Sunday, October 3, 2010

274: Where does our supersense come from?

Where does our supersense, our ability to have supernatural thoughts, come from? If we hold the view that the mind is the brain, supersense must surface somewhere during the development of the brain.

I'll skip all research results which are obtained from tests with babies and one year old toddlers. At least so much is clear, that the mind of a baby is certainly not a tabula rasa , a clean slate, but definitely wired to learn about his world efficiently.

Jean Piaget (9 August 1896 – 16 September 1980) was a Swiss developmental psychologist known for his epistemological studies with children. His theory of cognitive development and epistemological view are together called "genetic epistemology".

He is the man who showed us the answer to our question, based one hundreds of observations, experiments and interviews with children. A so interesting psychologist, however, we have to restrict us to what is important for our understanding of supersense.

He discovered that in the age of 2 to 7 years children have very outspoken supernatural ideas. I think you remember that from your own childhood. The sun and the moon were persons. In your drawings they got eyes and a big smile.

You knew that there lived little men in the mushrooms. And the tooth fairy gave you a dime for every tooth. In other words things that were not living things were alive for you as a child.

We also see this in religions. It is called animism.
QUOTE- When we misapply the property of one natural kind to another, we are thinking unnaturally.

If we continue to believe it is true, then our thinking has become supernatural. This is where I think our supersense comes from.
-END QUOTE , says Bruce Hood.

Another typical characteristic of the developing brain in the period of 2 to 7 years old is the teleological approach of the world. Everything in the world has a function or a goal.

When you ask a child what a car is, it will answer "that is to drive me to the supermall" or what a stair is "that is to get to my bedroom".

These are ways of thinking that get along very well with for instance creationism. The complexity of life MUST have a design and a purpose

A last characteristic in that age period is antropomorfism: not living things are treated as human persons: your teddybear, your dolls.
To summarize, the origins of supernatural beliefs are within every developing child.

Nothing new. Hume (1711 - 1776) already observed this inclination to antropomorfism, also in adults, as he wrote "by a natural propensity, if not corrected by experience and reflection, ascribe malice and good-will to everything,

that hurts or pleases us. Hence . . . trees, mountains and streams are personified, and the inanimate parts of nature acquire sentiment and passion.

But now comes the most remarkable thing. It is not the supernatural thinking of young children that is so remarkable, but the supernatural beliefs of adults who should know better.

With experience and understanding, supernatural thinking should decline in children, but there is a paradoxical increase in supernatural beliefs in some cultures.

In societies where belief in the supernatural is the norm, it increasingly plays an explanatory role in adults’ reasoning. This is the effect of environment, and this is where religion wields its influence. [Hood]

Thus, theoretically, in this age of science, you would expect that the children's misconceptions about nature would be replaced by the rational ideas of science.

And that doesn't happen at all. The explanation for this is that we are not just individuals. The human being is a social animal. And we have seen that sharing the same (supernatural) beliefs works as the social glue, that makes society possible.

To conclude, we clearly can see how supersense develops in a child and we also can conclude that our present education only supports or even reinforces it, while growing up.

