RohinGupta

Understanding Causality of Emotions and Thoughts

8 posts in this topic

Hi All,

I would be broadcasting the following post in coming days.

Would like to have useful inputs before.

Implicit sources include

- Ms Rand's article on "Psychology of Psychologizing"

- In OPAR, Dr Peikoff's analysis of emotions as being caused by perceptual input, individual's evaluation and corresponding mental response.

Included an example where same body tissue slide generated varied response in different audience.

- Dr. Peikoff's recent podcast on understanding causes to deal with bad memories.

.....Thanks in Advance!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

INTROVERT BY CHOICE

In the backdrop of Sachin Tendulkar's 1-Day international cricket double hundred...

Sachin had just scored first one day international double hundred. It was superlative achievement no doubt. However,

above and beyond obvious facts, there was this groping for fundamental fact. The primary cause that makes possible

the kind of innings he played, and career of Sachin in general? Answers still eluded me. And thus begins my Quest.

Youtube was ransacked, and from Sachin at 14 to Sachin at 37, videos were browsed. I came across an interview with

Harsha Bhogale.

Question was,"How does Sachin Tendulkar handle bad batting form?"

To me, the question was similar to, "What do you do when you score less marks?"

Well, I work harder, devote more time to subject, etc.etc.

And so I expected from Sachin,I practice more, work on kind of bowling that got me out etc. etc.

Here is what Sachin answered....

I try to recollect what was going on in my mind when I got out, or just before I got out...

...And goes on to explain how he dissociates such feelings through continuous acts of will power.

And this is how Eureka dawned upon my Quest...!

Here is a man, who doesn't just passively accept any random feeling entering his mind, that has potential to wreck

his career. He actively recollects the circumstances in which it occurred. Then analyzes its cause, and therefore

refines his thought process.... So that similar situation does not happen again.

This brings me to the definition of subject in question.

"Introvert is the person who seeks to analyze the activities of his own mind."

Etymologically meaning of course being, look inward.

Here is the kind of imagery one generally associates with an introvert however. A boy sitting in the corner, aloof

while other kids play. Nervous adolescent, groping for words in an interview - in stark contrast to smooth talker.

Let me argue why such imageries get associated.

As I said, for an introvert, his own mind is a very important - perhaps the central component of study.

So the boy engages in the process of introspection, rather than playing with other kids.(or instead of focusing on

objects of communication in an interview).

These traditional introverts, more often than not tend to become so intuitively rather than by conscious choice.

Therefore, its probable that they misjudge the timings. Engaging in the activity, when it may be detrimental to

their prospects.

However, if the choice is explicit, the individual will calculate full consequences of such a choice. And would plan

every stage process of introspection requires.

So once Sachin gets out, on his way back to the pavilion, he can lock the thoughts(or feelings) of past few minutes;

before they are lost as he acknowledges the crowd. And these then can be unlocked and analyzed in the moments of

solitude.

Having endeavored the same myself, it does require hard work... But is definitely not impossible.

So let me now integrate studying causality of emotions to other observed phenomena.

When we feel hungry, we know its because I haven't had food. Therefore this sensation of hunger occurs.

When I get hurt, I know that the pain comes from wound - and need to Bandage, even if this leads to more

instantaneous pain.

Emotions too have causes, but due to their more subtle nature, these are more likely to get misinterpreted.

Therefore, its imperative that one is ruthlessly honest in analyzing them.

Often, the trigger for an emotion is the perception of an external object and its lightening like automatic

association, causing a psychological sensation(of pleasure or pain).

I enter the classroom, and see assignments being collected. Realize that I forgot to complete mine, and the mental

response is scare of the strict teacher. The activity itself is too fast paced. And one cannot know the causal

factors involved immediately. They have to be consciously sought via retrospection.

So lets look back and try tracing the root cause. Is it the assignments and the fact that they are being collected?

If it was ONLY that, then even the sweeper cleaning the classroom will feel scared.

Is it that the teacher is strict?

If it were so, even the students who have completed the assignment should feel afraid.

Is it because I have not completed the assignment that I am scared?

