Greed is a Character Trait not an Emotion!

Greed is a habit formed through constant repetition. It is an act of will. Emotion, also called instinct, is a product of natural selection. Only the human animal is greedy.

What is character? Character is the network of habits that permeate all the intentional acts of an individual.

I am not using the word habit in the way we often do, as a technical ability existing apart from our wishes. These habits are an intimate and fundamental part of our selves. They are representations of our will. They rule our will, working in a coordinated way they dominate our way of acting. These habits are the results of repeated, intelligently controlled, actions.

Habits also control the formation of ideas as well as physical actions. We cannot perform a correct action or a correct idea without having already formed correct habits.

“Reason pure of all influence from prior habit is a fiction.”
“The medium of habit filters all material that reaches our perception and thought.” “Immediate, seemingly instinctive, feeling of the direction and end of various lines of behavior is in reality the feeling of habits working below direct consciousness.” “Habit means special sensitiveness or accessibility to certain classes of stimuli, standing predilections and aversions, rather than bare recurrence of specific acts. It means will.”

My understanding of character and the quotations concerning the nature of character are taken from Habits and Will by John Dewey

Emotions equal instinct. First, there is emotion, then comes feeling, then comes consciousness of feeling.

What are the emotions? The primary emotions are happiness, sadness, fear, anger, surprise and disgust. The secondary or social emotions are such things as pride, jealousy, embarrassment, and guilt. Damasio considers the background emotions are well-being or malaise, and calm or tension. The label of emotion has also been attached to drives and motivations and to states of pain and pleasure.

Antonio Damasio, Distinguished Professor and Head of the Department of Neurology at the University of Iowa College of Medicine, testifies in his book “The Feelings of What Happens” that the biological process of feelings begins with a ‘state of emotion’, which can be triggered unconsciously and is followed by ‘a state of feeling’, which can be presented nonconsciously; this nonconscious state can then become ‘a state of feeling made conscious’.

”Emotions are about the life of an organism, its body to be precise, and their role is to assist the organism in maintaining life…emotions are biologically determined processes, depending upon innately set brain devices, laid down by long evolutionary history…The devices that produce emotions…are part of a set of structures that both regulate and represent body states…All devices can be engaged automatically, without conscious deliberation…The variety of the emotional responses is responsible for profound changes in both the body landscape and the brain landscape. The collection of these changes constitutes the substrate for the neural patterns which eventually become feelings of emotion.”

The biological function of emotions is to produce an automatic action in certain situations and to regulate the internal processes so that the creature is able to support the action dictated by the situation. The biological purpose of emotions are clear, they are not a luxury but a necessity for survival.

“Emotions are inseparable from the idea of reward and punishment, pleasure or pain, of approach or withdrawal, of personal advantage or disadvantage. Inevitably, emotions are inseparable from the idea of good and evil.”

Emotions result from stimulation of the senses from outside the body sources and also from stimulations from remembered situations. Evolution has provided us with emotional responses from certain types of inducers put these innate responses are often modified by our culture.

“It is through feelings, which are inwardly directed and private, that emotions, which are outwardly directed and public, begin their impact on the mind; but the full and lasting impact of feelings requires consciousness, because only along with the advent of a sense of self do feelings become known to the individual having them.”

First, there is emotion, then comes feeling, then comes consciousness of feeling. There is no evidence that we are conscious of all our feelings, in fact evidence indicates that we are not conscious of all feelings.

Human emotion and feeling pivot on consciousness; this fact has not been generally recognized prior to Damasio’s research. Emotion has probably evolved long before consciousness and surfaces in many of us when caused by inducers we often do not recognize consciously.

The powerful contrast between emotion and feeling is used by the author in his search for a comprehension of consciousness. It is a neurological fact, states the author, that when consciousness is suspended then emotion is likewise usually suspended. This observed human characteristic led Damasio to suspect that even though emotion and consciousness are different phenomenon that there must be an important connection between the two.