The Discussion

[13:23] herman Bergson: Thank you...
[13:23] herman Bergson: The floor is yours ^_^
[13:23] Gemma Cleanslate: interesting as Alarice said i didnt look at the early years that way
[13:23] herman Bergson: If you have any question or remark...go for it :-)
[13:24] herman Bergson: Oh yes is a proven fact..
[13:24] Repose Lionheart: Sooo...I guess my pet rock doesn't *really* love me? A hard discipline, Professor ㋡
[13:24] Gemma Cleanslate: as a sign of supernatural
[13:24] Aya Beaumont: If I may... to my thinking, we humans have a need for feeling purpose.
[13:24] herman Bergson: Piaget is very interesting...
[13:24] Gemma Cleanslate: more that the very young child He or SHE is the center of their universe
[13:24] herman Bergson: Didt you play with your dolls as were they real people???
[13:24] Gemma Cleanslate: so the stairs is for him or her
[13:24] Jozen Ocello: yes, even now :)
[13:25] Adriana Jinn: .))))
[13:25] herman Bergson: smiles at Jozen
[13:25] Gemma Cleanslate: oops
[13:25] herman Bergson: Yes..sometimes even now...
[13:25] Gemma Cleanslate: this lasts til about 3+-3
[13:25] Gemma Cleanslate: 3+ -4 age
[13:25] Gemma Cleanslate: then begin to see other people as needing stairs also
[13:25] AristotleVon Doobie: Could it be that a child's mind starts writting on his empty tablet as soon as they are born and utilizes the only references they have to identify the world, in effect the faces and people that have to support their very survival?
[13:25] Aya Beaumont: Purpose makes us feel better... and since we can't have that if we know why we have it, purpose has to be sought beyond what we know.
[13:26] herman Bergson: yes Gemma..that is past, what Piaget called the egocentricphase
[13:26] Aya Beaumont: Thus, purpose becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
[13:26] Gemma Cleanslate: exactly
[13:26] herman Bergson: @ Aristotle...
[13:27] herman Bergson: no..I think there is enough evidence now that the development of undrstanding the world, or the development of language is basically wired into the brain already
[13:27] herman Bergson: In that sense I guess Kant was right
[13:28] herman Bergson: Yes Aya....we desperately need purpose...
[13:28] Jozen Ocello: i saw on the news today
[13:28] herman Bergson: that is why we have problems to accept evolution...
[13:28] herman Bergson: a process without purpose
[13:29] AristotleVon Doobie: I believe that it is, but our purpose is only to survive and procreate, biologically speaking
[13:29] Aya Beaumont: Exactly. Purpose comforts us, but wouldn't do so as well if we knew why we had a certain purpose.
[13:29] AristotleVon Doobie: any other purpose is self imposed
[13:30] herman Bergson: I guess basically you are right Aristotle...
[13:30] Aya Beaumont: The opposite of purpose is anxiety... and religion and other similar systems of thought are strategies for combating anxiety.
[13:30] Jozen Ocello: had this conversation with a friend of late... other purpose such as seeking education, or career is self-imposed or rather imposed by societal pressures
[13:30] herman Bergson: You don't differ from rabbits in this :-)
[13:30] Aya Beaumont: If survival was the purpose, what would a dying person have to live for?
[13:30] herman Bergson: I am sorry
[13:31] Alarice Beaumont: but it's ok to define one's own purpose
[13:31] herman Bergson: My reply got distorted...
[13:31] Aya Beaumont: If procreation was the purpose, what would a sterile person have to live for?
[13:31] AristotleVon Doobie: I wold call those goals Jozen, we find our passion in life and pursue it
[13:31] Alarice Beaumont: and what abut the homosexuals?
[13:31] Gemma Cleanslate: or for that matter some individuals why have no idea or with to procreate\
[13:31] AristotleVon Doobie: sterility is a defect
[13:31] Gemma Cleanslate: wish***
[13:31] Jozen Ocello: good point, Aristole (about the goals)
[13:32] Aya Beaumont: We find out purposes, each and every one of us. There are NO other purposes in an objective manner.
[13:32] herman Bergson: HOLD ON....!
[13:32] Repose Lionheart: clearly, then, purpose is complex
[13:32] herman Bergson: HOLD ON
[13:32] herman Bergson: My chat was distorted...
[13:32] herman Bergson: but what I said was..
[13:32] Bejiita Imako: I want to be happy and have fun with others and be generally useful, thats my purpose i think really useful
[13:33] herman Bergson: that Aristotle might be basically right..
[13:33] AristotleVon Doobie: I agree with your objective statement, Aya
[13:33] AristotleVon Doobie: objective in personal decision
[13:33] Aya Beaumont: What objective purposes do you see then?