If so, then I would have been scared even while I was in bus. Because then too my assignment was not completed.

Therefore, its not any one factor; but the combination of factors - an existential cause of assignments being

collected, my evaluation of teacher as strict and my corresponding recollection that I haven't completed the

assignment that cause this emotion...!

Similarly, I feel elated on winning a gold medal.

Is it just the medal? Then even the 5 year old in the audience should be as happy.

Its the medal, plus the fact that I practiced so hard, and me strongly valuing that effort.

Thus here too, its the combination of a percept, and psychological evaluation(done earlier) that causes elation.

The scenarios I mentioned are quite extreme, emotions of course are much more frequent occurrence. And most times

causes are subtle-numerous, and only the person experiencing it can identify, recollect and interpret it correctly.

(Psychiatrist may interpret extreme behaviors. But still, recollection has to be first-hand. Plus here I am focusing

on "more regular" pleasure/pain phenomena).

In sharp contrast, physical phenomena like rain can be explained easily owing to complete psychological detachment

(and relative advancement) of the subject in question.

True, its possible that I can misinterpret emotions even after isolating the causes honestly. But like any other

activity, here too practice and persistence can minimize error - and one is always better off in consciously

analyzing such complex process than let it be further misinterpreted by what others say and the subsequent, more

lethal emotions.

So whats the use one might ask.

Well, we may not become Sachin in our profession, yet one is far better off in such case.

Let me explain why...

Success or failure of a person ultimately depends on his or her method of thinking; and actions one undertakes after

the thought process.

(Degree of action and result of course can vary from single day to a lifetime).

And therefore, the better one understands the workings of his mind, more competent he or she becomes in planning and

prioritizing their activities.

More specifically, analysis of thoughts and emotions can help one know the external objects that he holds

significant enough for consideration.(assignment or gold medal).

Clarify ones own evaluations of external entities.(Strict teacher and bad grades as a result of not doing

assignment; medal as the result of effort and opportunity to get into higher league).

And how one responds in crisis.(Do I acknowledge my mistake or put a wrongful blame. OR conversely, taking

undeserved guilt or hedonistic elation out of proportion with the action).

Based on these facts, required corrective actions can then be taken by an act of will.

Finally therefore, choices we make, leads us to the destinies we take.

And content of our own mind is what enables us to make such choices.

Organizing that content therefore becomes an important task.

.....But there is one precondition - one ought to become "Introvert by Choice".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
This brings me to the definition of subject in question.

"Introvert is the person who seeks to analyze the activities of his own mind."

Etymologically meaning of course being, look inward.

Here is the kind of imagery one generally associates with an introvert however. A boy sitting in the corner, aloof

while other kids play. Nervous adolescent, groping for words in an interview - in stark contrast to smooth talker.

I see a basic confusion here between introspection -- directly perceiving one's own consciousness and bodily states -- and introversion --

the state of being concerned primarily with one's own thoughts and feelings rather than with the external environment.

Introspection is necessary for self-understanding (good), but introversion places consciousness above existence (bad).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I found "Introvert by Choice" to be mostly a good discussion of introspection and its value (and Objectivism does, indeed, endorse the value of introspection). However, the term "introvert" may not be the right term for what Robin Gupta is describing. For example, the psychologist David Keirsey makes a sharp distinction in his book, Please Understand Me II, between "introverted" and "introspective." He uses "introverted" to mean simply being withdrawn, reserved, cautious, quiet, not particularly expressive in communicating with others -- but not necessarily introspective. Keirsey describes personality types that are highly introverted but not introspective. Someone who simply likes being alone with his hobbies, "puttering around" in a makeshift "lab," or tending to a garden, or fixing cars, etc., may prefer working alone while dealing predominantly with the "here and now," the directly sensory-perceptual, physical skills and activities, without much "deep thought" about abstract issues or his own mental inner workings. In Keirsey's classification system, there are "introspective" people (N-type) and "sensing" people (S-type), as well as introverted people (I-type) and extraverted people (E-type). All four combinations -- NI, NE, SI and SE -- are quite possible and actually observable in a sufficiently large sample of actual individuals, according to Keirsey.

