Sunday, March 20, 2011

311: The Brain and Social Emotions

In the last two lectures I have drawn your attention to the fact that the subject of our current project is not just an interesting philosophical topic in general, but a hot issue in science and in the public debate nowaday.

Now it's time to revert to our plotted course again and focus on the biological and evolutionary roots of our basic emotions.

In lecture 306 I stated that 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.

Another thing we have to keep in mind is, that when you look at the evolution of the brain, emotions developed prior to our so highly valued rationality.

In lecture 307 I defined emotion thus: Emotions show themselves by feelings, for instance 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 for instance 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.

Before we go into detail about some basic emotions, their individual functions and evolutionary advantages, we have to consider an interesting view.

It is regarding the biological function of emotions. They emerged in the evolutionary process. They were transferred and inherited from generation onto generation.

It means, that probably the basic emotions made us fittest for survival, which means best adapted to our environment. This environment was the group.

Thomas Hobbes (1588 - 1679) had no idea of an evolution of emotions, but yet he was to the point by stating that the fear of death and the need for security are the psychological foundations both of worldly prudence and of civilization itself.

“Reason,” he said, “declaring peace to be good, it follows by the same reason, that all the necessary means to peace be good also”, otherwise there would be no society, and the life of man would be “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”

It is philosophically characteristic that Hobbes bases the inevitability of social behavior on reason, while from an evolutionary point of view we now know that human sociality is primarily based on emotions, as defined here.

It is interesting to think of it, that in those days many philosophers were convinced of the idea that society was based on some kind of social contract, formulated by our reason.

But in fact the situation is much more basic. Nowaday we cover all our obligations and those of others with signed contracts and legal stuff.

However, a hundred thousand years ago our ancestors didn't even dream of contracts. Yet they had contracts, like the evolution biologist Robert Trivers states.

An emotion is a contract. To survive people had to co-operate, for instance in building a shelter or in hunting down a mammoth.

Such mutual co-operation is fragile. It could be easily destroyed by individual greed and dishonesty, but the social power of emotions has found solutions for that.

On solution which made the evolution of mutual co-operation possible was to punish the group member immediately for cheating and deception.

A second solution was to "sign" a contract of mutual co-operation with a social emotion, which we for instance could call "guilt' or a feeling of obligation.

Maybe you doubt this idea, thinking that you'd rather prefer a clear and rational agreement without the need to count on emotions.

But that is probably a consequence of our deeply ingrained attitude to keep emotions out and prefer rationality.

This however underestimates the power of our basic emotions. The gnawing power of guilt is stronger than we think, than we rationally are willing to believe.

Of course the "emotion signature" isn't absolute. There have always been people who cheat and deceive, steal and murder,

but the basic emotions have in general directed our behavior in the best direction to solve (social) problems, otherwise evolution hadn't produced a homo sapiens capable of such complex social behavior as we see today.

It may be clear by now, that our brain, which we almost automatically equate with ratio and intelligence, can not be separated from emotions and feelings.

In the following lectures I'll discuss the basic emotions of Joy and Happiness, Grief, Anger, Marvel, Loathing and Disgust, Shame, Guilt and Pride. So, be ready for it…..

