Sunday, February 27, 2011

308: The Brain and the Evolutionary Process

In January 2010 we completed our project on Modern Theories of Ethics and in the concluding lecture I said this:


Man is a creature who by nature has values. There are things,states of affairs, and activities that he directly enjoys, prizes, or values.

Moral choices and decisions arise only in those situations in which there are competing desires or a conflict of values.

The problem that a man then confronts is to decide what he really wants and what course of action he ought to pursue. He cannot appeal to his immediate values to resolve the situation;

he must evaluate or appraise the situation and the different courses of action open to him. This process of deliberation that culminates in a decision to act is what Dewey (1859 - 1952) calls “valuation.” But how do we engage in this process of valuation?

For this we need to accept a few basic assumptions. The first one is that as a species humans are basically the same all world with regard to physiology and neurobiology.

The second assumption is that the quality of life is achieved by reason and intelligence, These qualities give us the power of rationality, which means that education is essential and learning a lifetime activity.

The third assumption is what we find in virtue ethics which presupposes reasonable , positive qualities in man based on finding the mean between extremes, the virtue, or what Dewey would describe as the interaction of the organism with his environment.

In this interaction, which has an evolutionary origin, we learn to live together and are able to realize all virtues in ourselves.

I don't mean to say that we eventually will become all Saints, but this interaction with our environment began when man discovered himself.

And I think that we are maybe still at the beginning of this process, but if we are willing to accept that the human being is a learning and adaptive organism we will follow our virtues, guided by reason more and more to improve the human condition.
- end quote

This was the philosophical aproach and rationality is mentioned as the tool to find solutions. Now it is fascinating, that I last lecture said more or less the same thing, but then from a biological perspective.

Rationality is indeed the most important tool of survival of the homo sapiens, but I put it in a larger context now: the context of our total being, in which rationality is just one member in the orchestra of survival mechanisms.

In evolution emotions, as defined in the former lecture as a driving force, which as an orchestra conductor ensures, that a number of specific behavioral systems run in parallel and work together to solve an acute problem, were prior to the emergence of rationality.

Today we change the face of the earth. A new situation for a lot of species, with which they can not cope. They don't come up with new solutions. They just get extinct. Only the lucky ones succeed to adapt now and then.

And there is the difference: the development of the prefrontal cortex has enabled homo sapiens to cope with new situations by inventing new solutions.

What fascinates me the most is, that you can see how today a philosophical approach converges with our present mainly biological approach of homo sapiens.

The fundamental question is, is a universal ethics possible, a global society? Is that what we see happening in this world, when we see in 1989 the collapse of the communist system and today the collapse of dictatorial systems in the arabic countries?

Is what we call democracy an evolutionary result of the continuing interaction between the brain and its environment?

It is not so, that with our democracy we live in an ideal world, but is it said too much, if I say that at least compared to other places in the world this is a better place to be.

A place that allows us to life more freely with our basic emotions as (the lack of) fear, joy, grief, anger, marvel, disgust. Behavioral mechanisms wired deeply in our brain, that brought us through evolution, where we now are?

In our next lectures we'll continue our research of homo sapiens and his emotions from this biological perspective. So…. see you next lecture again.

