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  2. E. O. Wilson continues: "Damasio, in depicting the mind holistically in such episodes, has suggested the existence of two broad categories of emotions. The first, primary emotion, comprises the responses ordinarily called inborn or instinctive. Primary emotion requires little conscious activity beyond the recognition of certain elementary stimuli, the kind that students of instinctive behavior in animals call releasers--they are said to "release" the pre-programmed behavior. For human beings such stimuli include sexual enticement, loud noises, the sudden appearance of huge shapes, the writhing movements of snakes or serpentine objects, and the particular configuration of pain associated with heart attacks or broken bones. The primary emotions have been passed down with little change from the vertebrate forebears of the human line. They are activated by circuits of the limbic system, among which the amygdala appears to be the master integrating and relay center. "Secondary emotions arise from personalized events in life. To meet an old friend, fall in love, win a promotion, or suffer an insult, is to fire the limbic circuits of primary emotion, but only after the highest integrative processes of the cerebral cortex have been engaged. ... Nature, Damasio observes, with its "tinkerish knack for economy, did not select independent mechanisms for expressing primary and secondary emotions. It simply allowed secondary emotions to be expressed by the same channel already prepared to convey primary emotions". EOW {This last insight is most familiar, in keeping with Rand's - "Now in what manner does the human being discover the concept of "value"? By what means does he become aware of the issue of "good" or "evil" in its simplest form? By means of the physical sensations of *pleasure* or *pain*. Just as sensations are the first step of the development of a human consciousness, in the realm of *cognition*, so they are its first step in the realm of *evaluation*. [...] "Just as the pleasure-pain mechanism of man's body is an automatic indicator of his body's welfare or injury, a barometer of its basic alternative, life or death---so the emotional mechanism of man's consciousness is geared to perform the same function ... by means of two basic emotions: joy or suffering. Emotions are the automatic results of man's value-judgments integrated by his subconscious ..." Etc.) Rand then would have recognized Damasio's "nature's economy" and "channels". ("Just as ... and "is geared to" - perform the same functions). But she was distinct about sensations/emotions, not his primary/secondary ones. And she got there before the neuroscientist! But her major departure is value/value-judgments automatically integrated in the subconscious are what are the cause and nature of our emotions. .
  3. Today
  4. This question has puzzled me, why is that hard-wired and innate responses are so much presupposed by many intellectuals? How does that pertain to emotions? I went to a chapter The Mind, in Edward O. Wilson's "Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge" where he gets onto the subject. "The reciprocity of mind and body can be visualized by the following scenario, which I have adapted from an account by the neurologist, Antonio R. Damasio. Imagine that you are strolling along a deserted city street at night. Your reverie is interrupted by quick footsteps drawing close behind. Your brain focuses instantly and churns out alternative scenarios--ignore, freeze, turn and confront, or escape. The last scenario prevails and you run. In the space of a few seconds the conscious response triggers automatic changes in your physiology". {he goes into the chemicals released, increasing basic metabolic rate, glucose to feed the muscles, lungs bring in more air - etc.]. Right to the "reciprocity of mind and body" - but no, this isn't the accurate sequence of what happens, it can't be. The emotion, fear, is what impels the need to take action (run/confront) - with the immediate release of chemicals etc. NOT following the action (running)**. What triggers before "the space of a few seconds" the physiological changes, is the possible threat of danger you instantly perceived, rightly or wrongly, by the sound of footsteps in the dark and a city street. The cause is what you, the city dweller, have self- programmed, from the longstanding value you placed in your life, and from the dis-values of possible injuries, loss of your valuables or worse to predators. The *subconscious* mind is what briefly - and automatically - takes over in a risky scenario, preparing you for action by the value-judgments you've made, much faster than you can stop, consider and identify the threat. At a stretch of the imagination, one could have a naive country bumpkin in Wilson's scenario who has never been in a city before and has heard absolutely nothing about the dangers. Quick footsteps behind him would not perturb him in the least - fear wouldn't occur to him. The one size-fits-all emotional responses which are usually depicted in studies of emotions and the brain, is just untrue. Different people make far differing identifications and. therefore, evaluations, by objective and non-objective standards, and therefore will and visibly do experience a variety and/or different intensity of emotions when faced by a spread of scenarios. **[I'd think rather influenced by William James. i.e.: I am afraid ~because~ I run]
