Thursday, October 27, 2016

628: On the Origin and Nature of the Emotions

Just try to get the picture: psychology didn’t exist, nor psychological research. Traumas  and neuroses…never heard of. 
It is 1670 and there is homo sapiens with his emotions, passions. lust.
Spinoza’s philosophical goal was to offer a kind of instruction to live a good life. One of the main ingredients was insight in your passions and emotions and to control them.
Here you should listen to Spinoza himself. Keep in mind…there only is ONE substance….nature with its laws of physics. 
We are modes of this one substance and thence subject to the laws of nature.
Now I’ll let Spinoza himself talk to you. Look at the picture of his room overhere. Imagine a man with only quill, ink and paper, some candles.No radio, television or computer or internet….
in a world of silence and he writes this as the introduction to his third  chapter of the Ethica “On the Origin and Nature of the Emotions”. When I had read it, I was in awe.
This is Spinoza himself talking to you. Take your time. Throw it in Google Translate, if it may help you understand….. Just read/listen…… 
“Most writers on the emotions and on human conduct seem to be treating rather of matters outside nature than of natural phenomena following nature's general laws. 
They appear to conceive man to be situated in nature as a kingdom within a kingdom: for they believe that he disturbs rather than follows nature's order, 
that he has absolute control over his actions, and that he is determined solely by himself. They attribute human infirmities and fickleness, not to the power of nature in general, 
but to some mysterious flaw in the nature of man, which accordingly they bemoan, deride, despise, or, as usually happens, abuse: 
he, who succeeds in hitting off the weakness of the human mind more eloquently or more acutely than his fellows, is looked upon as a see-er. 
Still there has been no lack of very excellent men (to whose toil and industry I confess myself much indebted), 
who have written many noteworthy things concerning the right way of life, and have given much sage advice to mankind. 
But no one, so far as I know, has defined the nature and strength of the emotions, and the power of the mind against them for their restraint. 
I do not forget, that the illustrious Descartes, though he believed, that the mind has absolute power over its actions, strove to explain human emotions by their primary causes, 
and, at the same time, to point out a way, by which the mind might attain to absolute dominion over them. 
However, in my opinion, he accomplishes nothing beyond a display of the acuteness of his own great intellect, as I will show in the proper place. 
For the present I wish to revert to those, who would rather abuse or deride human emotions than understand them. 
Such persons will, doubtless think it strange that I should attempt to treat of human vice and folly geometrically, 
and should wish to set forth with rigid reasoning those matters which they cry out against as repugnant to reason, frivolous, absurd, and dreadful. 
However, such is my plan. Nothing comes to pass in nature, which can be set down to a flaw therein; for nature is always the same, and everywhere one and the same in her efficacy and power of action; 
that is, nature's laws and ordinances, whereby all things come to pass and change from one form to another, are everywhere and always the same; 
so that there should be one and the same method of understanding the nature of all things whatsoever, namely, through nature's universal laws and rules.
Thus the passions of hatred, anger, envy, and so on, considered in themselves, follow from this same necessity and efficacy of nature; 
they answer to certain definite causes, through which they are understood, and possess certain properties as worthy of being known as the properties of anything else, whereof the contemplation in itself affords us delight. 
I shall, therefore, treat of the nature and strength of the emotions according to the same method, as I employed heretofore in my investigations concerning God and the mind. 
I shall consider human actions and desires in exactly the same manner, as though I were concerned with lines, planes, and solids.”

There is so much to say about his words. We’ll save that for the next lecture…thank you :-))

Main Sources:
MacMillan The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2nd edition
Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 1995
Spinoza: Tractatus de emendatione intellectus (1660)
Spinoza: Ethica (1677)
Dan Garrett, (ed.), “Cambridge Companion to Spinoza” (2001)

