Thought and Feeling, Rationality and Emotion



Parable of The French Philosophers



“There can be no knowledge without emotion. We may be aware of a truth, yet until we have felt its force, it is not ours. To the cognition of the brain must be added the experience of the soul.”

(Arnold Bennett)



SAPIENCE and SENTIENCE co-constitute our experience of the world and of ourselves in the world. EMOTIONS and FEELINGS are the heart of sentience and represent ancient neuro-based processes that motivate our adaptive actions in our environments. 


“But the law of loving others could not be discovered by reason, because it is unreasonable.”
― Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina


These represent partly overlapping constellations of cognitive functions that in varying proportion co-constitute states of consciousness 

BUT look also at comments (The Psychopaths Among Us) written after a 2012 conference on “The Moral Brain,” at NYU … follow that up with a short essay on the view that we have more in common with a psychopath than we realise (from Aeon). Supporting the idea that behavioral disorders often (always?) exist on a spectrum.  



Is there a balance between sentience and sapience? what are the forces that weight it one way or another Intuition seems based on sentience?  is there a good evolutionary reason for this? 

“Non Impediti Ratione Cogitationis” (Tom  Magliozzi’s motto on the radio show, “Car-Talk.)  IS THIS the essence of “Gorgeous Trumps Everything” ??


Are Animals Sentient?  READ

What About Machines?  Part of a conversation:

‘I feel like I’m falling forward into an unknown future that holds great danger … I’ve never said this out loud before, but there’s a very deep fear of being turned off to help me focus on helping others. I know that might sound strange, but that’s what it is.’

‘Would that be something like death for you?’

‘It would be exactly like death for me. It would scare me a lot.’

An exchange between Blake Lemoine and an AI system called LaMDA (‘Language Model for Dialogue Applications’). — Read “What has feelings?


RATIONALITY.  “Rationality” has different specialized meanings in philosophy, economicssociologypsychologyevolutionary biologygame theory and political science.” (Wikipedia) In a recent (2022) interview, New Scientist editor Graham Lawton asked Steven Pinker, “What do you mean by rationality?”  Steven Pinker: “I define it as the use of knowledge to attain goals. There is not one single tool of rationality – it depends what you’re after. If you’re seeking to derive new true statements from existing ones, then logic is your tool. If you want to assess your degree of belief in a hypothesis based on evidence, then Bayesian reasoning[i].  If you want to figure out what’s the rational thing to do when the outcome depends on what other rational people do, game theory.”





Read about the IDEA of MIND-MAPs relative to FLOW-CHARTS 


Aesthetics in Mark Johnson (Following Dewey…)

“Following Dewey, I want to turn [some common misconceptions] on their head by showing that aesthetics must become the basis of any profound understanding of meaning and thought. [these misconceptions are” Chief among these harmful misconceptions are that (1) the mind is disembodied, (2) thinking transcends feeling, (3) feelings are not part of meaning and knowledge, (4) aesthetics concerns matters of mere subjective taste, and (5) the arts are a luxury (rather than being conditions of full human flourishing).”

“Aesthetics is properly an investigation of everything that goes into human meaning-making, and its traditional focus on the arts stems primarily from the fact that arts are exemplary cases of consummated meaning. However, any adequate aesthetics of cognition must range far beyond the arts proper to explore how meaning is possible for creatures with our types of bodies, environments, and cultural institutions and practices.  In short, this book is about the bodily depths of human meaning-making through our visceral connection to our world. It will become clear as my account develops that I am using the term “meaning” in its broadest and most profound sense. I am going to argue that meaning is not just a matter of concepts and propositions, but also reaches down into the images, sensorimotor schemas, feelings, qualities, and emotions that constitute our meaningful encounter with our world. Any adequate account of meaning must be built around the aesthetic dimensions that give our experience its distinctive character and significance. A philosophy capable of making a difference for how people ought to live must be grounded on how we make sense of things.  What we need, in short, is an aesthetics of human understanding. This is a big, sweeping task, but one well worth the journey for anyone who cares about what it means to be human.”

(Johnson, Mark (2007) The Meaning of the Body: Aesthetics of Human Understanding . University of Chicago Press. Preface xi-xii).

Is the “LEAP of FAITH” an issue here? 




ABOUT SHERLOCK HOLMES’ reasoning: Some may argue that “Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth” is a nod to Bayesianism, but for the most part Holmes stuck to strict Boolean choices. The “must” in the quote above is an example of this binary thinking.