  5. It sounds like you're really asking about how to keep a good headspace day to day. Good luck! I've had little success myself, but maybe this exercise of articulating my own perspectives will help... Short term, I expect economic contraction, though not severe nor acute. Any major threat to our current economic structure – by, say, a large business failure or a mass change in economic activity by many individuals – will be countered by government economic fuckery. Thus, no one will wind up feeling any major hurt one way or another, and so everyone will more or less continue as-is, with the current jobs setup, longish-term business plans, personal activities, and life planning (albeit vague and short term). Also, the entire world participated in this lunacy, so no single country will likely have any kind of new advantage over any other country, and all will continue more or less as had been. Long term, I will be changing my plans, though it's not yet clear in what ways. In 5 years, where will the world economies have settled, and will my professional expectations/plans/goals need to be adjusted? How will people generally reflect back on this series of events, and will that reflection make clear to me what kinds of opportunities I should expect from humanity during my ~40 remaining years of life? In that vein, instead of greater prevalence of government mandates and a populace willing to comply at every turn, will other trends actually prove to garner more attention from people, such as the mass unwillingness to think to the point of desiring to "cancel" those who do? The former would say worse about humanity than I'd thought before 2020, and the latter would say better. If the latter, will the response happen in time for the remaining culture of older, more civilized people to care to do anything about it? Will the tiny portion of the younger populace who care about ideas gain a foothold in civilization? Based on most of the younger generations' response to 2020, it seems humanity will inevitably continue to degenerate... Or, is it actually that youth, and humanity broadly, are short-term thinkers, always led only by those extremely rare and courageous individuals, and right now the short-term thinking is just amplified by a 24/7 internet world stage? Does culture matter that much in the end, or just very specific ideas, only needing to be held loosely by most people?
  6. Recently, I said of pandemic news, "t can be helpful to follow the odd contrarian." For similar reasons, it can be helpful to listen to a foreign voice with regard to American affairs. Enter Australian writer Xin Du, whose 1500-ish words in Spiked! take a look at the "systemic racism" claim of an organization whose name I can't agree with more, and whose ideas and methods I can't agree with less. I highly recommend its whole essay as a look at the real progress America has made in racial equality and a reality check on its current state of affairs. But I particularly liked the following part of Du's conclusion: Is there any to end? (Image by Clay Banks, via Unsplash, license.) In a debate on reparations, the late, great Christopher Hitchens defined racists not as those who discriminate, but precisely those who are unable to discriminate between individuals. Instead, the racist prefers to see individuals as groups, based on arbitrary markers like skin pigmentation. This is exactly what the so-called anti-racists are doing. They clump together all black people, and all white people. They then paint all black people as mendicant, and unable to forge their own way without the white people getting out of the way. Theirs is the soft bigotry of low expectations. [bold added] Du continues, although I think this applies more to the rank-and file than the leaders of this odious movement: The latest anti-racist [sic] lynching of America shows how much damage can be done by well-meaning people who follow narratives rather than facts, and who treasure feelings over truths. The road to hell is indeed paved with good intentions. But back to the previous quote: This reminds me both of Ayn Rand's seminal essay on racism and Tyler Cowen's recent call for the piece to be "resuscitate[d]." Rand's money quote is quite similar to that, although it elaborates on important points: Racism is the lowest, most crudely primitive form of collectivism. It is the notion of ascribing moral, social or political significance to a man's genetic lineage -- the notion that a man's intellectual and characterological traits are produced and transmitted by his internal body chemistry. Which means, in practice, that a man is to be judged, not by his own character and actions, but by the characters and actions of a collective of ancestors. Racism claims that the content of a man's mind (not his cognitive apparatus, but its content) is inherited; that a man's convictions, values and character are determined before he is born, by physical factors beyond his control. This is the caveman's version of the doctrine of innate ideas -- or of inherited knowledge -- which has been thoroughly refuted by philosophy and science. Racism is a doctrine of, by and for brutes. It is a barnyard or stock-farm version of collectivism, appropriate to a mentality that differentiates between various breeds of animals, but not between animals and men. Like every form of determinism, racism invalidates the specific attribute which distinguishes man from all other living species: his rational faculty. Racism negates two aspects of man's life: reason and choice, or mind and morality, replacing them with chemical predestination. [bold added] It can be difficult, within America over the past few weeks, to maintain a sense of optimism about our country in general and racial equality in particular. I thank Xin Du for offering us the perspective of someone for whom there is psychological distance, and for reminding us of who we are at a time when tempers can cause us to forget. -- CAVLink to Original
