Piercello's universal equation

Instincts --> (Sense of Identity <-- Intelligence) = Emotions

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

References/Further Reading (02/07/10)

This post contains the growing portion of my expanding library that I consider to be strongly related to the thesis of this blog. It is opportunistically updated, loosely organized by category, and will eventually include links. Some books are listed in more than one category, and many have not yet been fully read. I hope you enjoy browsing through it! I welcome suggestions for further reading, as my main sources for new material are footnotes, the serendipity of used bookstores, and the internet.

A green check mark () indicates material I am currently reading, and a red one () indicates books I have already read, or at least finished with for now. Anything unchecked is still sadly relegated to anti-library status, for the moment.

As is somewhat indicated by the placement and color of the checkmarks, I started my reading with basic groundwork in emotion theory and neuroscience; now that I have some sense of the landmarks in that particular territory, my current efforts are toward finding my bearings in philosophy and cognition and toward strategically lining up material for a big push of quantitative catchup over the summer.

COGNITION AND ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE: (Exploring various computational approaches to cognitive architecture for their logical compatibility with the thesis)

Grim, Patrick, Gary Mar, and Paul St. Denis, "The Philosophical Computer: Exploratory Essays in Philosophical Computer Modeling," 1998
Hall, J. Storrs, “Beyond AI: Creating the Conscience of the Machine,” 2007
Hawkins, Jeff, "On Intelligence," 2004
Hofstadter, Douglas, “Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought,” 1995
Hofstadter, Douglas, “Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid,” 1979
Holland, Holyoke, Nisbett, and Thagard, “Induction: Processes of Inference, Learning, and Discovery,” 1986
Kurzweil, Ray, "The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology," 2005
Levitin, Daniel, ed. "Foundations of Cognitive Psychology: Core Readings," 2002
Minsky, Marvin, "The Emotion Machine: Commonsense Thinking, Artificial Intelligence, and the Future of the Human Mind," 2006
Penrose, Roger, "The Emperor's New Mind: Concerning Computers, Minds, and the Laws of Physics," 1989
Pinker, Steven, "How the Mind Works," 1997
Thagard, Paul R., “Coherence in Thought and Action,” 2000
Thagard, Paul R., “Hot Thought: Mechanisms and Applications of Emotional Cognition,” 2006

MATHEMATICS, PHYSICS, AND PROGRAMMING: (Ongoing refurbishment and expansion of the quantitative toolbox)

Cormen, Leiserson, and Rivest, “Introduction to Algorithms, first edition,” 1990
Feynman, Leighton, and Sands, "The Feynman Lectures on Physics (three volumes)," 1965
Hacking, Ian, "An Introduction to Probability and Inductive Logic", 2001
Holland, John H., “Hidden Order: How Adaptation Builds Complexity,” 1995
Mandelbrot, Benoit B., "The Fractal Geometry of Nature," 1977
Mitchell, Melanie, “An Introduction to Genetic Algorithms,” 1996
Penrose, Roger, "The Road to Reality: A Complete Guide to the Laws of the Universe," 2004
Pierce, John R., “An Introduction to Information Theory” (2nd edition), 1980
Swokowski, Earl W., “Calculus with Analytic Geometry” (2nd edition), 1979
Wiitala, Stephen A., “Discrete Mathematics: A Unified Approach,” 1987
Williams, Garnett P., "Chaos Theory Tamed," 1997

QUALITATIVE NONLINEARITY: (Mostly non-quantitative works about chaos and complexity)

MUSIC: (Original direction of personal research--resolving tensions in cello technique habits by tracing them to mapping errors in mental representations involving bodily movement--which ultimately led to the more general thesis)

BIOLOGY/NEUROBIOLOGY: (Brain structure, neuroplasticity, and the biology of instincts)

Churchland, Patricia Smith, "Brain-Wise: Studies in Neurophilosophy," 2002
Damasio, Antonio, “Descartes’ Error: Reason, Emotion, and the Human Brain,” 1995
Damasio, Antonio, "The Feeling of What Happens: Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness," 1999
Doidge, Norman, “The Brain that Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science,” 2007
Geary, David C., "The Origin of Mind: Evolution of Brain, Cognition, and General Intelligence," 2005
Hawkins, Jeff, "On Intelligence," 2004
Hrdy, Sarah Blaffer, “Mother Nature: Maternal Instincts and How They Shape the Human Species,” 1999
Kandel, Eric R., "In Search of Memory: The Emergence of a New Science of Mind," 2006
Koch, Christof, "The Quest for Consciousness: A Neurobiological Approach," 2004
LeDoux, Joseph, "The Emotional Brain: The Mysterious Underpinnings of Emotional Life," 1996
Panksepp, Jaak, "Affective Neuroscience: The Foundations of Human and Animal Emotions," 1998
Pinker, Steven, "How the Mind Works," 1997