The Discussion

[13:24] herman Bergson: Thank you....for your attention...:-)
[13:24] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ♥ LOL ♥
[13:24] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): feels guilty ....
[13:24] Bejiita Imako: hahahah
[13:24] herman Bergson: you were in IM GEmma????lol
[13:24] Bejiita Imako: Shame on u Gemma!
[13:24] Bejiita Imako: lol
[13:24] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ♥ LOL ♥
[13:24] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): in the kitchen
[13:24] Qwark Allen: l ☺ ☻ ☺ l
[13:24] Qwark Allen: lol
[13:24] Bejiita Imako: hahaha
[13:24] Mick Nerido: Emotions=instincts?
[13:24] herman Bergson: lol...
[13:25] Bejiita Imako: eating as usual?
[13:25] Bejiita Imako: hehe
[13:25] herman Bergson: Don't know is just a word...
[13:25] Bejiita Imako: need to stuff myself with something soon
[13:25] herman Bergson: but to some extend I think you are right
[13:25] Bejiita Imako: some tasty stuff
[13:26] herman Bergson: stuff isn't tasty Bejiita????? :-)
[13:26] Bejiita Imako: haha
[13:26] Bejiita Imako: yes but u can't eat it
[13:26] Bejiita Imako: lol
[13:26] Mick Nerido: Like an animal "knows" what to do without rational thought
[13:26] Bejiita Imako: well my brain maybe
[13:26] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:26] herman Bergson: no only can digest it...^_^
[13:26] Bejiita Imako: true
[13:27] herman Bergson: ok...let's make it a lazy day...nothing to discuss ..^_^
[13:27] Qwark Allen: i just have one remark
[13:27] BALDUR Joubert: i think the most important question is . which emotions are inherited,to say genetically based..which introduced by culture..
[13:27] herman Bergson: Gemma is in the kitchen...Bejiita needs some good it
[13:27] Alarice von Doobie (alarice.beaumont): oh.. need to go .. sorry
[13:27] Mick Nerido: I rushed home to be here...:)
[13:27] Qwark Allen: ~when they said 100 000 years, to me seems short
[13:27] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:27] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): Bye, Bye ㋡
[13:27] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ok
[13:28] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ♥ LOL ♥
[13:28] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): oops too late
[13:28] Qwark Allen: cause our specie is in this planet at , at least 500 000
[13:28] BALDUR Joubert: sapiens is about 100 000 years
[13:28] Qwark Allen: i`m talking about sapiens
[13:28] Qwark Allen: us
[13:28] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): well i do not think with the same sensibilities
[13:28] Qwark Allen: so this should be more ancient then it seems
[13:28] BALDUR Joubert: you Q.yes
[13:29] Qwark Allen: seems logical that this kind of behaviour it`s among us at a long time
[13:29] herman Bergson: no Qwark.....just look at the evolution diagram at the wall
[13:30] Qwark Allen: they just found out a tooth from a homo sapiens, with 400 000 years
[13:30] herman Bergson: The homo habilis , 2.5 million years ago was able to create tools
[13:30] Qwark Allen: at israel
[13:30] BALDUR Joubert: Africa Q
[13:30] Qwark Allen: asia
[13:30] Qwark Allen: euro asia
[13:30] herman Bergson: Welll...could be at the level of neandethaler....
[13:30] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): yes africa was before asia
[13:31] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): all came out of africa
[13:31] Qwark Allen: at a point there was 5 different hominides
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: Africa is where we come from originally
[13:31] Qwark Allen: including us
[13:31] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): amazing we made it
[13:31] Mick Nerido: The Neanderthaler has a bad rep
[13:31] BALDUR Joubert: they showed he was much better than his reputation mick
[13:32] herman Bergson: but our level of development is of the late pleistocene...40.000 years ago..the cro magnon for instance
[13:32] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): yes and there was some inter breeding as well they say
[13:32] BALDUR Joubert: and they existed longer than we did under difficult conditions
[13:33] herman Bergson: Yes Gemma...amazing we made it....the right words
[13:33] Qwark Allen: there is not in the wall, the homo hobit, that was a sapiens too
[13:33] BALDUR Joubert: amazing THEY made it:)
[13:33] herman Bergson: and amazing how we screw up now ^_^
[13:33] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ♥ LOL ♥
[13:33] Bejiita Imako: haha
[13:33] Mick Nerido: Clan of the cave bears a good read about Neanderthals
[13:34] Qwark Allen: just saying that human history is not totally as how they told it was
[13:34] herman Bergson: yes..nice literature Mick....loved it
[13:34] BALDUR Joubert: la guerre du feu a good movie....
[13:34] herman Bergson: Yes I have seen it Baldur....was great indeed
[13:34] Qwark Allen: just fiction, like star wars
[13:35] herman Bergson: calculated guessing Qwark...
[13:35] Qwark Allen: bad calculation
[13:35] Qwark Allen: l ☺ ☻ ☺ l
[13:35] Qwark Allen: lol
[13:35] herman Bergson: which is not the case in Starwars...
[13:35] Mick Nerido: But the author postulated they were smart but were not able to adapt like us
[13:35] Qwark Allen: that a possible calculation, based in our grow as science
[13:35] BALDUR Joubert: smile how long will we adapt mick:)?
[13:36] herman Bergson: Why the Neanderthalers disappeared we'll never know...
