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Are Emotions Useful?

Discussion in 'General Debates' started by IsaiahX, Nov 25, 2018.

  1. IsaiahX

    IsaiahX Dreamer and Oneironaut

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    From an evolutionary perspective, are emotions useful? For the purposes of this post, I will define the goal of evolution as creating the maximum amount of offspring. Are emotions a valuable tool for reaching this goal?

    In my opinion, the extent of emotion's usefulness is obtained with a basic system: attraction to positive stimuli and repulsion from negative stimuli. Advanced systems of emotion involving feelings such as anger, sadness, and empathy do not seem to enhance the completion of the goal of all biological life: reproduction.

    Consider ants. They do not experience advanced emotions as humans do, their feeling being limited to avoiding negative stimuli and nearing positive stimuli. Scientists theorize that they may only be able to feel emotions from a collective standpoint.

    However, ants are extremely successful from an evolutionary point of view. They number in the thousands of trillions, have advanced social structures and nest, and live on every continent in the world outside of Antartica. Considering all of this information, emotion and individualism seem essentially useless.
     
  2. Shadow Wolf

    Shadow Wolf Crazy Diamond

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    You lost me there because evolution has no goal.
     
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  3. IsaiahX

    IsaiahX Dreamer and Oneironaut

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    While it is true that there is no observable goal for evolution, species are more likely to survive if they produce more offspring. Do emotions make species more likely to reproduce and therefore more likely to survive?
     
  4. Shadow Wolf

    Shadow Wolf Crazy Diamond

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    In many instances, yes. Especially with social animals since emotions are one of the many communication tools we have.
     
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  5. ADigitalArtist

    ADigitalArtist Well-Known Member
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    More offspring doesn't equal better evolved. Lots of thriving species has relatively few offspring with not all members breeding. There are myriads of different evolutionary pathways with vastly different survival strategies. What matters is whether or not that survival strategy is well adapted to the environment.

    In the case of humans, emotions are part of the package of higher brain function that allows for complex social structure, advanced tool usage, and abstract thinking. You can see emotions in a lot of similar social animals including elephants, canines, dolphin, birds and primates.
     
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  6. IsaiahX

    IsaiahX Dreamer and Oneironaut

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    Consider the example I gave: ants. They do not feel complex emotions but are highly succesful and social due to their brains being dominated by signals from pheremones. They have no individualism or complex feeling to speak of.
     
  7. IsaiahX

    IsaiahX Dreamer and Oneironaut

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    Isn't the point of being suited to your environment ensuring your genes live as long as possible, typically through reproduction.
     
  8. WalterTrull

    WalterTrull Godfella

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    I don't think evolution has a goal. Not even sure if it's a process.
    Never-the-less, I will chime in on emotion. Emotion seems to be similar to a second level language, intellect a third. First level would be the "just-do-it" language. Emotions seems very useful to control the first level language, Intellect very important in controlling emotion.
     
  9. ADigitalArtist

    ADigitalArtist Well-Known Member
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    No. Evolution is a population study, not an individual study. Even if every single meerkat, for example, wants to breed, the success of meerkats is dependent on how well they do as a population.
    For meerkats, usually the only breeders are whoever is highest in the hierarchy. Which usually means the individuals that are best at securing food and territory or have a size or strength or intelligence advantage over the rest of the group. The non breeding members of the group help out the main breeding couple. So even though relatively few members of the species are breeding, and there is a low breeding count for the number of individuals, they are still succeeding because the best traits are the ones passed down.
     
  10. Landon Caeli

    Landon Caeli What's your stoyle?

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    But that's not true with humans. Often two less than average people can cross paths and reproduce like rabbits, while stronger, more intelligent people might restrict themselves to a single child.
     
  11. YmirGF

    YmirGF Bodhisattva

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    I'd argue that, considering how far we have come as a species, our emotional strength has played a significant part in our success.

    Our emotions are there to give a little shove that make us follow a wild and crazy idea. Once, in a long while, an individual hits gold, becomes successful and all because they simply dared themselves to overcome inherent risks.

    Humanity, to their fortune and peril, does not live by logic alone.
     
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  12. ADigitalArtist

    ADigitalArtist Well-Known Member
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    What's happening with humans is the same thing as what happens with deer in an area of abundance and few predators. There's less environmental pressures being placed on us at this time. When we inevitably **** up our resource production (or a kaiju movie happens) that will change.
     
  13. Unveiled Artist

    Unveiled Artist Veteran Member

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    Emotions (anger. Fear. Love.) Shows parents relationship to their child (cub, whoever). It's a psychological and physiological response to ones environment.
     
  14. HonestJoe

    HonestJoe Well-Known Member

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    Brushing over the “goal of evolution” debate, if emotions weren’t evolutionarily beneficial for the species which have them, they wouldn’t continue to have them. I think it’s fairly obvious how emotions are beneficial and also where they cause problems but it appear the advantages have outweighed the disadvantages for many species (including our own). That doesn’t mean they’d be beneficial to all species or that species they could be beneficial for will necessarily develop them (at least in the same manner we have).
     
  15. Shadow Wolf

    Shadow Wolf Crazy Diamond

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    And? They don't function like dolphins, elephants, chimps, or humans. Photosynthesis works out great for plants and not at all for animals. You can't look at one trait and compare it to all species. Fatal mating rituals work for some species, for others it won't.

    We still have our appendix, which seems only good and useful for bursting and causing medical emergencies.
     
  16. Amanaki

    Amanaki Well-Known Member

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    I would say emotions are not important but compassion and wellbeing for other is
     
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