PHILOSOPHY OF EMOTION: (Current theoretical approaches to emotion from a variety of angles)

PHILOSOPHY OF MIND: (A growing selection of approaches with a less exclusively computational focus)
Arendt, Hannah, "The Life of the Mind: The Groundbreaking Investigation on How We Think," 1971
Churchland, Patricia Smith, "Brain-Wise: Studies in Neurophilosophy," 2002
Descartes, René, "Philosophical Writings: A Selection Translated and Edited by Elizabeth Anscombe and Peter Thomas Geach," 1971
Geary, David C., "The Origin of Mind: Evolution of Brain, Cognition, and General Intelligence," 2005
Grim, Patrick, Gary Mar, and Paul St. Denis, "The Philosophical Computer: Exploratory Essays in Philosophical Computer Modeling," 1998
Hawkins, Jeff, "On Intelligence," 2004
Hofstadter, Douglas, “Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought,” 1995
Hofstadter, Douglas, “Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid,” 1979
Hofstadter, Douglas and Dennett, Daniel C. (ed), “The Mind’s I: Fantasies and Reflections on Self and Soul,” 1981
James, William, "Psychology," 1892
James, William, "Pragmatism," 1907
Jaynes, Julian, "The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind," 1976
Levitin, Daniel, ed. "Foundations of Cognitive Psychology: Core Readings," 2002
Pinker, Steven, "How the Mind Works," 1997


Aczel, Amir D., "Fermat's Last Theorem: Unlocking the Secret of an Ancient Mathematical Problem," 1996
Bronowski, J., "Science and Human Values," 1956
Feynman, Leighton, and Sands, "The Feynman Lectures on Physics (three volumes)," 1965
Goldstein, Rebecca, “Incompleteness: The Proof and Paradox of Kurt Gödel,” 2005
Kaku, Michio, "Hyperspace: A Scientific Odyssey Through Parallel Universes, Time Warps, and the 10th Dimension," 1994
Kuhn, Thomas S., "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (2nd Edition, Enlarged)," 1970
Mandelbrot, Benoit B., "The Fractal Geometry of Nature," 1977
Petroski, Henry, “To Engineer is Human: The Role of Failure in Successful Design,” 1992
Polya, G., "How to Solve It: A New Aspect of Mathematical Method," 1957
Sagan, Carl, “The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark,” 1996
Stewart, Ian, "Why Beauty is Truth: A History of Symmetry," 2007
Taleb, Nassim Nicholas, “The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable,” 2007
Thagard, Paul R., “Coherence in Thought and Action,” 2000

GENERAL PHILOSOPHY: (Initial explorations of general philosophical approaches and their resonances with the meta-philosophical position taken by the thesis, or things that fail to fit earlier categories)
Aristotle, “The Nicomachean Ethics” (trans. David Ross)
Burke, Edmond, "A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful," ed. James Boulton, 1968
Hazlitt, Henry, "The Foundations of Morality," 1964
Hobbes, Thomas, "Leviathan," ed. C. B. MacPherson, 1968 (1651)
Hicks, Stephen R. C., “Explaining Postmodernism: Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault,” 2004
Plato, "The Republic" (trans. Desmond Lee)
Popper, Karl R., “The Poverty of Historicism,” 1964
Sharansky, Natan, “The Case for Democracy,” 2004

OTHER BOOKS: (Anything else that resonates well enough to stand out, or does well at providing deep systemic background of a useful nature)

Ariely, Dan, "Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions," 2008
Brin, David, “The Transparent Society: Will Technology Force Us to Choose Between Privacy and Freedom?” 1998
Coram, Robert, "Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War," 2002
Diamond, Jared, “Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed,” 2005
Gladwell, Malcom, "The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference," 2002
Gleick, James, "Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman," 1992
Massie, Robert K., “Dreadnought: Britain, Germany, and the Coming of the Great War,” 1991
Pelligrino, Charles, "Ghosts of Vesuvius: A New Look at the Last Days of Pompeii, How Towers Fall, and Other Strange Connections," 2004
Surowiecki, James, “The Wisdom of Crowds,” 2004
Tuchman, Barbara W., “The First Salute: A View of the American Revolution,” 1988

Thesis Proposal: Can Emotion Be Defined In Terms Of Instinct and Intelligence? (03/06/10)

Disclaimer - Because this post is basically a thesis proposal, it is often both dense and terse, which is not terribly helpful for someone unacquainted with some of the concepts it brings up. I'll be unpacking terminology, concepts, arguments, and implications much more thoroughly and accessibly in the near future as this blog unfolds, so until then please bear with me. Many of these topics have already been addressed in considerable detail in the books listed in my References/Reading List post, which can therefore be mined for hints.

