emotions and hpct

At different points in time, we have touched on the above topic.
I am starting " a thread " on this topic again for all those who
are interested. In this post, I will summarize what I understand
to be Bill Powers current views on the topic. In future posts, if
others show interest, we can "push the envelope."

Point 1: Emotions are a subset of all the perceptions which a
person can have of his/her body state. The "Boss Reality" in this
case is the world of a person's body versus the world outside of a
person's body.

Bill Powers has not proposed any kind of list of emotions to the
best of my knowledge. In BCP, he talks about "feeling good" and
"feeling bad". On CSG-net, he has mentioned a few emotions but I
don't think has gone beyond this.

Some implications about point 1:

Not all body perceptions are emotions. For example, "feeling
sleepy," and "feeling sick," are not usually considered to be
emotions even though we describe them as feelings.

If emotions are perceptions then there should be input functions
for emotions just as there are for other senses. No input
functions, no emotions?

If emotions are perceptions then the HPCT levels of perception
should apply to them.

Point 2: The operation of each control system may give rise to an
emotion. The specific emotion which occurs is determined by the
specifics of the reference signal of the control system.

Bill Powers does not give the details of how this works to the best
of my knowledge. The error signal of a control system has two
basic results other than becoming the reference signals for lower
level control systems. One result is the impact on muscle activity.
The second result is on glandular activity. Bill has mentioned the
hypothalamus as the brain locus where these body altering effects
may originate.

If an internal conflict, or something environmental, stops the
body from changing, this is the circumstance under which an error
signal in a control system gives rise to an emotion.

Some implications about point 2:

There may be as many different emotions as there are different
reference signals. The best way to describe an emotion is to
describe the reference signal.

For example: Imagine it is nighttime and the feeling you have when
you see a police car with flashing lights in your rearview mirror.

And suppose you were speeding? (Oh, sh_t!) versus

One hour later, and suppose your car was broken down on the road?
(Thank G_d!)

Let us even suppose it is the same police car and the same trooper.

The different contexts involve different reference signals: I
don't want a speeding ticket versus I don't want to be stuck here
alone. In the former case an error signal is induced--I am going to
get a speeding ticket. In the later case--an error signal is
reduced--I am not here alone. We have a positive emotion in the
former case versus a negative one in the latter case.

Is feeling good always the result of reducing an error signal? Is
feeling bad always the result of increasing an error signal?

Point 3: The intensity of the emotion is determined by the size of
the error signal induced or reduced and the body states which a
person experiences in processing the error signal.

Some implications of point 3:

For a given control system, the bigger the error signal change,
the more impact on the person's body, the stronger the emotional

The smaller the error signal change, the less impact on the
person's body, the weaker the emotional experience.

Point 4: Awareness is drawn to control systems which have big
error signal changes in them.

Some implications of point 4:

Awareness and emotional experiences should go together. If one can
become passionate about higher level perceptions, one should be
able to draw awareness to them. If one can become dispassionate
about lower level perceptions, for example, physical pain, one
should be able to allow awareness to be removed from them.

Comments are invited, corrective or otherwise.

David Goldstein


To: Bill Powers and Interested CSG-net Users
Subject: HPCT and emotions
From: David Goldstein
Date: 09/02/93