  7. Looks like it might be interesting. Let me know what you think or, better yet, give me a copy for Christmas.
  8. I only have troubles with short-term plans and goals, like getting my research projects re-started (which may have to wait for the cure), or a trip to Sardinia, again awaiting a cure (and permission to enter the zone). The three long-term issues are death, collapse of civilization, and Great Depression style collapse of the economy. I always do everything I can to avoid death, I doubt that we’re headed for a stone-age retreat, and that just leaves economic collapse. I have thought of some doomsday prepping like buying gold, rifles, and a backhoe (to hollow out the hill to stash my mountain of canned goods), but things are not dire enough for that course of action by a long shot. For the record, I was wrong about toilet paper, so there were a couple of panicky months there. Since I am retired, I don’t think about the elephant in the room for many people, namely what to do for a living in case your job is or has recently been illegal. Because I expect the hammer to come down on business again, I don’t have any sage advice for those working in what are deemed non-essential businesses. The little-discussed matter underlying your question is the assumption that this is a special case. It is clearly a special case, in the political sense – it is an extraordinary “emergency” like WWII or The Black Death. But how special is it from an objective scientific perspective? This past season, we had an estimated up to 56,000,000 cases of the flu, compared to just over 3,000,000 covid cases. Although covid is in the aggregate (i.e. summing up as of today) “more fatal”, please note that covid deaths plummeted starting around the beginning of May – we’ve learned better how to treat it. There is no discussion of current mortality rates. I don’t discount the problem of non-death long-term hospitalization problems, but these are not the kind of scientific facts that are addressed by those pushing the “extraordinary emergency” agenda. I take covid seriously, I dispute the claim that this is the end of the world as we know it.
  9. So, garbage. Shame. This project possibly could have been extremely beneficial if some decent left-wing analytic philosophers attempted it.
  10. Yesterday
  11. For context, Ethiopia is building a hydroelectric dam in Ethiopia on the Blue Nile, one of the main tributaries of the Nile river. Egypt wants to control the entire Nile (I have no idea how Sudan feels about this), and recently they decided to up the political ante via an appeal for UN intervention. From the Objectivist perspective, the question of who owns the Nile River is misguided in many ways. It is similar to questions about riparian rights under US law (and other legal systems). The problem is the complete lack of rational and rights-respecting theory of property rights. Who own the John Hancock tower in Chicago? Originally it was John Hancock Life Insurance – they built it, they owned it, and some years later sold it. The Nile river, or the Blue Nile rive, or Lake Tana, are naturally occurring things, not man-made creations. If you were to apply US homesteading law, any number of people could discover the value of land along one of these bodies of water, and could own a chunk of land. As part of the legal framework of homesteading, you might gain certain rights to the water as a consequence of owning the land. This rational individual-based notion of property and rights is nowhere to be seen in this particular debate. The pretense is at best that the governments of Egypt and Ethiopia are representatives of the individuals who have an interest in the water. But the individuals in Ethiopia are not building the dam, it’s a massive government project. The individuals in Egypt don’t receive the downstream benefit of water, the government does. And then the governments distribute the wealth of The Collective to individuals. The question that should be asked is, what is the proper theory of riparian rights in an Objectivist society? Privatization doesn’t really solve the problem in the way that privatizing rail or electric does. With rail and electric, there is well-understood property and a legal system of recognizing rights. That is completely lacking in the case of big rivers like the Nile.
  12. I found some more information from the editor of the book: https://aynrandfromtheleft.wordpress.com/2020/07/ Most of it seems like really dense literary analysis with plenty of psychoanalytic methods.
  13. One of the contributors is Lisa Downing who authored Selfish Women last year. (Scroll down at the link.) This thread so far is all I know so far about this new book due out in late November. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ PS - That Lisa Downing is philosopher at Birmingham, England, not the philosopher Lisa Downing at Ohio State.
  14. Not a promising abstract.
  15. I'm skeptical of anybody who writes about "Objectivist economics", but maybe the editor had nothing to do with the publisher's blurb. We'll see. Somebody will, but, at those prices, not I.
  16. Do you struggle with long term plans and goal setting as well? To me right now, every day feels the same. I have trouble thinking about ever having a nice vacation again, or what my live will look like in 2021. It seems there isn't real progress or a clear indication where things might go. I was just wondering whether you feel that ways as well sometimes?