Finally, if you haven't just arrived from my introductory post What is this Blog?, you might consider starting there, as it will provide a minimal amount of conceptual and organizational framing for what I am attempting to do here.
(and now, the Real Post)

Although emotion is often considered to be a biological drive in its own right, significant and perhaps transformative insights into the fundamental nature of emotion appear when it is reconceptualized as an emergent effect of elegant interactions between the protective functions of instinct and the structural logic of cognition. Accumulated cognitive research suggests that 1) intelligence works in part by using patterns detected in incoming sensory data to make predictions about future inputs and that 2) hierarchical layering and analogy-making combine to stretch those simple predictions into a sophisticated but flexible representational awareness of the world. Given this description, the structural logic of intelligence can be combined at a high level with the presence of instincts to produce the following thesis statement:

"The instincts which evolved to protect the physical body must also act in defense of the sense of identity, an abstract cognitive representation of self assembled by intelligence and extended by analogy, and their autonomous actions to that effect are directly perceived as moods and emotions."

The idea can be more compactly expressed in a short qualitative equation:

Instincts --> (Sense of Identity <-- Intelligence) = Emotions

This general formulation achieves a rare but elegant professional compromise between the physiological and cognitive aspects of emotion, the respective centers of the two uneasily co-dominant camps of emotion research, essentially by positioning these two well-established theoretical planes so that their explanatory strengths interlock rather than oppose. Thanks to the analogical fluidity built into the human concept of self-identity, the visceral, physical nature of emotions can be fully reconciled with the human ability to be emotional at or about things, yielding a remarkably coherent explanation for the richly multi-dimensional variation observed in individual emotional intensity, target, cause, and speed of onset. This newfound theoretical continuity is partially illustrated by the following four examples:

1) Emotional responses that involve already thought out and established aspects of identity strike with instinctive speed, hitting too fast for cognitive warning, but emotional reactions to events that require the cognitive evaluation of identity-related events, such as implications based on the construction of analogies or chains of reasoning, must unfold no faster than the relatively slow speed at which active cognition takes place;

2) Complex emotions can be considered as system-wide instinctive responses to parallel internalized identity roles that are temporarily in conflict, such as "friend" and "competitor" or "career scientist" and "parent," rather than as serially layered emotional responses to a single, monolithic identity. This is possible because the many overlapping models of self-identity are initially constructed by intelligence from the bottom up rather than the top down, following an organizational structure based on local success rather than global coherence, and they are only later integrated as needed;

3) A single stimulus is capable of provoking wildly different emotional reactions from individual to another, even though all humans share the same general instinctive hardwiring and cognitive architecture, because the intensity of an instinctive response is always directly proportional to the relative status of its target identity component within each personal identity constellation, and because identity constructs are subject to endless individual variation in culture, education, environment, and experience;

4) The individuality of emotional reactions is further amplified by the interplay of emotions with moods, which this theory describes as instinctive reactions to energy-budgeting assessments based on the differences between subjective estimates of the energy available and equally subjective estimates of the energy required to reach a desired goal.

Further investigation suggests that the vast internal complexity of human emotional life can be comprehensively mapped as a combined function of just three global factors: 1) a powerful instinctive pressure, probably supplied by several interacting sets of hardwired instinctive drives operating on different time scales; 2) the higher-level coherence problems faced by identity because of its representational origin in the massively parallel, bottom-up, loosely hierarchical organization of intelligence; and 3) the unique analogical ease with which humans extend their emotional domains, effortlessly investing identity in other people, possessions, past and future events, nations, personal roles, and ideological positions. Both logic and experience suggest that it is not necessary for these investments to be internally coherent in order for them to be instinctively defended.

On a more abstract systemic level, the richness of the emotional experience by anything possessing both self-representational cognitive capacity and an accompanying set of hardwired instincts is likely to correlate strongly with the degree of meta-representational prowess provided by the resident intelligence, but the overall character of that emergent emotional experience should be directly traceable to the specific structure of its supporting cognitive and instinctive architecture. This suggests a plausible emotional and evolutionary continuity between humanity and the rest of the animal kingdom, but it may also raise some interesting implications for Artificial Intelligence researchers.

From a computational perspective, this framework appears likely to allow the mathematical expression of emotion as an emergent consequence of the dynamical interplay between instinct and the structural logic of cognition. If this proposition can be formalized, then the incorporation of appropriate “constants of instinctive force” into various cognitive models might result in the successful modeling of individual emotional effects. In turn, an integrated approach to cognition and emotion may facilitate more effective agent-based modeling of the incompletely rational behavior exhibited by large populations. A rigorous pursuit of the computational underpinnings of cognitive modeling and the mathematics needed to model complex adaptive systems in detail would allow the investigation of the efficacy of this proposal at a much higher level of quantitative resolution.


In addition to its computational possibilities, an integrated view of emotion and cognition creates valuable logical linkages which allow profound philosophical insight into human affairs on many levels, generating what appear to be far-reaching practical applications. You will eventually be able to read more on this aspect of the theory here, once I have collected enough time and information to write the post.