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JGWeissman comments on Emotional Involvement - Less Wrong

12 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 06 January 2009 10:23PM

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Comment author: JGWeissman 17 December 2010 09:53:32PM 3 points [-]

Making existing emotions applicable to new targets is not the same as making new emotions.

Comment author: Strange7 17 December 2010 10:40:38PM 0 points [-]

What would you consider a new emotion, then? Something that motivates a new kind of action, something on the level of 'seek,' 'avoid,' 'protect,' or 'destroy,' but without precedent?

There was a reference to getting rid of racial prejudice as an example of removing an emotion. Isn't that just the more general emotion of revulsion, applied to a specific target? Are you saying that zeroing out the natural predisposition toward that feeling would count as removing an emotion, but subsequently restoring it would not count as adding an emotion?

Comment author: TheOtherDave 18 December 2010 01:13:18AM 0 points [-]

If the only difference between two emotional experiences is the nature of the stimulus that triggers them, I would not call those different emotions.

For example, I would not consider a craving for Chinese food to be a different emotion from a craving for hamburgers. I would not consider being aroused by wearing leather chaps to be a different emotion from being aroused by wearing frilly silk underwear.

Neither would I consider being aroused by sex in public places a new emotion, though it may involve different combinations of emotions (e.g., fear of discovery).

Similarly, I would not say that being revolted by a particular skin color is a different emotion from being revolted by a particular gender, or a missing arm, or etc., though I would expect different scenarios to involve different combinations of emotions.

So if racial prejudice is nothing more than being revolted by a particular target, then I would say racial prejudice is not its own emotion. Removing racial prejudice, on this view, is not removing an emotion; restoring it is not adding an emotion.

All of that said, you may be correct that EY is saying that racial prejudice is its own emotion. His discussions of emotions throughout this Sequence don't make a whole lot of sense to me; I won't try to speak for him. And yeah, I agree with you that if removing it is removing an emotion (which, again, I don't think it is), then restoring it is adding an emotion.

Comment author: Strange7 18 December 2010 09:44:18PM 0 points [-]

By those definitions, I would agree that creating a new emotion would more-or-less require creating a whole new category of potential action, or a new tier on Maslow's Heirarchy, and accordingly would be about as difficult to imagine (never mind actually attempt) as adding a new spatial dimension to a pre-existing universe.