  17. "Addis Ababa has said it will start to fill the dam whether or not a deal is agreed. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the Egyptian president, previously said Egypt would take all necessary measures to protect its rights to the Nile water, while Abiy Ahmed, the Ethiopian prime minister, has said his country was ready to “mobilise millions” to defend the dam." https://www.ft.com/content/d64d1609-75b5-46f1-93f0-bd5049501665 So does the water of the river belong to people in Ethiopia or the people who eat from the fruits of it in Egypt for centuries? Would privatisation solve anything here?
  18. Forthcoming this year: https://www.palgrave.com/gp/book/9783030530723
  19. Today, I start only the second week in which I will have kid-free time on weekdays ... since early March. Yesterday, my home state of Florida set yet another record for new cases. With case numbers also rising in several other states, the specter of new or extended "lockdowns" raises its ugly head. Bearing that in mind, now might be a good time to consider (a) what lockdowns accomplished the first time around, and (b) what our government ought to have done with the time those months-long, "two week" lockdowns were initially supposed to have bought us. Regarding the first, physician-economist Joel Zinberg ends a statistical analysis at City Journal as follows: An old poster explaining contact tracing during an Ebola outbreak. (Image by the CDC, via Wikimedia, public domain.) The lockdowns led to wide unemployment and economic recession, resulting in increased drug and alcohol abuse and increases in domestic abuse and suicides. Most studies in a systematic literature review found a positive association between economic recession and increased suicides. Data from the 2008 Great Recession showed a strong positive correlation between increasing unemployment and increasing suicide in middle aged (45 -- 64) people. Ten times as many people texted a federal government disaster mental-distress hotline in April 2020 as in April 2019. As we consider how to deal with resurgent numbers of Covid cases, we must acknowledge that mitigation measures like shelter-in-place and lockdowns appear to have contributed to the death toll. The orders were issued by states and localities in late March; excess deaths peaked in the week ending April 11. Reopening began in mid-April, and by May 20 all states that had imposed orders started to lift restrictions. In June, as the economy continued reopening, excess deaths waned. Our focus must be on ensuring that the health-care system can simultaneously treat Covid-19 and other maladies and reassuring patients that it is safe to seek care. Otherwise, today's young physicians will have to start entering a new cause of death on death certificates -- "public policy." [links in original, bold added]Zinberg is on the right track with his observation that the government is worsening this epidemic, but he doesn't go quite far enough, since he's mainly writing a critical piece. The full scope of our government's folly becomes apparent only when we consider what it should be doing. And unfortunately, in addition to actively violating our rights with universal, indefinite, mass incarcerations, our governments have utterly failed to do what they could have and should have been doing regarding this disease from the start -- test, isolate, and track -- as Onkar Ghate and Elan Journo of the Ayn Rand Institute put it in The Hill:Months of statewide lockdowns across the country were meant, in part, to buy time to ramp up testing and contact tracing with regard to the spread of COVID-19. Now, amid an upsurge of cases in Florida, Texas, Arizona and elsewhere, we still have nothing like a strategic approach to testing and tracing. ... With the ability to test, isolate and contact-trace at scale, the United States could have identified and quarantined many who are infectious, significantly slowing the spread of the virus as states loosened lockdowns. Instead, the virus goes uncontained and we face the prospect of rolling shutdowns to come. Imagine if the Army tried to fend off an invasion with a small fraction of the needed troops, antique weapons and no plan. That, in a nutshell, appears to be how our government is responding in the pandemic.Within, Ghate and Journo point to a white paper that outlines in detail what a proper government response would look like, and why -- in sharp contrast to the right, which often seems unwilling to acknowledge the severity of the epidemic and the left, which seems to think the pandemic will go away if we treat sick and well alike as prisoners for long enough. Our government is thus not only making this epidemic worse by locking down, it has failed to do what it can and ought to do by failing to test, isolate, and track active cases of infection. -- CAVLink to Original
  20. Last week
  21. Tony, checking his 1999, Damasio is not on the team they cite for innate fear of snakes. But you can get his book, and study it for yourself if you seriously want to know his clinical and modern-research evidence for his models. Or not. Actually, I doubt you should (from your satisfaction) or will crack such books promising report of progress. Chat on. I don't have time for that.