[13:36] Qwark Allen: we know
[13:36] Qwark Allen: they were not so good prepared as us
[13:36] Qwark Allen: and they mixed with us
[13:36] Qwark Allen: last ones found was in iberic peninsule, 15000 years ago
[13:36] Mick Nerido: I see a lot of Neanderthals at WallMart
[13:36] Qwark Allen: around the ice age
[13:37] herman Bergson: but the brain of the Neanderthaler was larger than that of the homo sapiens...
[13:37] Qwark Allen: cause of this we have micro cefalie
[13:37] BALDUR Joubert: they were well prepared for more than 100000 years Q
[13:37] Qwark Allen: in our genes
[13:37] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): Hnnn Hnnn Hnnn ! ҳ̸Ҳ̸ҳ
[13:37] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): I want a Big Fish
[13:37] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): Gimme
[13:37] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): Gimme a Big Fish
[13:37] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): Pleasssseee !!!!!
[13:37] Qwark Allen: l ☺ ☻ ☺ l
[13:37] Qwark Allen: lol
[13:37] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): OOPS
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: hahah not fishing yet Gemma
[13:37] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): SOME TRIGGER
[13:37] herman Bergson: Gemma???
[13:37] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ♥ LOL ♥
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: lol
[13:37] herman Bergson: Are you ok???
[13:37] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): YES
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: hahah
[13:37] BALDUR Joubert: food poisoning.....
[13:38] BALDUR Joubert: affects the brain.:)
[13:38] herman Bergson: Seems so Baldur...
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: hahah
[13:38] herman Bergson: A bit of a weird class today ^_^
[13:38] Qwark Allen whispers: it is
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: lol
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: fun as always
[13:38] Qwark Allen: it`s stills about evolution ^^
[13:38] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): :-)
[13:39] BALDUR Joubert: st patricks day for our american friends.. too much to drink i think lol
[13:39] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:39] herman Bergson: Yes...but I am puzzled by the results I find in my class today ^_^
[13:39] Mick Nerido: St Patrics Day too much green bear
[13:39] Qwark Allen: i`m portuguese ^^
[13:39] Bejiita Imako: heheh
[13:39] Mick Nerido: Beer
[13:39] Bejiita Imako: mmm beeeer
[13:39] BALDUR Joubert: nobody is perfect Q lol
[13:39] herman Bergson: Gemma must be Irish then ^_^
[13:39] Qwark Allen: i know ehehhe
[13:39] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): not really
[13:39] Qwark Allen: l ☺ ☻ ☺ l
[13:39] Qwark Allen: lol
[13:39] Mick Nerido: Spring feaver?
[13:39] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): some part
[13:39] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:39] BALDUR Joubert: katarina, she's the only one in green....
[13:40] katarina Bianco: :)
[13:40] Qwark Allen: i just said about late science developments
[13:40] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): but everyone is irish here on st pat's day
[13:40] herman Bergson: I must appologize Katarina....the class is really misbehaving....never happened before
[13:40] Bejiita Imako: hmm and the new party place is decorated for this day right?
[13:40] herman Bergson: Must be spring fever indeed
[13:40] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): oh right
[13:40] Qwark Allen: yes bejita
[13:40] Bejiita Imako: so after this we can celebrate st patricks there
[13:41] Bejiita Imako: nice
[13:41] BALDUR Joubert: its all emotions katarina:)
[13:41] katarina Bianco: I like green color and beer.. for me every day is St. Patrick day :)
[13:41] Bejiita Imako: and yes I have spring fever
[13:41] Bejiita Imako: but tomorrow should be at least 10 cm snow and ice again AAARRRRGGGH
[13:41] BALDUR Joubert: hey.. ..a smart girl amongst us welcome kat....
[13:41] Bejiita Imako: tired of snow now
[13:42] katarina Bianco: ty
[13:42] Mick Nerido: WE feel safe here so we show the emotion of happiness
[13:42] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): oh no
[13:42] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): snow?
[13:42] herman Bergson laughs
[13:42] herman Bergson: Good thinking Mick
[13:42] Bejiita Imako: yes so they told in the weather report for sweden
[13:42] Mick Nerido: thanks
[13:42] herman Bergson: But I would say: CLASS DISMISSED
[13:42] Qwark Allen: Hooooooo!!!!!!! \o/
[13:42] Qwark Allen: |
[13:42] Qwark Allen: / \
[13:42] Qwark Allen: ☮☮☮☮☮☮☮☮
[13:42] Qwark Allen: Hoooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!
[13:42] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ♥ LOL ♥
[13:42] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ok
[13:42] Bejiita Imako: oki
[13:43] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:43] Qwark Allen: ¸¸.☆´ ¯¨☆.¸¸`☆** **☆´ ¸¸.☆¨¯`☆ H E R MA N ☆´ ¯¨☆.¸¸`☆** **☆´ ¸¸.☆¨¯`
[13:43] Qwark Allen: ty
[13:43] herman Bergson: enjoy your next hours...have seems to be in your blood at the moment!
[13:43] Bejiita Imako: some more interesting subjects to think of
[13:43] Qwark Allen: was missing class
[13:43] Qwark Allen: .-)
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