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A Conjecture Regarding the Biological Mechanism of Subjectivity and Feeling

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In this article we present a conjecture regarding the biology of subjectivity and feeling, based on biophysical and phenomenological considerations. We propose that feeling, as a subjective phenomenon, would come to life as a process of resistance to variance hypothesized to occur during the unfolding of cognition and behaviours in the wakeful and emoting individual. After showing how the notion of affect, when considered from a biological standpoint, suggests an underlying process of resistance to variance, we discuss how vigilance, emotional arousal and attentional behaviours reflect a dynamics of controlled over-excitation related to cognitive integration and control. This can be described as a form of resistance to variance. We discuss how such a dynamics objectively creates an internal state of tension and affectedness in the system that could be associated with subjective states. Such a dynamics is shaped by the system's need to cope with its own inertia, to engage in intentional behaviours, attend, preserve coherence, grapple with divergent cognitive, emotional and motivational tendencies, and delayed auto-perturbations of the brain-body system. More generally, it is related to the need to respect the hierarchy of the various influences which affect its internal dynamics and organization.

Document Type: Research Article

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Publication date: 2005-01-01

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