evolutionary significance of emotions !!

Etaoin Shrdlu cooper17.spamless at xs4all.nl
Sat Feb 19 12:02:57 EST 2000

"Steve Palmer" <spalmer at mdanderson.org> wrote in message
news:88h1j1$597$1 at oac2.hsc.uth.tmc.edu...
> >> If you know you won't feel bad if your child dies, then you won't go
> >as far
> >> to protect your child as you otherwise would.  Then you might end up
> >with no
> >> one to pass on your genes.
> > well your example is a serious one indeed but then this again can be
> >explained by instinct and logic rather than emotion. it is obvous that
> >i have to pass on my genes so i will 'not' let my child die,
>     Obvious to YOU and ME, perhaps.  But obvious to our primitive
> They didn't even know where babies came from, let alone anything about the
> importance of passing on ones genes.
> >i will not
> >have time to feel emotions then because saving my child is instinct
> >which i believe is not connected with emotions as it is given a higher
> >privilege.
>     Emotions are instinctual.  If you've ever read Ekman's work on
> facial expressions, you know that he found several expressions -- those of
> joy, sadness, fear, surprise, anger, and disgust -- to be universal across
> cultures.  Furthermore, you can't seriously tell me that, for example,
> pulling your child out from in front of a speeding bus is an emotionally
> neutral experience.

>You would feel (a) terrified that your kid almost got
> squashed, and would thus be motivated to prevent that situation from
> occurring again in the future, and (b) relieved that you had saved your
> child in time, reinforcing you to continue protecting your child.

Just expanding on this last point myself. I agree. And if it were just a
matter of non-emotional instinct to pull one's child out from in front of a
bus, well then, yes, the child would be saved any time the parent saw it
threatened by the bus. But that's all. Strong emotional content to such an
incident, though--fear, etc.--would provide a deeply imprinted memory and a
vested interest in taking steps to prevent the child from going near the
road (for example) rather than just running over and saving it every time it
did. Also, even a very small child is very aware when its parent is
frightened, and becomes frightened itself, and would therefore also gain a
fear of putting itself in front of the bus (or being near the road) long
before it would be able to understand _why_ it shouldn't do that. Very
evolutionarily advantageous, I'd say.

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