The Discussion

[13:29] herman Bergson: Thank you ㋡
[13:29] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:30] Anja Tigerfish: ㋡
[13:30] Anja Tigerfish: ㋡
[13:30] herman Bergson: A nice sound of silence ^_^
[13:30] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): very nice
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: aaa
[13:30] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): thinking it through
[13:30] herman Bergson: Yes I did ^_^
[13:31] herman Bergson: Something IS going on in this world.....
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: indeed
[13:31] herman Bergson: I forgot to mention china!
[13:31] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): oh yes
[13:31] Mick Nerido: The internet and closer communication is speeding up that change
[13:32] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): A global society meaning one that functions for the good of the majority (democracy) is virtuous and moral only for the majority
[13:32] herman Bergson: Maybe not so much is bit overestimated I htink....
[13:32] herman Bergson: Just media.....
[13:32] herman Bergson: people all over the world can see how other societies look like....
[13:33] Cain Levasseur: personally think that democracy isnt the "ultimate" political system for a global society
[13:33] herman Bergson: I saw an egiptian man in the news....
[13:33] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): what is going on now is amazing and such a question how it will all end
[13:33] herman Bergson: the only thing he said was....We are entitled to a better life...!
[13:33] Cain Levasseur: just think about China.. a power that in 20-40 years will be the 1ºst economic power
[13:34] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): I think so too
[13:34] Cain Levasseur: and its a Communist dictatorship with free market economy
[13:34] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): i hope this Egytian man is right..
[13:34] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): revolution usually only replaces oppressors
[13:34] herman Bergson: We'll see Arstotle...we'll see...
[13:34] Cain Levasseur: ¿and why works better? cause its a regime with a strong discipline (Example: Corrupt politicians are executed)
[13:34] herman Bergson: amazing historical experiment!
[13:34] Bejiita Imako: hmm what i dont like about china is the government threat people like machines letting them working to death building xboxes and so and just replace, just like a machine
[13:34] Bejiita Imako: no value to human life at all
[13:34] Bejiita Imako: terrible
[13:35] herman Bergson: Let's not discuss particulars about regimes....
[13:35] Cain Levasseur: im not talking about if i like or not China, or USA, or whatever, im talking about what political system works best for large amount of people
[13:35] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): my anxiety comes form wondering how secular this current revolution is
[13:35] herman Bergson: Let's look at the global picture....
[13:35] druth Vlodovic: china can't last too long, people have seen that a better life is possible, and will only put up with so much
[13:35] Cain Levasseur: looking foward for a global society
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: a democracy i also would think seem the best for now
[13:36] druth Vlodovic: "the best for all" is turning into the best survival strategy
[13:36] herman Bergson: Yes Druth.....
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: however as most have it now its indirect and we chose a political party that then do whatever they want
[13:36] Mick Nerido: The competition for resources is risky for peace
[13:37] herman Bergson: That is the point Mick.....
[13:37] herman Bergson: to some extend we succeed in a reasonable distibution of resources in our society
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: not optimal in sweden either, the party we have now seem only care about the rich while letting ordinary people drop out of insurance unless they get a job but there arent any jobbs
[13:38] Cain Levasseur: ¿what do you think about looking the humanity as a single organism?
[13:38] herman Bergson: No...dont look at the political details ...
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: the party think its easy but it isnt cause they dont go out and see the reality
[13:38] herman Bergson: look at the global picture...
[13:38] herman Bergson: in the West we succeed in a reasonable equal distribition of resources...
[13:38] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): being the center of the universe, I am concerned with how a revolution will impact me and mine, not so much the greater good
[13:38] Mick Nerido: We all are in one boat so we must learn to get along or else...
[13:39] Bejiita Imako: some adjustments are needed but democracy is the best
[13:39] Bejiita Imako: let the people decide
[13:39] Bejiita Imako: thats it
[13:39] Bejiita Imako: how it should be
[13:39] BALDUR Joubert: like in belgium
[13:39] Mick Nerido: Majority rule
[13:39] druth Vlodovic: those with power (and money) will always use it to accumulate more power, we need a system or method of frequent redistribution
[13:39] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): LOL how moral is it for 6 of 10 people to dictate to the remaing 4?
[13:39] Cain Levasseur: Thats for Europe, cause in USA and South America the resources arent equally distributed
[13:39] Cain Levasseur: and we all have democracies
[13:40] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): :-)
[13:40] druth Vlodovic: so far the only non-violent system I've seen that does this (or tries) is forms of democracy
[13:40] herman Bergson: What is going on since 1989 is the general drive to achieve equal distribution of, so on
[13:40] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): taking lots of time tho'
[13:41] Mick Nerido: The idea of souvernty is risky for peace also
[13:41] druth Vlodovic: anything that is to last must have a firm foundation, and a firm foundation needs time to develop
[13:41] herman Bergson: Loos at Saoudi Arabia...
[13:41] herman Bergson: look
[13:42] herman Bergson: All of a sudden the king can free 7 billion dollars for stimulating houses, stimulating small enterprises etc...
[13:42] BALDUR Joubert: dubai-quatar--why aren't there any uprisings
[13:42] herman Bergson: all of a sudden the money can be shared...
[13:42] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): the cost of those resources will foment many other world tensions now
[13:43] Cain Levasseur: on the other hand, USA is going from a democracy to a dictatorship slowly
[13:43] Cain Levasseur: like all the empires
[13:43] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): hope not
[13:43] Mick Nerido: The US will be less important
[13:43] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): :) yes, Cain I was wondering how the USgovernment would handle such are rebellion
[13:44] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): we may find out if this wisconsin business moves across the land
[13:44] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): i think the Arab king has the fear to loose his crown
[13:44] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): LOL, yes don't mess with folks who have money
[13:44] Cain Levasseur: i think that talk about a world society its talk about international politics :)
[13:44] herman Bergson: Regardless all kinds of national politics....I have a feeling something is happening outhtere in line with the issues we are discussion here
[13:45] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): what we need is one alien to show up then we will see ...
[13:45] Mick Nerido: The US is less rich it will have to learn to be a batter world citizen
[13:45] herman Bergson: I have thought about that Gemma...
[13:45] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): the conflict between emotion and ratio is a mighty battle, for socity as well as the individual
[13:45] herman Bergson: But aliens are in fact completely uninteresting....
[13:45] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): the us has always been a good world citizen with helping countries in need
[13:46] herman Bergson: they are just more of the same....
[13:46] Cain Levasseur: Gemma, thats not true
[13:46] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): in spite of our problems
[13:46] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): oh yes
[13:46] Bejiita Imako: they also like to start wars
[13:46] Cain Levasseur: i live in South America, and what you say its so untrue
[13:46] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): but not a discussion for here
[13:46] herman Bergson: .
[13:46] Cain Levasseur: right
[13:46] herman Bergson: But plz...go to a more abstract level...
[13:46] Mick Nerido: Intersting times indeed!
[13:46] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): as an American I choose not to be a world citizen, I am sovereign
[13:47] herman Bergson: plz...
[13:47] Bejiita Imako: us have both good and bad sides like all other places
[13:47] herman Bergson: what we are investigating here is the brain....
[13:48] herman Bergson: and the idea is that all human beings have the same hardware on board: the brain....
[13:48] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): my point is we are all individuals and collective action with harm someone
[13:48] Mick Nerido: An alian landing here would not understand our politics
[13:48] herman Bergson: I am not interested in aliens....
[13:49] Bejiita Imako: one thing i don't get is why all those ex dictators seem to lack one thing that i thought was something most people have
[13:49] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): morality and virtue, I think starts with the individual
[13:49] Bejiita Imako: care for other people
[13:49] Bejiita Imako: they have no feelings for others
[13:49] Bejiita Imako: and feel no guilt
[13:49] Mick Nerido: Power corrupts
[13:49] herman Bergson: I am interested in the fact that the species homo spaiens is the same all over the world....and at the end the species is heading for the same goal...survival...
[13:49] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): the only feeling is about themselves
[13:50] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ah yes
[13:50] Bejiita Imako: yes they don't think like u should
[13:50] Mick Nerido: Survival of the fittest?
[13:50] Bejiita Imako: that if I was one of "them" would i wanted to be treated like thrash,
[13:50] herman Bergson: no...Mick..that is a misconception.....
[13:50] herman Bergson: Survival of the fittest adapted to its environment...
[13:51] Bejiita Imako: but they instead think I am not them I am better that them so i can kill them or something like that
[13:51] Mick Nerido: So the best adapted society will survive
[13:51] herman Bergson: Ye Bejiita...our brainis still wired based on tribal drives..
[13:51] Bejiita Imako: one thing is for sure these dictators must go away
[13:52] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): have to leave early .. have a new club to open today
[[13:52] herman Bergson: Good luck Gemma!
[13:52] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ♥ Thank Youuuuuuuuuu!! ♥
[13:52] Bejiita Imako: north korea is worst example, that kim yong only care for his wealth and doomsday weapons while letting all his people die
[13:52] Ciska Riverstone: Enjoy Gemma )
[[13:52] Cain Levasseur: i think that a global society truly connected, like 1 country, its inminent
[13:53] herman Bergson: Yes Bejiita....NorthKorea inthis context is a really weird experiment
[13:53] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:53] bergfrau Apfelbaum: afk
[13:53] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): the Roman Empire could not sustain itself, no way a one world government will work
[13:53] herman Bergson: But don't every group you have the extremes
[13:53] Mick Nerido: I must leave, thanks for a stimulating talk Bye
[13:54] Cain Levasseur: ¿what do you think about UN Aristotle?
[13:54] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): central governments can only abuse
[13:54] Bejiita Imako: make me really sad, I mean how can u be such a swine and also seem like u just could end the entire world with nuclear weapons wothout a blink
[13:54] Bejiita Imako: thats really dangerous people
[13:54] Bejiita Imako: or people, monsters i would say
[13:54] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): I think the UN is ineffective
[13:55] herman Bergson: think based on how it is today.....
[13:55] herman Bergson: and project that into the future...
[13:55] Cain Levasseur: i study international laws and i can tell you that it isnt ineffective.. it solves many many problems that in the past would mean war
[13:55] Bejiita Imako: wonder how Kim yongs head is wired really
[13:55] BALDUR Joubert: best solution would be huxley's brave new world..
[13:55] Bejiita Imako: some cable must be loose for sure
[13:55] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): it is frightening to ponder our socital path
[13:55] herman Bergson: no Baldur on the contrary
[13:56] druth Vlodovic: things are getting better, but it is not a steady walk towards paradise
[13:56] Cain Levasseur: a one world government doesn't mean a terrible dictatorship i think
[13:56] herman Bergson: exactly Druth....
[13:56] BALDUR Joubert: lol.. why not we have all it need to get there..and what did shakespeare really bring for humanitry
[13:56] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): as long as 'Adam and Eve' exists, paradise is lost I fear
[13:56] Bejiita Imako: important thing is that we all help each other to make the world go around and where all can be happy
[13:57] Bejiita Imako: no wars no massacres on others
[13:57] herman Bergson: Right Bejiita....
[13:57] Bejiita Imako: im sooo tired of that
[13:57] Bejiita Imako: lets be kind
[13:57] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): i agree Bejiita, lets respect each other as individuals
[13:57] BALDUR Joubert: bejiita.. soon 2 billion people won't achieve that..
[13:57] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:58] herman Bergson: I think we are in the middle of an evolutionary change....
[13:58] Bejiita Imako: that should be a natural thing to do
[13:58] Bejiita Imako: as said all those dictators must have something wrong wired in the brain
[13:59] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): I think you may be right Herman, the control factor will be either emotional or rational
[13:59] herman Bergson: Ok...
[13:59] Bejiita Imako: heheh
[13:59] Cain Levasseur: i think the may or change its that people are waking up, and using their brains
[13:59] herman Bergson: I think we just saved the world with our discussion.....
[13:59] Cain Levasseur: a dictatorship can only be hold for example on scared uninformed people
[14:00] herman Bergson: So time to thank you all for your participation...
[14:00] Bejiita Imako: yes
[14:00] Bejiita Imako: really interesting again this:)
[14:00] herman Bergson: Class dismissed.... ^_^
[14:00] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): LOL, the internet plays a big part in self enlightenment...something governments probalty abhore
[14:00] Cain Levasseur: right Aristotle
[14:00] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): Thanks you Professor
[14:00] herman Bergson: That is crear Aristotle
[14:01] herman Bergson: clear
[14:01] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): I think it is instrumental in Arabia now
[14:01] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): yes true Ari
[14:01] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): young people are not afraid anymore
[14:01] bergfrau Apfelbaum: ty! Class and herman!
[[14:02] Bejiita Imako: aaa yes so thats why they control the internet in chine and ordinary people in north korea are completely isolated rom that and all the rest of the world, and now i read don't even have food and power
[14:02] Bejiita Imako: awful
[14:02] Bejiita Imako: I want a better world
[14:02] Bejiita Imako: and a nice party with q
[14:02] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): all the folks here in the US are so far subdued, this move aginast people with money and benefits may change that
[14:02] Bejiita Imako: at the new place
[14:02] Bejiita Imako: going there now
[14:02] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[14:02] Bejiita Imako: cu all soon again
[14:02] Bejiita Imako: hugs ㋡
[14:03] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): bye bejiita
[14:03] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): bye Bejiita
[14:03] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): enjoy your new world:)
[14:03] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[14:03] herman Bergson: Enjoy the party Bejiita!
[14:03] Cain Levasseur: i like to watch when people critic China
[14:03] Bejiita Imako: aaa ㋡
[14:03] Ciska Riverstone: Thank you Herman - thank you all - cu next week
[14:03] Cain Levasseur: and its media
[14:03] Cain Levasseur: cause our media its also censored
[14:03] herman Bergson: Bye ciska :-)
[14:04] Cain Levasseur: Bye all, thank you professor
[14:04] Rodney Handrick: thanks Herman
[14:04] herman Bergson: My pleasure , Cain ㋡
[14:04] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): no such thing as the free press anymore, Jefferson is rolling over in his grave
[14:04] bergfrau Apfelbaum: byebye all:-)
[14:04] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): bye bergie
[14:04] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): :)
[14:04] Anja Tigerfish: Namaarie
[14:04] Anja Tigerfish: •´¨*•.¸.♥ Bye Bye ♥.¸.•*¨`•
[14:05] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): RL is calling......goodbye all
[14:05] Anja Tigerfish: bye
[14:05] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): thanks again Herman
[14:05] Anja Tigerfish: •´¨*•.¸.♥ Bye Bye ♥.¸.•*¨`•
[14:05] Anja Tigerfish: bye
[14:05] herman Bergson: Tag Anja!
[14:05] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): Gute nacht Anja
[14:06] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): bye all..thank you Herman:)
[14:06] herman Bergson: Bye Beertje
[14:07] druth Vlodovic: lol, sorry herman, baldur and I are iming
[14:08] herman Bergson: ok...enjoy....
[14:08] druth Vlodovic: it was a good presentation, thank you
[14:08] herman Bergson: thank you

