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Greed is a Character Trait not an Emotion!

coberst

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Greed is a Character Trait not an Emotion!

Greed is a habit formed through constant repetition. It is an act of will. Emotion, also called instinct, is a product of natural selection. Only the human animal is greedy.

What is character? Character is the network of habits that permeate all the intentional acts of an individual.

I am not using the word habit in the way we often do, as a technical ability existing apart from our wishes. These habits are an intimate and fundamental part of our selves. They are representations of our will. They rule our will, working in a coordinated way they dominate our way of acting. These habits are the results of repeated, intelligently controlled, actions.

Habits also control the formation of ideas as well as physical actions. We cannot perform a correct action or a correct idea without having already formed correct habits.

“Reason pure of all influence from prior habit is a fiction.”
“The medium of habit filters all material that reaches our perception and thought.” “Immediate, seemingly instinctive, feeling of the direction and end of various lines of behavior is in reality the feeling of habits working below direct consciousness.” “Habit means special sensitiveness or accessibility to certain classes of stimuli, standing predilections and aversions, rather than bare recurrence of specific acts. It means will.”

My understanding of character and the quotations concerning the nature of character are taken from Habits and Will by John Dewey

Emotions equal instinct. First, there is emotion, then comes feeling, then comes consciousness of feeling.

What are the emotions? The primary emotions are happiness, sadness, fear, anger, surprise and disgust. The secondary or social emotions are such things as pride, jealousy, embarrassment, and guilt. Damasio considers the background emotions are well-being or malaise, and calm or tension. The label of emotion has also been attached to drives and motivations and to states of pain and pleasure.

Antonio Damasio, Distinguished Professor and Head of the Department of Neurology at the University of Iowa College of Medicine, testifies in his book “The Feelings of What Happens” that the biological process of feelings begins with a ‘state of emotion’, which can be triggered unconsciously and is followed by ‘a state of feeling’, which can be presented nonconsciously; this nonconscious state can then become ‘a state of feeling made conscious’.

”Emotions are about the life of an organism, its body to be precise, and their role is to assist the organism in maintaining life…emotions are biologically determined processes, depending upon innately set brain devices, laid down by long evolutionary history…The devices that produce emotions…are part of a set of structures that both regulate and represent body states…All devices can be engaged automatically, without conscious deliberation…The variety of the emotional responses is responsible for profound changes in both the body landscape and the brain landscape. The collection of these changes constitutes the substrate for the neural patterns which eventually become feelings of emotion.”

The biological function of emotions is to produce an automatic action in certain situations and to regulate the internal processes so that the creature is able to support the action dictated by the situation. The biological purpose of emotions are clear, they are not a luxury but a necessity for survival.

“Emotions are inseparable from the idea of reward and punishment, pleasure or pain, of approach or withdrawal, of personal advantage or disadvantage. Inevitably, emotions are inseparable from the idea of good and evil.”

Emotions result from stimulation of the senses from outside the body sources and also from stimulations from remembered situations. Evolution has provided us with emotional responses from certain types of inducers put these innate responses are often modified by our culture.

“It is through feelings, which are inwardly directed and private, that emotions, which are outwardly directed and public, begin their impact on the mind; but the full and lasting impact of feelings requires consciousness, because only along with the advent of a sense of self do feelings become known to the individual having them.”

First, there is emotion, then comes feeling, then comes consciousness of feeling. There is no evidence that we are conscious of all our feelings, in fact evidence indicates that we are not conscious of all feelings.

Human emotion and feeling pivot on consciousness; this fact has not been generally recognized prior to Damasio’s research. Emotion has probably evolved long before consciousness and surfaces in many of us when caused by inducers we often do not recognize consciously.

The powerful contrast between emotion and feeling is used by the author in his search for a comprehension of consciousness. It is a neurological fact, states the author, that when consciousness is suspended then emotion is likewise usually suspended. This observed human characteristic led Damasio to suspect that even though emotion and consciousness are different phenomenon that there must be an important connection between the two.
 

coberst

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Could you at least cite where you copied this from?

If you read the OP then you won't have to ask such foolish questions.

Antonio Damasio, Distinguished Professor and Head of the Department of Neurology at the University of Iowa College of Medicine, testifies in his book “The Feelings of What Happens” that the biological process of feelings begins with a ‘state of emotion’, which can be triggered unconsciously and is followed by ‘a state of feeling’, which can be presented nonconsciously; this nonconscious state can then become ‘a state of feeling made conscious’.

