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  2. 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.
  3. Today
  4. "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"?
  5. 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.
  6. 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.)
  7. 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).
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. "This isn't an epistemological claim about how one ought to think..." That is significant, and if as far that goes, no problem. But here's my problem: causality. "Emotions are evoked by perceived or imagined stimuli that generate a wide range of physiological responses--body states, as Damasio calls them--that in turn generate sets of mental images associated with those body states. For example, if you're walking in the woods and come across a bear, your perception of the bear's large bulk, possibly moving quickly toward you, will result in a series of physiological changes. Your pulse and respiration will quicken, your blood pressure will rise, your pupils will dilate, and adrenaline and other neurotransmitters will be released. Your brain senses these physiological responses, generates a host of mental images associated with this collective body state, and you experience the feeling you know as "fear." Note the sequence--the unconscious physiological responses precede the conscious awareness of the feeling". (from the essay) "Your perception - will result in - your pulse etc. - your brain senses these physiological changes - the unconscious...responses precede the conscious awareness of the feeling." This seems bunk to me. Your "brain" is the last to know -- effectively. Surely and conversely, one's senses, see (hear, touch, smell) an existent, stimulus or situation which instantly raises a subconscious - but previously consciously evaluated, good/bad for me - threat, and instantly brain chemicals are released, pulse rate jumps (etc.) Therefore, a consciousness initiates the process immediately causing the physiological responses and they in turn are what we *feel*, physically experience.
  12. They would be misinterpreting him. Damasio means that emotions precede reason in terms of neural development, and psychological development beginning as an infant. This isn't an epistemological claim about how one ought to think, as if we must depend upon emotions as a means to knowledge before we begin reasoning. Although a system of reasoning requires a system of emotions in terms of how the brain functions, it doesn't follow that emotions are of primary importance (and Damasio doesn't say that emotions are primary). The link you gave shows this basically. I don't think he's making any deeper claim than "emotions should not be ignored!". As a psychologist I disagree with some of his theory on the level of details, but his general idea is good.
  13. Thank you, Stephen. I am getting up to speed on Damasio, e.g. here:https://www.edbatista.com/2011/07/antonio-damasio-on-emotion-and-reason.html and will need time to take in your paper. I have recently been in a debate in which others maintained that emotions must precede reason, consciousness is emotion, etc. which is lethally prominent in societies today - and that Damasio was the expert in this field, so I'm looking into him. They could be misinterpreting him. There are critical components I've not seen yet in Damasio's work on emotion and reason: identification, value, value-judgments and the "self-programming" of those in the subconscious. How does one *sense* which emotion is appropriate to feel for the bear one meets in the woods? Without some previous acquaintance, foreknowledge, etc.? There may be lack of causality and reversed causation (e.g. "I am angry because I strike" - James). But beyond doubt, the emotions provide invaluable, instant signals for our good and survival/well-being. For me the most masterful writing on emotions was done by Branden, whom I'd say built upon and refined on Rand. His thinking is evidently true to the point of being self-evident and irrefutable, I think. Just one indicative excerpt from Honoring the Self, ch. Rational Selfishness: "Another area of confusion concerns the relationship between reason and emotion. Rationality tells us we must not follow our emotions blindly, that to do so is undesirable and dangerous. Who can dispute that? But such counsel does not adequately deal with the possibility that in a particular situation our emotions might reflect the more correct assessment of reality. A clash between mind and emotions is a clash between two judgments, one of which is conscious, the other of which might not be. We do not follow the voice of emotion or feeling unthinkingly; rather we try to try to understand what it might be telling us. [introspection required, NB as with AR. "Why do I feel that?"]. [...] "This I might mention, is an example of where my approach differs from Rand's. She was far quicker to assume that in any conflict between the mind and the heart, it was the heart that had to be mistaken. Not necessarily -- although ultimately only reason can decide". HtS
  14. Yesterday
  15. (Some classical philosophy, related to the following, though without modern neurobiology, is here at OO.) Tony, let’s open to page ten of that work The Feeling of What Happens. “You are looking at this page, reading the text and constructing the meaning of my words as you go along. But concern with text and meaning hardly describes all that goes on in your mind. In parallel with representing the printed words and displaying the conceptual knowledge required to understand what I wrote, your mind also displays something else, something sufficient to indicate, moment by moment, that you rather than anyone else are doing the reading and the understanding of the text. The sensory images of what you perceive externally, and the related images you recall, occupy most of the scope of your mind, but not all of it. Besides those images there is also this other presence that signifies you, as observer of the things imaged, owner of the things imaged, potential actor on the things imaged. There is a presence of you in a particular relationship with some object. If there were no such presence, how would your thoughts belong to you? . . . Later I shall propose that the simplest form of such a presence is also an image, actually the kind of image that constitutes a feeling. In that perspective, the presence of you is the feeling of what happens when your being is modified by the acts of apprehending something.” Sample page from this work:
  16. In What idea in Self Comes to Mind do you expect to cause ripples in the world of neuroscience?, Antonio suggested that the human brain stem shares characteristics observed in the reptilian brain. Hearing that reminded me of Harry Binswanger in his Selected Topics in the Philosophy of Science lecture associated the evolution of the human brain sharing aspects with the birds.
