Uploaded by Inaara Sarfani

Psych 256 week 10 notes

Week 8 and 9 missing (check for 7 also missing I guess too)
Week 10 notes
10 A: what counts as “cognitive”?
Research since the 1990s has tried to refine both our theories of cognition and our theories of what
emotions are so that there can be a better fit
In other words, emotion has tended to be a significant object of philosophical inquiry only insofar as
philosophers have been concerned with its deleterious effects on reasoning
Plato lays out his tripartite theory of the soul, which is, really, the first attempt at a systematic
psychology in the western intellectual tradition. The soul has three parts: the appetites, the spirit,
and reason
For Plato, with the exception of intellectual love (love of knowledge and truth), the emotions are
associated with the spirit and the appetites
Rhetoric certainly has a logical component. One has to make arguments, sooner or later. This kind of
rational appeal is called logos, and we certainly can and do make appeals to the rational part of our
nature in rhetoric.
But rhetoric also trades in ethos, or authoritative speech (appealing to expertise, social standing of
the speaker, etc.), and to pathos, or emotional communication, sometimes through explicit speech,
but often through body-language, gesture, and tone
“Passions” are really just an old-fashioned term for the emotions. The passions are the actions of the
body on the soul; the soul “suffers” from these interventions from the body. When these emotions
grow too strong, they can overpower the mind.
The formal claims are true or false in virtue of their form alone; the empirical claims are true or false
depending on whether or not they are verified by our experience of the world. No other claims have
any cognitive significance at all
Where do emotions fit in this picture? The standard view, in philosophy and cognitive psychology,
has been to treat them as “non-cognitive” psychological states… cant be composed into thorughts
as true or false
Emotions do not carry the sorts of meaning that we can track using a formal rule system
Once we assume a particular kind of computational theory, we simply do not have the right
apparatus in place to even represent emotions, though we can emulate emotional response using
purely computational resources
Simply referring to emotions as “non-cognitive” will not do. We need a theory of how they fit into
cognitive science.
The Portuguese-American neuroscientist Antonio Damasio (b. 1944) proposes that our current bind
in cognitive science is part of a Cartesian legacy
All we need to know about the underlying implementing mechanism is that it is capable of running
the software; once we've established that basic fact we can turn our attention entirely to the
Damasio argues that this is “Descartes’ Error”, and we are still working within its confines
If we take the view, as Damasio hopes we will, that the whole organism (with its whole brain) enters
into cognitive processes, then we will soon see that there is a role for emotion in cognition
Damasio is arguing against the Platonic, Cartesian (and Enlightenment!) view that the passions really
only negatively interfere with higher-order cognition, especially reasoning and planning
In order to support his position, he examines a number of people who have suffered brain damage
to those parts of the brain associated with emotionality. These people all have an inability to feel
So, somatic markers are bodily events that, in normal situations, we can attend to or focus upon in
conscious experience
Damasio identifies the emotions with how you feel these bodily changes when they are represented
in the relevant parts of the brain
The evidence from lesion studies of the brain, both historical and contemporary, shows us that
emotion is also processed in the forebrain, in particular the ventromedial prefrontal cortex
Because these areas are associated with emotion, Damasio uses this evidence to hypothesize that
reasoning actually calls upon emotion. Effective reasoning (reasoning that is relatively quick,
properly motivated, and that tends to lead to beneficial action) is affective reasoning
Desacrtes’ error was therefore not only in the separation of mind from body (the separation of res
cogitans from res extensa), but also the separation of the passions from reasoning
One might want to argue that Damasio has shown us how we actually reason, but that Descartes
was more or less correct about how we ought to reason
Emotions not only assist in thinking through consequences. They are central to those processes
damage to the ventromedial prefrontal cortex
Emotional disregulation in such patients is often associated with social dysfunction and problems
with future planning. In particular, it is not odd for patients with damage to the ventromedial
prefrontal cortex to be bad with money
They seem to be deficits regarding the ability to evaluate actions in light of likely outcomes
In this lesson, we will examine ways of bringing emotions into computational models of cognition
Cognitivism identifies the emotions with propositional attitudes, in particular belief and desire
According to these subjective perceptual theories, emotions are not features of an external reality
that we glom onto in perception, but internal states of the agent that affect the content one
encounters in perception
By contrast, objective perceptual theories argue that emotions pick out objective features of the
world. If Damasio is right, and emotions reliably track bodily changes, and if bodily changes co-vary
with environmental changes, then emotions become the primary way of representing certain kinds
of environmental change that might not be perceptible otherwise
At the very least, we want emotions to be closely aligned with representational states and processes
so we can make sense of them using the Computational-Representational Theory of Mind
Real human beings are like HOTCO at least in the sense that emotion can be intimately tied to
propositional contents that we judge to be true or false
Wagar and Thagard show us how emotional cognition both functions and malfunctions based on
whether or not there is communication between the emotional parts of the brain, those parts
associated with reward, and those parts associated with decision-making and planning
The basic idea behind cognitivist theories of emotion is this: emotions can be strongly correlated, if
not identified, with cognitive states (basic one identifies it as set of judgments)
Judgments are like assertions
Appraisal theorists argue that appraisals or evaluations of a given situation can cause emotional or
affective response, even when there is no physiological arousal
The world has a way of telling us that some of our beliefs are false; the emotions are the painful
messaging system — especially painful for those of us who don’t do well in tracking reality
If emotions are too closely associated with the propositional attitudes of belief and desire, then we
run the risk of having to say that children and animals aren’t capable of emotion,
But almost all cognitive ethologists think there is a great deal of similarity between us and very
intelligent nonhuman animals when it comes to emotional cognition
Another criticism of cognitivism is that it maintains that emotional rationality is tied to the rationality
of beliefs and desires. But surely there is such a thing as a person who has rational beliefs and
desires but who is emotionally irrational
Damasio, following James and Lange, provides us with what looks on the surface to be a noncognitive theory of emotions
Cognitivists make the mistake of thinking that emotion has to be so closely associated with
evaluative thoughts or judgments. For Damasio and Prinz, by contrast, it is about perceiving what is
happening in the body
James, Lange, Damasio, and Prinz all agree that emotions are states of sensory systems that respond
to changes in the body
hey are responses to the body in interoception. Interoception is the special sensory capacity that
allows you to feel what’s going on inside your body, e.g. feeling hungry or thirsty, or feeling hot or
Prinz argues that emotion is tied to perception, but this requires him to have an account of
perception that makes clear how it can accommodate emotions.
First, perception takes place in sensory systems that convert sensory information into
mental representations.
Second, perception involves the generation of internal representations, which usually
represent mind-external stimuli.
Third, perception can be consciously experienced
Fourth, perception is “quasi-modular” in that it processes information in mostly involuntary
ways that cannot be entirely determined by higher-order cognitive processes.
If the register (and successive registers like this one) are reliably associated with a particular state of
affairs (or type of state), then they can represent that state of affairs
While emotions are interoceptive states, they aren’t representative of those bodily states
Emotions represent because they can do more than track what is going on in our bodies. They also
serve the role of mapping what is going on in our environment via what is going on in our bodies
One nice thing about Prinz's account is that beings with similar evolutionary histories might be able
to register bodily states, thereby representing concerns lurking in the external environment, much
the same way we do
Emotions are (arguably) representational, but it is not clear whether they are associated with purely
conceptual representations (propositions or judgments), or whether they are more intimately tied to
our perceptual system