Linking the process of rational decision making to emotions, an award-winning scientist who has done extensive research with brain-damaged patients notes the dependence of thought processes on feelings and the body's survival-oriented regulators. 50,000 first printing.
The publication of this book is an event in the making. All over the world scientists, psychologists, and philosophers are waiting to read Antonio Damasio's new theory of the nature of consciousness and the construction of the self. A renowned and revered scientist and clinician, Damasio has spent decades following amnesiacs down hospital corridors, waiting for comatose patients to awaken, and devising ingenious research using PET scans to piece together the great puzzle of consciousness. In his bestselling Descartes' Error, Damasio (...) revealed the critical importance of emotion in the making of reason. Building on this foundation, he now shows how consciousness is created. Consciousness is the feeling of what happens-our mind noticing the body's reaction to the world and responding to that experience. Without our bodies there can be no consciousness, which is at heart a mechanism for survival that engages body, emotion, and mind in the glorious spiral of human life. A hymn to the possibilities of human existence, a magnificent work of ingenious science, a gorgeously written book, The Feeling of What Happens is already being hailed as a classic. (shrink)
The psychological and neurobiological processes underlying moral judgement have been the focus of many recent empirical studies1–11. Of central interest is whether emotions play a causal role in moral judgement, and, in parallel, how emotion-related areas of the brain contribute to moral judgement. Here we show that six patients with focal bilateral damage to the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (VMPC), a brain region necessary for the normal generation of emotions and, in particular, social emotions12–14, produce an abnor- mally ‘utilitarian’ pattern of (...) judgements on moral dilemmas that pit compelling considerations of aggregate welfare against highly emotionally aversive behaviours (for example, having to sacrifice one person’s life to save a number of other lives)7,8. In contrast, the VMPC patients’ judgements were normal in other classes of moral dilemmas. These findings indicate that, for a selective set of moral dilemmas, the VMPC is critical for normal judgements of right and wrong. The findings support a necessary role for emotion in the generation of those judgements. (shrink)
Moral judgments, whether delivered in ordinary experience or in the courtroom, depend on our ability to infer intentions. We forgive unintentional or accidental harms and condemn failed attempts to harm. Prior work demonstrates that patients with damage to the ventromedial prefrontal cortex deliver abnormal judgments in response to moral dilemmas and that these patients are especially impaired in triggering emotional responses to inferred or abstract events, as opposed to real or actual outcomes. We therefore predicted that VMPC patients would deliver (...) abnormal moral judgments of harmful intentions in the absence of harmful outcomes, as in failed attempts to harm. This prediction was confirmed in the current study: VMPC patients judged attempted harms, including attempted murder, as more morally permissible relative to controls. These results highlight the critical role of the VMPC in processing harmful intent for moral judgment. (shrink)
Scientists are rapidly mapping the chemical and physical pathways that constitute biological systems, making the complexity of processes such as inheritance, development, evolution, and even the origin of life increasingly tractable. Through genetics and neuroscience, biological understanding is now being extended deeply into the human sciences and has begun to transform our understanding of behavior, mind, culture, and values. The idea of a science-driven unity of knowledge has reemerged in several forms in both reductionist and nonreductionist frameworks. This volume examines (...) some of the extraordinary empirical discoveries that have caused a revival of this idea and presents theories from thinkers in a variety of disciplines, including E. O. Wilson, Eric Kandel, and Elaine Scarry. (shrink)
Statistical Default Logic (SDL) is an expansion of classical (i.e., Reiter) default logic that allows us to model common inference patterns found in standard inferential statistics, e.g., hypothesis testing and the estimation of a population‘s mean, variance and proportions. This paper presents an embedding of an important subset of SDL theories, called literal statistical default theories, into stable model semantics. The embedding is designed to compute the signature set of literals that uniquely distinguishes each extension on a statistical default theory (...) at a pre-assigned error-bound probability. (shrink)
There is much evidence that the relationship between religiosity/spirituality and mental health is linear and positive, but relatively few studies have included samples of non-religious participants in their analyses. Some findings suggest that, compared to people who have intermediate levels of R/S, those with higher levels and those with insignificant levels are mentally healthier. However, this curvilinear model does not appear to have been tested through a measure of spiritual beliefs and the comparison of different religious/spiritual groups. In view of (...) this, 1788 Brazilians were assessed in terms of their spiritual beliefs, their religious/spiritual experiences, and their positive and negative mental health components. We found curvilinear relationships between R/SE and all components of mental health, but the level of spiritual belief predicted only the variance in the meaning in life. With the exception of comparisons involving happiness, at least one of the groups that had intermediate levels of R/SE had worse mental health than the groups that had the highest and lowest levels. Although religious people and atheists had similar levels of symptoms of anxiety and depression, the former presented more happiness and meaning in life. Together, these findings corroborate the curvilinear model, but suggest that R/SE is related in different ways to the positive and negative components of mental health. (shrink)
In this paper we show the embedding of Hybrid Probabilistic Logic Programs into the rather general framework of Residuated Logic Programs, where the main results of (definite) logic programming are validly extrapolated, namely the extension of the immediate consequences operator of van Emden and Kowalski. The importance of this result is that for the first time a framework encompassing several quite distinct logic programming semantics is described, namely Generalized Annotated Logic Programs, Fuzzy Logic Programming, Hybrid Probabilistic Logic Programs, and Possibilistic (...) Logic Programming. Moreover, the embedding provides a more general semantical structure paving the way for defining paraconsistent probabilistic reasoning with a logic programming semantics. (shrink)
In this article we present a conjecture regarding the biology of subjectivity and feeling, based on biophysical and phenomenological considerations. We propose that feeling, as a subjective phenomenon, would come to life as a process of resistance to variance hypothesized to occur during the unfolding of cognition and behaviours in the wakeful and emoting individual. After showing how the notion of affect, when considered from a biological standpoint, suggests an underlying process of resistance to variance, we discuss how vigilance, emotional (...) arousal and attentional behaviours reflect a dynamics of controlled over-excitation related to cognitive integration and control. This can be described as a form of resistance to variance. We discuss how such a dynamics objectively creates an internal state of tension and affectedness in the system that could be associated with subjective states. Such a dynamics is shaped by the system's need to cope with its own inertia, to engage in intentional behaviours, attend, preserve coherence, grapple with divergent cognitive, emotional and motivational tendencies, and delayed auto-perturbations of the brain-body system. More generally, it is related to the need to respect the hierarchy of the various influences which affect its internal dynamics and organization. (shrink)
Vroeger leek de keus simpel, meent neuroloog Antonio Damasio: je liet je meevoeren in de maalstroom van het modernisme of trok je terug in een klassiek Arcadië. Maar nu kunnen we ons niet langer aan de maalstroom onttrekken. De digitale revolutie biedt ons allerlei gemakken en voordelen, maar heeft ook mogelijk desastreuze gevolgen voor onze moraliteit. In plaats van ons in een Arcadië terug te trekken, moeten we ons daartegen teweer stellen.