  17. "Building on this foundation, he now shows how consciousness is created. Consciousness is the feeling of what happens-our mind noticing the body's reaction to the world and responding to that experience. Without our bodies there can be no consciousness, which is at heart a mechanism for survival that engages body, emotion, and mind in the glorious spiral of human life". "...our mind noticing the body's reaction to the world and responding to that experience." Sounds like "the pleasure-pain mechanism", which all sentient life has. What is Damasio saying contra Descartes- "I feel, therefore I am"?
  18. Saw this here, and thought of this from the movie The Lord of the Rings, borrowed from here. This could raise yet another 'rabbit hole'.
  19. At Christmas, as many of us gathered with friends and family, the discovery of a new strain of a disease was not the focus of attention for most of the world. The new year transpired with many resolutions and much well wishing, the virus, only to be observed using specialized equipment, was beginning to spread as concerns over it were being downplayed. Groundhog's day came and went. Depending on the geographical location, the knowing shadow revealed itself or not. Concerns of the spread of the disease was pitting the term of epidemic against being downplayed as being overly concerned about the seasonal flu. St. Pat must have turned green with envy as a new rival for the focus of attention was firmly seated on the throne and 'coronated'. Newspapers, radio, television, internet, wrested the attention of the politicians who in turn felt compelled to pay homage to this, except for the 250-thousand times scale, unseen crown bearer. Websites cropped up that indicated where in the world this otherwise would be almost invisible, except for the effects that it brought about in those who could not succumb to it. Hospitals, where patient confidentiality has been increasingly politicized over the years, fed the numbers back into the interconnected system that these new form of websites tapped into. Newspapers, radio, television, social media all riveted their attention on the incoming data. Maybe the politicians felt they were losing their limelight and reacted to regain it. I don't think it's that simple. In the wake of all this, another undercurrent went relatively undetected; the ability to sway the worlds attention to an otherwise relatively unobservable entity. Something that could not be seen by unaided senses, yet it overwhelmed the machinery built over the years which runs seamlessly unobserved in the background of a world otherwise taken for granted by most. To borrow an inquiry from Dr. Corvini, is this a feature or a bug? "The interlocker has never failed[.*] It is not supposed to fail." * Period missing from The Objectivism Research CD-ROM. "The machine, the frozen form of a living intelligence, is the power that expands the potential of your life by raising the productivity of your time." The interlocker scene connected to the speech scene. The interlocker as a philosophic analogy, doesn't fail. It is described as the power that guides and shapes the man-made events around us. The entity that is the virus is metaphysical. The ability to isolate and identify that entity is a capability of man. Where is the acknowledgement and consideration of all the discoveries and identifications that made this particular discovery possible? It is a rabbit hole that will only get a hat tip here. More essential would be the parallels between the interlocker scene out of Atlas Shrugged, and the underground river with interlocking tributaries it matured from Peter Keating's battle against the machinery in his world. The machinery is a 'juggernaut'. It either upholds individual rights by crushing that which destroys or threatens to destroy them, or if allowed to deteriorate, becomes the 'monster' Steve Mallory couldn't define in the parallel reference here of The Fountainhead.
  20. It's been many years since I read a few of Gerald Edelman's books, so my memory of their content has faded. Anyway, he made a similar distinction between primary consciousness and higher consciousness. An Amazon search on his name will give a longer list of the books he wrote.
