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Emotions and the Society of Mind

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What on Earth could emotions be, if they aren’t thoughts and they aren’t things? What enables a mind to thrill to the sound of a trumpet or be jealous of a rival? And what makes such matters so hard to understand? Certain problems are hard to solve because they are genuinely intricate but, sometimes, when a subject seems intractably mysterious, the difficulty stems instead from flaws in our own attitudes. The problem itself might not be so hard, but if the way we’ve framed it is wrong, then we may find clues by studying the character of our own confusion. Emotions seem mysterious for both kinds of reasons. There can be no doubt that emotions come from truly intricate machinery. But we then proceed to make matters worse because our own emotions interfere with how we think about them. For any problem so complex, we must do what science always does: propose a model with simple parts — setting aside, at least at first, all but their most essential details.


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  • Essential Detail
  • Commonsense Knowledge
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  • DOI: 10.1007/978-1-4757-1987-1_7
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© 1988 Springer Science+Business Media New York

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Minsky, M. (1988). Emotions and the Society of Mind. In: Clynes, M., Panksepp, J. (eds) Emotions and Psychopathology. Springer, Boston, MA.

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  • Publisher Name: Springer, Boston, MA

  • Print ISBN: 978-1-4757-1989-5

  • Online ISBN: 978-1-4757-1987-1

  • eBook Packages: Springer Book Archive