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

307: The Brain and Fear

Emotions and feelings are biological mechanisms, which are the true guides of our doings. Millions of years our ancestors feared predators, were jealous when someone else approached their partner, were overwhelmed when holding a baby.

Emotions that have repeated themselves millions of times through history, imprinted behavior patterns in the brain. And here comes the specialty of the human brain.

The very moment something unusual happens, something out of the ordinary, the old biological mechanisms have no answer.

At such moments the ratio is activated and begins to analyze, evaluate and searching for a solution of the new and unfamiliar situation. We behave intelligent, which means we are able to solve problems.

Through history our ability to solve problems in many areas has increased: our knowledge of our environment, our insights in social behavior, our capacity to come up with technical solutions, our ability to use language for communication.

In spite of al this emotions and feelings are still important instruments for human beings to make life possible. A simple example….. You encounter a snake on your path.

You could start an extensive rational process of analyzing the situation: what snake is it, dangerous? Can I run or is it faster than me and so on.

But what really happens is that you stop immediately and move away, even before you know what kind of snake it is. The presence of the snake is enough to set you in motion.

This way of behavior has proven to more profitable for survival than other approaches of the situation. The behavioral system which is involved here is FEAR, probably the oldest emotion and stronger than our acclaimed ratio.

Darwin published in 1872 "The expression of the emotions in man and animal". It took almost a century before scientists paid attention to this publication.

For a long time the scientific community wasn't that happy with emotions and feelings. They were the core business of artists and poets. It is hardly possible to quantify emotions and feelings, so you can't measure them properly. And besides that…the ratio is in much higher esteem.

So, we teach our children to suppress and control their emotion and be reasonable. We learn that in many situations the best face is a pokerface.

Due to the interdisciplinary approach of human behavior by neuroscientists, evolutionary psychologists, biologists, philosophers , antropologists and others emotions no longer are regarded as jammers and obstacles for the ratio, but as an integral part of our being.

We have a number of words which seems to mean more or less the same: emotions, feelings, moods. So we need to find a good definition of emotion.

Especially because my thesis here is, that emotion is biological system, a behavioral system which is the result of a long evolutionary development. In that sense feelings are just a part of an emotion.

An example: Bergie is tired and wants to go home. It is raining. She has two options: the shortcut through the dark alley or the longer road along main street. She wants to go home and chooses for the dark alley……

In the alley all of a sudden she hears footsteps following her. What will happen? The emotion FEAR comes into action (even half a second before she consciously is aware of it), not a rational analysis of the situation.

In Bergie's brain a number of programs come into action teamwise. Sensory input is enhanced… a sharper ear for the footsteps. Motivations change: keeping hairdo intact isn't important anymore….personal safety is.

To achieve this new information is gathered, not where the pools are, but where can I hide, where are obstacles in her path. Suddenly the waste container isn't evaluated anymore as a dirty object, but as a place to hide behind.

Memory is activated…. did she see somebody when she entered the alley. Did her friends warn her for a rapist? The communication system is fired….should she cry for help? The expression on her face is already one of fear.

Emotions show themselves by feelings, in this case fear, but the emotion is much more than just that feeling. Thence, an emotion is a driving force which as an orchestra conductor ensures that a number of specific behavioral systems run in parallel and work together to solve an acute problem.

The emotion pushes all actions of the person in fear into one direction. And it is through evolution that we have developed this system of emotions, which ensures our survival and ability to live as a social being.

