Brain and Mind 3 (1):133-150 (2002)

This article probes the evolutionary origins ofmoral capacities and moral agency. From thisit develops a theory of the guidancesystem of higher mind (GSHM). The GSHM is ageneral model of intelligence whereby moralfunctioning is integrated with cognitive,affective, and conative functioning, resultingin a flow of information between eight brainlevels functioning as an evaluative unitbetween stimulus and response.The foundation of this view of morality and ofcaring behavior is Charles Darwin's theory,largely ignored until recently, of thegrounding of morality in sexual instincts whichlater expand into parental love. Also, PaulMacLean made these same connections in hisdevelopment of the triune brain theory, whichwas founded on observations of both sexual andaffectionate responses from stimulation oflimbic and paleocortical areas (that is, notthe most primitive areas) of monkey brains. This article relates the revolutionary areas ofDarwin and of MacLean together for the firsttime in an way intended to be accessible to arange of social and natural scientists. TheGSHM builds on and expands both of their workto develop a theory of the processing withinour brains of information screened by asequence of systems, social, future, moral,developmental, and managerial ``sensitivities.''Darwin's and MacLean's observations and theGSHM theory developed here argue against theold strict distinction between ``lower''emotional processes and ``higher'' rationalprocesses. In fact, MacLean, Karl Pribram, andothers have found that emotional responses areclosely tied to reason through the functions ofthe prefrontal cortex. Prefrontal function isclosely related to the development of moralsensibility and judgment. In particular, it isthe connections between prefrontal cortex andother brain areas that allow us to makedeliberate choices to be or not to be caring. These same connections allow us to learnculturally sensitive signals for when torelease or inhibit our cooperative oraggressive tendencies (both of which can beelicited by sexual displays in monkeys as wellas humans). These are closely tied to thesocial instinct in animals, and to thesocialization that children receive from theirparents (whom the clinical psychologist AlanSchore has described as providing a ``substituteprefrontal cortex'' for their very youngchildren). Higher levels of the GSHM modelsuch capabilities as thinking beyond thecurrent social situation to ``what could be'' anddialectical synthesis of apparent opposites,which are what allow humans the freedom todesign social realities to fit our moralsensibilities.
Keywords brain  Darwin  evolution  guidance system of higher mind  MacLean  mind  moral evolution  moral sense  moral sensitivity  prefrontal brain  Pribram  triune brain theory
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DOI 10.1023/A:1016561925565
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References found in this work BETA

The Descent of Man.Charles Darwin - 1874 - Prometheus Books.
The Mystery of the Mind.W. Penfield - 1975 - Princeton University Press.

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La teoría de la ética triuna: premisas básicas e implicaciones.Darcia Narváez - 2010 - Postconvencionales: Ética, Universidad, Democracia 2:74-96.

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