[13:33] herman Bergson: refering to sterility or homosexuality....(happens in a lot of species) isnt relevant
[13:33] Aya Beaumont: Choosing not to have children?
[13:33] herman Bergson: because you make then the exception the rule...
[13:34] Repose Lionheart: hehe
[13:34] AristotleVon Doobie: the base animal we are serts our purpose, the rest are accessories
[13:34] herman Bergson: Choosing not to have children is quite another story Aya....THAT is culture...not biology
[13:35] Repose Lionheart: or perhaps it shows the inadequacy of your rule due to it's non-inclusive limitation
[13:35] Aya Beaumont: But nevertheless, it is a denial of our purpose. Can we do that?
[13:35] Alarice Beaumont: but who says that we are here to live and procreate? Might be just a wrong conclusion
[13:35] AristotleVon Doobie: we can rationalize and decide to go against our base nature
[13:35] Alarice Beaumont: just think of the hitchhikers guide ^^
[13:35] herman Bergson: Wel...
[13:35] Aya Beaumont: Much better to say that procreation is not necessarily an objective purpose.
[13:36] Repose Lionheart: base nature? you so sure you know what that is?
[13:36] herman Bergson: Biologically we me want to procreate...
[13:36] Aya Beaumont: Most of us do.
[13:36] Repose Lionheart: not necessarily from and evolutionary perspective
[13:36] herman Bergson: but different from animals ..our brian produces more ....a mind
[13:36] AristotleVon Doobie: I fully suspect we are animals at our base
[13:36] Repose Lionheart: so?
[13:37] herman Bergson: we are Aristotle..98% genetically chimp
[13:37] Repose Lionheart: animals are complex individually and in their groups
[13:37] Repose Lionheart: and social purpose and individual purpose blend in an evolutionary biological perspective
[13:37] herman Bergson: yes..but our problem is that our brian produces a MIND...
[13:38] herman Bergson: so..
[13:38] Jozen Ocello: is that what that differs us from other animals?
[13:38] herman Bergson: we have to deal with that mind
[13:38] Aya Beaumont: It is my firm belief that our cultural norms are very much a reflection of our biologic norms.
[13:38] Jozen Ocello: or one of the differences so to say?
[13:38] herman Bergson: and its consequences
[13:38] AristotleVon Doobie: I think they are in spite of our biological norms
[13:39] Aya Beaumont: It doesn't answer the question, saying that something is cultural. Why did culture end up that way?
[13:39] herman Bergson: yes Jozen..the mind differs us from animals...
[13:39] Repose Lionheart: but out knowledge of our "biological norms" is VERY uncertain, and shot through with inappropriate assumptions carried over from our social norms
[13:39] AristotleVon Doobie: we attempt to control those biological urges
[13:39] Repose Lionheart: you think you know more than you do
[13:39] Aya Beaumont: Of course.
[13:39] Gemma Cleanslate: ♥ LOL ♥
[13:39] herman Bergson: We live in animal lives in the moment
[13:40] Gemma Cleanslate: well the more i know the more I know how much I don't know
[13:40] AristotleVon Doobie: I believe I knew nothing when I was born, hence any supersense has to be nurtured
[13:40] Alarice Beaumont: yes Gemma ^^
[13:40] herman Bergson: And there you are mistaken Aristotle
[13:40] Aya Beaumont: As interesting as this is, my original point was: We become religious to fight our anxiety.
[13:41] herman Bergson: Parts of the brain generate supersense...
[13:41] AristotleVon Doobie: LOL, which parts?
[13:41] Aya Beaumont: And most humans find stroking this supersense works wonders to stave off uncertainty.
[13:41] Aya Beaumont: Right temporal lobe, apparently.
[13:42] AristotleVon Doobie: ahhhh cerebral development
[13:42] herman Bergson: already is discovered that we are genetically prepared to be religious or not
[13:42] Aya Beaumont: Indeed.
[13:42] Aya Beaumont: Some 25% are.
[13:42] AristotleVon Doobie: because of what, I wonder?
[13:42] herman Bergson: By stimulating parts of the brain people have religious ecperiences
[13:43] AristotleVon Doobie: 25% are predisposed to be religious?
[13:43] herman Bergson: As I already said before...
[13:43] Aya Beaumont: However, the vast majority have feelings like that when seeing natural vistas, meeting animals, reading poetry, or the like.
[13:43] herman Bergson: Supersense is part of our survival strategy...
[13:43] Aya Beaumont: Feelings of being part of something greater, of purpose.
[13:43] AristotleVon Doobie: I doubt they are stimulating the brain stem and getting those results
[13:44] herman Bergson: yes as I said to...
[13:44] herman Bergson: the human is a social animal....wants to belong to the group
[13:44] herman Bergson: They do Aristotle..