The Discussion

[13:24] herman Bergson: Thank you....
[13:24] Qwark Allen: 1 feeling can do several different emotions at same time
[13:24] herman Bergson: As you may have noticed....
[13:25] herman Bergson: my main goal is to describe the human being as a product of evolution
[13:25] Mick Nerido: Emotions spring from what part of our brain?
[13:25] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): right
[13:25] itsme Frederix: hmm as a product of evolved mechanism
[13:25] herman Bergson: Yes Mick....
[13:26] Mick Nerido: All parts?
[13:26] Bejiita Imako: so emotion is the mechanism itself had feeling is how we well feel it when the emotion kicks in
[13:26] herman Bergson: yes a number of areas in the brain are activated
[13:26] Qwark Allen: there are parts of the brain responsable for that
[13:27] herman Bergson: Exactly Bejiita....
[13:27] herman Bergson: But by definition....
[13:27] Qwark Allen: if they are damaged you may not experience emotions
[13:27] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): emotions being automatic, they are our animal selves....rooted in our brain stem
[13:27] herman Bergson: form my point of view emotion is the conductor of the brain orchestra...
[13:27] herman Bergson: Yes Aristotle....
[13:27] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): I see it the very opposite Herman :)
[13:28] herman Bergson: `the emotion is already triggered before we are consciously aware of it...
[13:28] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): our ratio the conductor
[13:28] Mick Nerido: ratio is rational only?
[13:28] herman Bergson: No Aristotle....
[13:28] Bejiita Imako: and when we become aware we get the feeling from that emotion ex joy panic and so on
[13:29] itsme Frederix: Herman, but who is the composer - environment?
[13:29] Mick Nerido: Perhaps we have co-conductors?
[13:29] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): emotion is the train, ratio the engineer
[13:29] herman Bergson: The composer is evolution Itsme..the eternal interaction between organism and environment
[13:29] herman Bergson: I do not agree Aristotle....
[13:30] herman Bergson: Ratio is a mechanism that kicks in when we are in a new , unknown situation...
[13:30] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): hmm, which is cart and which is horse
[13:30] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): :-)
[13:30] herman Bergson: A situation we cannot handle by just reacting out of fear or anger or grief etc.
[13:31] itsme Frederix: Herman if ratio kicks in when the situation is new, the next time this rational behavior is programmed and wired as a "emotion"?
[13:31] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): isn't fear, anger, lust etc automatic responses to stimuli?
[13:31] herman Bergson: The basic point here is, that the ratio is overestimated in its role with respect to survival
[13:32] itsme Frederix: I agree
[13:32] herman Bergson: sure Aristotle
[13:32] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): yes that is so true]
[13:32] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): and rationally we control them?
[13:32] herman Bergson: No...
[13:33] herman Bergson: evolutionary seen...the emotion of fear, the behavioral mechanism to run for danger was developed before the brain part that produces the ratio was in place..
[13:33] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): yes, I agree with that
[13:34] herman Bergson: almost all animals experience fear...and act accordingly.....they don't need a ratio to survive
[13:34] Mick Nerido: So we have an old boss and a new boss
[13:34] herman Bergson: exactly Mick
[13:34] itsme Frederix: on this RET is based as making you aware why you are acting
[13:34] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): the aggressive behavior to combat fear is released by our rational thought
[13:35] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): or not
[13:35] herman Bergson: of course the ratio can interfere with any emotion...
[13:35] herman Bergson: That will differ from person to person....
[13:36] herman Bergson: Some people even hardly experience fear....
[13:36] herman Bergson: and become movie stuntmen ^_^
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: hehe
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: or jackass idiots
[13:36] Mick Nerido: lol
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: haha
[13:36] itsme Frederix: all depends on how things are evolved in the brain and DNA has selected it
[13:36] herman Bergson: lol indeed Bejiita
[13:36] Mick Nerido: adreline junkies
[13:36] herman Bergson: yes Itsme
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:37] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): fearless and stupidity sometimes are the same sometimes
[13:37] itsme Frederix: and there is no cause and no goal with evolution it just goes
[13:37] herman Bergson: if stupidity means 'lack of ratio' you are right Aristotle
[13:38] Mick Nerido: ts like Emotions is driving while ratio is in the back seat giving directions
[13:38] herman Bergson: indeed Itsme...I agree with that
[13:38] herman Bergson: yes Aristotle......
[13:39] itsme Frederix: Mick I like that but ... you still postpone a superior ratio!
[13:39] herman Bergson: I agree with Mick.....
[13:39] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): and survival or not :)
[13:40] herman Bergson: A lot of what we call consciousness is a talk or justification afterwards...
[13:40] herman Bergson: But we need that
[13:40] itsme Frederix: So the problem Mick is giving us .... are we in a taxi/cap ordering the destination or ...
[13:41] herman Bergson: Well Itsme..let me put it in a philsophical way....
[13:41] itsme Frederix: your welcome
[13:42] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): well, my analogy would be emotions are wild broncos, the ratio is the cowboy with spurs on top
[13:42] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ♥ LOL ♥
[13:42] herman Bergson: The greatest mystery ever at this moment is how this 1400cc of grey mass in our skull can produce something what we experience as subjective consciousness..
[13:42] Bejiita Imako: hhshahaha
[13:42] Mick Nerido: good Aristotle
[13:43] Bejiita Imako: trying to control it
[13:43] herman Bergson: In some cases that is the picture Aristotle....
[13:43] itsme Frederix: Herman right you are, the other problem is ... is this subjective consiousness in charge or just a farce
[13:43] herman Bergson: But in the described situation of fear for instance it is not.....
[13:43] Bejiita Imako: or a more technically variant
[13:44] herman Bergson: Yes Itsme....a killing question!!!!!!!
[13:44] Bejiita Imako: emotion is like the fission reaction in a nuclear plant and the control rods are the ratio and left by itself it would runaway causing a meltdown and go out of control
[13:44] Bejiita Imako: lust like if emotion is left out of control
[13:44] Bejiita Imako: just
[13:45] itsme Frederix: You know sometimes you've to put the head under the covers (in the sand) to keep it above the water
[13:45] Bejiita Imako: at least in some way
[13:45] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ♥ LOL ♥
[13:45] Mick Nerido: We all agree more is going on in our minds than we know
[13:45] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): itsme
[13:45] Bejiita Imako: haha
[13:45] herman Bergson: That is the rational picture Bejiita....
[13:45] herman Bergson: Emotions already took care of our survival before the ratio entered the arena...
[13:46] itsme Frederix: So the question rises Herman, is ratio a separate aspect or just a tricky emotion?
[13:46] herman Bergson: The point is that the ratio comes into play when basic emotional responses to a situation do not lead to a solution....then we have the "think"
[13:46] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): history has proven that we can survive without ratio, do you suppose we can survive without emotion?
[13:47] herman Bergson: No we cant Aristotle...
[13:47] Mick Nerido: not with much fun
[13:47] Bejiita Imako: ratio i guess is a controller to throttle emotions sort of
[13:47] itsme Frederix: Ari there is no survival without emotion, you would not have the good feeling of it without emotion
[13:47] herman Bergson: all animals are driven by emotions in the sense as we define it here...
[13:47] Bejiita Imako: getting us to think about it logically instead of panicing
[13:48] herman Bergson: animals can have fear, can experience joy and jealousy...
[13:48] Bejiita Imako: ex that example why some people when they see a mouse jump up on a chair and scream instead of thinking rationally that wait mouses aren't dangerous
[13:49] Bejiita Imako: I think they are cute
[13:49] itsme Frederix: Bej that is woman behavior
[13:49] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): uh oh
[13:49] Bejiita Imako: as long they don't crawl from a stinky sewer
[13:49] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): phooey
[13:49] herman Bergson: that sidifficult to determine can be learnt behavior...
[13:49] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): did Itsme say that?
[13:49] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): it is a myth
[13:49] Qwark Allen: heee
[13:49] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ♥ LOL ♥
[13:49] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): yes he did
[13:49] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): hmmm
[13:49] itsme Frederix: Ari just to get some reaction -
[13:49] Bejiita Imako: hehe well yes mostly featured in cartoons
[13:49] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): :)
[13:50] Bejiita Imako: with mouse hunting theme
[13:50] Doggersbank Timmerman (henk.aristocrat): and i think animals have some sort of ratio too. look at lab-rats, monkeys, squirrels. most of the time it is to solve the problem of how to get food
[13:50] Bejiita Imako: and often some lazy cat
[13:50] Bejiita Imako: hha
[13:50] itsme Frederix: so please forgive me and mark it not said
[13:50] herman Bergson: Well…referring to a stinky sewer is something else....
[13:50] herman Bergson: We'll get to that when we'll discuss the emotion of disgust
[13:50] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): :)
[13:50] Bejiita Imako: then mice or btw rats are not too nice
[13:50] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): they are not so bad either
[13:51] Bejiita Imako: but by themselves can be ok
[13:51] herman Bergson: Rats can be very kind animals....
[13:51] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:51] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): I think that rationally we rely on gathered empical data as to how we reacto to certain dangers
[13:52] herman Bergson: I once had a student in my class with her rat crawling all over her....and into her shirt etc. ^_^
[13:52] Bejiita Imako: hehe
[13:52] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): :)
[13:52] Bejiita Imako: they can be cuddly
[13:52] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:52] itsme Frederix: Ari, but don't forget that very a-rational projections can be made out of empiracal dat
[13:52] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): rats are a very popular pet in the US now
[13:53] herman Bergson: they wer ein Europe a few years ago
[13:53] Qwark Allen: l ☺ ☻ ☺ l
[13:53] Qwark Allen: lol
[13:53] herman Bergson: The basic idea here is that what we define as emotions here are found inall human beings all over the world...
[13:54] herman Bergson: in that sense we are all alike...
[13:54] herman Bergson: Like all elephants are elephants on all continents we humans are justlike that...
[13:54] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): but I do not react to rats and snakes the way others might, so I think it is a basic fear that is diluted with personal experience
[13:55] herman Bergson: always have to keep in mind the bell shape curve of statistical distribution....
[13:55] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): time to go
[13:55] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): thanks herman
[13:55] Bejiita Imako: cu gemma
[13:55] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): bye Gemma
[13:55] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): hope to be here thursday'
[13:55] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): bye Gemma
[13:56] herman Bergson: Oh dear...lots track of time Gemma ^_^
[13:56] itsme Frederix: Herman, and keep in mind not every thing is bell-shaped (gaussian) there are black swans
[13:56] bergfrau Apfelbaum: byebye Gemma :-)
[13:56] herman Bergson: Ok Itsme....we'll discuss that later... :-)
[13:56] Qwark Allen: ¸¸.☆´ ¯¨☆.¸¸`☆** **☆´ ¸¸.☆¨¯`☆ H E R MA N ☆´ ¯¨☆.¸¸`☆** **☆´ ¸¸.☆¨¯`
[13:56] Qwark Allen: was very intersting as usual
[13:56] Qwark Allen: thank you
[13:56] bergfrau Apfelbaum: and byebye Qwark -)
[13:56] Bejiita Imako: yess
[13:57] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): I like Black Swans better
[13:57] herman Bergson: Thank you all for your was good again...
[13:57] herman Bergson: Class dismissed ....
[13:57] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): Thank you, Professor
[13:57] Qwark Allen: i wonder where evolution is getting us
[13:57] Doggersbank Timmerman (henk.aristocrat): ㋡
[13:57] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:57] Doggersbank Timmerman (henk.aristocrat): thanks Herman
[13:57] bergfrau Apfelbaum: ***** APPPPPPPLLLLAAAUUUSSSSEEEEEEE***********
[13:57] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): Thank you Herman it was very intersting
[13:57] herman Bergson: yes has no direction tho
[13:57] bergfrau Apfelbaum: ty herman
[13:57] Bejiita Imako: Hooo!!!
[13:57] Bejiita Imako: Hoooo!
[13:57] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:57] Qwark Allen: see you next class
[13:58] Bejiita Imako: cu soon
[13:58] Doggersbank Timmerman (henk.aristocrat): goodbye everybody
[13:58] herman Bergson: Bye Bejiita
[13:58] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): bye Bejiita
[13:58] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): bye Bejiita
[13:58] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): bye bye have a nice evening
[13:58] bergfrau Apfelbaum: byebye class :-)) see you Thursday
[13:58] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): a wonderful lecture Herman
[13:58] herman Bergson: Bye Beertje :-)
[13:59] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): bye bergie, stay out of dark alleys
[13:59] herman Bergson: Thank you Aristotle
[13:59] bergfrau Apfelbaum: byebye Aristotle :-))
[13:59] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): :)
[13:59] bergfrau Apfelbaum: lol
[13:59] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): good bye all
[14:00] bergfrau Apfelbaum: byebye itsyou :-) und alles liebe!
[14:00] bergfrau Apfelbaum: ≧▽≦ baba ≧▽≦
[14:00] bergfrau Apfelbaum: herman:-) wir lesen uns
[14:01] itsme Frederix: bye

