The Nature of Consciousness

Piero Scaruffi

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These are excerpts and elaborations from my book "The Nature of Consciousness"

Emotion as Homeostasis

The US psychologist Ross Buck studied the advantage of emotions in communication between humans. Communication of emotions is a biologically shared signal system. It was created over millions of years through the evolutionary process and it is part of every human being. It means that it is very easy to communicate an emotion: we immediately recognize the meaning of another human's emotion. On the contrary, communicating a theorem is not easy at all, and often requires special skills. 

Emotions have the important function of speeding up communication of crucial information among members of the same species.

If emotion is, ultimately, a reaction to a situation in the environment, it can be assumed to be a "measure" relative to that situation, and what is communicated is precisely that measure. But a measure of what? Buck thinks that emotions always originate from motives that must be satisfied: the emotion is a measure of how far they have been satisfied.  For example, fear is a measure of safety. 

A more appropriate way of referring to adaptation is "homeostasis", which is the process of searching for a balance. If something changes in the environment, all organisms that depend on that environment will somehow react to recreate the equilibrium they need to survive. This process of continuous search for equilibrium is called "homeostasis". Buck argues that the ultimate function of emotions is homeostasis.


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