Thursday, March 24, 2011

312: The Brain, Joy and Happiness

Evolution created emotions as means to improve the chances on survival and procreation. Here we focus on the evolutionary development of emotions.

As the philosophical and scientific literature shows, we can discuss forever about the classification of emotions

Daniel Goleman, psychologist and writer of the book on the social IQ once had a talk with the Dalai Lama and learnt that buddhism recognized tenthousands of destructive emotions.

I think we better stick to a more simple classification as formulated by Paul Ekman(1934 -…), psychologist.

Against the view of many anthropologists, including Margaret Mead, Ekman found that facial expressions of emotion are not culturally specific, but identical for different cultures.

This fact advocated the idea that facial expressions, as Darwin once asserted, are biologically determined.

A generally accepted classification is: basic emotions and complex emotion.The complex emotions are more culturally driven and therefor evolutionary more recent.

An emotion like envy, for instance, you can't have on your own. There must be someone else to be envious of, while fear and joy can be individually experienced.

We'll follow the classification of Ekman and regard fear, joy, grief, anger, marvel and disgust as basic emotions. They come with the facial expressions, which showed to be universal.

At New Year we often wish each other a good health for the coming year, but is that our ultimate goal of happiness?

When you think it over, it becomes clear that we mainly want to be healthy because then we are closer to happiness and to knowing joy in life.

So, joy and happiness are more likely our ultimate goals than health. In the "Declaration of Independence " of the USA it is stated literally that we are endowed "with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

This is an interesting statement, for to see the pursuit of happiness as a human right, implies at least that it makes sense to pursue happiness.

Does it also promise us, that when we pursue happiness, we also will achieve it? Do we believe that today?

If so, where does this idea come from, because a lot of people still believe that real happiness will only be found in the afterlife.

It was during the Enlightenment in the 17th and 18th century, that the Idea emerged that a human being can achieve happiness in THIS earthly life.

Happiness now was called the normal condition of man, not a gift of God or a twist of fate, but something that man is entitled to by nature, something, which could be achieved by everyone.

Joy and happiness can be regarded as the most positive emotions and yet there is little scientific literature about them.

One reason is of course, that the concept of happiness is pretty vague and no one has as yet found a satisfactory definition for joy and happiness.

Let's not wind up in an endless debate about the definition of happiness and joy for the moment, but listen to a philosopher of the enlightenment, John Locke (1632 -1704).

Some of you may think, ok…. joy is indeed an emotion, but happiness is more a state of being. True, joy is more a part of happiness.

According to Locke happiness consisted of a combination of joys. But what combination of how many joys? At least Locke is right, that experiencing joy, increases the chance to feel happy.

Next lecture we'll go into detail and explain how evolution wired our brain with the possibility to experience joy and happiness and what it means evolutionary, that happiness is our goal in life.

