Friday, June 01, 2007

Equations

A concept is a way of thinking.

An emotion is a way of feeling.

A body is a way of life.

8 comments:

mongibeddu said...

I immediately wanted to rearrange the terms, and wondered how true those alternative equations might be. If these equations are tautologies, 100% true, what's the percentage on "A concept is a way of feeling"?

Ben F.

Thomas Basbøll said...

Good question.

I think I'm committed to zero as a short answer.

But then we could talk about what "way" means. An emotion "facilitates" or "supports" feelings of a particular kind.

An emotion determines a specific "feeling" that goes with an experience; a concept determines a specific "thought".

Concepts may impinge on the way we feel, just as one may not "feel like thinking". But they don't, properly speaking, determine how we feel. Their effects on feeling are incidental.

You are right that this more like logic than psychology of course.

mongibeddu said...

An emotion determines a specific "feeling" that goes with an experience; a concept determines a specific "thought".

I'm not sure I know what you mean by determine, but the example that first came to mind was "rigor." If I'm understanding your usage correctly: the concept of rigor doesn't just determine a specific thought about propositions, but a specific feeling that goes along with the experience of thinking them.

Is "A body is a way of thinking" more or less true than "A concept is a way of feeling"?

Ben F.

Thomas Basbøll said...

It is less true. While a body must always try to live, on pain of betraying itself, it need not always try to think.

Put differently: the body must be "lived" to be experienced, just as the concept must be "thought". You do not experience your body, but your concepts, when thinking.

"Rigor" is a word. It may name a concept or an emotion.

It is not the concept of rigor that determines how we feel about some propositions, but the emotion of rigor.

"Conditions" may be a better word than "determines".

The concept only conditions the thought, its clarity.

The emotion conditions the feeling, its intensity.

The thought and felt rigor of a given proposition are not the same experience, nor do they depend on the same features of the proposition experienced.

mongibeddu said...

I see what you're saying, but it seems to me that you are being very finicky about what gets called a concept or emotion, insofar as something like "rigor" (a better example might be "melancholy") can be experienced as either. Concepts are lived, not just understood; emotions are understood, not just lived.

How about saying, "When the content of consciousness conditions thought, it acquires the character of a concept; and when it conditions feeling, it acquires the character of an emotion"?

And bodies do condition thinking; feeling too. The stomach cramp that makes me aware of my anxiousness and allows me to contemplate it is...what?

Ben F.

Thomas Basbøll said...

The occasion of a thought is not the condition of its possibility. The stomach cramp that occasions your contemplation is not the concept of anxiety.

The cramp is incidental, an "incident" (in the diplomatic sense, perhaps).

The concept of anxiety is (I think) inadequate to the experience. The body survives this inadequacy.

To understand an emotion is to misunderstand it.

"When the content of consciousness conditions thought," you say, "it acquires the character of a concept." I think we're on the same page here, talking about the same experience.

But I will insist that the concept is an a priori condition of conscious content. It is not until the thing is thought (or felt) that it becomes the "content" of consciousness. I.e., it must be "subsumed" by the concept.

Objects are subsumed by concepts.
Subjects are ... consumed? ... by emotions.

I'll grant I'm stickler for this stuff. We will probably agree that there are important connections between emotions and concepts and that life is very much about these connections.

I will not conflate them. But I am sure perfectly happy lives are available to people who do.

mongibeddu said...

We will probably agree that there are important connections between emotions and concepts.... I will not conflate them. But I am sure perfectly happy lives are available to people who do.

Ouch!

—I will think about consciousness subsumed by its concepts as I drift toward sleep tonight.

Cheers,

Ben F.

Thomas Basbøll said...

Ouch?