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Saturday, February 19, 2011

306: The Brain and Emotion

Emotions are not invented by us. They are not the product of the romantic or poetic soul nor are they the result of beautiful symphonies, which we listen to.

Emotions are biological systems, just like blood pressure or reflexes or the working of enzymes. They are not, as often is assumed, jammers or annoying obstacles that frustrate the ratio.

They are survival machines and we are going to dig into their evolutionary meaning, their material foundation - so, the brain and some molecules -

and we'll focus on their importance for human society and human cooperation.

Let's agree on one point of view: we are weird creatures. Humans are very intelligent and yet so dumb. First of all because we seriously overestimate intelligence with respect to its importance in our daily life.

Secondly because we make so little use of it and if we do, we often do it in the wrong way. Never heard that complaint: "If you know it all so well, why don't you behave accordingly!!!"

We are the only species that applies a scientific name to ourselves: homo sapiens. And in that respect we are not really modest.

The Kit fox got his scientific name Vulpes Macrotis ('macrotis' means 'big ear') due to its big ears. So those big ears are THE characteristic, which make him different from other foxes.

And here we come: homo sapiens, which is Latin for "wise man". Ok, biologically there is nothing wrong with that name. We are the only species, which makes the best of the use of intelligence, rational thinking.

But here is a danger: the danger of generalization. The special feature "reason" is generalized in such a way, that it is regarded as the only mechanism that really controls all our doings

It is a mistake, but it is a generally accepted view through history: the human being controls himself by use of his ratio, his actions are based on reasonable considerations, and his behavior is based on knowledge, analysis and synthesis.

A lot of philosophers have regarded this as quintessential of being human. With respect to historical influence Descartes (1596 - 1650) is probably one of the most important proponents of this view.

His "Cogito, ergo sum" [I think thus I am] deduces the EGO, the Self exclusively from thinking, from the Ratio, where this thinking self even became an immaterial substance alongside of the material world.

However, this view does grave injustice to us as human beings. An impoverished vision, which reduces us to calculating computers.

It is far from true that our behavior is guided by our reason. Evolutionary the development of this reason came last.

Before that we already possessed a beautiful collection of mechanisms, which helped us survive and helped us to become social beings.

And these mechanisms are exactly those features, which are regarded as jammers and obstacles for what many philosophers held the highest: the ratio.

In an other lecture I already mentioned Plato (427 - 347 BC) who describes in the Phaedrus the soul as a chariot, pulled by two horses:

a splendid white horse (willpower and perseverance ) and a lumpish dark one (emotions). The charioteer (the ratio) had to spend almost all his energy on keeping that dark one in line with the white horse.

In other words, the Greek were convinced that when emotions take over the chariot will crash. And not only the old Greek thought so.

Even today a lot of people think,that when emotions take control things will run out of control.

Let me finish with one observation confirmed by research. If you are negotiating with others, the best way to convince them is not to come up again with a new set of reasonable arguments, but by showing your emotions.