Keirsey also describes two additional "dimensions" of personality, which he labels the T-F dimension (thinking or feeling, also describable as "tough-minded" or "friendly"), and the P-J dimension ("possibility" oriented or "judging", also describable as "probing" or "structured"). For more information, refer to Keirsey's book and/or his website, http://www.keirsey.com.

(Keirsey has shown some familiarity with Ayn Rand's writings and even includes at least one brief quote from Atlas Shrugged in his book, but it is not clear if he understands and endorses Objectivism beyond a very shallow level. His views on moral judgment seem at odds with the Objectivist view of morality. But his system of observing and classifying basic personality types seems to have considerable merit, in my estimation.)

Robin also mentions, quoting or paraphrasing a Cricket player:

Question was,"How does Sachin Tendulkar handle bad batting form?"

Here is what Sachin answered....

I try to recollect what was going on in my mind when I got out, or just before I got out...

...And goes on to explain how he dissociates such feelings through continuous acts of will power.

And this is how Eureka dawned upon my Quest...!

Here is a man, who doesn't just passively accept any random feeling entering his mind, that has potential to wreck his career. He actively recollects the circumstances in which it occurred. Then analyzes its cause, and therefore refines his thought process.... So that similar situation does not happen again.

I hope that Robin's interpretation of the soccer player's actual process is accurate. The expression, "dissociates such feelings through continuous acts of will power," on its face, suggests a simpler process merely of identifying feelings that get in the way of one's goals, and then working to suppress those feelings without much further thought about them. In other words, there is passive acceptance of one's feelings, and there is serious introspection aimed at identifying underlying ideas and evaluating the ideas (revising them if needed). But there is a further possibility, as well, which is even more harmful than passive acceptance of one's feelings: actively workiing to suppress feelings that one deems harmful in some way without fully understanding them. This last approach is a prescription for repression, an automatized splitting of mind and body, rather than harmonious integration.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you both for the comments. They surely provided a much needed perspective.

System builder's remarks in particular were quite insightful, and I look forward to follow the leads offered.... Whenever possible!

As of now, I think the theme needs to be modified for presenting the idea.

Would be working on that and corresponding structural changes it requires.....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

INTROSPECTION: WHO NEEDS IT?

Being a top sportsman or a top actor for more than 2 decades requires consistent self-discipline.

Both professions are physically demanding. One requires constant fitness regime for different muscles and joints.

The latter, regular tuning of looks and shape to fit diverse roles.

Coupled with their regular schedules, commitments and responsibilities; one can imagine that there is very little scope to go beyond.

Yet, when Sachin and Aamir emphasize on monitoring of mind playing a key role in decision making;

one ought to stop and ask - Am I giving my mind its due?

Please note the usage of term "monitoring of mind"(and not just mind) playing a key role in decision making.

Aamir analyzes his available mental capacity(calling it mindspace), before agreeing for an interview.[1]

Sachin, in order know whether his body movement is co-ordinated while playing, analyzes the states of his mind across overs and sessions as he is batting.[2]

This brings me to the subject in question...

"Introspection is the process of examining the thoughts and feelings of one's own mind.(Oxford)"

Cardinal questions being, What do I feel? Why do I feel it?[3]

Etymological meaning - See inward.

Having endeavored the same myself, it does require hard work... But is definitely not impossible.

So lets start studying causality of emotions. Comparing the same to other, more easily observed phenomena.

When we feel hungry, we know its because I haven't had food. Therefore this sensation of hunger occurs.

When I get hurt, I know that the pain comes from wound - and need to Bandage, even if this leads to more

instantaneous pain.

Emotions too have causes, but due to their more subtle nature, these are more likely to get misinterpreted.

Therefore, its imperative that one is ruthlessly honest in analyzing them.

Often, the trigger for an emotion is the perception of an external object and its lightening like automatic

association, causing a psychological sensation(of pleasure or pain).

I enter the classroom, and see assignments being collected. Realize that I forgot to complete mine, and the mental

response is scare of the strict teacher. The activity itself is too fast paced. And one cannot know the causal

factors involved immediately. They have to be consciously sought via retrospection.