The Discussion

[13:22] herman Bergson: Thank you...and be happy ^_^
[13:22] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:22] Bejiita Imako: YAY! (yay!)
[13:22] Doodus Moose: a baby smiles when you give it attention - is that joy or programming?
[13:23] herman Bergson: THAT is a real special thing doodus...
[13:23] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): heard that question before...
[13:23] herman Bergson: It shows that joy is innate...
[13:23] BALDUR Joubert: facial expression.... inborn
[13:23] herman Bergson: indeed Baldur...
[13:23] Doodus Moose: perhaps a part of innocence?
[13:23] herman Bergson: I dont see the connection Doodus
[13:24] BALDUR Joubert: lol joy -happinesss and now innocense?
[13:24] Mick Nerido: Is laughter Joy or happiness?
[13:24] herman Bergson: innocence is a pretty religious concept
[13:24] BALDUR Joubert: we will get lost in words...
[13:24] herman Bergson: Laughter is joy Mick
[13:24] Doodus Moose: innocence as opposed to the complexities we learn
[13:24] Doodus Moose: sarcasm, pity, etc
[13:24] Bejiita Imako: YAY! (yay!)
[13:24] Bejiita Imako: now i feel a sudden joy
[13:25] herman Bergson: I think you should keep in mind the disticntion between basic and complex emotions
[13:25] Bejiita Imako: cause LHC have broken a NEW WORLD RECORD
[13:25] BALDUR Joubert: a child ripping of the legs of a spider..sarcasm or innocense?
[13:25] Bejiita Imako: highest power ever now
[13:25] Bejiita Imako: hehe
[13:25] herman Bergson: what you are refering to Doodus are complex feelings
[13:25] Mick Nerido: People laugh differently so do they experience joy differently?
[13:26] Blackrose Baroque: [13:24] BALDUR Joubert: a child ripping of the legs of a spider..sarcasm or innocnese? how can you find any joy or hapiness in this?
[13:26] BALDUR Joubert: a child could...
[13:26] herman Bergson: It is even more complex Mick....some people shed tears while they are infact absolutely happy
[13:26] Mick Nerido: tears of joy
[13:27] Bejiita Imako: ah yes that can also be a reaction
[13:27] Doodus Moose: that was my father as he experienced music - his only demonstrated emotion
[13:27] Blackrose Baroque: yes my mommy always cries when she is so happy
[13:27] Bejiita Imako: i've experienced that too
[13:27] Mick Nerido: Me also
[13:27] herman Bergson: Interesting point Doodus..I'll get to that in the next lecture
[13:27] Bejiita Imako: you laugh and cry at same time
[13:27] Bejiita Imako: really overwhelming feeling
[13:28] Mick Nerido: Laughter is involentary but we laugh at differn things at different timmes in our lives does joy evolve?
[13:29] herman Bergson: You can write a book about laughter..
[13:29] herman Bergson: Aristotle did...
[13:30] herman Bergson: and in The name of the Rose by Umberto Ecco it ended up in the destruction of a monestery by fire...^_^
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: I laugh a lot cause feels really nice
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: and when i feel really good i can let it go until i rol on the floor laughing
[13:30] BALDUR Joubert: aristoteles did' ? didn't it but in the name of the rose:)?
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: really nice feeling
[13:30] Mick Nerido: Not copies left?
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: happens kind of often when i'm here in sl
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:31] BALDUR Joubert: sena connery couldn't save
[13:31] herman Bergson: No he couldnt Baldur :-((
[13:31] BALDUR Joubert: laughter lost for us.......
[13:32] herman Bergson: By the way..watched La guerre du feu last night Baldur...
[13:32] herman Bergson: but that among us
[13:32] herman Bergson: ok...
[13:32] BALDUR Joubert: smile ok we'll talk that over one day:)
[13:32] herman Bergson: what it is all about ia how joy and happiness are wired in the brain by evolution...
[13:33] Doodus Moose: perhaps building on reward and avoidance (hippocampus)?
[13:33] herman Bergson: next lecture I'll give you the evolutionary picture...
[13:33] BALDUR Joubert: help....
[13:34] Bejiita Imako: oki
[13:34] herman Bergson: Is there a doctor in the room...Baldur is calling for help!!!
[13:34] BALDUR Joubert: please make a clear distinction between evolution and development of brain
[13:34] Mick Nerido: Why did it say presuit of rather than the attainment of happiness?
[13:34] herman Bergson: oh yes Baldur...
[13:34] BALDUR Joubert: one genetics the other physical...
[13:34] Doodus Moose: a pursuit does not guarantee attainment
[13:35] herman Bergson: No Doodus...
[13:35] herman Bergson: that is the mystery of happiness…
[13:35] Mick Nerido: it could have been written the right to happiness
[13:35] herman Bergson: are you happy.....??? they alway yell...and the public answers YYYEEEAAAAHHHH
[13:36] BALDUR Joubert: happiness is in the pursuit say some wise men:)
[13:36] Doodus Moose: :-)
[13:36] herman Bergson: I read a book about the history of happiness...the idea of happiness to be exact...
[13:36] herman Bergson: and after reading the book I wasn't happy at all..kind of disappointed actually ^_^
[13:37] Mick Nerido: No happy ending
[13:37] herman Bergson: 450 pages for no happiness :-)
[13:37] BALDUR Joubert: gone with the wind lol
[13:37] herman Bergson: no happy ending indeed Mick :-)
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: hehe
[13:38] Mick Nerido: I bet the author was happy when he finished the book
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: that sound not good, if its about happiness it should make u happy at least
[13:38] Blackrose Baroque: lol Mick
[13:38] herman Bergson: lol I guess he was...
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: haha
[13:38] Anja Tigerfish: Hihihi
[13:39] herman Bergson: Well..let's wait till next lecture...maybe afterwards you might feel a little happier then
[13:39] herman Bergson: So..thank you all for your participation...
[13:39] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:39] BALDUR Joubert: just one more question..