[Main source: De Brein machine, Mark Nelissen (2008)]

The Discussion

[13:20] herman Bergson: Thank you...
[13:20] BALDUR Joubert: where did you get the idea that "emotions are survival MACHINES" ISN'T RATHER ratio which act like a machine..input output
[13:21] Mick Nerido: Which emotions ?
[13:21] herman Bergson: That I will explain in the next lectures Baldur :-)
[13:22] BALDUR Joubert: lol.. i'm always a step ahead it seems.. but i'll be patient:)
[13:22] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:22] herman Bergson: The emotions I am thinking of are basic ones like : fear, joy, grief, anger, wondering, disgust, shame, guild and pride
[13:22] herman Bergson: I'll discuss them all in the coming lectures and their meaning form an evolutionary perspective
[13:23] BALDUR Joubert: they all come independent of ratio..and ratio is used to give an explanation afterwards
[13:23] Mick Nerido: That means emotions are more powerful than reason
[13:23] herman Bergson: To some extend you are quite right Baldur....
[13:24] herman Bergson: That is an observation of neurosciences indeed
[13:24] herman Bergson: You could say that Mick, yes
[13:25] herman Bergson: I hope that will become clear in the next lectures
[13:25] oola Neruda: in ways i feel there is as much truth to be found in emotions as in the rational mind... and the german expressionists and abstract expressionists are only a few of the many examples in art... in music it is probably inescapable
[13:26] Mick Nerido: Like in follow your instincts?
[13:26] herman Bergson: What is important to keep in mind for the future is that we gonna discuss the BIOLOGY of the emotions I mentioned...
[13:27] herman Bergson: We dont call it instincts Mick, humans call it intuition ^_^
[13:27] Mick Nerido: lol
[13:27] herman Bergson: But in fact it is the same thing, yes
[13:27] herman Bergson: As I explained in the last lecture...
[13:27] oola Neruda: i believe nietzche leaned toward favoring the emotions over the rational]
[13:28] herman Bergson: the brain is a huge machine operating beyond our control to some extend...
[13:29] BALDUR Joubert: most of our brain operates without us controling..breathing heartbeat..digestion ..mimics..
[13:29] herman Bergson: that is only the top of the iceberg Baldur ^_^
[13:29] BALDUR Joubert: lol.. tight
[13:29] BALDUR Joubert: right
[13:29] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:30] Mick Nerido: The emotions are like automatic pilot
[13:30] BALDUR Joubert: so what could be interesting is to understand the interactions of emotions and reason in our brain
[13:30] herman Bergson: There you have a good point Mick, because that is how they operate indeed.
[13:31] herman Bergson: They are prior to reason..
[13:31] herman Bergson: When you see a spider you don't start analyzing the situation like..
[13:31] herman Bergson: is is a dangerous spider or it fast or slow..
[13:31] herman Bergson: you just run :-)
[13:32] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): /
[13:32] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): run?
[13:32] herman Bergson: and the basic emotion that is is control is fear...
[13:32] BALDUR Joubert: lol..unless spiders are your field of study:)
[13:32] Bejiita Imako: hehe
[13:32] herman Bergson: Yes Baldur...
[13:32] herman Bergson: saw a guy on TV in a talk show...specialist on spiders...
[13:32] Zinzi Serevi: or when you want to be a brave mother
[13:32] Mick Nerido: The rational mind can overcome emotions like fear of fire as in a fireman
[13:32] Bejiita Imako: question is why is some people so terrified of mice that they jump up on a chair and screams
[13:32] Kyra Neutron: strange humans...cats don't run when they see a spider, they just eat it..
[13:33] Bejiita Imako: heheh
[13:33] herman Bergson: had some examples with him...big ones...
[13:33] Bejiita Imako: mice are not dangerous
[13:33] BALDUR Joubert: same with mice kyra:)
[13:33] Bejiita Imako: I think they are cute
[13:33] herman Bergson: conclusion...creepy fellow
[13:33] Kyra Neutron: and with reptiles baldur :)
[13:33] Bejiita Imako: as long they don't crawl from the stinky sewers
[13:33] Bejiita Imako: eeew
[13:33] herman Bergson: Well Kyra ...that is half true I would say....
[13:33] BALDUR Joubert: many keep reptiles in their homes....
[13:34] herman Bergson: here in Europe there are no dangerous spiders...
[13:34] Kyra Neutron: smart thing to do, keep them safe ;)
[13:34] herman Bergson: but I am sure there are situations where the larger animal runs when it sees a certain spider
[13:34] Kyra Neutron: actually what was my point was that; your primitive brain tells you to "run"
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: hm some spiders esp exotic ones like black widow are deadly dangerous things
[13:35] herman Bergson: True Kyra
[13:35] herman Bergson: We have inherited this from our ancestors through evolution
[13:35] Kyra Neutron: looks at baldur and thinks of his reptile...
[13:35] BALDUR Joubert: don't agree kyra..our so called cultural brains tell us to run cause we lost contact with nature
[13:36] herman Bergson: no Baldur I dont agree.....
[13:36] BALDUR Joubert: why
[13:36] herman Bergson: Here you put the ratio on top of everything again..
[13:36] Mick Nerido: Most people don't keep spiders as pets
[13:36] BALDUR Joubert: no.. i put the emotions on top..
[13:37] BALDUR Joubert: look at egyptian deities..
[13:37] oola Neruda: i agree with Baldur... that we have lost touch with nature... and we fear what we do not know
[13:37] herman Bergson: those are two different things oola...
[13:37] herman Bergson: every organism fears what it doesn't know....response is FEAR....
[13:38] BALDUR Joubert: our relation to nature is basically emotional..
[13:38] herman Bergson: I don't know what Nature means...
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: whats around us in general
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: the environment
[13:38] BALDUR Joubert: smile.. all we can see and hear around us which is not human..
[13:38] herman Bergson: we ARE part of organisms...not apart of nature
[13:39] Mick Nerido: Nature is the natural world, mother earth
[13:39] Kyra Neutron: and we lost the contact with the mother nature...we call for your pagans back to work..heal our our eyes..
[13:39] BALDUR Joubert: being part does not mean we experience our surrounding as different from us
[13:39] herman Bergson: so it is us included
[13:39] Kyra Neutron yawns
[13:39] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): what else could we fear but the unknown or the unwelcome potential outcome?
[13:40] Kyra Neutron: it was quite interesting for a first time and i apoligize for my bad behaviour from all
[13:40] BALDUR Joubert: why pagans kyea
[13:40] Kyra Neutron: hope to see you again.
[13:40] herman Bergson: you're always welcome Kyra
[13:40] Bejiita Imako: cu Kyra
[13:40] herman Bergson: But I guess it is your bedtime
[13:40] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): bye Kira
[13:40] Kyra Neutron: ty herman and others , haha yes :)
[13:41] Anja Tigerfish: •´¨*•.¸.♥ Bye Bye ♥.¸.•*¨`•
[13:41] Zinzi Serevi: bye Kyra
[13:41] Ciska Riverstone: cu kyra
[13:41] Anja Tigerfish: Namaarie
[13:41] BALDUR Joubert: she doesn'tl ike reptiles
[13:41] Anja Tigerfish: oooooo
[13:41] BALDUR Joubert: grin.. may be cause she was sitting next to me:)
[13:42] herman Bergson: aww...poor're still human…don't worry
[13:42] Bejiita Imako: hhee
[13:42] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:42] BALDUR Joubert: lol..i know you have a picture of me where i don't look so human
[13:42] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): you may have a point Baldur
[13:42] herman Bergson: Well...I guess that I have layed out our road for the next lectures....
[13:43] herman Bergson: We'll study the evolutionary and biological basis of emotions.
[13:43] Zinzi Serevi: bye bye all and thanks Herman
[13:43] Anja Tigerfish: •´¨*•.¸.♥ Bye Bye ♥.¸.•*¨`•
[13:43] Bejiita Imako: bye Zinzi
[13:44] Mick Nerido: An emotional thank you!
[13:44] Anja Tigerfish: Namaarie
[13:44] herman Bergson: Next lecture I'll show you the difference between the concepts of emotins and feelings
[13:44] Bejiita Imako: ah ok
[13:44] herman Bergson: Thank you for the nice discussion again....
[13:44] Alarice von Doobie (alarice.beaumont): bye to everyone :-) see you
[13:44] herman Bergson: class dismissed ^_^
[13:44] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): Thank you Herman
[13:44] Ciska Riverstone: Bye all - thankyou herman cu
[13:44] Bejiita Imako: interesting topic Herman
[13:44] bergfrau Apfelbaum: ty herman & Class :-))
[13:44] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:44] bergfrau Apfelbaum: byebye all!
[13:45] Bejiita Imako: cu soon again ㋡
[13:45] BALDUR Joubert: welldone hermaN..
[13:45] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): I must run.....goodbye all
[13:45] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): thank you's very interesting
[13:45] Anja Tigerfish: •´¨*•.¸.♥ Bye Bye ♥.¸.•*¨`•
[13:45] herman Bergson: Thank you Baldur
[13:45] Bejiita Imako: cu Ari
[13:45] Bejiita Imako: and all othersw
[13:45] Anja Tigerfish: Tschüss machs gut bis zum nächsten Mal
[13:45] Anja Tigerfish: bye
[13:45] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): tschuess Anja
[13:45] herman Bergson: Bye Anja
[13:45] Anja Tigerfish: *-*rOfl*-*
[13:45] Anja Tigerfish: *-*r0fl*-*
[13:45] Anja Tigerfish: bye
[13:45] Anja Tigerfish: *LOLO*
[13:46] Anja Tigerfish: ㋡ babble babble babble babble ㋡
[13:46] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): bye bye all:) have a good night
[13:47] herman Bergson: Bye Beertje :-)
[13:48] herman Bergson: Hey Druth....didnt see you..sorry
[13:48] BALDUR Joubert: neither did i ..hi druth:)

