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 1┬║st 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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