By James Edwards

All in the mind?

By James Edwards

You remember what the Jedi say:

Don’t think — feel

And we all talk in terms of reason and emotion being different things; of thinking and feeling being semi-independent aspects of our state of being. We talk about the "head" and the "heart" as separate vessels for these aspects. But they’re not.

The heart doesn’t really control emotions, it’s just a muscle that pumps blood around the body. And while emotions do have a bio-chemical nature, and as such, are things we genuinely feel, they’re still controlled by the brain; which itself has an electro-chemical nature, and as such, an equally genuine physical presence.

So what is the difference between thinking and feeling? Isn’t it all just in the mind?

  • Dylan FM

    Mate, you just think it’s all in the mind.

  • I’m not sure what this is doing on SitePoint but yes, on more logical days I tend to agree, it’s all in the mind. The more interesting question is – what is mind? Is there more to it than just the brain, more than just those electrochemical reactions at amazingly complex levels of abstraction?

  • Matthias

    I ‘think’ the difference is about intention.

    Begin easy
    And you are right

    Continue right
    And you are easy

    The right way
    To begin easy
    Is to forget the right way

    Sun Tzu

  • Rich

    “Don’t think — feel”

    Um, I’m sure Bruce Lee said that first. Enter the Dragon wasn’t it? Could be wrong though.

  • i have to afgree with Rick, i reckon the great man said it first. prolly enter the dragon.

  • doh, agree, and Rich, too many drinks at lunch :D

  • I *think* this have little to do with Web Tech… but that’s just my opinion!

    Good day!

  • stikkybubble

    OK you asked for this: different areas of the brain are involved, at least some of which operate in opposition to one another. The dorsal and ventral medial prefrontal cortex, to be specific (Gusnard et al 2001). The dorsal MPFC is associated with attending to one’s emotions, the ventral MPFC is associated with attending to task performance.

    I will be really interested if anyone out there has any more to add to this.

    Seriously… what *is* this doing here? Somebody spike his coffee?

  • I have a *feeling* that what we feel and think is all part of the same thing – the organism. If the brain were separated from the body I’m sure that we would think and feel quite differently.

  • I’d question whether or not we’d feel at all if the brain was seperated from the body. I think embodiment plays more of a role than most traditional artificial intelligence research and philosophers give it credit for. Have you ever heard of Rodney Brooks and his work? Subsumption Architecture is an amazing way of building robots that operate without complex symbolic representations; all their reasoning and learning is a result of a group of modules that are designed to achieve a simple goal at varying levels of abstraction. These type of machines wouldn’t be able to function if they had no body. Maybe humans wouldn’t either? Although it’s fiction, even in The Matrix, humans needed bodies to believe and experience the simulation.

  • “Don’t think – feel”

  • stikkybubble

    I agree with vSkyfluxx: there are some really amazing robots out there, check out KRONOS (videos available on the Univ. of Essex site, sorry no time to link) and Leonardo (giant furby)….

    : )

  • Feelings tend to be an unconscious response to some sort of mental stimulation, while thinking is conscious. Notice, however, that I say feelings tend to be unconscious – we’ll just have them without having to think about it, but when that happens, it can be more difficult to control. At the same time, we can consciously choose to have a feeling, such as anger, but have the control to not be angry anymore.

    This is something that is difficult to explain in words – experience does a much better job.

  • phpimpact

    So what is the difference between thinking and feeling? Isn’t it all just in the mind?

    Umm, I don’t know. I’m a programmer, I don’t feel.

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