  22. "Contrary to Rand, most theorists hold that the stored information involved in emotion may include certain 'hard-wired' (i.e. genetically determined) responses such as an innate fear of snakes". Strongly doubt that. Many children have handled snakes under supervision without necessarily feeling fear. The fear is most likely a consciously or subconsciously learned response from adults (additionally maybe, one's repulsion for a creature which moves silently and swiftly without limbs). Place a (harmless) snake in the vicinity of an infant and she will probably react with pleasurable curiosity, going by all the other things and small animals a child takes to, disproving the innate theory. And which are other instances of "stored information involved in emotion"?
  23. Yeah, I think that would make more sense when talking about consciousness, especially when we come to realize through more research that the brain isn't simply divided into a primitive brain and an advanced brain (it's not like the reptile amygdala can do as much as the human amygdala). On the other hand, top-down can reflect signals being sent literally from the top from your cortex on down, as would happen if you decide to wiggle your toe.
  24. Highly recommended: “An Exploration of The Relationship between Reason and Emotions” by Marsha Enright in JARS V4N1 (Fall 2002)* — forty-three pages integrating psychological and neurological findings, including integration of Rand/Branden and Damasio. I first learned of Magda Arnold, a psychologist who struck a distinction between feeling and emotion, from Robert Efron's review of her book Emotion and Personality in The Objectivist (Jan. 1966). From that review: “Dr. Arnold makes an interesting, and to my knowledge, an original distinction between ‘feelings’ and ‘emotions’. Feelings, she states, are the positive (pleasurable) or negative (unpleasant) internal states which are the direct and immediate effects of sensory stimulation either from external or internal sources.They follow from appraisals of how sensations affect us. In contradistinction, emotion are reactions to the appraisal of perceptions. Whereas feelings follow from the effect of sensations on our body, emotions follow from appraisals of the phenomena of external reality. . . . Dr. Arnold develops her distinction very effectively when she traces the development of emotions from the simple feeling states of the newborn baby to the complex emotions of adult life.” Chapter 2 of Damasio 1999 is titled “Emotion and Feeling.” I attach a scan of Notes from Torres and Kamhi 2000, which includes historical connection of Rand, Branden, and Arnold and which gives glimpse of the integration of Objectivist thought with up-to-date research on emotions and consciousness included in their book What Art Is. (Click on image.)
  25. Also uncontroversial, d_w. The brain, reptilian or mammalian, had to be built upon - - something. A common brain stem atop a spinal chord, in all creatures makes biological sense. As does the entirety of a brain working harmoniously and hierarchically, without contradiction. All animals are 'designed' for survival. Those which have and do, best utilize their inherent nature, as man must (although not automatically and instinctively, as is 'given' to other species).
  26. Doesn't outward-in and inward-out, better metaphorically describe the processes? Bottom-up, etc. is confusing. Of course, one knows one is capable of doing both, with "inward-out" a sort of 'reverse flushing of the system', a periodical system check as I see it. That's unsurprising, uncontroversial, as you remark. If I may describe consciousness as the persisting and discerning subject of awareness - naturally (by experience of introspection), one also knows what IS the aware-subject. Awareness and self-awareness are mutually supportive. "Discerning" is the good word I think, since it embraces identification and evaluation.
  27. It may well be that Damasio is misunderstood or misrepresented, but what I regularly hear from his champions who follow his neurological inputs, is essentially this: "The body knows". So, no need to mention such annoying things as the organism's value-in-itself - nor the human's absolutely necessary, conscious value-judgments, (and everyone knows how judgmentalism has become unpopular) - the specific emotion one feels is ¬always¬ ineffably correct, moral and true. You are excused from your emotions, they aren't a product of your identification and evaluations. The consequences on behaviors among people is what concerns me. With reason and volition in steep decline, determinism and emotional primacy on the rise, what we see is not the proper relationship of reason and emotions as Damasio may have intended, but the collapse of reason.
  28. The passage you quoted sounds like he was describing a bottom up process, where stimuli are gradually processed by afferent neurons in the nerve signals are sent to your spinal cord, up the brainstem, then spread out to the cerebellum and the rest of your brain. This isn't controversial, and very easy to observe by any neuroscientist when they look at neurons directly. By the sound of it, what he terms emotion is bottom up. As I recall, Damasio makes a distinction between feelings and emotions. It doesn't say anything about top-down processes, which undoubtedly exist, where signals are sent the opposite direction, through efferent neurons at the very end. Any cognitive psychologist like Damasio believes in top-down processes. You would be right if he was claiming that all brain processing is bottom up. That would be the thinking of a radical behaviorist probably, who effectively thinks everything is the result of bottom-up processing.
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