My understanding of character and the quotations concerning the nature of character are taken from Habits and Will by John Dewey
 

ashurbanipal

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Greed is a habit formed through constant repetition. It is an act of will. Emotion, also called instinct, is a product of natural selection. Only the human animal is greedy.

Many animals are greedy, and even use deception or domination to secure more resources for themselves. For instance, it was recently discovered that squirrels use complex deceptive behavior to guard stashes and also keep other sqirrels from discovering large sources of food.

Habits also control the formation of ideas as well as physical actions. We cannot perform a correct action or a correct idea without having already formed correct habits.

Too simplistic. Which habits are necessary? I can do something right, even heroic, without being perfect--that is, while still in possession of bad or incorrect habits.

And...incorrect? Who decides whether a habit is correct or not?

“Reason pure of all influence from prior habit is a fiction.” “The medium of habit filters all material that reaches our perception and thought.”

I agree. This seems correct, and moreover, so few are aware of it.

Emotions equal instinct. First, there is emotion, then comes feeling, then comes consciousness of feeling.

I don't think we know that.

What are the emotions? The primary emotions are happiness, sadness, fear, anger, surprise and disgust.

Love? Trust? Each of these has a cognitive component...but so do those other emotions. It seems to me that there is very little consideration of the circularity of psychology, sometimes.

Antonio Damasio, Distinguished Professor and Head of the Department of Neurology at the University of Iowa College of Medicine, testifies in his book “The Feelings of What Happens” that the biological process of feelings begins with a ‘state of emotion’, which can be triggered unconsciously and is followed by ‘a state of feeling’, which can be presented nonconsciously; this nonconscious state can then become ‘a state of feeling made conscious’.

Damasio is well respected as a scientist; as a theoretician, somewhat less so. There's still quite a bit of controversy over some of his points. Here, for instance, he engages in a sort of linguistic revisionism, re-defining "emotion" in terms of the current knowledge about physiology. He's not the only one who does this, by any means; there is a whole school of neuroscience devoted to such a project. However, even if you accept the sort of reductionism this implies (fewer and fewer seem to accept it), this is problematic for the simple reason that our knowledge of physiology is likely to change.

There's another circularity involved in this sort of reductionism. The original program was to try to explain all aspects of mind via the brain. We've grown much more pessimistic about that program, so instead we revise our notions of the mind to match what we find in our investigation of physiology. Voila! Problem solved.

”Emotions are about the life of an organism, its body to be precise, and their role is to assist the organism in maintaining life…emotions are biologically determined processes, depending upon innately set brain devices, laid down by long evolutionary history…The devices that produce emotions…are part of a set of structures that both regulate and represent body states…All devices can be engaged automatically, without conscious deliberation…The variety of the emotional responses is responsible for profound changes in both the body landscape and the brain landscape. The collection of these changes constitutes the substrate for the neural patterns which eventually become feelings of emotion.”

The biological function of emotions is to produce an automatic action in certain situations and to regulate the internal processes so that the creature is able to support the action dictated by the situation. The biological purpose of emotions are clear, they are not a luxury but a necessity for survival.

Skips too many difficulties. We know that emotions have a cognitive component; without there first being a belief, there is no emotion, either. A person can see, for example, a badger and not be scared if she doesn't know that wombats can be dangerous.

“It is through feelings, which are inwardly directed and private, that emotions, which are outwardly directed and public, begin their impact on the mind; but the full and lasting impact of feelings requires consciousness, because only along with the advent of a sense of self do feelings become known to the individual having them.”

More revisionism. I think most people would use the term "emotion" to mean what he is calling "feeling" here.

Human emotion and feeling pivot on consciousness; this fact has not been generally recognized prior to Damasio’s research.

I assume the definition of "consciousness" here is something like that used by an anesthesiologist. If so, surely the point was obvious before Damasio's research.

Emotion has probably evolved long before consciousness and surfaces in many of us when caused by inducers we often do not recognize consciously.

Sure--correct.

The powerful contrast between emotion and feeling is used by the author in his search for a comprehension of consciousness. It is a neurological fact, states the author, that when consciousness is suspended then emotion is likewise usually suspended. This observed human characteristic led Damasio to suspect that even though emotion and consciousness are different phenomenon that there must be an important connection between the two.

