2 min readAre emotions truly universal?

Emotions are an important aspect of the evolution of the human mind. Though we share the capacity for emotions with non-human animals, our processing of emotions can hold the key to our own humanity.

In this article, philosophy professor Stephen Asma and psychologist Rami Gabriel talks about the role of emotion in the evolution of the human mind. Emotions, according to Asma and Gabriel, do not just emanate from one part of the brain, but rather, goes through a feedback loop that enables us to learn, act, and be with fellow human beings in a meaningful way. 

The addition of emotion as an integral part of the human mind opens new doors for us. It helps us understand human passions, and revels to us a deep engine of our consciousness. It acknowledges that humans are not purely computational, and that there is a way to unify the seeming dualism of the human being. 

Implications for AI

In a world dominated by the physical sciences, there is no space for explaining the experience of emotions. Pain, love, fear, happiness, cannot be real phenomena – they must be defined only through the physical.

In a world dominated by the materialist sciences, emotions cannot exist on its own, and so, scientists have settled for the easiest explanation they can find: that it is a product of neurochemical reactions. Through a series of physical processes, the materialist explains, we are able to see distinctive physical expressions labeled by our brain a certain type of emotion. In the case of fear, these physical manifestations could include the contortion of one’s face, the tightening of one’s face, and the labored breathing as a result. 

Our sciences have readily disregarded the importance of emotions in defining the nature of the human being. We have gone from one research to another with the pretense of objectivity – as if the sense of excitement and curiousity a scientist feels have no real bearing on the results.

But as we move towards a science where consciousness plays a major role, so we must acknowledge the deep importance of emotion. And it is in doing so that we will begin to re-humanize the sciences, and perhaps, find new breakthroughs about what it means to be alive at this turning point of history, where our biggest quest is understanding what it means to be a human being. 

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