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coberst
06-03-2010, 03:45 PM
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

Ocean
06-03-2010, 05:31 PM
“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

Very interesting post, again, coberst.

I wonder whether becoming aware of the above process of transposition of will into knowledge/ethical formation is in turn another level of development that opens other possibilities.

coberst
06-04-2010, 12:15 PM
Very interesting post, again, coberst.

I wonder whether becoming aware of the above process of transposition of will into knowledge/ethical formation is in turn another level of development that opens other possibilities.


One very important possibility that it opens up is the destruction of our civilization and perhaps of all life on this planet if we do not quickly develop the sophistication required to control this mess that we humans have created.

SkepticDoc
06-04-2010, 12:33 PM
"Evolution" does not have a purpose or a "mind".

It is the descriptive term for the changes in living forms over time, as the leading activist atheists describe it, it is totally random, involving the "Blind Watchmaker".

Pantheism may consider that there is some inherent purpose of the Universe, that it just "Is".

I am curious, is Psychoanalytical theory pertinent to some of these ideas?

Personally, I believe we don't have all the answers, what is "Dark Matter"?

Maybe it all is the "God of the Gaps", as we discover more facts, we will have more questions ad-infinitum...

Just as some calculate that 98% of all species have gone extinct, H. sapiens is just one more life form that came to be, but maybe was not good enough to adapt to the "Rules of the Universe" (whatever those may be!).

Ocean
06-04-2010, 05:17 PM
"Evolution" does not have a purpose or a "mind".

It is the descriptive term for the changes in living forms over time, as the leading activist atheists describe it, it is totally random, involving the "Blind Watchmaker".

Yes to the above, except that we are tinkering with some of the spontaneous processes by which evolution operates.

Pantheism may consider that there is some inherent purpose of the Universe, that it just "Is".

I am curious, is Psychoanalytical theory pertinent to some of these ideas?

No, I don't think so.

Ocean
06-04-2010, 05:20 PM
One very important possibility that it opens up is the destruction of our civilization and perhaps of all life on this planet if we do not quickly develop the sophistication required to control this mess that we humans have created.

If I follow your previous reasoning, improving knowledge and ethical considerations would, at least, work towards making those corrections.

coberst
06-05-2010, 07:48 AM
If I follow your previous reasoning, improving knowledge and ethical considerations would, at least, work towards making those corrections.

My experience leads me to conclude that there is a world of difference in picking up a fragment of knowledge here and there versus seeking knowledge for an answer to a question of significance. There is a world of difference between taking a stroll in the woods on occasion versus climbing a mountain because you wish to understand what climbing a mountain is about or perhaps you want to understand what it means to accomplish a feat of significance only because you want it and not because there is ‘money in it’.

I think that every adult needs to experience the act of intellectual understanding; an act that Carl Sagan describes as “Understanding is a kind of ecstasy.”

This quotation of Carl Rogers might illuminate my meaning:

I want to talk about learning. But not the lifeless, sterile, futile, quickly forgotten stuff that is crammed in to the mind of the poor helpless individual tied into his seat by ironclad bonds of conformity! I am talking about LEARNING - the insatiable curiosity that drives the adolescent boy to absorb everything he can see or hear or read about gasoline engines in order to improve the efficiency and speed of his 'cruiser'. I am talking about the student who says, "I am discovering, drawing in from the outside, and making that which is drawn in a real part of me." I am talking about any learning in which the experience of the learner progresses along this line: "No, no, that's not what I want"; "Wait! This is closer to what I am interested in, what I need"; "Ah, here it is! Now I'm grasping and comprehending what I need and what I want to know!"

When we undertake such a journey of discovery we need reliable sources of information. We need information that we can build a strong foundation for understanding. Where do we find such reliable information? We find it in the library or through Google on the Internet or combinations thereof.

I have a ‘Friends of the Library’ card from a college near me. This card allows me, for a yearly fee of $25, to borrow any book in that gigantic library. Experts in every domain of knowledge have written books just especially for laypersons like you and I.

coberst
06-07-2010, 06:36 AM
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.

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”.


Quotes from The Feeling of what Happens: Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness by Antonio Damasio