Operational Definitions of Mind and Feelings (Sensations and Emotions)

Robert Howard Kroepel
Copyright © 2001

Basic Philosophy


Reality can be categorized as things and events.

Thing = Object, unity which retains its identify for a longer period of time/longer duration that a relevant event.

Example: Jane, a ball, and Dick.

A concept is a mental representation/idea of a thing.

A true concept is an accurate mental representation of a thing; a false concept is an inaccurate mental representation of a thing.

An event is relationship between/among things, especially a causal relationship between/among things. Events have a time period/duration much shorter than relevant things.

Example: Jane throws the ball to Dick. [Relationship: Jane -> ball -> Dick]

A principle is a mental representation of an event, especially of a causal relationship between/among things.

A true principle is an accurate mental representation of an event (especially of a causal relationship between/among things; a false principle is an inaccurate mental representation of an event.

A technique is an application of a principle.

Example: Principle: A ball can be thrown to another person. Technique: Jane can throw the ball to Dick.

A practical technique is an effective application of a principle; an impractical technique is an ineffective application of a principle.
 

Operational Definitions


An operational definition describes the observations and/or measurements of people/things/events who/which are (A) comprised of matter and energy and (B) are not the content of ideas.

Operational definitions often can be presented as structured sentences such as

_____ [Term/phrase being defined] IS WHEN __________ [descriptions of the observations/measurements of real-world people/things/events].

Example: Love [Term being defined operationally] IS WHEN someone says they like you and does good things with you and for you [description of the observations/measurements real-world people/things/events].

Operational definitions can make abstract concepts/principles/techniques concrete (by describing the observations/measurements of real-world/concrete people/things/events).
 

The Mind


What is the mind?

An individual’s mind is his personal system of desires/fears/priorities which causes his behavior as his actions/reactions including his feelings as his reactions to his realizations of his desires/fears/priorities, his personality as his mind-in -action, as his behavior as caused by his desires/fears/priorities, his mental problems as his unrealistic [unachievable or/and inappropriate] desires, and his mental health as his realistic [achievable and appropriate] desires.
 

Mind = Desires, Fears and Priorities.


A desire is wanting a person, a thing, or an event.
 

Desire = Wanting a person/thing/event.


NOTE: For the purposes of the observation and measurement required for an operational definition of ‘desire,’ scientists (and nonscientists) can observe and measure an individual’s approach behavior towards a person/thing/event as evidence of the presence and operation of a desire.

A fear is not-wanting a person/thing/event.
 

Fear = Not-wanting a person/thing/event.


NOTE: For the purposes of the observation and measurement required for an operational definition of ‘fear,’ scientists (and nonscientists) can observe and measure an individual’s avoidance behavior away from a person/thing/event as evidence of the presence and operation of a fear.

NOTE: Desires and fears are interrelated by being opposites. The desire to live is the interrelated opposite of the fear of dying.

A priority is the importance of each desire or fear compared to (relative to) all other desires and fears.
 

Priority = The importance of a desire or a fear.


NOTE: For the purposes of the observation and measurement required for an operational definition of ‘priority,’ scientists (and nonscientists) can observe and measure the effort an individual makes for his approach behaviors to desired persons/things/events or avoidance behaviors away from feared persons/things/events as evidence of the presence and operation of priorities.

NOTE: The term ‘desire(s)’ can be used for convenience to designate desires/fears/priorities.

Physiological Desires And Psychological Desires

Desires/fears/priorities can be physiological/unlearned or psychological/learned.

Physiological desires/fears/priorities are unlearned and inherent in the body and include desires for survival, food, water, elimination, shelter [cooling/heating], companionship, sex, reproduction, etc.

Psychological desires/fears/priorities are learned in the experiences of the interactions of physiological/unlearned desires/fears/priorities with environmental choices (people/things/events who/which can/cannot achieve physiological/unlearned desires or avoid physiological/unlearned fears). 

The Hierarchy of Desires/Fears/Priorities

An individual is born with physiological/unlearned/organic desires/fears/priorities.

He/She seeks to achieve physiological desires and avoid physiological fears.

He/She learns which choices achieve his/her physiological desires/avoids his/her physiological fears and he/she develops generic psychological/learned/mental desires for generic people/objects/events who/which achieve his/her desires/avoid his/er fears and ultimately specific psychological/learned/mental desires for specific people/objects/events who/which achieve his/her generic psychological desires and his/her physiological desires.