  21. For anyone interested in these issues, I'd encourage getting in hand Damasio's layout of core/extended consciousness and core/extended self in The Feeling of What Happens. For introduction it is easy to view Antonio Damasio on his book Self Comes to Mind, especially 4, 5, 7.
  22. Depends on if the memories are recoverable. The idea about the entire history of conscious activity is that that entire history is connected. If you literally had no memory whatsoever of your past (knowing English, remembering how to ride a bike, knowing the fact Ayn Rand is from Russia, remembering your favorite book when you were five years old, how to read, etc.) and none of these things were recoverable (as could happen from a stroke that destroys part of your brain), you would not be yourself anymore. On the other hand, if those memories are recoverable (because the brain damage is not severe enough), you would still be yourself. I agree that there would still be a self after the irrecoverable and traumatic amnesia, but I will add that it is not the same self. It would be separate and distinct. A new history would begin once you woke up from whatever caused the memory loss. Same continuous history of conscious activity, so still the same self. Focusing on the history of a particular consciousness avoids the issues of having to ask if a new mental state is a completely new self. You don't ask if the Nile River is still the same Nile River as one hour ago, and in the same way, you don't ask if your stream of consciousness now is still the same stream of consciousness as one hour ago. Notice that you are talking about essentialism, or perhaps something like a substance. Is there a permanent "I"ness underlying your memories and your values? If we say that consciousness and self are activities, rather than an entity or a substance, then we have to say that there is no permanent "I"ness.
  23. Last week
  24. Huh, epidemiologists have 'models' like gypsies gaze into crystal balls. Half a million deaths in the UK, alone, they projected. Something over half a mill in the entire world, as it stands today. Good news, +/- 7.7 billion of the world pop. won't die of coronavirus. Bad news, this year like last year +/- 62 millions w.w. will die of other causes.
  25. Four Things 1. In October, Boom will be unveiling a scaled prototype of its planned "Overture" fifty-seat, supersonic jetliner:Boom Supersonic is the only private supersonic company funded all the way through to flight test says chief executive Blake Scholl. Mr. Scholl told AirlineRatings in an exclusive interview at last year's Paris Air Show that there would be many thousands of test-flight hours for the XB-1. The prototype is a proof of concept before production of a full scale 50-seat supersonic airliner, to be called the "Overture". The timeline for the planned entry into airline service has now also slipped from the previously envisaged 2023-24 to between 2025 and 2027. [format edits]Japan Airlines is Boom's first major airline partner, and has an option for twenty of the jetliners. 2. Pinboard, my favorite bookmarking service -- which is also a one-man show -- is now eleven. On the occasion, its proprietor informs us of some behind-the-scenes maintenance and improvements in his usual entertaining style:Doing this on a live system is like performing kidney transplants on a playing mariachi band. The best case is that no one notices a change in the music; you chloroform the players one at a time and try to keep a steady hand while the band plays on. The worst case scenario is that the music stops and there is no way to unfix what you broke...Maciej Cegłowski notes that he will be adding a few new features soon. Fortunately, this is coming from someone who did not like what the once-simple Delicious became after its "upgrades." So this reads to me more like the promise of new functionality than the threat of bloat and broken workflows that the u-word so often means these days. 3. Speaking of bookmarks, here's a site I've tagged for later on when my kids are old enough: Progress Studies for Aspiring Young Scholars. The landing page for the guided self-study program reads in part:This program will explore: what problems, challenges and hardships in life and work were faced by people in earlier generations and centuries? And how did we solve those problems through science, technology, and invention? Learn about manufacturing from blacksmiths to assembly lines; about power from water wheels to combustion to electricity; about food from famine to industrial agriculture and genetically modified crops; about disease from basic sanitation to scientific medicine -- and the struggles and circumstances of the men and women who worked to bend the arc of humanity upward. Your learning will be supported by instructors who will help you develop your reasoning and research skills. You'll also have the chance to engage ideas with a community of like-minded peers.Most of our education system completely neglects instruction about the history entire idea of industrial and technological progress, so learning about this program is welcome news indeed. The current paid program, which is relatively inexpensive and has a manageable time commitment, is geared towards high-school students, but there are plans to develop a college-level version. In addition, content will be made available for free self-study later this summer. 4. When government limits and freedom from regulation collide, you get a physician who makes more from his side-hustle than from his profession: Image by Kyle Glenn, via Unsplash, license. He's just posted a video on how he uses Notion to organize his YouTube activities. That doesn't sound too exciting until you discover that he makes more from his Youtube videos than he does as a doctor. Although he describes his YouTube and other activities as a "side hustle," a case could be made that medicine is the real side hustle and that he's primarily a YouTuber. He's currently aiming at posting 3 videos a week and has a support team to edit the videos and perform other vaguely administrative chores. [links omitted]This interesting tidbit comes from a blog I check occasionally for productivity advice. In this case, the blogger's take-home, though, sounds quite a bit like something I already do. -- CAVLink to Original
