Rewarding logic: Spock paradox

Why would Spock prefer a logical solution to an illogical one?

The human brain is fixated on self-reward. Our endocrine system, in concert with our cerebrum, serve to lead us in how we think and react to our world. The two systems work together to produce our behavior. There are dozens if not hundreds of hormones that serve to swill into our mind coating it and bathing it to produce drug like euphoria which, more often than not, reinforces our behavior to play-it-again-Sam.

This works for hormones like oxytocin, the more you bond with a loved one the more you want to bond; dopamine, the more you feed the reward hormone the more reward you crave; serotonin, the more content you are the more content you want to be. And there are others that behave this way. And some that go the opposite way. Ghrelin, for instance, is the hunger hormone and if you feed yourself (after being hungry), your stomach lining will stop producing it.

But what of pure thinking, logical problems? I propose that solving mental problems produces similar hormonal reward releases just as the other behaviors do. And, in fact, we know this is true; dopamine gets squirted into your system every time you see that orange dot on the wordpress bell (or fadebook or twitter or instagram, etc.). Positive feedback  during social interaction is an addictive behavior and dopamine is the culprit.

I write software. When I have a tough logical problem to crack, which I end up solving,  at that moment of realization of my breakthrough — I feel great! I just dialed up my dopamine drip. Solving logical puzzles is an addictive process. OK, maybe not addictive, but there is a reward provided by the brain when a solution is discovered.

Ah ha! moments are like a drug.

So here’s the paradox: why would Spock — as a Vulcan — prefer a logical solution if, as an emotionless being, no reward would be forthcoming for said selection?

Yes, Spock is 1/2 human, but as a Vulcan, there would be no hormonal release of a dopamine equivalent. So, why bother? If you don’t “get” anything out of choosing logic vs illogic, why be adamant about its selection? Humans, on the other hand, I believe, select a logical solution precisely because it feels good to do so. An illogical solution does not provide the reward.

Human brains and hormones work together to keep us selecting species benefiting choices. A well thought out logical solution is its own reward — because that reward feels good, it physically feels good. Spock? Vulcans? They would have no reason to pursue logic as they do.

A post of similar sentiment, that is, hormones and human response:


6 thoughts on “Rewarding logic: Spock paradox

  1. Maybe Vulcans are habitually logical; there are some things I’m addicted to but am convinced I get little pleasure from any more. Did the Vulcans evolve away from an emotional/hormone-fuelled state?

    When these half Human-half Vulcans struggle with their human mushy side, it’s almost like their Vulcan mentors frown upon it – it’s not acceptable behaviour for a Vulcan, so the feelings get suppressed by the logic, just as we can suppress our feelings and choose logic… but then we must only do that because of some ultimate reward sensation I suppose.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Actually, Vulcans are a species of deep emotions. In fact, it almost lead to their destruction. Which is why the move to purge emotion took hold.

    They do feel. They just stifle the emotional response.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So, perhaps then, the dopamine-equivalent their Vulcan minds receive from CTL (choosing the logical) would be even greater and more impactful than a humans.
      Excellent — paradox solved. Thanks for joining the conversation.


    1. Yes! Chess, when you win (or lose but learn something important) undoubtedly provides that micro-dose of the dope. I’m a cribbage man myself, which is surely not the intellectual battle that chess presents. But an intuitive hand played is a goose to the old IV bottle (or was that the scotch bottle?) Either way, here, drugs all around — as long as you earn them!

      Liked by 1 person

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