So what’s the book about? II

Filed under: Evolution of human motivation, Mental illness | 1 Comment

As a psychiatrist, over the course of many decades treating patients with severe mental illnesses, I have wondered why humans are plagued with these problems. My explorations led me to develop the theory I present in this essay. The essence of my theory is that mental illnesses are among the many unfortunate side effects of …

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So what’s the book “about”?

Filed under: Evolution of Emotion, Evolution of human motivation, Human Nature

I have written a book that describes my version of human nature and has many “moving parts,” but writing it was the easy, fun part. After you finish writing a book, you have to come up with an “elevator” description (short enough to get through during the ride). The main task is to refrain from …

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Robert Bellah

Robert Bellah

Filed under: God, Justice

I have been running this blog since 2012 with one blog/week until last Spring when I took a “leave of absence” to complete the final summary of the blog’s thinking in a short book, which is to bepublished soon. The central thesis is that justice is a collective human instinct that has evolved over the …

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vanity is all


Filed under: Emotional Fossils, Evolution of human motivation, Human Nature, Mental illness | 4 Comments

All manner of rhetorical flourishes and beautifully constructed phrases can pour out in a torrent. Often there is a magnetic quality to this verbal virtuosity, the meaning (semantics) of which can constitute a brilliantly creative flight of ideas. Beyond the grammar and meaning, the sheer musicality of it can elicit rapt fascination.

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Filed under: Human Nature, Mental illness

Forty-five years ago, while in my psychiatric residency, I moonlighted at DC General Hospital’s emergency room. I never knew ever knew who would come in the doors down there at the General. The “White House cases” were a staple, a motley collection of characters pulled off the fence surrounding the presidential residence. One evening is …

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Filed under: Evolution of human motivation, Language

A follow-on to the last post. When multicellular organisms were first expanding their internal complexity five hundred million years ago, neurological systems were evolved to co-ordinate their behavior. The key is rapid and continuous real-time communication to all constituents of the organism. How could such communication have been established in the first hominin group-organisms? To …

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Michael Tomasello and Collective Consciousness

Filed under: Belief, cognitive capacities, Evolution of Emotion, Evolution of human motivation, Justice | 2 Comments

Psychologist Michael Tomasello recognizes that, because all the minds of our ancestral species have gone extinct, the only way we can scientifically approach how the mind of apes evolved into our own is to comparatively study the minds of apes and developing children to ascertain what is exclusively human in human nature. In Becoming Human: …

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Brain scient reveals that trust is our "default state"

Robert Sapolsky on Trust, Morality, and Justice

Filed under: Evolution of Emotion, Evolutionary psychology, Justice

THE MOST COMPREHENSIVE and up-to-date lay book on the science of behavior is Stanford neuroendocrinologist Robert Sapolsky’s Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst (2017). The book is an encyclopedic compendium of behavioral science, written with folksy, down-home idiom. Here he lays out evidence that the fundamental “default” of human social behavior …

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The Roots of Our Collective Will

Filed under: Belief, Evolution of human motivation, Justice, Language | 2 Comments

The fundamental divide between right and left is the clash between the role of the individual vs. the role of the collective. The right wins this argument because, in a post-Darwinian world without religion, the very existence of a collective will is in question—it has been made an orphan in Darwin’s age bereft of evolutionary …

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