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> Evolution has not prepared us for this
coberst
post Jun 03, 2010, 11:10 AM
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Evolution has not prepared us for this

Humans are animals with self-consciousness. This self-consciousness may show it self to some small degree in other animals but this capacity for self-consciousness makes our species different in kind from other animals and this difference makes all the difference in the world.

Natural evolution produced the human species but there is more than a degree of difference between humans and other animals; there is a difference in kind between us and our animal cousins.

All other animals are creatures of naïve action determined strictly by emotions, i.e. instinct that is obeyed by non reflective programmed action. Humans however are aided or hindered, depending upon the situation, by self knowledge.

Otto Rank informs us that for man “knowledge about himself interferes with naïve action, restrains him and torments without affording him the satisfaction and liberation which the deed grants. He cannot accomplish through action any more because he thinks, because he knows too much. Now man longs for naïve unconsciousness as a source of happiness.”

Evolution by natural selection depends upon naïve preprogrammed action; without this form of unmitigated action natural selection can no longer be a significant factor in human development. Through “too much self-knowledge” we are restricted in our actions. However, through this capacity for abstract thinking, we have a creative side.

Knowing can be a substitute for living; itself a form of experiencing. Human will, resulting from self-knowledge, is the cause of an equal and negative deficit. The active hero resulting from self-knowledge can come to grief because s/he lacks the knowledge of the results of action. The passive individual cannot act because of self-knowledge restricting the will thus developing a feeling of guilt.

“The artist solves it for himself and others since he transposes the will affirmation creatively into knowledge, that is, expresses his will spiritually and changes the unavoidable guilt into ethical ideal formation, which spurs him on and qualifies him for ever higher performance in terms of self-development.”

Quotes from Truth and Reality by Otto Rank
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coberst
post Jun 07, 2010, 01:53 AM
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Extended consciousness

Antonio Damasio is a scientist who has set out to organize a scientific study of human consciousness. Damasio utilizes a rather unique method that involves careful observation of individuals who have been deprived of some aspects of consciousness because of brain lesions caused by accidents. He studies brain dysfunction caused by such things as strokes and accidents.

Damasio finds that “nearly all the sites of brain damage associated with a significant disruption of core consciousness share one important trait…these structures are of old evolutionary vintage, they are present in numerous nonhuman species, and they mature early in individual human development.”

That is to say that his evidence indicates that core consciousness is centered about the brain’s physical areas that developed very early in the evolution of life on our planet, i.e. human core consciousness is directly evolved from early animal forms.

The basic facts made available for analysis give testimony to the hypothesis that consciousness is not a monolith. Most importantly there is an abrupt division between what is identified as core consciousness and extended consciousness. There are also distinguishing levels within extended consciousness it self. When core consciousness fails then extended consciousness follows.


Many non human creatures have emotions—“human emotions however have evolved to making connections to complex ideas, values, principles, and judgments”—thus human emotion is special—the impact of feelings on humans is the result of consciousness—a distinct difference between feeling and knowing a feeling—“neither the emotion or the feeling caused by the emotion is conscious”—these things happen in a biological state—there are three stages here; emotion, feeling, and consciousness of feeling—consciousness must be present if feelings have an influence beyond the here and the now—consciousness is tooted in the representation of the body.

We need not be conscious of the emotion or the inducer of the emotion—we are about as effective in stopping an emotion as in stopping a sneeze.

“Emotions are about the life of an organism, its body to be precise, and their role is to assist the organism in maintaining life…emotions are biologically determined processes, depending upon innately set brain devices, laid down by long evolutionary history…The devices that produce emotions…are part of a set of structures that both regulate and represent body states…All devices can be engaged automatically, without conscious deliberation…The variety of the emotional responses is responsible for profound changes in both the body landscape and the brain landscape. The collection of these changes constitutes the substrate for the neural patterns which eventually become feelings of emotion.”

The biological function of emotions is to produce an automatic action in certain situations and to regulate the internal processes so that the creature is able to support the action dictated by the situation. The biological purpose of emotions are clear, they are not a luxury but a necessity for survival.

“It is through feelings, which are inwardly directed and private, that emotions, which are outwardly directed and public, begin their impact on the mind; but the full and lasting impact of feelings requires consciousness, because only along with the advent of a sense of self do feelings become known to the individual having them.”

Damasio proposes “that the term feeling should be reserve for the private, mental experience of an emotion, while the term emotion should be used to designate the collection of responses, many of which are publicly observable.” This means that while we can observe our own private feelings we cannot observe these same feelings in others.

Core consciousness—“occurs when the brain’s representation devices generate an imaged, nonverbal account of how the organism’s own state is affected by the organism’s processing of an object, and when this process enhances the image of the causative object, thus placing it saliently in a spatial and temporal context”

First, there is emotion, then comes feeling, then comes core consciousness of feeling. There is no evidence that we are conscious of all our feelings, in fact evidence indicates that we are not conscious of all feelings.

[b]Humans have extended consciousness, which takes core consciousness to the level of self consciousness and the awareness of mortality.


Extended consciousness is the consciousness we normally speak of and that is the autobiographical consciousness possessed by humans.

“Extended consciousness goes beyond the here and now of core consciousness. Extended consciousness places these same experiences in a broader canvas and over a longer period of time. Extended consciousness still hinges on the same core “you”. But that “you” is now connected to the lived past and anticipated future that are part of your autobiographical record…autobiographical memories are objects, and the brain treats them as such, allows each of them to relate to the organism in the manner described for core consciousness, and thus allows each of them to generate a pulse of core consciousness, a sense of self knowing.”

This is why we have the ability to learn and the ability to retain records of experiences. “The ability to reactivate those records in such a way that, as objects, they, too, can generate “a sense of self knowing,” and thus be known”.[/b]


Quotes from The Feeling of what Happens: Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness by Antonio Damasio
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Cale-Construct33
post Jun 07, 2010, 06:21 PM
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[First, there is emotion, then comes feeling, then comes core consciousness of feeling. There is no evidence that we are conscious of all our feelings, in fact evidence indicates that we are not conscious of all feelings.

]


If feelings are inward and private, and emotions external and public, wouldnt it make sense that the feeling is what we experience first, and the external emotions would be secondary? Emotions are categorical labels for feelings we experience internally, and have been argued to be largely socially determined or dependent. It just seems like it would make more sense for the feeling to come first, then the outward expression of an emotion, then our core consciousness experience of that emotion.

I have read the book but I can't remember exactly how Damasio articulated the distinction...I thought he distinguished between different types of emotions based on how they are experienced.

Its also interesting how 'extended consciousness' is always made to sound like it is a broadening of external perspective, which in a sense it is because that is how we experience it typically our selves in relation to the external world. However, consciousness is more of an expansion of internal mental space and our minds ability to hold a multitude of thoughts and images in place to be 'managed.'
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