Saturday, January 2, 2010

Psychology Class- Part 4 of 12

In Part 3 I posted the first of my "Reflection on Learning" assignments that I saw as pertinent to the discussion. Today will be a post that I placed in the class forum about a simple comment my professor made in the previous session. I started it out with quite a bit of context for the benefit of the other students, so I won't go into it up here.
Here it is:------

Last week you had mentioned that the emotion center of the brain was vital when making decisions- if the emotional capacity of the brain was not functioning, an individual could not make simple decisions. I mentioned that I wondered if leaving the emotional capacity intact and removing the reasoning center would result in the same or if decisions could still be made (regardless of whether or not they were good ones).

(Fellow Student), you and I had a short discussion on the interrelatedness of the emotions and reason in making decisions during a break too. (how the brain goes back and forth between the two before finally accepting something and acting on it)

Anyway, I think I had an aha moment last night. I put everything down on "paper". Of course, this is no where near complete, but this kind of shows where my mind has been going on this subject...

Just for a little bit more context, a friend and I have been in a discussion about whether someone should focus on making sure they have correct beliefs or correct actions (assuming that one will lead to the other). So, I naturally take this all in that direction. I might need a flow chart to really show what I'm thinking...but that would just be nerdy. :) Here it is:

Humans cannot make decisions without the emotional part of the brain functioning.
How do reason and emotion work together to make decisions?

(Reason) Premise A is proposed
(Emotion) Premise A is accepted because it feels comfortable, satisfactory or will lead to truth
(Reason) Premise B is proposed
(Emotion) Premise B is accepted because it feels comfortable, satisfactory or will lead to truth
(Reason) Conclusion is proposed
(Emotion) Conclusion is accepted because it feels that it leads to truth (satisfactory and comfortable)

Notice that I stated that a premise will be accepted based on the feeling of comfort, satisfaction, or perception that it will lead to truth. These all are emotions that stimulate the pleasure center of the brain. The stimulation of the pleasure center encourages the behavior. The opposite stimulation spot is the pain center (next door to the pleasure center). The feeling of being uncomfortable, dissatisfied, or fear that it will lead to fallacy will stimulate the pain center. The pain center communicates that whatever is being done needs to stop before further “damage” is done.

The emotions will determine if a premise or conclusion is accepted or rejected. If the person does not like the premise or conclusion, they may reject it, not for logical reasons, but for emotional reasons. This will stifle the particular line of reasoning. If a premise is not accepted (whether for valid reasons or not), then the conclusion will not be accepted either. Emotions can trump logic and reason when it comes to a person’s acceptance of something.

What if the emotion(s) triggered by the premise or conclusion stimulate both the pleasure and pain centers (conflict)? The person must then use the same process (just on a deeper level), to decide which emotion should be accepted.

I want to also include “familiarity”. Familiarity normally makes a person feel comfortable (pleasure center) which will cause the person to accept the premise or conclusion regardless of logical validity or reasonableness (unless there is a conflict, then the possibility to reject becomes available).

The sensed data from the environment serves as a source for premises. If the interpretation of the perspective is wrong (from further reason and emotion), the conclusion is false- whether its accepted or not. An incomplete perspective always runs the risk of providing a wrong interpretation; therefore, a more complete perspective is desirable. This can be obtained via more investigation.

An acceptance of a conclusion results in a belief.
An acceptance of at least one conclusion (one belief) must exist to make a decision.
Actions are the results of decisions.
Therefore at least one belief is required before an action can take place

Since actions are the results of decisions,
And decisions are the results of beliefs,
It would make sense to make sure that one has right beliefs rather than right actions because right actions will follow from right beliefs.

Actions do inform beliefs by affecting the environment. Our senses of the environment do serve as premises in the argument above. So, it could be argued that actions do inform our beliefs. However, ultimately, a few sets of foundational assumptions must be made (as the beginning premises) before we can even begin to use the environment (and actions) as premises. This takes us back to having right beliefs first.

How do I determine if a statement is a primary foundational assumption?

1. If the statement is required before the statement, “I make no assumptions,” can be made.
2. If the statement invalidates the statement, “I make no assumptions.”
3. If the negation of the statement is self-refuting.

Primary foundational assumptions:

The law of non-contradiction is true.
Truth exists.
Truth can be known.
I exist.

How do I determine secondary foundational assumptions?

1. The statement requires all the primary assumptions
2. The statement is required before investigation of any natural phenomena may begin

Secondary foundational assumptions:

The world we live in exists.
Our senses can be trusted to reveal truth about the world we live in
Laws of Logic can be trusted to use the truth revealed by our senses to reveal further truth about reality.

I ended that abruptly because it was about midnight on a work night when I wrote it. As mentioned at the beginning of the forum post, this is not complete. Next week I'll go a bit deeper into it.

For easier navigation in this series:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9
Part 10
Part 11
Part 12

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