I have argued in other work that emotion, attentional functions, and executive functions are three interpenetrant global state variables, essentially differential slices of the consciousness pie. This paper will outline the columnar architecture and connectivities of the PAG (periaqueductal gray), its role in organizing prototype states of emotion, and the re-entry of PAG with the extended reticular thalamic activating system (“ERTAS”). At the end we will outline some potential implications of these connectivities for possible functional correlates of PAG networks that (...) are just starting to be mapped. Overall, we will look at many lines of evidence that PAG should be conceptualized as a peri-reticular structure that has a foundational role in emotion, in generating the meaningful organization of behavior by the brain through prototype emotional states, and in allowing the various emotional systems to globally influence and tune both the forebrain and brainstem. Finally, we address implications of these concepts for what is currently understood about consciousness, underlining the need for somewhat more humility within consciousness studies about our current level of understanding of consciousness in the brain, combined with a deeper appreciation of the intrinsic connections between emotion and consciousness. One hopes that more concerted empirical interest in structures underneath the thalamus, combined with a deeper appreciation for the fundamental role that organismic and social value must have in bootstrapping awareness in the developing brain, would begin more widely to influence the fundamental lines of neuroscientific research in both emotion studies and consciousness studies. (shrink)
Merker offers a remarkable statement about the neural integration essential to conscious states provided by the mesodiencephalon. The model for triangular interaction between action selection, target selection, and emotion is heuristic. Unfortunately, there is little interest (relatively speaking) in neuroscience in the mesodiencephalon, and attention is currently heavily directed to the telencephalon. This suggests that there may be less real momentum than commonly assumed towards the Holy Grail of neuroscience, a scientific theory of mind, despite the major upsurge in interest. (...) (Published Online May 1 2007). (shrink)
We describe the results of an experiment on decision making in an insurance context. The experiment was designed to test for the underlying rationality of insurance consumers, where rationality is understood in usual economic terms. In particular, using expected utility as the preference function, we test for positive marginal utility, risk aversion, and decreasing absolute risk aversion, all of which are normal postulates for any microeconomic decision context under uncertainty or risk. We find that there the discrepancy from rational decision (...) making increases with the sophistication of the rationality criteria, that irrationality concerning fair premium contracts is uncharacteristically high, and that the slope of absolute risk aversion seems to depend on the format of the insurance contract. (shrink)
When a risk is exchanged, the exact value for the minimum price (positive or negative) that the purchaser (investor, or insurer) is willing to pay is given by the certainty equivalent wealth level, which in turn depends on his specific utility function. When this utility function is unknown, then only a sufficient condition on the price can ever be found. This paper provides methods for calculating such a sufficient condition, when only limited information on the utility function is known.
In this essay, I argue for four related claims. First, Richard Levins’ classic “The Strategy of Model Building in Population Biology” was a statement and defense of theoretical population biology growing out of collaborations between Robert MacArthur, Richard Lewontin, E. O. Wilson, and others. Second, I argue that the essay served as a response to the rise of systems ecology especially as pioneered by Kenneth Watt. Third, the arguments offered by Levins against systems ecology and in favor (...) of his own methodological program are best construed as “pragmatic”. Fourth, I consider limitations of Levins’ arguments given contemporary population biology. (shrink)
Fish, S. Georgics of the mind: Bacon's philosophy and the experience of his Essays.--Brett, R. L. Thomas Hobbes.--Watt, I. Realism and the novel.--Tuveson, E. Locke and Sterne.--Kampf, L. Gibbon and Hume.--Frye, N. Blake's case against Locke.--Abrams, M. H. Mechanical and organic psychologies of literary invention.--Ryle, G. Jane Austen and the moralists.--Schneewind, J. B. Moral problems and moral philosophy in the Victorian period.--Donagan, A. Victorian philosophical prose: J. S. Mill and F. H. Bradley.--Pitcher, G. Wittgenstein, nonsense, and Lewis Carroll.--Bolgan, A. (...) C. The philosophy of F. H. Bradley and the mind and art of T. S. Eliot: an introduction.--Davie, D. Yeats, Berkeley, and Romanticism.--Ross, M. L. The mythology of friendship: D. H. Lawrence, Bertrand Russell, and "The Blind man".--Rosenbaum, S. P. The philosophical realism of Virginia Woolf.--Bibliography (p. 357-360). (shrink)
In contrast to many of his contemporaries, A. J. Ayer was an analytic philosopher who had sustained throughout his career some interest in developments in the work of his ‘continental’ peers. Ayer, who spoke French, held friendships with some important Parisian intellectuals, such as Camus, Bataille, Wahl and Merleau-Ponty. This paper examines the circumstances of a meeting between Ayer, Merleau-Ponty, Wahl, Ambrosino and Bataille, which took place in 1951 at some Parisian bar. The question under discussion during this meeting was (...) whether the sun existed before humans did, over which the various philosophers disagreed. This disagreement is tangled with a variety of issues, such as Ayer’s critique of Heidegger and Sartre (inherited from Carnap), Ayer’s response to Merleau-Ponty’s critique of empiricism, and Bataille’s response to Sartre’s critique of his notion of ‘unknowing’, which uncannily resembles Ayer’s critique of Sartre. 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