[13:39] herman Bergson: See you next Thursday in our search for happiness...:-)
[13:40] herman Bergson: Sure Baldur go ahead
[13:40] Bejiita Imako: sounds nice Herman ㋡
[13:40] BALDUR Joubert: you talked about cutural and ..wait....
[13:40] herman Bergson: I wait...:-)
[13:41] BALDUR Joubert: sorry, lol i ave to scroll back..
[13:41] herman Bergson: we all wait ^_^ ...
[13:41] BALDUR Joubert:
[13:41] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:41] herman Bergson: yes basic and complex emotions...
[13:42] BALDUR Joubert: basic ..what do you mean with basic in contrast to cultural...
[13:42] Blackrose Baroque: dripping icecream on my skirt..
[13:42] herman Bergson: Blackrose..plz!!! Watch out
[13:42] herman Bergson: Well...
[13:42] Blackrose Baroque: sorry sir:)
[13:42] BALDUR Joubert: someone give blackrose a kleenex?
[13:42] herman Bergson: important point Baldur...
[13:42] Bejiita Imako: heheh
[13:43] Bejiita Imako: u should eat it BEFORE it melts then
[13:43] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:43] Blackrose Baroque: ow..yes?
[13:43] Bejiita Imako: but thats tricky and u dont wanna rush something tasty
[13:43] herman Bergson: The basic idea about emotions in an evolutionary sense is that they helped us to survive and procreate..
[13:43] Blackrose Baroque: this is my happiness icecream
[13:43] BALDUR Joubert: ok.. survival codes
[13:43] herman Bergson: yes...
[13:43] Bejiita Imako: which also use to leave my clothes in a mess afterwards, at least if its a warm day
[13:43] Bejiita Imako: heh
[13:44] Doodus Moose: hence the line from the movie "what do i see in him - he makes me laugh".
[13:44] BALDUR Joubert: especially in social groups
[13:44] herman Bergson: emotions were the mechanisms that made social behavior possible...
[13:44] BALDUR Joubert: ok..agree
[13:44] herman Bergson: the basic emotions like fear and joy can be experiences individually...
[13:44] herman Bergson: with them you can survive...
[13:45] BALDUR Joubert: hm...
[13:45] herman Bergson: the complex emotions are culturally determined in the sense that you need the other for that ..
[13:45] BALDUR Joubert: so microbes have fear anr joy?¨
[13:45] herman Bergson: envy is such an emotion..
[13:45] herman Bergson: you only can be envious of someone else...
[13:46] BALDUR Joubert: i mean simple organisms live much longer than complex ones...
[13:46] herman Bergson: sexual jealousy is such an emotion...
[13:46] herman Bergson: that is not true far so good...we are still here!
[13:46] BALDUR Joubert: you said individulal experience.. that would mean independent of a social environment
[13:47] herman Bergson: and I claim that we are the most complex ones on this planet ^_^
[13:47] Blackrose Baroque: i think it's important to makes a bond between people..
[13:47] Blackrose Baroque: when you some get a smile back
[13:47] herman Bergson: yes...I can experience fear not related to others
[13:47] Mick Nerido: People joke a lot when they are afraid
[13:48] herman Bergson: we will get to that in the next lecture Blackrose!
[13:48] Bejiita Imako: yes and when someone laygh u start laughing as well
[13:48] BALDUR Joubert: exist longer smile sorry.. i hat to be imprecise:)
[13:48] Bejiita Imako: just the sound make u do that
[13:48] BALDUR Joubert: smile but i think we have to get deeper into lets laugh theories lol
[13:48] BALDUR Joubert: in class..
[13:48] Doodus Moose: what proceses causes another to sneeze once someone else sneezes?
[13:48] Doodus Moose: (just wondering)
[13:48] BALDUR Joubert: hayfever dood?
[13:49] Doodus Moose: or yawning
[13:49] Bejiita Imako: hmm that i have never experienced howeever
[13:49] Blackrose Baroque: nome either
[13:49] Bejiita Imako: yawning however
[13:49] herman Bergson: it is a common phenomenon Doodus...mimicry it is called I think...
[13:49] BALDUR Joubert: oh you sneeze when you yawn' '
[13:49] Mick Nerido: I have to walk my dogs bye...
[13:49] Blackrose Baroque: bye Mick
[13:49] BALDUR Joubert: some fart ..grin.. sorry but
[13:50] Bejiita Imako: when everyone around you seem to be bored and tired u get also the same way, cause thats the general feeling in the place sort of
[13:50] herman Bergson: copying the gestures of other to show social connection
[13:50] BALDUR Joubert: mirror neurons.. smile they pop up all the time:)
[13:50] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): i was logged out
[13:50] herman Bergson: Are you ok Gemma???
[13:50] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ☆*¨¨*:• I'm Back! What'd I Miss?? •:*¨¨*☆
[13:50] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): Hey!
[13:50] Bejiita Imako: wb Gemma
[13:50] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ♥ Thank Youuuuuuuuuu!! ♥
[13:50] BALDUR Joubert: fun -joy and happiness gemma:)
[13:51] Blackrose Baroque: you missed a lot of joy Gemma
[13:51] Anja Tigerfish: -WB
[13:51] Bejiita Imako: YAY! (yay!)
[13:51] herman Bergson: ok..I think next lecture will be fun then....:-)
[13:52] Bejiita Imako: aaa yes
[13:52] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:52] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): i wil have to read the blog of this one
[13:52] Doodus Moose: time to eat over here - thanks everyone!!
[13:52] herman Bergson: Thank you all....
[13:52] Bejiita Imako: cu Doodus ㋡
[13:52] herman Bergson: Class dismissed ^_^
[13:52] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): ♥ Thank Youuuuuuuuuu!! ♥
[13:52] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): Bye, Bye ㋡
[13:52] Ciska Riverstone: Thank You herman - thanx everyone - enjoy :-)
[13:52] Bejiita Imako: oki
[13:52] Bejiita Imako: cu next time then ㋡
[13:52] Bejiita Imako: and some of u in a while
[13:52] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:53] Bejiita Imako: nice as usual this
[13:53] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:53] Blackrose Baroque: thank you sir for the lecture
[13:53] herman Bergson: My pleasure Blackrose
[13:53] Blackrose Baroque: bye bye

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