track if I remember correctly. But don't quote me on any of this since I am going on a vague memory. If I'm not mistaken, this was even a part of a major story in Time Magazine. So what use is cognition if you can't use the information? Can anyone really call that complete cognition? I don't. Michael
  24. The Epistemology of Intimidation by Hatred

    Yes, novel writing and art as a whole, are highly introspective ... imagery drawn from one's consciousness - but still and always, of referents in reality. "Derived from one's awareness of the external world". The novelist re-arranges components of life to suit himself, in his own image (of what is existence, or what it could be). He is literally playing God. My simple explanation of creativity, imagination. Not "her main focus"- well, no, of course. There are plenty bigger fish to fry. But she is also mighty insistent on one knowing and reviewing one's internal state, and does a great service to rationality by removing all the mystique and mystical nonsense from emotions. Why not, when they too, are existents with causality and can be objectively known. Rand's value->emotion connection is profound. Nathaniel Branden went further. I recall one chapter, about guilt, in HtS (and he also pointed out emotional repression within Objectivism he'd observed at NBI). If there is a least favorite topic in O'ist circles, it is emotionality, I've noticed. It's as if, because they aren't "tools of cognition", one's emotions should be shunned. I can't get it. How does anyone not enjoy and appreciate the signals his emotional element sends - and, not want to understand himself (or others, especially others' emotionalist behavior we are surrounded by)? This is all to do with man's consciousness, finally, and its nature.
  25. Correspondence and Coherence blog

    Presidential Tweets Executive Pay and Taxes
  26. The Epistemology of Intimidation by Hatred

    Galt’s Speech, For the New Intellectual, 124 Consciousness is the faculty of awareness—the faculty of perceiving that which exists. Awareness is not a passive state, but an active process. On the lower levels of awareness, a complex neurological process is required to enable man to experience a sensation and to integrate sensations into percepts; that process is automatic and non-volitional: man is aware of its results, but not of the process itself. On the higher, conceptual level, the process is psychological, conscious and volitional. In either case, awareness is achieved and maintained by continuous action. Directly or indirectly, every phenomenon of consciousness is derived from one’s awareness of the external world. Some object, i.e., some content, is involved in every state of awareness. Extrospection is a process of cognition directed outward—a process of apprehending some existent(s) of the external world. Introspection is a process of cognition directed inward—a process of apprehending one’s own psychological actions in regard to some existent(s) of the external world, such actions as thinking, feeling, reminiscing, etc. It is only in relation to the external world that the various actions of a consciousness can be experienced, grasped, defined or communicated. Awareness is awareness of something. A content-less state of consciousness is a contradiction in terms. “Concepts of Consciousness,” Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, 37 Michael, The excerpt is I think useful, here. What should be highlighted is "action" and "content". And, "directly or indirectly". "Awareness is achieved and maintained by continuous *action*". And: "Some object, i.e., some *content*, is involved in every state of awareness". (There is ongoing cross-over between the two. Induction--deduction: Action creates content, while content instigates further action - as I view this). AR says that ~both~ actions, extrospective and introspective, are cognition; while she isolates for introspective (inward) cognition - "one's own psychological actions...such as thinking, feeling, reminiscing, etc." The solid foundation, we know, is -- Identification. Taken from there, I think we have: a). Direct awareness, action applied to the external world. What? How? ("do I know"). Perception, differentiation, integration, evaluation and concept formation; and b). Indirect awareness, of the content prior and present in one's mind perceived also from the external world (by actions of thoughts, emotions, and memories). I believe it's clear, that here Rand's ultimate end is an integration of "psychological" actions, e.g., emotions. What? Why? ("do I feel").
  27. APS and the Global Warming Scam

    This is hardly news. The Left-Progressive bearers of culture have been at war with core American values since the time of Woodrow Wilson. Read "Liberal Fascism" by Jonah Goldberg. During this time, Trotskyites have morphed into the Neo-Cons. Look at the earlier issue of "Commentary". The neo-cons have been pushing the "Forever War" ever since when. With regard to foreign policy the Dreadful Woman Hillary has been aligned with the neo-cons. Please see: and
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