Well, Damasio then tries to use emotion to explain consciousness, which is absurd (as it turns out to be). Damasio got the science right but the theory utterly wrong. It would be as if I said "well, we know that existence must be prior to movement; things that don't exist first don't move. Therefore motion is at the very heart of what it means to exist..." Clear nonsense.

This is not to say that his work isn't valuable. He got the binding problem right, although it remains a problem, since neither he nor anyone had a good solution. But the theory is pretty bad.
 

Anarcho-fascist

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If you read the OP then you won't have to ask such foolish questions.

Antonio Damasio, Distinguished Professor and Head of the Department of Neurology at the University of Iowa College of Medicine, testifies in his book “The Feelings of What Happens” that the biological process of feelings begins with a ‘state of emotion’, which can be triggered unconsciously and is followed by ‘a state of feeling’, which can be presented nonconsciously; this nonconscious state can then become ‘a state of feeling made conscious’.

My understanding of character and the quotations concerning the nature of character are taken from Habits and Will by John Dewey

Did you actually type all that stuff in the OP out?
 

Goshin

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Only the human animal is greedy.

.


BS.

Sharks and other animals have been known to kill and eat when they are not hungry, simply to prevent rivals from eating available food.

I have a cat named Walter. When I feed the cats from a common dish, Walter sticks his head completely across the dish and eats quickly in huge gulps, trying to get the lion's share of the food while forcing the smaller cats to only nibble around the edges. If I put the food out in seperate spots, Walter will eat some from one, then push another cat off another portion and eat some of that; then if he notices another cat eating from his previous pile, he runs them off. He can make this circuit many times, trying to get more food than the other cats, even though I feed them plentiful quantities.

I've seen these types of behavior in many animals, seeking to possess more than they really need and denying resources to other animals in greater need. Greed is not exclusive to humans.
 

lizzie

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Greed is a habit formed through constant repetition. It is an act of will. ..... Only the human animal is greedy.

Not at all. You see greedy behavior and hoarding throughout the animal and insect world. A colony of bees will fiercely guard their stored-up honey. They don't "know" how much they need to survive the winter. They store all they possibly can, and they will fight an intruder off to the best of their ability. Honeybees will also readily rob another hive of the honey of a weaker colony.
 

Orion

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I think we need to distinguish between greed and self-preservation here. Greed is a hording behavior, self-preservation is seeking survival commodities.

I was taught that as long as you have what you need, you need no more. It simply becomes desire after that point. That is what greed is: desire.

I agree that hording is a biological, survival instinct, but greed at the cost of everything else is taught. When you are taught that money matters more than people, that is not biology; when you hold the belief that helping others is a waste of time and you should only look out for yourself, that is not biology, it is taught.

There are many virtuous people in the world. Yeah, in a catastrophic event most people would go into survival mode, but again, that is survival, not greed.

I would define greed as never feeling like you have enough, and pursuing more at all costs. That, to me, is mental illness, not biology.
 

Goshin

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I think we need to distinguish between greed and self-preservation here. Greed is a hording behavior, self-preservation is seeking survival commodities.

I was taught that as long as you have what you need, you need no more. It simply becomes desire after that point. That is what greed is: desire.

I agree that hording is a biological, survival instinct, but greed at the cost of everything else is taught. When you are taught that money matters more than people, that is not biology; when you hold the belief that helping others is a waste of time and you should only look out for yourself, that is not biology, it is taught.

There are many virtuous people in the world. Yeah, in a catastrophic event most people would go into survival mode, but again, that is survival, not greed.

I would define greed as never feeling like you have enough, and pursuing more at all costs. That, to me, is mental illness, not biology.


No real argument, but so much of this topic is subjective. In particular, "need" is a bit of a relative term.

To a Bushman, a bow, a loincloth, a hut and enough to eat is "enough".

Most Westerners would add a lot to the Bushman's list, like electricity, internet, and some form of transportation other than feet, to name a few.

If Social Insecurity goes bust, you may "need" a million dollars in a retirement portfolio. A million ain't what it used to be; the intrest income off a million dollars may only be $50,000 a year in lean years, which is not an excessive income these days. Some people would think trying to accumulate a million dollars was beyond "need", however.

