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Unread June 30th, 2006, 12:13 AM
Margaret McGhee Margaret McGhee is offline
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Default Re: The Political Brain - More Evidence of Evolved Psychology

Fred, you say that,
Quote:
The question is whether we humans are ever able to truly discern and evaluate reality and/or objective truth and make rational decisions and choices, that may be contrary to our emotions and/or preconceived beliefs/perceptions and behave accordingly—whether we can cognitively change/modify emotions/beliefs/perceptions through downward causation.
The question you pose is not possible if, as I suggest, emotions are how our bodies interpret the world, including our own contemplated actions, as either good or bad for us.

However we interpret those estimates, is how we are compelled to act, in my view. There is only one causation, that being in our own percieved interest. And our emotions are the barometer of that index. We could not have evolved any other way. i.e. we could not have evolved to produce emotions that lead us to actions that are, on aggregate, against our own interest, against our survival - on any objective scale.

The downward causation you speak of is really only a more refined method of generating more nuanced emotions - a way of elevating our emotional pleasure at contemplating those actions that you would consider more refined and less base. That's a perfectly human way to devolp. Our pre-frontal cortex seems to be the location where those emotional evaluations are made - and that is subject to learning as we grow.

Our behavior can not be a way of acting in opposition to our net emotional estimate of the results of our actions. Your downward causation is a way of considering what you would call more refined inputs. But, the result will always be to act in regard to the summation of those inputs we do consider.

You may call that downward causation. I would more accurately call it a summing of and greater appreciation for more refined inputs from possibly the social conscience but certainly the belief area of our brain into our decision mechanism.

Your belief in God seems to compell you to find a soul-like mechanism that some of us are supposedly endowed with that can act in opposition to our nature. As I don't labor under that restriction I am free to see our behavior as the result entirely of what is in us already - of both our inherited nature that we are born with and the social nature we develop as we mature.

I have no objection to you calling that the force of God as I believe I understand why you and others need to do that. But, you should not be offended when I and others see it simply as another facet of human nature. The mechanism operates the same for both of us. It will produce the same results given the same inputs. We do favor different inputs, however.

Margaret
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