  26. Looking back at my previous post, the opening "quote" should have had a question mark after it. Dr. John Lee's article is a mixture, as is wont to be. "To be classified as science, a prediction or theory needs to be able to be tested, and potentially falsified." Instead of identifying the evidence that supports a prediction or hypothesis and how to move it toward the status of theory, the success experienced in other areas of life have developed a sense of "instant gratification" that has fed back into science. Theory now, and place the burden of proof on falsification. In turn, the lock-downs are feeding erroneous data back into the loop. The failure to contain the initial outbreak has resulted in a world wide spread of this virus. The implication is if the virus had been locked-down at the get go, an epidemic/pandemic would not be the reality we are dealing with. Now that the horses are out of the barn, let's close and bar the doors. "In medical science there is a well-known classification of data quality known as ‘the hierarchy of evidence’. " This section resonate more closely with the process of cultivating certainty (as opposed to always being in the precarious state of potentially being falsified.) Instead of embracing the science which discovered and validated the efficacy of the mind, a seven step program is being offered in its stead. "Mistakes were inevitable at the start of this. But we can’t learn without recognising them." Mistakes are inevitable. In the process of dealing with the unknown, yes. In the process of learning, yes. The ability to recognize a mistake relies on knowing what its converse is. In addition to "A Pro-Freedom Approach to Infectious Disease", I found "Shaming Recipients of PPP Money" and segueing into "The Comprachicos" a stark contrast to the monstrous reaction we see unfolding on the world stage.
  27. dream_weaver, I don't have the capability on the virus side of things (and make no apologies) enough to question the epedimelogical- based policies - as this writer does https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/how-strong-was-the-scientific-advice-behind-lockdown ... ...but in total human terms - in terms of 'man's life' - one must question 1. how much 'loss' is due to the pandemic 2. how much to the lock down. And balance them by values gained and values lost: which is greater - and - how short and long term destructive/beneficial are the effects, together, in tandem? They, Covid-19 and the subsequent lock downs, have been accepted by populaces as mutually inclusive, cause and effect, as we see, but the one isn't necessarily contingent on the first. In the White Paper, Journo raises that a free nation and a first world nation should act in a certain way. Okay, and I argue that especially a free nation should have had no lock down. None, not ever. No matter how limited. Everything the government should focus on is to strongly advise and inform (and the obligations to look after people in state care, the homeless, etc.). The rest must be individual and voluntary. One's life should not be lived for non-specified others nor the others' for you. And spreading the responsibility of your life (by that morbid device of transmissibility) to others, the majority of whom are mostly healthy and/or young, and/or willing to take some reasonable chance with surviving the virus - so curtailing their lives, incomes, energetic outlets, aspirations, etc.etc., is the unquestioned and unquestionable sacrificial ethics at work here. As I view businesses failing and hear of 'small' personal tragedies unfolding every day -caused only by lock down measures, not the virus - I am sad and angry that others who could be fully living their 'lifes' and keeping business, commerce and industry continuously running are being surrendered for the sake, presumably, of those like myself who are older. I merely ask that no one lives for me. Absolute voluntarism is the only recourse. What we can see and will be with us for several decades is the financial and psychological and social fall-out and knock-on inflicting the many millions who presently fear for their health, AND fear of infecting others AND fear for their own futures. Those older or at higher risk, comorbidity, etc. need to take the full precautions and self-isolate, not everyone else. This virus while a new mutation belongs to a known family of viruses and it is/was always dubious of how can any virus "'be defeated". The costs have been enormous, beyond imagining, in that undertaking. The 'lock -down' is a blanket coverage solution that disavows individual lives, freedom and choices. In fact, is it not only the scientists who could come up with such a Grand Plan and only governments who could enforce it?
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