Kevin Aylward B.Sc.
Contrary to popular television programs such as Start Trek, and common conventions, emotions are perfectly logical, and are exactly what is expected from the theory of Replicators. Without emotions, we simple would not be here. For example, how long would you survive for if you didn't feel pain?
What is an Emotion
Although the exact details of emotion mechanisms, are currently not well understood, what they are, qualitatively is quite simple to explain. It is held here, in accordance with the Definitions, that emotions are nothing more than traits of a Replicator. The Replicator, in this case being, the components of the physical structure of the brain. That is:
An emotion is an entity that is physically constructed from DNA, utilizing the physical genes of the human brain/body, that is, a emotion must be a gene trait(s). Since all of the general traits of a human Replicator are well replicated and selected, emotions must satisfy the properties of such traits, i.e. they must be selfish.
Support for this argument is contained in the 4th postulate, the no magic axiom.
In reality, it matters not the slightest that the physical mechanics of emotions might be spread all over the body, all that matters is that there is the equivalent trait, however distributed. The theory of Replicators is completely independent of any physical mechanisms.
Definition of an Emotion - a conscious trait of a Replicator
The justification for this definition is on the basis of the predictions that such a definition makes.
Note that the fact that a particular emotion may be the combination of many traits, does not effect the arguments presented here.
Note - the attempt may fail. Physical Replicants have no foresight. They obviously can't predict that one particular joke should make you laugh rather than another one.
It is held here that morals select which emotions are selected for a given environmental input, and it is such emotions that instructs behavior, it follows therefore that an emotion is a trait of a Trait Selector Replicator.
All Emotions Are Inherently Selfish
Since, it has been held that an emotion is trait of a Replicator, and by observation, a well replicated, varied and selected trait of a Replicator, it directly follows from the Darwinian Algorithm, that emotions must be selfish. That is, emotions must be so "designed" as to aid the replication numbers of its Replicator. The Replicator in this case, being the DNA of a host individual.
An emotions Replication function can be be deduced by simple, and obvious inspection, as noted here.
Where "interests" can be taken as the effort to maximize replication numbers of its Replicator, although in general, the actual method maybe somewhat indirect, and is explained in more detail in other papers.
Love - recognition that someone has something to aid your interests.
Anger - recognition that someone does something to impede your interests.
Emotional Pain - recognition that you have been emotionally impeded against your interests
Physical Pain - recognition that you have been physically
Envy - recognition that someone has something, instead of you, that would aid your interests.
Pride - recognition that you have gained something that aids your interests.
Guilt - recognition that you have done something that might impede your interests.
Fear - recognition that something may impede your interests.
Jealousy - recognition that someone has something, instead of you, that you desire for your own interest.
Hurt - recognition that your interests have been impeded.
Sexual Pleasure - incentive to replicate!
Sexual Attractiveness - recognition that someone has superior replication quality.
Selfishness - recognition that you want to keep something that aids your interest.
Disgust at others Selfishness - recognition that someone has something that you want for your interests.
Disgust - left for the reader:-)
Happiness - recognition that your interests have been aided.
Hunger - recognition that you must eat to prevent yourself being impaired.
Morals - recognition of morals that maximize ones interest, i.e. it feels like the right thing to do.
Understanding/awareness - recognition that one understands ones emotions.
Consciousness/awareness - recognition of your emotions.
The fact that all emotions can be explained as selfish, is support for the view that they are indeed traits that are consistent with the general properties of traits as defined in Replicator theory.
Suppose a competitor male has taken the female mate of a male. Random brain connections will cause many responses to such a situation. Suppose, the response to this action, of a typically connection was to simple walk away, the probability of propagating ones own Replicating genes via that particular female, would be greatly diminished. The male would certainly have lost his gene Replicating vehicle to another. However, if for example, the response was to, for example, attack the competitor, there is a probability that he could recover his gene propagating vehicle, and thus Replicate that trait as described in General Replicator Theory. This response, in this example, is the emotion named "anger".
Prisoners Dilemma and Guilt
The prisoners dilemma is the rout of most apparent discrepancies from selfishness. That is, cooperation between individuals result in a net advantage to the individual. This is why the term selfish is used. That is, although aid may be given to others, it is ultimately for a perceived payback to oneself. This is the case even when a cursory understanding might indicate otherwise.
What prevents individuals taken an action that would be detrimental to them in the long run, despite an apparent and erroneous short time advantage? It is guilt. If it were not for guilt, the recognition of the consequences of ones actions, arguably, society might well exist in anarchy.
