November 19, 2016
Written by Maximus Peperkamp, M.S. Verbal Engineer
This is my thirteenth response to “The basic emotional circuits of mammalian brains: Do animals have affective lives?” When Panksepp writes that practitioners in neurosciences are “have the best empirical tools to address questions concerning the causal infrastructure of subjective experience” and refutes those who “will say there is no relevant evidence” as “wrong,” he is both right as well as wrong. He is right as his research proves over and over again that animals do have feelings, but he is wrong as he is still framing his research as seeing “into the mind of other creatures.” Although animals have emotional lives, they don’t have minds which cause them to act the way they do.
Panksepp is knows that behavior is caused by environmental variables, but he still peddles the common view that animals possess minds to bring attention to his primary affective processes. He even claims “Were it not for the “neuroscience revolution”, the dilemma of not being able to see into the mind of other creatures would, of course, be the path of perpetual agnosticism, with different philosophical camps arguing for their beliefs or simply deciding to disregard the issue.”
The meaningless argument in which different philosophical camps stick to their beliefs and “simply decide to disregard the issue” (of primary processes) is clearly an example of Noxious Verbal Behavior (NVB). In NVB speakers talk in a predetermined, scripted manner and nothing new is being said. In SVB, however, speakers explore and enjoy while they talk and discover new things due to their way of talking.
What is clear from Panksepp’s paper is that struggle for attention is as common and stagnating among neuroscientists as among philosophers. Struggle for attention is one of the main characteristics of NVB. It is not the exception but the norm, which can only be overthrown by some violent upheaval, some ugly revolution. In SVB, however, there is no such fighting to get each other’s attention and no aversive stimulation.