Saturday, September 10, 2011

On the Role of Recursion in Emotion

On the Role of Recursion in Emotion


1: return
2: the determination of a succession of elements (as numbers or functions) by operation on one or more preceding elements according to a rule or formula involving a finite number of steps
3: a computer programming technique involving the use of a procedure, subroutine, function, or algorithm that calls itself one or more times until a specified condition is met at which time the rest of each repetition is processed from the last one called to the first — compare iteration

Late Latin recursion-, recursio, from recurrere
First Known Use: 1616

Recursion may be defined as a process which repeats itself perpetually. The result is endless repetition: every time the process repeats itself it calls itself to repeat self once more.

This is an important computer algorithm which can be found in the nature also. For example diuretic material tends to increase excretion of urine but this causes loss of water and increases the need to drink more water. Hence to drink water is a recursive process.

Recursive algorithms help computer programmers to achieve astonishing results.

"Recursion in computer science is a method where the solution to a problem depends on solutions to smaller instances of the same problem. The approach can be applied to many types of problems, and is one of the central ideas of computer science(Wikipedia)."

""The power of recursion evidently lies in the possibility of defining an infinite set of objects by a finite statement. In the same manner, an infinite number of computations can be described by a finite recursive program, even if this program contains no explicit repeatitions(Wikipedia)."

Some of our emotions may be recursive at least sometimes as indicated by reliable resources:

"it seems likely that our current emotional state (which is the result of previous emotion regulatory efforts) may influence how we decide to modulate the current emotional response tendencies (e.g., deciding to "really let someone have it" when one is angry). Furthermore, as we have noted, the reactions of other people to one’s emotions constitute significant changes in the situation that further influence emotional responding (Gross, J.J., & Thompson, R.A. 2007)."

Sartre points out many aspects of emotion that may be useful for LARGE SYSTEM operators:

"A consciousness becoming emotional is rather like a consciousness dropping asleep." (Sartre, J.P. 1939, p51)

"But when in a new and difficult situation, if we cannot produce adopted behaviour appropriate to it, we fall back upon the primitive circuit." (Sartre, J.P. 1939, p20)

Sartre states that emotion is a form of consciousness - "a state of mind." (Sartre, J.P. 1939, p34

"But the fear does not begin as consciousness of being afraid... The emotional consciousness is at first non-reflective, and upon that plane it cannot be consciousness of itself ... The emotional consciousness is primarily consciousness of the world." (Sartre, J.P. 1939, p 34)

"emotion then parts company with the object to become itself...Emotion is a specific manner of apprehending the world." (Sartre, J.P. 1939, p35)

"During emotion, it is the body which, directed by the consciousness, changes its relationship with the world so that the world should change its qualities. If emotion is playing, the play is one that we believe in." (Sartre, J.P. 1939, p41

"Real emotion is quite another matter: it is accompanied by belief. The qualities 'willed' upon the objects are taken to be real." (Sartre, J.P. 1939, p49)

"Clearly to understand the emotional process as it proceeds from consciousness, we must remember the dual nature of the body, which on one hand is an object in the world and on the other is immediately lived by the consciousness." (Sartre, J.P. 1939, p50)

"...consciousness is caught in its own snare. Precisely because it is living in the new aspect of the world by believing in it, the consciousness is captured by its own belief, exactly as it is in dreams or hysteria."
(Sartre, J.P. 1939, p52)

"Thus, when consciousness is living the magical world into which it has precipitated itself, it tends to perpetuate that world, by which it is captivated: the emotion tends to perpetuate itself. It is in this sense we may say it is undergone; the consciousness is moved by its emotion and heightens it. The faster one flees the more one is afraid." (Sartre, J.P. 1939, p53)

Sartre's philosophical explanations fall short of expressing the word recursive but it states this implicitly.

Randolph Cornelius’s book “The Science of Emotion” explains in the Appendix named ‘The Neurophysiology of Emotion” that there are anatomical structures which may be named as loops related to emotion formation based on scientific articles.

The Papez Loop model or later the Limbic System and Dual Pathways all try to find out how the brain works emotionally. This is a subject beyond the scope of this note.

At least some emotions (such as fear) may sometimes(at least) behave recursively without you being aware of them.

Gross, J.J., & Thompson, R.A. 2007. Emotion regulation: Conceptual foundations, New York: The Guilford Press
Sartre, J.P. 1939, repr. 2006,trans. By Philip Mairet, Routledge Classics