X-Message-Number: 12674
From: "Scott Badger" <>
References: <>
Subject: Re: CryoNet #12660 - #12666
Date: Fri, 29 Oct 1999 22:30:20 -0500

From: Thomas Donaldson <>

> More about Feelings and Goals:
> 1. A feeling that does not produce any goals at all can't exist. If I feel
>    sad about something, for instance, I would want to escape similar
>    events in the future. If I find that I cannot escape such events, then
>    I will still show the consequence of that feeling by, for instance,
>    trying to ignore the event as much as I can. If I feel happy about
>    something or some event, then I'm likely to aim for further such
>    events in the future. I won't go through all possible feelings here,
>    but I cannot imagine a feeling which by its nature does not affect our
>    behavior.

Careful Thomas.  Can't exist?  There are many people who experience
distressful or dysphoric affect and are unable to identify the cause.
Sometimes they seek relief by seeing a therapist.  Also, don't we all
experience mood swings now and again that seem inexplicable?  Ever heard the
phrase, "I don't know what's wrong with me today."?  Frequently people don't
act on these moods because they are accustomed to the fact that the mood
passes....again, inexplicably.  You're correct, of course, that feelings
*tend* to remind us that we (or perhaps our anscestors) had a pleasurable or
painful experience with something similar to the current stimulus (or
imagined stimulus) at some point in the past.  That's their evolutionary

> 2. Feelings also have other objective signs: sadness isn't just an
>    expression on our faces, it affects our hormones and thus our general
>    behavior. We cry, or just turn away from some event. Happiness also
>    has its signs, too, as do other feelings. These objective signs are
>    very hard for a person to suppress.

Not really so hard.  Once again, your statement may be accurate for most but
not for many.  Large numbers of people have learned to effectively suppress
external expressions of both positive and negative affect.

> Not only that, but WE are put together so that the process runs the other
> way, too. If we have particular goals, then we'll have feelings about
> reaching them or even coming close to them.

Your statement is true some of the time.  The degree to which one's affect
is associated with various goals has something to do with the degree to
which one's sense of self-worth is invested in the outcome when striving to
achieve that goal.  If, for example, my goal is to place a ball in a hole at
the local putt-putt, and I could care less how I or my friends will respond
if I make it or miss it, then I'm not going to experience any emotional
response to the outcome.  If my goal is to be seen at the dance with Betty
Lou because that'll enhance my status with the other guys and gals at school
then my emotions will certainly come into play.  I don't think that I'm
simply pointing out exceptions here.  Remember, virtually all behavior is
goal-directed, but your day is not filled with associated affective

> These facts make it easy in most cases to decide that someone has
> feelings, and what's more, they even let us make such decisions about
> devices such as the robot that hunts for a place to plug itself in. The
> process is simple: if this robot were a living creature of the kind
> we're used to, then it's behaving as it has (very primitive, yes) goals
> and thus feelings. The same is not true of my computers (I have and
> use two, very different from one another). I will PROPOSE that we take the
> existence of INDEPENDENT goals as a sign of the existence of feelings.

I would need a sounder argument to support this proposal.  I have
experienced feelings without goals as well as goals without feelings.

> Best and long long life for all,
> Thomas Donaldson

Same to you Thomas,

Scott Badger

P.S.  Good luck, Kennita!

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