The Discussion

[13:27] herman Bergson: Bu tthis may be a little touch and hard to understand....
[13:27] herman Bergson: I made a small summary of what Spinoza said....
[13:27] herman Bergson: a sec
[13:27] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): hmm this was a bit complex indeed
[13:28] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): google translates this is a rather funny way
[13:28] herman Bergson: Was affraid so Beertje....
[13:28] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): i don't understand it all
[13:28] herman Bergson: the language is rather complex....
[13:28] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): no kidding!
[13:28] herman Bergson: But let me give you the summary
[13:28] herman Bergson: ----------
[13:28] herman Bergson: - Others say emotions are a world of their own for man
- and emotions are weaknesses of man, disturbing his true nature
- many write about the right way of life…
But no one, so far as I know, has defined the nature and strength of the emotions, and the power of the mind against them for their restraint. (Little lie, I think….the Stoics did:-)
( What he accuses Descartes of isn’t clear… primary causes…Have to check up on that)
- Those who see emotions as weaknesses will wonder about me treating them geometrically (by which Spinoza means…within his own metaphysical system)
- Emotions aren’t a flaw  but part of nature
[13:29] herman Bergson: this is what he says....
[13:29] Alina Gabilondo: hmmm
[13:30] herman Bergson: The basic idea is that he says that other writers see emotions as unnatural actually
[13:30] herman Bergson: a flaw in man.....
[13:30] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ok
[13:30] Alina Gabilondo: i am afraid i have nothing to comment
[13:30] herman Bergson: and Spinoza then says.....
[13:30] Alina Gabilondo: too different definitions of emotions
[13:30] herman Bergson: I'll show you that emotions are a part of nature
[13:31] herman Bergson: and that is his most interesting point.....
[13:31] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): i think emotions makes us human
[13:31] herman Bergson: he  says....emotions are modes of matter.....of our body....they are physical
[13:32] herman Bergson: no Beertje.....
[13:32] herman Bergson: Also a dog can get angry....have emotions of joy.....
[13:32] Alina Gabilondo: animals have emotions too
[13:32] herman Bergson: so that is not what makes is differ from other parts of nature
[13:32] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): its indeed States (modes) of the mind
[13:32] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): hmm I parrot even cries when i call him naughty
[13:33] Alina Gabilondo: hahahahah
[13:33] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):
[13:33] herman Bergson: It really might be the case Beertje that the bird has an unpleasant experience when you use  that word....
[13:34] herman Bergson: as it may be associated with small punishments it got in the past when the word was used
[13:34] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): yes, true
[13:34] Alina Gabilondo: but in general too??
[13:35] herman Bergson: in geneal too what Alina?
[13:35] Alina Gabilondo: u want to say that emotions are experience result??
[13:35] herman Bergson: emotions are, as Spinoza says, states of the body.....
[13:36] herman Bergson: modes of being
[13:36] herman Bergson: And here comes Antonio Damasio, the neuroscientist......
[13:36] herman Bergson: what makes us human is not emotions....but feelings.....!
[13:37] herman Bergson: I'll not elaborate on this yet, but let me give you one explanation.....
[13:37] herman Bergson: when someone is angry, you can see it in his face.....
[13:37] herman Bergson: a dog shows his teeth....
[13:38] herman Bergson: but Damasio says...there is more...there is a feeling of angry....
[13:38] herman Bergson: Let me put it in another way......
[13:38] Alina Gabilondo: is he modern person??
[13:39] herman Bergson: oh yes....His book Lookin gfor Spinoza is from 2003
[13:39] Alina Gabilondo: aga
[13:39] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ok
[13:39] herman Bergson: Just try it yourself.....observe a person.......
[13:40] herman Bergson: look at him and put your face in the same expression as that person.....
[13:40] herman Bergson: You may get the same feeling as that person.....
[13:40] herman Bergson: that is how we understand it empathy...
[13:40] Alina Gabilondo: yes i have heard about this
[13:40] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): or you get a smash in your face
[13:41] herman Bergson: Just keep your distance beertje :-)
[13:41] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): hehehe
[13:41] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako) Gets Hit With a frying pan
[13:41] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): OW!
[13:41] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): i always do:)
[13:41] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): OOOOW WHAT HAVE I DONE!
[13:41] Alina Gabilondo: (→∀←) ァハハ八八ノヽノヽノヽノ / /
[13:41] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): hehe
[13:41] herman Bergson: oops....
[13:41] herman Bergson: You're ok Bejiita? :-)
[13:42] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): I think so someone got angry on me it seems
[13:42] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): :)
[13:43] Alina Gabilondo: Beerje is far
[13:43] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): it works better when I smile on the street..lookingup...:)))everybody is looking up in the sky then:))
[13:43] Alina Gabilondo: i can help
[13:43] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):
[13:43] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): YAY! (yay!)
[13:43] herman Bergson smiles
[13:43] Alina Gabilondo: teeth are ok??
[13:43] herman Bergson: Think I lost control over my class :-))
[13:44] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): hmm seems they are not mad at me, there is war in the kitchen behind here somewhere OPPPS! (ducks, there came another pan
[13:44] Alina Gabilondo: we practice emotions
[13:44] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): smiles
[13:44] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): !
[13:44] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): lol
[13:44] herman Bergson: Well...we are ordered to the kitchen, I guess :-)
[13:45] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): indeed i have heard there is difference between feelings and emotions
[13:45] herman Bergson: Yes there is....
[13:45] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): and i think we had discussed it before long ago
[13:45] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): its familiar
[13:45] herman Bergson: Look at it  this way......
[13:47] herman Bergson: emotions are behavior patterns  which produce feelings....
[13:47] herman Bergson: the  emotions are the material things......all organisms have them to some extend....
[13:47] herman Bergson: but we as humans experience feelings associated with these emotions
[13:48] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): emotions are what happens inside you (chemical reactions ect) and feelings is what you precieve of those events
[13:48] herman Bergson: yes....
[13:48] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): ah
[13:48] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): sort of
[13:48] herman Bergson: and that is what Damasio does research on....
[13:49] herman Bergson: and that is what attracted him in the work of Spinoza.....
[13:49] herman Bergson: the first one  an donly one in his time who saw emotions as nature...
[13:50] herman Bergson: I understand that the text of Spinoza was perhaps too complex for you since none of you are native english speakers
[13:51] Alina Gabilondo: it is translated to all almost languages
[13:51] herman Bergson: that is true Alina....but we haven't all translations at hand unfortunately
[13:52] herman Bergson: And to be honest....even in your own language....Spinoza isn't easy
[13:52] Alina Gabilondo: i know
[13:52] Alina Gabilondo: i tried to read
[13:52] herman Bergson: But yet...this part IS understandable...can be made understandable....
[13:52] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): he is special for sure
[13:53] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): but I think i get somewhat most of it in general
[13:53] herman Bergson: I'll try to giv ean example next lecture.....
[13:53] Alina Gabilondo: also there are popular texts adjusted for public
[13:53] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): just needed a it time to recompile it
[13:53] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): oki
[13:53] herman Bergson: all did well today...:-)
[13:54] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):
[13:54] herman Bergson: SO thank you again for your participation and interest :-)
[13:54] Alina Gabilondo: thank you for lesson Sir!
[13:54] Alina Gabilondo: :)
[13:54] herman Bergson: Class dismissed....^_^
[13:54] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): YAY! (yay!)
[13:54] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): nice again
[13:54] Alina Gabilondo: good night from me!! :))
[13:54] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): cu tuesday I guess then
[13:55] herman Bergson: You will...

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