THE DESIRES THAT BREAK LOOSE IN MANIA DEFINE OUR OWN HOMO SAPIENS SPECIES

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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THE AUDIENCE WITHIN US ALL

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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WHY WE STOOD UP

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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Mental Illness: All In Your Genes?

Filed under: History, Mental illness

The genetics of mental illness, and particularly schizophrenia, is fraught with the history of the eugenics movement in the 1920’s and 30’s. In 1928 twenty states had compulsory sterilization laws, most including “lunatics” among the target population. This popular movement was based on the assumption that mental illnesses are caused by a small number of …

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A Liberal Theory of Human Nature

Haidt on Us-vs-Them

Filed under: Evolutionary psychology, Group Selection, Human Nature, Justice | 2 Comments

Below is a TED talk by Jonathan Haidt, the social psychologist who wrote The Righteous Mind, in which he introduced six belief categories: important issues to Democrats are care/harm, liberty/oppression, and fairness/cheating, whereas for Republicans the most important issues are loyalty/betrayal, authority/subversion, and sanctity/ degradation. In this video he tells us that openness to new …

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Republicans Not As Happy As they Think They Are

Filed under: Evolutionary psychology

“A true saying it is: Desire hath no rest, is infinite in itself, endless, and as one calls it, a perpetual rack, or horse-mill.” –Saint Augustine (354-430) The modern science of happiness appeared on the radar screen in 1978 with Brickman, Coates and Janoff-Bulman’s paper entitled “Lottery Winners and Accident Victims: Is Happiness Relative?” In …

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