Saturday, August 18, 2007

Do Starfish Have Moods?

Hoffmeyer's discussion of "neuropeptide tone" (Signs of Meaning in the Universe, pp. 125-128; I'll deal with his ideas about consciousness in a later post) makes me wonder whether starfish have moods. Starfish have nerves and neuropeptides, for example SALMFamide neuropeptides that act to relax the muscles. However, starfish don't have brains. Crocco goes so far as to say starfish lack any "existentiality in charge of biological functions." It is unclear to me how the starfish nervous system(s) would interpret consciousness in order to adjust a neuropeptide tone (or vice versa). Perhaps starfish just have moods with no central means of controlling them. Or maybe they don't really have moods. Is mood the actual state of muscle relaxation, for example, or is mood the interpretation of such a state? Is my mood of relaxation is always I'm feeling relaxed, or can a mood of relaxation exist subconsciously, diffusely, without being claimed? I'm mixing together issues of ownness and consciousness because I don't know how to separate them. Could a starfish lay claim to a mood without having some means of being self-aware?

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posted by Fido the Yak at 6:27 PM.


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