The learning which produces an individual's set of generic and specific psychological desires/fears/priorities which achieve/avoid his/her physiological desires/fears/priorities produces an hierarchy of desires/fears/priorities.

The Hierachy of Desires/Fears/Priorities
3. Specific Psychological/Learned Desire


For a Seven-Up™
2. Generic Psychological/Learned Desire


For a Soda
Choices
Water
Milk
White
Chocolate
Soda
Seven-Up™
Coca-Cola™
Pepsi-Cola™
1. Physiological/Unlearned Desire
To Slake Thirst


Feelings


Feelings are reactions to realizations of desires/fears/priorities.

A realization is the achievement or nonachievement of a desire or an avoidance or nonavoidance of a fear.

A positive realization is the achievement of a desire or/and the avoidance of a fear.

A negative realization is the nonachievement of a desire or/and the nonavoidance of a fear.

A realization could be actual or imaginary.

A feeling develops in a sequence (Desire/Realization/Feeling, or D/R/F sequence):

1. Desire: _____ (?)  [Person/Thing/Event Wanted.]

2. Realization: _____ (?) [Person/Thing/Event Achieved/Not Achieved.]

3. Feeling: _____ (?) [Reaction to the Realization of the Desire.]
 

Thus, the bridge between an individual’s mind and his feelings is D/R/F sequence.

Feelings are either sensations or emotions.

Sensations (Physiological/Unlearned/Organic Feelings)

Sensations are reactions to realizations of physiological or unlearned desires inherent in the body and include desires for survival, food, liquids, elimination of wastes, shelter, companionship, sex, reproduction, etc.

The sensations are experienced along a tripolar (three-pole) continuum.
 

The Continuum of Physiological Feelings/Sensations

Pain
Pleasure
Pain
From a lack/deficiency
From a satiation/satisfaction
From an excess
Example: No water
Example: Enough water
Example: Too much water

Emotions (Psychoilogical/Learned/Mental Feelings)

Emotions are reactions to realizations of psychological or learned desires not inherent in the body and include desires for love, work, recreation, etc.

There are four basic emotions:

(1) Happiness, as a reaction to the realization of the achievement of a desire/avoidance of a fear;
(2) Sadness as a reaction to the realization of an actual loss or of no hope of achieving a desire;
(3) Anger as a reaction to the realization of a violation/frustration of an expectancy (desire), a promise, a contract, a law, or an ethic (increases if the violation/frustration is perceived as unjustified);
(4) Fear as a reaction to a realization of a threat of a loss of self-esteem, a vocational position, social relationship, money, or property, an accident, injury, illness, or a genetic defect, or a physical or verbal attack.

NOTE: The opposite of happiness is often considered to be unhappiness, but where happiness consists of the same positive emotion ranging from contentment to ecstacy/joy/elation unhappiness consists of at least one or a combination of the three negative emotions of sadness, anger, or/and fear.

All other terms used to designate emotions are (A) synonyms of basic emotions; (B) combinations of basic emotions; (C) situations to which an individual reacts with basic emotions.

The emotions are experienced along a bipolar (two-pole) continuum.
 

The Continuum of Psychological Feelings/Emotions

Happiness
Unhappiness
A reaction to an achievement of a psychological/learned desire or an avoidance of a psychological/learned fear. A reaction to a nonavoidance of a psychological/learned fear or a nonachievement of a psychological/learned desire.

Sadness: from a perception of an actual loss or of no hope of achieving a desire or avoiding a fear.

Anger: From a perception of a violation/frustration of an expectation, a promise, a contract, a law, or an ethic.

Anger: From a perception of a threat of a loss, an accident, an injury, an illness, or a verbal or physical attack.

Emotional Reactions and Impulsive Reactions

Emotional reactions, feelings of happiness v unhappiness (sadness/anger/fear) which are reactions to realizations of psychological/learned/mental desires/fears/priorities, are linked to impulsive reactions, which are actions as reactions to perceptions of achieving/not achieving desires and/or avoiding/not avoiding fears.

Table of Emotional Reactions and Impulsive Reactions
Emotional Reaction: Happiness
Impulsive Reaction: Celebrate!!!
Emotional Reaction: Unhappiness

Emotional Reaction: Sadness
Impulsive Reaction: Give up hope of achieving a desire/avoiding a fear; become depressed

Emotional Reaction: Anger
Impulsive Reaction: Attack Oneself and/or Someone or Something Else

Emotional Reaction: Fear
Impulsive Reaction: Run Away from Oneself and/or Someone or Something Else


Statements Which Do Not Describe Feelings

Some statements appear to be statements of feelings (descriptions of feelings) but are not.

