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emotions are a power strategy that change our character (physically through neuroplasticity)

The Passions and the meaning of life by Robert Solomon
Its basic philosophical premise infleunced by both heidegger and sartre is that "Solomon's basic thesis is: "every emotion is a strategy, a purposive attempt to structure our world in such a way as to maximize our sense of personal dignity and self-esteem." I not only believe it a strategy as in an intentional one, but an unconscious one in the sense of wilson and malcolm gladwell's adaptive unconscious which then turns into FLOW and that mastery of one's emotions + aristotle's nichomachean ethics can establish a new character through conscious decision making and the power of Epigenetics.

It is a power strategy also in that it is an organization of reactions and like the description of a personality order it is pattern-related, this is eventually done enough in our plastic minds to change who we are. this is my idea.

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    Mar 27 2011: Yes..that's it exactly..when we give our emotions rein we are manipulating others and engaging the world from an egocentric fortress that precludes being consciously present to events that affect us, our communities and the world..we are closing ourselves out of the possibility of co-creation. (lots on this..see for example Invitation to Love by Thomas Keating.). The emotions themselves are not is our automatic response system that limits our possibilities and which needs to be checked. The things is to notice what we are feeling,especially things we feel strongly, acknowledge and hold that without judgment, to let whatever wisdom and insight that lies behind the emotion rise up and speak to us, to act from that wisdom and insight.
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    Mar 24 2011: What would happen if humans wouldn't have any emotions at all ?
    Would that make our world a better one or a worse one ?
  • Mar 24 2011: Hi Steven,

    You are certainly well read, and I think you are on the right track with your idea, but lets not call emotions "strategies." Emotions, I suggest, are innate appetites or needs that operate homeostatically and independently, like a thermostat. If the level of some vital survival need falls below a critical threshold, we experience pain, like hunger, which is nature's signal to take action to fix the problem. When the desired resource level is reacquired, we are back to the set-point (homeostatic equilibrium) and feel good again. The rational mind's job, as I see it, is to figure out strategies to keep human nature's 10 survival thermostats comfortably at their set-points. This is the basic idea behind Antonio Damasio's work on emotions (David Brooks refers to Damasio in his TED talk). It is also the basic idea behind my book, Primal Management.

    I think human beings have the following social/technological appetites that compliment the biologic appetites to create a comprehensive bio/social survival system: 1) An appetite to innovate and develop technologies (innovation appetite), 2) an appetite to master the survival technology of our tribe (competency appetite), 3) an appetite use the tribe's survival technologies to achieve day-to-day goals (achievement appetite), 4) an appetite to deploy the tribe's shared survival technology as a coordinated and collaborative unit (cooperation appetite), and 5) an appetite protect oneself and one's tribe from physical and psychological harm (self-protection appetite). In Primal Management I show where these social thermostats exist in the brain, which neurotransmitters regulate them, and how human beings go haywire if any of these vital survival systems are damaged by disease or injury.

    What do you think of this homeostatic idea (emotional system separate from, but intertwined with, the conscious strategy-management system)?


    Paul Herr
    Author of Primal Management
  • K JAI

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    Mar 22 2011: Dear Steven
    I do believe you are right, emotions are very powerful and can completely change the mind hence changing lives completely.
    Even the mind of the most convinced person can when given the right information and be made to think more, can completely awaken a deeper understanding and change or 'reboot" their minds anew.
    Love being possibly the strongest emotion is the most powerful.
    This is why when people are passionate they can change the world.
    This is also why I wish more people would connect to their emotions, because emotions are like an honestly policy they
    keep us 'grounded as to what is really important.
    You have probably read it but there is a book titled 'the brain that changes itself if you have not you would possibly enjoy it
    All the best
    • Mar 23 2011: emotions are definitely the only real way anymore to figure out what we value, i defnitely appreciate them. and that book sounds amazing i'll check it out