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November 10, 2006
The Search for Emotional Truth
Mindhacks points to a new series on Psyblog that will focus on the search for emotional truth, an area of inquiry of the upmost importance.
This is the first in a series of posts examining these and related ideas. But, first of all, I want to lay the groundwork for the discussion with a brief excursion into philosophy. Why start with a philosophical view of emotion? Because once you enter into the helter-skelter scramble for facts and theories that is modern psychology it can be difficult to see the wood for the trees or even which forest you're in. A philosophical view allows us to get a handle on the big picture, to have a general view about what emotions are for and where they come from, before we plunge into the details.
We'll have to see where this inquiry takes us but one thing is for sure, having spent thousands of years improving our control over the physical environment, new tools are being developed to address the mental stress that arises from living in a highly connected urbanized world. Neurotechnologies that allow people to experience life in ways that are currently unattainable will emerge, enabling people to consciously shape emotional states, improve cognitive clarity and transform sensory experiences. As people begin to experience life less constrained by their evolutionarily influenced brain chemistry how will human society change?
Because our mental perspective slants our thinking, self-reflection and recollection of events, even a slight shift in human perception will alter how people learn, feel and react to personal problems, economic crises and cultural rhetoric. When humans more directly shape their emotions, how will this impact personal relationships, political opinion and cultural beliefs?
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