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305: The Brain in Evolution

In my former lecture I showed you, that the idea we have of ourselves as rational beings with an absolute free will, is not exactly accurate.

If it is for free will, the neurosciences have shown what an immense machinery is already at work in the brain before we enter the realm of conscious action.

As such the idea is not new, It was Freud who forced us to drastically revise our view of the human being as the rational beings with a absolute free will.

A lot of our actions are caused or influenced by what he called the subconscious. A realm of our inner self which we not could enter by means of introspection, for instance.

With respect to the content and ensuing drives generated by this subconscious, Freud was wrong, although there are some features in his theory, that can be interpreted in an other way.

The homo sapiens has come a long way, more than 4 million years of evolution. In the ongoing interaction between organism and environment our brain has developed into the most sophisticated tool for survival.

But keep in mind,that this has been a process of millions of years, while the prefrontal cortex, which is almost 80% of the brain volume, only was fully operational about a 35.000 years ago.

I sometimes wondered, if mankind really was making progress in its development. Sure, we witness an incredible scientific and technological development.

But then I looked at man himself, his literature. There you read always the same stories about love and hate and friendship. Nothing seems the have changed in that respect.

But when you put is in an evolutionary perspective the picture changes completely and it becomes clear which error I made. The brain took millions of years to evolve into what it is now.

What I take into consideration is only the past 2000 years and only the past 300 years are characterized by scientific development and only the past 150 years by technological development.

A huge and fast development which changes our environment in particular. Evolutionary changes take more then thousands of years, while these days environmental changes take less than a 100 years.

The organism homo sapiens has to adapt, while the wiring of his brain is still in an evolutionary stage that was used to a completely different environment. In a way you could say that the brain is evolutionary behind on schedule.

35.000 years ago we lived in caves and survival was our core business. The brain enabled us to develop social behavior, which proved to contribute to the chance to survive.

You could say that the life of the homo sapiens in those days was controlled by instincts, emotions and some reasoning, which enabled him to develop tools.

It leads me to the thought, that the brain structure of those days is largely still the structure of our brain. This could be an explanation for why mankind nowadays shows such a variety in social behavior.

This earth shows social groups from the tribes in the Amazone to the complex social organization of a country like the Netherlands. And all humans use the same tool to survive: the brain.

Freud was right in his observation, that a lot of our behavior is determined by drives which we are not aware of. He was just mistaken about what drives it were.

The brain generates basic emotions, emotions you find in all human beings. Responses to the environment, to the social group, which have a long evolutionary history.

What I mean by emotion, I'll define most accurately in the next lecture to tell it apart from feelings. Thus we'll enter a next stage in our quest to understand the Mystery of the Brain.

