To Believe and to Feel: The Case of "Needs"

Cristiano Castelfranchi

A crucial aspect of the "(ri)embodiment" of mind is cognitive account of subjective experience, of "feeling something". I analyse the notion of "needs" -a very interesting kind of motivation- and the difference between needing something or having the need for something (objective need) and "feeling the need for something'. I argue that in order to feel the need for something an embodied cognitive agent is necessary since both self-perception (information from the body) and beliefs and expectations are necessary. After discussing some weaker notions of "feeling" and "need", and characterising also "desires", I criticise the current dominant approach to emotions in AI as correct but insufficient. It is necessary to explain and to model the functional role of "feeling" in emotions. The view of emotion as a reactive response modifying the internal state, cognitive processes, attention, and goals priorities, is not enough: why should we "feel" all these internal and external reactions and the preparation to act?

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