We are not thinking machines that feel; rather, we are feeling machines that think.
Why do we have a brain in the first place? Not to write books, articles, or plays; not to do science or play music. Brains develop because they are an expedient way of managing life in a body.
There are certain action programs that are obviously permanently installed in our organs and in our brains so that we can survive, flourish, procreate, and, eventually, die. This is the world of life regulation—homeostasis—that I am so interested in, and it covers a wide range of body states. There is an action program of thirst that leads you to seek water when you are dehydrated, but also an action program of fear when you are threatened. Once the action program is deployed and the brain has the possibility of mapping what has happened in the body, then that leads to the emergence of the mental state. During the action program of fear, a collection of things happen in my body that change me and make me behave in a certain way whether I want to or not. As that is happening to me, I have a mental representation of that body state as much as I have a mental representation of what frightened me.
Neither anguish nor the elation that love or art can bring about are devalued by understanding some of the myriad biological processes that make them what they are. Precisely the opposite should be true: Our sense of wonder should increase before the intricate mechanisms that make such magic possible. Feeling form the base for what humans have described for millennia as the human soul or spirit.” A conscious mind is a mind with a self in it.
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