Are emotions an evolutionary benefit?

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by wegs, Jun 1, 2019.

  1. wegs With brave wings, she flies . . . Valued Senior Member

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    It could be argued that fear for example, kept our ancestors alive, but that was then. Emotions can help us as much as they can hurt us, if we let them dictate our lives. But, emotions still help us to make better decisions, or leave bad situations/jobs, or seek justice for society. An outward display of joy helps us convey a message to another person that we're feeling good, while sadness can be a sign that something is deeply wrong, and we need help. We could simply verbalize what we're thinking, but feelings/moods/emotions help to amplify our thoughts. (not always a good/bad thing)

    Do you feel that emotions then, are an evolutionary benefit or a social one?

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    As an aside -- A study was conducted showing how participants performed, based on emotion/mood manipulation. (It's super lengthy read, but really interesting.) It's curious how mood can affect our performance.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4050437/
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2019
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  3. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    Both. It allowed us to evolve socially, which led to whole tribes taking care of young, meaning - unlike most animals - we didn't have to be born ready right out of the womb.
     
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  5. wegs With brave wings, she flies . . . Valued Senior Member

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    That’s a great point.

    Sometimes, my feelings can rule my thinking on different topics, abandoning all logic.

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    We live in a culture now that is all about “tell me how you feel about that...” and so it’s encouraged to not always employ logic, but rather “if it makes you happy, then do it.”

    Have to strike a balance.
     
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  7. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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    Feelings and logic aren't necessarily unrelated. "I'm not feeling it today and I didn't go scuba diving" is both "emotional" and logical.
     
  8. wegs With brave wings, she flies . . . Valued Senior Member

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    Yea, that’s true. Sometimes, if I’m not feeling like working out, I convince myself that it’s a logical choice. Our feelings sometimes can talk us into things, one way or the other. Lol I’ve been guilty of letting my feelings rule over my thinking. :/

    Many people who believe in a higher power or follow some type of spiritual path believe that they are employing both emotion and logic. I’ve often wondered if logic is subjective, then.

    A few of my friends never seem to make “emotional” decisions. They weigh the pros and cons of whatever they’re trying to decide on and that’s it. It’s impressive, in a way.
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2019
  9. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

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    What they don't tell you is that the decision was made before they started weighing up. You can always make the pros/cons list come out to favour what you're going to do anyway, but you don't always know in advance what that is.
    The way the convoluted brain works, it has access to every part all the time: a dozen emotions may be active while you're accessing memories for comparison, drawing on instincts and reflexes that go back to the lizard stage of evolution, considering options, calculating odds and weighing long vs short term cost vs benefit, predicting how others would react to each choice and even sneakily figuring if X never spoke to you again because of how this turns out, well, that's up to her, but maybe not such a bad thing. And you might not even realize that's all going on.
     
  10. cluelusshusbund + Public Dilemma + Valued Senior Member

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    "Are emotions an evolutionary benefit?"

    I suspect that as humans continue to evolve that emotions will take more of a back seat in favor of more logical approaches.!!!
     
  11. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

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    To the OP, is society not an evolutionary benefit? If so, what distinction are you drawing between an evolutionary benefit and a social benefit, when society itself is an evolutionary benefit?
     
  12. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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    Someone could make the distinction based on the time frame. An evolutionary benefit would take much long than a social benefit (depending on how you define social benefit).
     
  13. RainbowSingularity Valued Senior Member

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    is there a difference between
    "feelings" & "emotions" ?

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  14. wegs With brave wings, she flies . . . Valued Senior Member

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    Well, Darwin examined how different emotions evolved at different times, ie fear was considered a primal emotion in order to stay safe and survive. Humans developed other emotions once our survival was “established,” and we didn’t have to encounter continuous threats to our survival. So the emotions that evolved at later times, seem to be more in line with social benefits. But certainly, we all have primal feelings that surface if we ever feel in danger.
     
  15. wegs With brave wings, she flies . . . Valued Senior Member

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    I think so? An example might be happiness - which is a temporal feeling that ebbs and flows depending on some event that is occurring in our lives. But fear would be an emotion that would result from perhaps being triggered and while it might seem like a feeling, it only comes and goes when triggered. I think that feelings and emotions, depending on what they are, could easily be interchangeable, though.

    I might say “I feel so sad,” and believe it to be a true feeling. Maybe it’s just semantics? Lol
     
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  16. wegs With brave wings, she flies . . . Valued Senior Member

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    That's an excellent point. I've never been very good with pros and cons lists, because my emotional attachment to the given situation causes the tie breaker, if the pros and cons start to balance out.
     
  17. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

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    I'm not sure that's enough distinction. Social animals go quite a long way back; we don't even know how far back.
    Feelings come out of feeling; a mental interpretation of physical sensation, which grows more varied and complex as the brain grows and generates more connections; then these feelings are elaborated to physical and verbal expression, so that they can be communicated to other members of one's species. You don't have to be very highly evolved to express rage, excitement or anxiety: birds and reptiles do that.
     
  18. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    They are both. We have evolved to live in societies, and many of our phenotypical traits (the ability to trust someone else, to participate in defense of a tribe, to show sorrow or remorse) help us do that. And while those evolutionary traits work very well to keep small or medium sized societies working smoothly (up to a few thousand people) they do not work well at larger scales. Joshua Greene calls this problem "the tragedy of commonsense morality" - much of what we consider common sense only works in small groups.
     
  19. RainbowSingularity Valued Senior Member

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    feeling a truth in the emotion of the situation defines its own sense of atmospheric turbulence

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    noting the current trend to use the term "mood" as an adjective pro-noun is quite interesting.
    "being in a mood" defines an emotive state of feeling ...
     
  20. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

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    There is a semantic element to watch out for. People use "feelings" and "emotions" interchangeably, yes, it's acceptable, if imprecise. But all too often, they use the word "emotion" for a state of mind, or complex condition, which consists of many feelings, thoughts, experiences, cultural habituation and imagination. And that can be quite misleading.
    For example, you used "happiness" as an example of an emotion, whereas, it's really a state of mind. The part that's transitory is 'elation' or 'joy' or 'delight' or 'exultation' or 'pleasure' or 'gratification' or 'triumph' or whatever is causing that sudden, brief awareness of feeling happy. But then you also have the underlying satisfaction, contentment, validation, security, self-esteem, etc, that contributes to a lasting happiness, that you take for granted. There may be permanent contributing factors, such as the right job, good family relations, pleasant place to live, a reliable lover, a solid faith, a supportive community a comfortable lifestyle - conditions that don't excite a lot of surface emotion, but if you reflect on it, you can say, "Yes, I'm happy."

    The same applies to fear. There are many kinds of fear (panic, terror, horror, fright, alarm, distress,) and as many ways to experience those sudden, temporary emotions that cause an adrenaline spike. But then there are also anxiety, dread, apprehension, phobia, trepidation - each meaning something slightly different - a number of long-term states of complex sensations, emotions, memories, expectations and imaginings that can become a condition of life, of literally living in fear.

    It's no accident that we have so many words for feelings, emotions and states of mind.
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2019
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  21. wegs With brave wings, she flies . . . Valued Senior Member

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    lol If only...

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  22. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

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    You would not like that. You would not be able to like that.
    But if drug and hormone therapies get much more sophisticated, you can order your emotional states off a menu, like people can mix and match the articles of their faith.
     
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  23. river

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    To the OP , sure . In balance . With Reasoning and logic .

    Emotions to the point of destruction , is not an evolutionary benefit .
     
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