So lets look back and try tracing the root cause.

Is it the assignments and the fact that they are being collected?

If it was ONLY that, then even the sweeper cleaning the classroom will feel scared.

Is it that the teacher is strict?

If it were so, even the students who have completed the assignment should feel afraid.

Is it because I have not completed the assignment that I am scared?

If so, then I would have been scared even while I was in bus. Because then too my assignment was not completed.

Therefore, its not any one factor; but the combination of factors - an existential cause of assignments being

collected, my evaluation of teacher as strict and my corresponding recollection that I haven't completed the

assignment that cause this emotion...!

Similarly, I feel elated on winning a gold medal.

Is it just the medal? Then even the 5 year old in the audience should be as happy.

Its the medal, plus the fact that I practiced so hard, and me strongly valuing that effort.

Thus here too, its the combination of a percept, and psychological evaluation(done earlier) that causes elation.

Emotions are a frequent occurrence. Most times causes are subtle-numerous, and only the person experiencing it can identify, recollect and interpret it correctly.

(Psychiatrist may interpret extreme behaviors. But still, recollection has to be first-hand. Plus here I am focusing

on "more regular" pleasure/pain phenomena).

In sharp contrast, physical phenomena like rain can be explained easily owing to complete psychological detachment

(and relative advancement) of the subject in question.

Introspection, by its very nature of looking inside and in past, can detach one from immediate surroundings and moment.

Therefore its important that major portion of analysis happens in the environment of solitude.

However, like first aid, some aspects need to be immediate.

Whenever significant intensity emotions occurs...

From the standpoint of introspection, I can lock in the immediate circumstance(assignment collection in the morning class),

and prima facie nature of emotion(Shock).

Plus give my conscience standing order to come back to other phases of introspection in solitude.

So whats the use, one might ask.

Well, we may not become Sachin or Aamir in our profession, yet one is far better off in such case.

Let me explain why...

Success or failure of a person ultimately depends on his or her method of thinking; and actions one undertakes after

the thought process.

(Degree of action and result of course can vary from single day to a lifetime).

And therefore, the better one understands the workings of his mind, more competent he or she becomes in planning and

prioritizing their activities.

More specifically, analysis of emotions can help one know the external objects that he holds

significant enough for consideration.(assignment or gold medal).

Clarify ones own evaluations of external entities.(Strict teacher, non-completion leading to bad grades;

medal as the result of effort and opportunity to get into higher league).

And how one responds in crisis.(Do I acknowledge my mistake or put a wrongful blame. OR conversely, taking

undeserved guilt or hedonistic elation out of proportion with the action).

Based on these facts, required corrective actions can then be taken by an act of will.

True, its possible that I can misinterpret emotions even after isolating the causes honestly. But like any other

activity, here too practice and persistence(along with right ethical code) can minimize error and improve efficiency - and one is always better off in consciously analyzing such complex process, than let it be further misinterpreted by what others say and the subsequent, more

lethal emotions.

Finally therefore, choices we make, leads us to the destinies we take.

And content of our own mind is what enables us to make such choices.

Discovering the nature of that content, therefore becomes an important task.

.....But there is one pre-conditional choice - Choosing to Introspect.

[1] http://entertainment.oneindia.in/bollywood...iew-230507.html

[2]

[9:20]

[3] http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/introspection.html

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Adding more implicit sources

- Ayn Rand Lexicon on Introspection.

- Chapter on "experimental methods" from "The Logical Leap: Induction in Physics" by David Harriman

.....Further comments invited.

Thanks Again!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The latest post released in my blog.

http://roarkedforgood.blogspot.com/2010/08...o-needs-it.html

Plus the link has been tweeted to influential Indian people.

(Including the two main protagonists in the initial part of the post).

Betsy's and System Builder's replies are further appreciated.

Contrasting them to the quality of response topic got in similar forum(structurally)....!

http://forum.objectivismonline.net/index.php?showtopic=20072

P.S. Good to see free market mechanism operate in the realm of ideas.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites