Before we begin, let me assure you that everything written here is purely conjecture, despite my near religious beliefs of its conviction. Having said that, prepare to be depressed. Nihilism follows.
As any person coming of age, learning the ropes in love, the value of friendship, and the necessity of a solid career, he or she begins to wonder why humans have this strange dichotomy of both emotion and reason. To explain such a vast question, one must first ask what the purpose of life is. Let's assume for now that Darwin was right. The purpose of life is survival- not just of yourself, but of your species. Granted, this is arguably true, but I feel there is more than enough evidence to permit this assumption.
Given this, it is now possible to examine why humans are the way they are. But first, it helps to examine animals. Most people would concede that animals are more instinctual, less logical. In general, as you move further away from intelligence, animals are driven by urge, desire, and reflexes. A creature does not have understanding why it has a certain urge or desire, although it may know how to alleviate it (probably acquired through conditioning / reinforcement). What's important about this phenomenon is that out of all wrong urges, evolution eventually will find the correct urges for a species' survival. Keep in mind however, that all non-intelligent creatures are incapable of understanding why those urges exist, and why they are correct.
It turns out that good way to survive is to be smart. It happened to be easier for nature to create a cognitive animal than to generate a (very large) set of urges that allow the species to survive in complex, changing domains. So are humans smart just so they can survive? Definitely. Then what good is emotions? Well, this computer, or brain as we call it, needs purpose. It needs directives and goals. Our emotions do this. Emotions exist for the sole purpose of survival. They are really no different than primitive animal urges, save we are aware of them. They force our brains to aid in protection, procreation, and personal survival.
There are innumerable counter-examples to the argument that emotions are reducible to instinct type behavior. Let me first state that evolution is not perfect. Not every human ends up aiding survival. To at least provide some causal link between emotions and survival, here are some examples:
- Fear or Anger is generated by any direct threat to the survival of you or your species. People who experience fear without an apparent reason are usually just anomalies.
- Love and Friendship is obvious. It ensures reproduction, as well as protection of the child-bearer and child itself. As for friendship, this provides protection for the whole species
- Curiosity and Motivation are integral in aiding in basic survival such as nourishment, health, protection, etc.
These emotions drive conditioning and reinforcement and are very important in cognition.
Note that animals "instincts" could easily be called emotions given the above logic. They just lack cognition. Any other emotion one does not considered covered in the above list can be reasoned out to survival with a little reasoning. Using this explanation of emotions, some ramifications of this belief will be examined.
Morals are a result of logic and emotion. They help deal with more complex interactions between groups of humans. It allows billions of people to exist in a world of finite resources. It would be much harder, in an evolutionary perspective, to use just emotions to handle such a domain. They are just the guidelines. Proof of this is imagine how long ten billion tigers would survive in this world before they ran out of resources or simply killed each other.
Scientific Progress is merely an interesting side effect of the need to survive paired with cognition. Some people believe that we exist (and prolong our existence through reproduction) in order to understand the universe, but it is pretty hard to prove that the opposite is not true. Most humans will not lead a happy life if they just pursue knowledge. Conventionally, in order to be happy one must reproduce. However, it would be hard to say that people are unhappy if they are not aggressively learning about the universe. I suppose this argument may just boil down to beliefs
War is a little confusing. I think it is most easily explained by saying a human is not a perfect model in evolutionary terms. Although war may often be necessary in terms of survival (death frees more resources for the living), it probably is the worst case scenario and a better model wouldn't allow it as often. The marriage between emotion and reason is still fairly new, and some wrinkles need to be ironed out.
This node is likely to be updated frequently. All comments, addendums, suggestions, rebuttals, etc. are encouraged.