Since Feeling Is First

In reading The Brain and the Inner World by Mark Solms and Oliver Turnbull as part of my thesis research, I came across this passage about consciousness, emotion, and embodiment: ...


Consciousness has everything to do with being embodied, with awareness of one’s bodily state in reaction to what is going on around one.  Moreover, this mechanism seems to have evolved only because bodies have needs.  Consciousness is therefore deeply rooted in a set of ancient biological values.  These values are what feelings are, and consciousness is feeling.  It is therefore very difficult to imagine how, why, and where a disembodied machine would generate consciousness.  This does not rule out the possibility of an artificial system with self-monitoring properties.  But the self that it monitors would have to be a body (and preferably one with a long evolutionary history) if it is really going to generate feelings. 

Conscious awareness is therefore grounded in emotional awareness.  

I immediately thought of one of my favorite poems: 

since feeling is first
e.e. cummings 

since feeling is first
who pays any attention
to the syntax of things
will never wholly kiss you;
wholly to be a fool
while Spring is in the world

my blood approves,
and kisses are a better fate
than wisdom
lady i swear by all flowers. Don't cry
—the best gesture of my brain is less than
your eyelids' flutter which says

we are for each other: then
laugh, leaning back in my arms
for life's not a paragraph

And death i think is no parenthesis

I don't think I could have said it any better.