One man's greed is another man's ambition... but I agree that when it gets to the point that someone puts "more for me" ahead of more important things, like family, something is wrong.
 

Orion

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No real argument, but so much of this topic is subjective. In particular, "need" is a bit of a relative term.

To a Bushman, a bow, a loincloth, a hut and enough to eat is "enough".

Most Westerners would add a lot to the Bushman's list, like electricity, internet, and some form of transportation other than feet, to name a few.

If Social Insecurity goes bust, you may "need" a million dollars in a retirement portfolio. A million ain't what it used to be; the interest income off a million dollars may only be $50,000 a year in lean years, which is not an excessive income these days. Some people would think trying to accumulate a million dollars was beyond "need", however.

One man's greed is another man's ambition... but I agree that when it gets to the point that someone puts "more for me" ahead of more important things, like family, something is wrong.

You raise a good point. I would separate it based on need and luxury. And you are right, what we would call a "need" in the western world would be something that someone in a developing country could never dream of having. I do think, on a societal level, the west is far more greedy for this reason. We take up most of the world's resources yet hold a relatively small amount of its population. But internally, people here can't really realize that because they've never left and seen the reality. We are so used to luxuries that we think of them as needs now. We "need" a TV, a cell phone, a computer, a nice house, a car or maybe even two cars, etc. But we never practice contentment, now do we?

Our consumer market is to blame. We are told on a daily basis that we are imperfect without all of these things in our lives. That's how basic marketing works.

People ask me why my aspirations for travel have almost always been to the developing world, and not to other developed countries. (As an aside, I believe those two terms were created by us in order to make it seem like a nation isn't "developed" until they have our infrastructure and notions of capitalism and consumerism. I don't necessarily find them accurate.) One of my reasons is that capitalism hasn't infested many of those regions as extensively as it has the developed world, and people there have a much better concept of contentment. They haven't been fed delusional notions that they need all of this useless crap in order to be happy. They are more materially poor than us and aren't aware of it, yet morally and spiritually they are so much more abundant than us. Yet we think we are better than them.

The world is a funny place, I tell you.
 

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I'm fortunate in that I seem to be less reliant on material things to make me feel safe, happy, and comfortable than a lot of people seem to be.
On the other hand, sometimes I wish I were more like other people; how wonderful it would be sometimes if comfort- or even momentary distraction- could be purchased at a store. Or found in a church, or in the refrigerator, or at the gym, or in any of the other places my friends and cohorts seem to find it.
 

Orion

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I'm fortunate in that I seem to be less reliant on material things to make me feel safe, happy, and comfortable than a lot of people seem to be.
On the other hand, sometimes I wish I were more like other people; how wonderful it would be sometimes if comfort- or even momentary distraction- could be purchased at a store. Or found in a church, or in the refrigerator, or at the gym, or in any of the other places my friends and cohorts seem to find it.

Why would you want to be like them? Their satisfaction is always temporary, and that is exactly why consumerism works on them. On the surface it seems like their happiness can be bought but if you were able to open a window into the deeper lives of most staunch materialists, you would find nothing but misery and suffering.
 

Goshin

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Why would you want to be like them? Their satisfaction is always temporary, and that is exactly why consumerism works on them. On the surface it seems like their happiness can be bought but if you were able to open a window into the deeper lives of most staunch materialists, you would find nothing but misery and suffering.

Cut that out, I'm not used to having to agree with you so often. :mrgreen:

Lasting satisfaction is not found in materialism, agreed.

I do likes me some air conditioning in July and August, though. :lamo
 

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Why would you want to be like them? Their satisfaction is always temporary, and that is exactly why consumerism works on them. On the surface it seems like their happiness can be bought but if you were able to open a window into the deeper lives of most staunch materialists, you would find nothing but misery and suffering.

I would be more inclined to say that if you were able to open a window into the deeper lives of most people in general, you would find nothing but misery and suffering. Seriously.:) It seems to be part of the human condition on a broad scale.
 

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I would be more inclined to say that if you were able to open a window into the deeper lives of most people in general, you would find nothing but misery and suffering. Seriously.:) It seems to be part of the human condition on a broad scale.

I don't think it's universal.

I think this misery you speak of is connected to intelligence level and personality: some people just tend to be more introspective and broody. Highly intelligent people, in my experience, seem to suffer more than those of marginal intelligence.
 
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