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Author Topic: Why do living beings have emotions?  (Read 2235 times)

Offline Arrual

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Why do living beings have emotions?
« on: 31/01/2015 15:45:13 »
Why do most living things have emotions? and why do many animals get depressed?


 

Offline Mayflow

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Re: Why do living beings have emotions?
« Reply #1 on: 31/01/2015 16:48:08 »
Why do most living things have emotions? and why do many animals get depressed?

I am not sure other animals than humans get depressed. Humans tend to read into other animals reactions according to their own emotions, I think.

Personally, I can get a bit bored sometimes, but I don't think I have the capacity to become depressed.
« Last Edit: 31/01/2015 16:51:33 by Mayflow »
 

Offline chiralSPO

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Re: Why do living beings have emotions?
« Reply #2 on: 31/01/2015 17:49:01 »
Emotions are probably different from one species to the next (and somewhat different from one person to the next), but I think it is fairly obvious that many animals (such as birds and mammals) have emotions including depression. Psychologiests have shown decades ago that rats and dogs can acquire "learned helplessness" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Learned_helplessness) that I think is pretty close to depression.

Even now, pharmaceutical companies testing antidepressants, sometimes subject mice or rats to the "forced swim test" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Behavioural_despair_test). Personally, I think this is a very poor model for depression in humans, but it is currently clinically accepted...

As to why we have emotions... I would guess that they are either directly evolutionarily beneficial (being scared of wolves, loving one's immediate family etc. would seem to fit) or at least are the product of adaptations that are evolutionarily beneficial--ie it could arise from the development of memory, complex perception, social behaviors etc.
 

Offline jccc

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Re: Why do living beings have emotions?
« Reply #3 on: 31/01/2015 21:27:29 »
maybe love is within blood
 

Offline evan_au

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Re: Why do living beings have emotions?
« Reply #4 on: 01/02/2015 11:03:57 »
At the species level, the population is made up of a mixture of individuals who are exploratory and "stay at home", aggressive and timid, etc. As the environment changes, the proportions of these characteristics also changes, allowing the species to slowly adapt to slow changes in the environment.

But sometimes changes in the environment occur much faster than the slow adaptation of species, so adaptation must also occur within the lifetime of an individual (regardless of species).

An individual who is too aggressive for its environment will be trained by pain to become more timid and fearful.
An individual who is too timid for its environment will be trained by repeated successes to be more confident and adventurous.
These emotional and behavioral changes are mediated by hormones in the body and brain - perhaps similar to the human interactions with cortisol, adrenaline, oxytocin and dopamine.

So I suggest that something like emotions should be present in most species, to help rapid adaptation to a changing environment.
And one day, we may find it necessary to implement something similar to emotions in computers, to improve their rate of innovation, and improve their interaction with humans.
 

Offline cheryl j

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Re: Why do living beings have emotions?
« Reply #5 on: 01/02/2015 16:55:44 »
I think feelings and emotions are basically information, representations of the body's state, or information about the evaluation of objects and events.

Physical state feelings, like pain and hunger, represent information about internal physical conditions - information about bodily disturbance or peripheral tissue trauma, or the need for food.
Emotional feelings are information about our physical and psychological evaluation of actual events, or  memories, thoughts, or predictions,  and our learned associations to them.
Mood feelings represent emotional states that are not tied to a particular situation, and are less well differentiated than other emotional feelings.  They inform consciousness of one's pre-existing psychological state or response bias.

Feelings "sum up" our evaluation of objects, events, people, ideas, and so on, with regard to their meaning for us, our attitudes to them, or our judgments about them, what we understand, distrust, are familiar with. This processing can be both conscious and subconscious.

I think feelings are the primary “language” of any animal that has consciousness, but no language. How does a conscious animal flag an event or an object in conscious awareness, memory, or imagination as being good, bad, delicious,  risky,  threatening,  effective, ineffective, sexy,  or surprising, without the words "good, bad, delicious, risky, threatening effective", etc?  What is the “short form” for qualitatively flagging an event instead of replaying an entire entire memory in ones head? What would you use if you had no words to do that?

Emotions also serve social communication as well.  Emotional displays (like screaming in terror) are likely to provoke a similar or appropriate feeling and response in others.

Whether it's the language of words, or the language of feeling, it’s information, either way. We have may both, but we evolved from animals that didn’t. If emotions are more powerful drivers of behavior than word-based thoughts, perhaps it is because feelings have been with us a great deal longer. Humans and other animals who ignored fear or didn’t remember or express fear, suffered the consequences,  where as we have only occasionally died from mis-phrasing a sentence.
« Last Edit: 01/02/2015 16:57:56 by cheryl j »
 

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Re: Why do living beings have emotions?
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