The Discussion

[13:21] herman Bergson: Thank you... ㋡
[13:21] herman Bergson: You have the floor
[13:21] herman Bergson: If you have any question or remark...feel free...
[13:21] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): One might come top the conclusion that we are only wolves in sheep's clothing.
[13:22] BALDUR Joubert: how about other survival tools...
[13:22] herman Bergson: some extend I think so Aristotle....
[13:22] Mick Nerido: The technological revolution and industrialization have changed everything, why did it even happen?
[13:22] herman Bergson: What we call culture and civilization is just a thin layer of varnish...
[13:23] Bejiita Imako: because one of our instincts is to be curious and develop tools
[13:23] Bejiita Imako: unique ability for humans
[13:23] herman Bergson: One of the things in evolution Mick is that it has no goal...
[13:23] herman Bergson: so the question why doesn't apply here
[13:24] Bejiita Imako: and also curiosity, one of our basic drives is to understand things around os and make use of that
[13:24] Mick Nerido: It was not inevitable just a chance occurrance
[13:24] Bejiita Imako: us
[13:24] herman Bergson: unless you ask the question within the historic context
[13:24] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): The evolution of the cerebral cortex is the camoflage for our primal selves
[13:25] herman Bergson: A way to put it Aristotle.. :-)
[13:25] Mick Nerido: Dalphins have complex brains with no technology
[13:25] BALDUR Joubert: i think i repeat myself..but for me brain has not undergone evolution since propably 100000 years..if yes..of minor importance
[13:25] BALDUR Joubert: technology is not evolution..
[13:25] herman Bergson: That is what I have said too Baldur.....
[13:26] herman Bergson: To give you an example...
[13:26] herman Bergson: Based on the evolution of the brain...
[13:26] herman Bergson: the observed which brain areas were active when making a simple fist ax...a shapend stone...
[13:27] Merel Heron: i have the feeling that this way of looking at the evolution is very male like
[13:27] Mick Nerido: I bring up technology because we are all sitting at our computers around the world and yet in the same room connected
[13:27] herman Bergson: from that they could conclude that certain of our ancestors weren't able to make such tools because they not yet possessed those brain areas
[13:27] Merel Heron: being a woman it feels that way
[13:28] herman Bergson: A male like view of evolution ??? Merel?
[13:28] Merel Heron: may be i am wrong i came very late in this conversation
[13:28] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): hmmm
[13:28] Merel Heron: i am from Amsterdam
[13:29] herman Bergson: What suggests the male like approach, Merel?
[13:29] BALDUR Joubert: unfortunately we don't know anything about the brain of our far away ancestors.. just skulls as indicators
[13:29] Merel Heron: and had a study about philosophy
[13:29] Merel Heron: but it is very interesting to listen to you
[13:29] BALDUR Joubert: hm.-.the durch connection..grin
[13:30] herman Bergson: That is not true BALDUR...
[13:30] herman Bergson: we know about the evolution of brain volume pretty much as well as the ensuing skills of the hominides
[13:30] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): Merel may have a valid observation in the maleness of acknowledged views
[13:31] herman Bergson: Just look at the table on the wall
[13:31] Mick Nerido: Is the a male and female mind?
[13:31] Merel Heron: very clinical to me but i can see now your approach is special for the brain
[13:32] herman Bergson: yes Merel...we try to reveal the mystery of the brain.....and in the end the mystery of how the brain can generate consciousness
[13:32] Merel Heron: aha
[13:32] BALDUR Joubert: we know about skills.. but the brain volume differs from one species to another..
[13:32] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): how much subjectivity is involved in the release of newly found 'truths'?
[13:32] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): i didn't tell her that...yet..
[13:32] BALDUR Joubert: some hominoides had bigger brains than we did
[13:32] herman Bergson: But before we reach that I dissect the brain from the neurobiologicalperspective...
[13:33] herman Bergson: /.
[13:33] herman Bergson: Only the Neanderthaler had...was about 1500cc while the homo sapiens had 1400
[13:33] herman Bergson: oops ㋡
[13:33] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): boom
[13:33] bergfrau Apfelbaum: wow :-) schöne aura!! herman
[13:34] Mick Nerido: Is there physical differences between Male and female brains
[13:34] herman Bergson: Danke Bergie
[13:34] BALDUR Joubert: size mick
[13:34] herman Bergson: Not that I know of Mick.....
[13:34] herman Bergson: lol Baldur
[13:34] BALDUR Joubert: smile no joke but fact..
[13:35] herman Bergson: I'll check it out....:)
[13:35] Mick Nerido: I mean if you dissect is the any difference
[13:35] herman Bergson: So far I havent read about it....but I don't assume that it makes much difference…
[13:35] Merel Heron: i am wondering if there is a difference
[13:36] BALDUR Joubert: volume propably doesn't automatically mean more neurons..
[13:36] Mick Nerido: male and females act so differently
[13:36] herman Bergson: I don't think such a difference has any relevance for our cause here
[13:36] BALDUR Joubert: and connections
[13:36] herman Bergson: That difference is interesting for psychologists
[13:36] Merel Heron: no volume must not be the difference
[13:36] Mick Nerido: Hormones...
[13:37] Merel Heron: it is the approach
[13:37] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): thankfully, primally thinking, there remains a differnce between women, cerebrally....women may possess the advantage
[13:37] Merel Heron: i think
[13:37] herman Bergson: Yes Mick...but men as well as women are sentient conscious beings...there is no difference from a philosophical point of view to me
[13:38] Merel Heron: mmmm good to hear
[13:38] herman Bergson: Don't mix up psychology and philosophy....
[13:38] Merel Heron: yes ha ha that is what i did !!1
[13:38] herman Bergson: the philosophical question is about the brain and consciousness.....
[13:39] herman Bergson: and it doesn't matter at all in what kind of body that brain resides ㋡
[13:39] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): I agree, the power to think critically is unisex
[13:39] Mick Nerido: The mystery is that there is conscioucness at all
[13:39] BALDUR Joubert: the emotional side could be different..
[13:40] herman Bergson: More than that Aristotle....we all have what they call the reptilian brain.....
[13:40] herman Bergson: the oldest parts of the brain in an evolutionary sense
[13:40] herman Bergson: This will be our next area of investigation....
[13:41] herman Bergson: And yes...there are differences between men and women....
[13:41] Merel Heron: reptilian brain... I have a look what that is .
[13:41] herman Bergson: But they have special consequences for the evolution of social behavior
[13:42] BALDUR Joubert: snakes merel.. eve and the us the reptile brain
[13:42] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): I am sure the female reptilian brain is now scaly like a mans
[13:42] herman Bergson: It is a name for the limbic system and what is below that part of the brain
[13:42] Merel Heron: mmmmmm thanks
[13:43] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): yes! the limbic system
[13:43] herman Bergson: We will discuss the man/woman differences....
[13:43] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): the go between
[13:43] herman Bergson: especially if you go back to the early homo sapiens... and procreation
[13:44] BALDUR Joubert: this could be the next 100 lectures herman-man/woman difference
[13:44] herman Bergson: No ..philosophically uninteresting unless you refer to our Women Philosophers project...
[13:45] herman Bergson: There you can read about the shameful thing named male beginwith Aristotle...
[13:45] herman Bergson: But that is all in the blog ㋡
[13:45] BALDUR Joubert: just because the ancient philosophers ignored the subject..doesn't mean it could not have philosophical interest:)
[13:45] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): yes, I remember :)
[13:46] herman Bergson: The ancient philosophers didn't ignore it at all Baldur..THAT is the problem...
[13:46] herman Bergson: Aristotle describes the woman as a being closer to an animal than to a human
[13:46] BALDUR Joubert: may be not ignore..but they were ignorants on the subject :)
[13:47] Merel Heron: oh la la
[13:47] herman Bergson: and that idea was (eagerly) adopted by the roman catholics....
[13:47] herman Bergson: with al consequences...
[13:47] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): some people do think that in these days too
[13:47] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): males have shown their desire to maintainthe status quo at any cost
[13:47] herman Bergson: that education was a wast eon women....
[13:47] herman Bergson: to beginwith
[13:48] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): cost to the revelation truth
[13:48] Merel Heron: this is a very interesting statement
[13:48] herman Bergson: It took 1500 centuries before the first woman attended formal education
[13:48] Mick Nerido: Are there noted female philosophers?
[13:48] herman Bergson: A lot....
[13:48] BALDUR Joubert: whats really scary is that in ancient egypt the position of women was vbery close to our time
[13:49] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): indeed, you should read the blog of the Herman's lectures on them
[13:49] herman Bergson: Related to our subject here...Patricia Churchland....
[13:49] herman Bergson: She introduced the discipline of neurophilosophy....
[13:49] herman Bergson: If I am not mistaken she published the book with that title in 1986
[13:49] herman Bergson: Very influential
[13:49] Merel Heron: what about Heloise?
[13:50] herman Bergson: Teh girlfriend of Abelard?
[13:50] Merel Heron: yes the girlfriend
[13:51] herman Bergson: Of course through history there were women who helped themselves with education.....
[13:51] herman Bergson: but what it is all about is that education for women is socially accepted...
[13:51] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): education and enlightnement are the keys
[13:51] herman Bergson: that had to wait till 1850 or so
[13:52] herman Bergson: So to conclude....
[13:52] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): the denial of education are censorship or it is the way to hold folks back
[13:52] herman Bergson: The difference between the male and female brain is from a philosophical point of view irrelevant... ㋡
[13:53] Mick Nerido: Thats good news
[13:53] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:53] herman Bergson: My pleasure Mick ^_^
[13:53] herman Bergson: Well thank you all for this pleasant discussion ....
[13:54] Bejiita Imako: |:)
[13:54] Bejiita Imako: nice
[13:54] Bejiita Imako: as usual
[13:54] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): Thank you Professor!
[13:54] herman Bergson: let's see what evolution will tell us further about the brain next lecture
[13:54] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): and....'thank goodness for little girls'
[13:54] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:54] herman Bergson: Class dismissed
[13:54] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:54] Mick Nerido: You were great as usual
[13:54] Bejiita Imako: YAY! (yay!)
[13:54] herman Bergson: thank you Mick
[13:54] Josiane Llewellyn: Thanks professor, everyone
[13:54] BALDUR Joubert: grin a maurice chevalier fan..:)
[13:55] Merel Heron: thank you Professor
[13:55] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): :)
[13:55] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): indeed
[13:55] Merel Heron: something to think about !!!!
[13:55] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:55] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:55] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): it was very interesting..thank you Herman
[13:55] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): and a marvelous thing this 'thinking'
[13:55] herman Bergson: There is a blog Merel....
[13:55] Bejiita Imako: ok cu soon all ㋡
[13:55] Ciska Riverstone: Thank You Herman - thanx all - enjoy the rest of the day /night
[13:55] bergfrau Apfelbaum: thanks, herman! was very interesting!
[13:55] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): bye Ciska
[13:56] herman Bergson: Thank you ciska....
[13:56] bergfrau Apfelbaum: and class :-)
[13:56] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): thank you Bergie
[13:56] Bejiita Imako: cu ㋡
[13:56] herman Bergson:
[13:56] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): bye Bejiita
[13:56] herman Bergson: Bye Bejiita
[13:56] Aristotle von Doobie (aristotlevon.doobie): bye Bejitta
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