On Feelings


Feelings: What Are They and How Does the Brain Make Them?


The human mind has two fundamental psychological motifs. Descartes’s proclamation, “I think, therefore I am,”1 illustrates one, while Melville’s statement, “Ahab never thinks, he just feels, feels, feels,” exemplifies the other. Our Rationalist inclinations make us want certainty (objective truth), while the Romantic in us basks in emotional subjectivity. Psychology and neuroscience recognize this distinction: cognition and emotion are the two major categories of mind that researchers study. But things were not always quite like this.

From Nautilus

2 thoughts on “On Feelings

  1. When I was getting started in my studies of emotion in animals in the mid-1980s, I adopted a third approach to try to get around these problems. I treated emotions in terms of essentially non-conscious brain states that connect significant stimuli with response mechanisms, and feelings as conscious experiences arising from these non-conscious brain states. My theory, therefore, emphasized the importance of feelings, but I argued that the brain mechanisms that control emotional responses and those that generate conscious feelings are separate.


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