[13:44] Alarice Beaumont: herd instinct
[13:44] herman Bergson: Yes Alarice...
[13:45] Alarice Beaumont: not only belong. but moves with it
[13:45] AristotleVon Doobie: yes, but that collective gathering can be overcome by confident, stonrg minds
[13:45] Alarice Beaumont: I'm not sure about that.. you are then just looking for another group
[13:45] herman Bergson: You are on the rationalist tour Aristotle...and humans are not rationalbeings ^_^
[13:45] AristotleVon Doobie: LOL
[13:46] herman Bergson: We try to..
[13:46] Aya Beaumont: SOME humans are. =)
[13:46] herman Bergson: We do our best...
[13:46] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:46] AristotleVon Doobie: some try to be
[13:46] Jozen Ocello: :)
[13:46] Jozen Ocello: on occasions
[13:46] AristotleVon Doobie: yes, out best....some have better stuff that others
[13:46] herman Bergson: Indeed
[13:46] Jozen Ocello: it's good to be irrational at times :)
[13:46] Alarice Beaumont: lol
[13:47] Bejiita Imako: hehe
[13:47] herman Bergson: Rationality is just a part of our being....
[13:47] Aya Beaumont: I should bring up another issue here...
[13:47] AristotleVon Doobie: but it is waht defines us a humans I think
[13:47] Aya Beaumont: I did some reading on deep meditation... you know, the "one with evrything" stuff.
[13:47] herman Bergson: But the idea that the human being is a rationwttyyyyyyyy l being is utter nonsense :-)
[13:48] herman Bergson: rational
[13:48] AristotleVon Doobie: because the primal instincts remain strong
[13:48] Aya Beaumont: If you look at someone doing that in fMRI, you can find that they effectively shut down blood supply to various brain areas.
[13:48] herman Bergson: OK...Let's be sharp here...
[13:48] herman Bergson: Rationality means....only ruled by the outcome of scientific findings
[13:49] Aya Beaumont: If you do that to the areas dealing with your relation to the outside world, you experience what they generally describe as astral traveling.
[13:49] Bejiita Imako: following facrt
[13:49] Alarice Beaumont: hmmm.. i would say think before doing
[13:49] Bejiita Imako: facrt
[13:49] Bejiita Imako: what is the actual truth
[13:49] herman Bergson: Ye sindeed Aya...
[13:50] herman Bergson: Well Bejiita...
[13:50] Bejiita Imako: think first do later yes
[13:50] Bejiita Imako: not opposite around
[13:50] AristotleVon Doobie: :)
[13:50] Aya Beaumont: And if it's the areas dealing with one's self and consciousness, you do feel like "one with everything". Our selves are defined by what is NOT us.
[13:50] herman Bergson: I think tha actual truth is
[13:50] herman Bergson: that we are a funny bunch of creatures...
[13:50] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:50] Alarice Beaumont: ^^
[13:51] herman Bergson: So funny people..
[13:51] Jozen Ocello: hehe
[13:51] Aya Beaumont: Rationality is when you can justify your feelings through sensible motivations. =)
[13:51] herman Bergson: Thank you all for your participation...
[13:51] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:51] herman Bergson: We are not done...
[13:51] Gemma Cleanslate: ♥ Thank Youuuuuuuuuu!! ♥
[13:51] herman Bergson: still a long road ahead
[13:51] Jozen Ocello: thanks Professor :)
[13:51] Bejiita Imako: nice as usual
[13:51] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:51] Gemma Cleanslate: ♥ LOL ♥
[13:51] Gemma Cleanslate: yes
[13:51] Repose Lionheart: Thank you, Professor
[13:52] Gemma Cleanslate: Bye, Bye ㋡
[13:52] Gemma Cleanslate: for now
[13:52] Aya Beaumont: Thank you. =)
[13:52] AristotleVon Doobie: Thank you Professor :)
[13:52] Alarice Beaumont: yes very long lool... but fun...
[13:52] herman Bergson: Yes Aya..interesting point
[13:52] Rodney Handrick: good presentation
[13:52] Alarice Beaumont: Thank you Herman
[13:52] herman Bergson: Thank you all...
[13:52] bergfrau Apfelbaum: thanks herman! that was interesting! thanks you all :-)) see you next week
[13:52] herman Bergson: You are a funny bunch..^_^
[13:52] AristotleVon Doobie: they are funny Herman
[13:52] Alarice Beaumont: not rationally spoken
[13:52] herman Bergson: I hope I was funny
[13:52] Alarice Beaumont: ^^
[13:53] Bejiita Imako: hehe
[13:53] herman Bergson: great class...thnx
[13:53] herman Bergson: see you onTuesday!
[13:53] Josiane Llewellyn: Thank you Professor
[13:53] Jozen Ocello: thanks look forward to next Tuesday
[13:53] Bejiita Imako: aaa cu then
[13:53] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:53] Alarice Beaumont: great. ... see you then
[13:53] Sartre Placebo: thx everyone
[13:53] Alarice Beaumont: bye everyone :-)
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