In this philosophy page, I will expound upon my core beliefs that shape the way I understand the world.
In my first short essay, I will begin to explain my theory of human emotion. It is my belief that all human emotions can be understood and more easily handled using this framework. I do not yet have a name for this theory, but for now, the Free Energy Principle of Human Emotion will do.
It is based upon Neuroscientist Karl Friston’s free energy principle (link to nature article), which he calls the existential imperative. I would recommend listening to his podcast with Lex Friedman, for a first principles understanding of what I am referring to.
Here, I will paraphrase Nature’s article (linked above) written by the neuroscientist himself, in order to give a base summary for which I will build upon in my theory of emotion. Friston’s free energy principle is based in entropy and surprise minimization.
Entropy, in short, is the universal tendency toward disorder.
Surprise minimization is what all biotic (and potentially abiotic) forms do in order to fend off entropy.
Surprise rests on predictions about sensations.
Surprises occur when a prediction is made, and the outcome is disparate from that prediction.
Perception is used to optimize predictions.
Information is perceived, and the prediction is altered.
Under this principle, action is defined as “suppressing sensory prediction errors that depend on predicted
(expected or desired) movement trajectories”.
Perceptual predictions rest upon prior expectations.
These priors are either acquired or innate.
Free Energy and Emotion
For further learning on the topic, it is also worthwhile to read about the Bayesian Brain Hypothesis, with states that the brain does little more than predict the future and attempt to enforce that prediction.
Now, how do these principles relate to emotions? I will begin to explain here, and save the rest for my next short essay, for the sake of brevity. A surprise can instill either positive or negative emotions.
For example, a child on Christmas who receives many more presents from Santa than expected will be overjoyed with the surprise. A child who gets less gifts on Christmas is also surprised, but will most likely be filled with disappointment.
The topic of my next piece is: How prediction, anticipation, and outcome are associated with emotion; in a constant attempt to minimize surprise (free energy).