Brain vs. Mind
Mind vs. Soul
The strong sympathy we feel for a crying baby may be partly because she stimulates the remnants of our own infant emotions, this time with helping someone else as their goal. Our ability to empathize or sympathize with someone else, and our ability to learn by copying others were recently linked to the discovery of "mirror neurons." These are groups of neurons which are stimulated both when an action (such as crying or climbing a set of stairs) is perceived in others, and when the same action is done by yourself. The strength of both empathy and learning depend on our views of how relevant we perceive the person we are perceiving to be to us.
Satisfaction and Development of Personality
As the child grows, desires begin to cooperate for the perceived ultimate good of the child. A high school student studying late into the night may mediate between his desires to sleep and study. ("Just a few more hours now, sleep, and then tomorrow after the test we´ll come home and have a long nap." Or even simply, "Sleep, this is for our own good.")
As a personality develops from this synchronizing of once discrete goals, the question becomes, what emotions are there? Most people recognize things like happiness, sadness, anger, frustration, shock and love. Cognitive science suggests that as many different goals grow into one ever-adapting, comprehensive goal, our emotional states correspond to the perceived state of that goal´s completion. For instance, happiness corresponds to perceived completion of much of our goal for that period, anger or sadness to perceived lack of completion of the goal (the latter especially when we feel powerless to complete the goal ourselves) and shock may correspond to a gap between the direction of our goal and some new information.
But what about emotions like love, hate, admiration, and compassion? They are all focused on a specific person or people. As affecting a person becomes more and more important for meeting our goals and subgoals, affecting that person may become a subgoal or goal itself (as through wanting them to be happy, wanting to impress them or be with them, etc.)
Do we make our decisions based on how we feel or do we decide how we feel? Both are constantly happening. Although we can´t choose immediately or directly to stop feeling certain sensations (if we could convince ourselves we were never hungry, for example, we would die), we can choose what "meaning" we ascribe to those sensations. Just ask a long-distance runner who views the pain of a marathon as representing some final pleasure. Nothing we think or do lacks an emotional background or cause.
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