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emotional gradient

First, some background...
I've been working on a new ethical philosophy (or at least, I think it's new) in the back of my head for a while now. I call it "Emotional Bond Theory," at least tenatively. The basic idea is that moral relationships and pseudo-obligations between agents arise from the strength of emotional bonds formed over time; bonds form in pairwise couples, as well as as in multiplets within peer groups, nations, races, religions, sports teams, etc.

Last night I was doing some electrodynamics homework for several hours before bed, and when I woke up in the morning I remembered that I had a dream about something called the "emotional gradient" which was the derivative of the happiness scalar function of mental state. While my dreams are usually so logically loose as to be completely useless, this actually might be a decent concept to incorporate into my emotional bond theory. The idea builds on other ideas I have about psychology--namely, that emotion is defined by a tendency or desire for action. It pulls you in the direction of greatest happiness... or pulls you away from the direction of greatest danger/suffering. But my understanding is that it's only a local phenomenon, in other words you only are guided along the direction of steepest ascent. To try to plot your course ahead of time, you have to sometimes do some calculating and reasoning to figure out where you're going to end up. I think I might call this "rational foresight".

A simple example... you encounter a hulking bear in the woods. The happiness function is minimal in the direction of the bear, leading to danger and dismay. Since the derivative is negative, you experience a negative emotion: fear. This pulls you in the direction of the steepest ascent, which is to RUN! (When I say pull, of course I mean pulls on your heart, not pulls you literally. It's like someone whispering in your head RUN!).

Anyway, that's it. I have some very abstract dreams sometimes.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 11th, 2003 03:34 pm (UTC)
Heh I have a corrallary I can Social Valences. In that we only have so much room in our heads to process emotional attachments (in this case to people, but it applies to inamate/interests as well) , and that we all fall into places on the periodic chart (more/less nearer or outer orbitals).

At least in Social Bonds, Bonds can form oneway, but the staying power/reciprocity of the link may take time to form. E.g. I have to post enough on a persons journal or they have to see my posting something interesting on one of their other friends, before they freind me back.

I'm hoping to graphs some of these things using data aquired from LJ at some point.
Oct. 14th, 2003 09:55 pm (UTC)
wow... cool!

yes, I agree. And very relevant to the model. I was glossing over the bond-formation process itself. It's not always a two-way thing, but over time it tends to be. Perhaps one-way bonds are unstable and prone to decaying eventually into either a two-way or no-way bond (example: stalker-stalkee relationship, ends up either in a restraining order, stalker giving up, or the stalkee breaking down and letting stalker into their life). But it would definitely depend, at least in part, on this idea of a "social valence". I know that there are some times when I'm actively seeking new friends, and other times where I'll only accept one if they're really persistant or really cool in some way.

So the idea of "lonely" turns into a valence issue... they're something missing in your life which would complete your outer shell. Nice!
Nov. 6th, 2003 03:57 am (UTC)
But the happiness function or what not may not be minimal for every person in that situation.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )


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