It shown below that a "feel good" emotion can be caused to exist, irrespective of whether or not the target of such an emotion is actually in the best interests of the Replicator. Satisfying this "feel good" emotion, is enough to justify the notion that all actions are fundamentally selfish.
Emotions Drive Behavior
It is an observation that our emotions tell us how to physically behave in a given situation. For example, if someone hits us, we might well get angry, and deliberately hit back. Of course, there also are many behaviors that are essentially, automatic, with no conscious intervention, but this aspect is not relevant for the purposes of this particular discussion
Why is it that the more complicated behavior actually requires emotionally driven behavior, i.e. consciousness driven behavior, rather than than just non conscious automatic responses?
This is the so called hard problem of consciousness, and is addressed in The Hard Problem and Consciousness
Consciousness is summarized here as :
understanding what behavior to take that attempts to maximize it's Replicator numbers, in a given environment.
Morals and Emotions
It has been held that morals are:
defined as a meme trait of a Replicator, such that that trait attempts to maximize a Replicators replication numbers.
It is now held, that although emotions, are physically experienced,
emotions are instructed as to the specific situations that they respond to, by the moral traits of their Replicator.
Support for this assumption:
It is well accepted that whether or not someone experiences certain emotions, with a similar stimulus, depends on the situation. For example, killing a killer or killing an innocent person will often invoke completely different emotional responses. The only physical difference, as perceived by the host Replicator experiencing these situations, are the meme moral traits held internally to that Replicator. Therefore, those meme traits must be what instructs what emotion is invoked for a particular situation.
An extended argument to this might be, what is the emotion generated by killing the killer of a killers killer? This rapidly gets complicated. To solve this problem in hardware (genes) is clearly going to involve a very complicated system, one that is essentially, not realizable. Thus, a software (meme) approach must be used. This is why we have software driving computers. To make them general purpose enough to solve a variety of unexpected new situations. Evolution solved this problem by making emotions dependant on meme traits inputted by the environment, in addition to basic gene traits.
Striking It Home That Moral Memes Select Emotional Responses
There is no magic, by assumption. The above actually happens. People truly feel different emotions for similar conditions. The explanation can not be genetic as it is way too complicated for genes to deal with. It must therefore be due to what is stored in the brain by environmental conditioning, i.e. stored as memes. There is no other choice. Morals select what emotions should be instigated for a particular environment, and such emotions drive the physical response of the individual to such environmental conditions. Its that simple.
Comment - Emotions are, obviously, also instructed by all traits of their Replicator, moral, mores, genetic or otherwise and such instructions are not excluded by the above observation. The above observation is being highlighted due to its application to environmental adaptability.
Arguably, there is a feature similar to a computers hardware bios function in humans to automatically instruct physical responses in certain basic circumstances. However, it is held here that environmental programming, of humans by memes, determine much of an individuals emotional response, and hence physical action resulting from such emotions.
An example of meme programming of taste is here.
Self Referral Of Moral Emotion
It is held that there is an emotion "Morals", that is, a conscious recognition that an event satisfies its own moral (meme programming) code. Clearly, what is considered emotionally "correct", i.e. maximizes Replicators numbers, is a function of itself, as it is the memes that instruct the Replicator as to what emotion a "Morals" emotion should instigate in the first place. This self referral means that it is possible for any set of morals and Morals to be instigated, irrespective of whether or not they maximize Replicators numbers in the short term.
The above has implications in that runaway, completely purposeless, codes of conduct can be undertaken and justified, moralistically, as "the right thing to do". The typical root to such purposeless code is simply a mutation of an existing moral. These memes propagate because one of the most simplest selection methods that can be used to select and copy existing maximizing traits, is to simple to copy those traits that are already popular. This assumption can obviously be incorrect, but once instigated will invoke more copying between Replicators, further increasing its popularity. These false memes may also be advantages to their genes. For example, the catholic religion meme set prohibits birth control. However, clearly, long term determinate to the human Replicator by any meme, will result in that particular meme being extinguished.
Nature Verses Nurture
It is noted here that emotions are instructed both by memes and genes, i.e. virtual and hardware traits. For example, hunger is clearly an emotion that requires no external memetic input. In any given situation, it may be difficult to identify just what type of trait is dominating behavior.
These papers may be freely copied only for non commercial use,
provided full credit is given to the author.
© Kevin Aylward 2003 - all rights reserved