Statements such as ...

(1A) I feel that ...

Example: I feel that he/she should ...
Example: I feel that you ought to ...

(1B) I felt that ...

Example: I felt that he/she should have ...
Example: I felt that you ought to have ...

(2A) I feel like ...

Example: I feel like going swimming/boatiing/flying/etc.
Example: He/She feels like going swimming/boating/flying/etc.

(2B) I felt like ...

Example: I felt like going swimming/boating/flying/etc.
Example: He/She felt like going swimming/boating/flying/etc.

... are not statements of descriptions of feelings, of either sensations or emotions, but, instead, are (#1) statements of judgements/conclusions/opinions/beliefs or (#2) statements of desires/fears/priorities.

Translations:

(1A) I feel that ... = Statement of current/present judgement/conclusion/opinion/belief inre current or future action/condition.
(1B) I felt that ... = Statement of past judgement/conclusion/opinion/belief inre past/present/future action/condition.

(2A) I feel like ... = Statement of a current desire to achieve a person/object/event or a fear of not avoiding a person/object/event.
(2B) I felt like ... = Statement of a previous desire to achieve a person/object/events or a previous fear of not avoiding a person/object/event.

When feelings presented as judgements/conclusions/opinions/beliefs and/or desires/fears/priorities ineffective communications can occur.

Ineffective Communication: I feel that all humans should/ought/etc. use statements of feelings to describe physiological feelings/sensations as reactions to realizations of physiological/unlearned/organic desires/fears/priorities or psychological feelings/emotions as reactions to realizations of psychological/learned/mental desires/fears/priorities. [This statement is a judgement/conclusion/opinion/belief and not a description of feelings.]

Effective Communication: I desire that all humans should/ought/etc. use statements of feelings to describe physiological feelings/sensations as reactions to realizations of physiological/unlearned/organic desires/fears/priorities or psychological feelings/emotions as reactions to realizations of psychological/learned/mental desires/fears/priorities. [This statement is a statement of a desire and clearly not a description of feelings.]

Feeling good (happy/happiness) about/inre a person/object/event does not mean that person/object/event is real/true/innocent/etc.; feeling bad (unhappy/unhappiness) about/inre a person/object/event does not mean that person/object/event is unreal/false/guilty/etc.

Feeling good about O. J. Simpson/Robert Blake does not mean O. J. Simpson/Robert Blake is real/true/innocent; feeling bad about O. J. Simpson/Robert Blake does not mean O. J. Simpson/Robert Blake is unreal/false/guilty/etc.

People who confuse their feelings with their desire/fears/priorities often make decisions based upon emotions and not value-judgements/standards, including guidelines for moral behavior (actions/reactions) or conclusions of logical arguments in which premises which are verifiable/falsifiable/verified by physical evidence (people/objects/events comprised of matter/energy) and are relevant to a conclusion produce a conclusion which is valid because it is relevant to the premises and true because the premises have been verified by physical evidence.

An individual can make a decision inre buying a car based upon his feelings, which are actually his judgements/conclusions/opinion/beliefs based upon his desires/fears/priorities, or his logical analysis of the car's features/service record/reliability/etc. inre his desires/fears/priorities. An individual can therefore buy a car because he "feels good" inre the car's yellow color/etc. or because the car's performance features and service record achieve his desires/avoid his fears; either way, because of production inconsistencies he may buy a defective car or a perfect car.

People therefore make decisions and solve problems rationally, from analysis of people/objects/events inre their features as benefits and detriments inre desires/fears/priorities, or irrationally, from feelings as reactions to incomplete analysis of people/objects/events inre their features as benefits and/or detriments.

Summary:

Mind = Desires/Fears/Priorities

Feelings = Reactions to Realizations of Desires/Fears/Priorities.

Feelings Develop in a Sequence, the Desire/Realization/Feeling Sequence, or D/R/F Sequence:

1. Desire: _____ (?) (Wanting a Person/Object/Event)
2. Realization: _____ (?) (Person/Object/Event Achieved/Not Achieved)
3. Feeling: _____ (?) (Reaction to the Realization of the Desire.)