Fictitious sentiments

Music often fills me with the feeling that I care about certain things. Idealistic songs make me feel like I will go out and support some cause or another. Romantic songs make me feel that I would do just about anything for someone. Other songs make me feel passionately motivated to go and do amazing things. Some songs probably even make me feel patriotic, though I only infer that from the completely unfamiliar feeling that sometimes accompanies them.

The plausibility of these feelings is really diminished by the music though. If I really cared so much about some cause or person, I would go and pursue the cause or do whatever the person wanted me to, not lie around on my bed relishing the emotional high of feeling like I wanted to. The same goes for movies. The fact that you are sitting there cheering on the good guy, not out in the world doing something good, shows that you don’t really support his principles. Unless the movie is about some guy who gallantly cheers on worthy characters in movies.

8 responses to “Fictitious sentiments

  1. Your post makes me doubt the reliability of my emotions when listening to music. But if I really doubted them I’d be out there really doubting instead of sitting here commenting on this post. Right?

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  2. I’ve heard similar thoughts about the movie Avatar and it’s environmentalist message. The way to fight the evil government-corporate bad guys is to watch another movie, not to take the experience from the movie into direct political action. When is Avatar 2 coming out?

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  3. Its a valid point, but the conundrum arises because the assumptions about psychology are essentially backwards.

    Emotions drive reason far more than vice versa, certainly for most people at least. To make an oversimplification for the sake of clarity: your rational self comes around to setting a goal like “I will study to be a pilot so I can be in Air Force to help protect my country” because of your constituent emotional backdrop. So listening to Advance Australia Fair (?) enough times, far from being a diversion, is precisely what _causes_ sufficient patriotic emotion for an impulse toward patriotic behaviour, and then your rational mind assesses the best way to fulfill that impulse.

    This kind of talk is of course heresy to some of the more stridently ideological economist types that sometimes haunt this segment of the blogsphere :-) But it makes far more sense within an evolutionary framework, and the empirical data definitely backs it up IMO. I could go and find literature to cite and what not, but you know, I’m lazy……

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    • I agree. The knowledge that I’m performing the useful task (if I did care) of making myself care doesn’t recover my enjoyment of entertainment entirely though :(

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  4. wait. usually people selects the music they listen to. first you feel sad and then you skip songs on the playlist until you get the sappy song. so, music does not make you feel something you did not feel (or thinked) before. I guess it’s kind of a reinforcement.

    if your idea works, just make inmates listen love songs all day long =)

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    • Or sometimes you feel sad and skip to a cheerful song to change it. There are effects both ways.

      Does love make people less violent?

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  5. If love is the interest in providing a better outome for another being, yes. If it is confused with efforts to attach oneself to another in order to improve one’s self esteem, any glitch in positive experiences as the relaxation of either’s guard allows fears to manifest can cause such a threat of destruction to the constructed society personality that the fight or flight mammalian urge sallies forth.
    As most of us aren’t surfing on a waft of love it is good to practise tricking oneself into a loving response.eg .. When a hat driver in front of me is failing to control their vehicle within the normal bounds my irritation can be felt physically and mentally. The road rage tingling could cause me to carelessly overtake, instructively hoot or ignore other dangerous roadside phenomena. Perhaps if we both stopped due to their or my driving my urge may be violent. Even uncontrolled violence. If I imagine the offending driver is in fact some doddery relative of mine and it’s actually a miracle they could find their car keys so they are actually doing remarkably well I introduce some love into the situation.
    Consequently ( I am sure I don’t only imagine) some force or another always improves their driving straight away. That is not a violent force. ( I am sure that I don’t simply become more tolerant). It is interesting to wonder if love is transmitable between vehicles and if so through any already scientifically discovered method.

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  6. Pingback: Overcoming Bias : Heroes Of Heroes

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