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Looking for Spinoza

Joy, Sorrow, and the Feeling Brain
Antonio Damasio 

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It seems that the whole Spinoza thing was really motivated by the last chapter where Damasio gets down to the meaning-of-life issue, and says that Spinoza had it more or less right, except for being too socially isolated and too passive. Spinoza is consistent with a scientific view, and also believes in emotion and intuition. He feels that you should take responsibility for and try to manage your emotions. As close you can get to paradise is the sense-of-wonder of the universe.

I don't recall any really new concepts, but there is more argument in favor of Damasio's ideas. One of the more striking parts (and the only mention of neurological evidence) is about how people with certain prefrontal brain damage lose their social emotions, with a consequence being great difficult in reaching any decision. But this is also in Descartes' Error, which is a much better book.

Damasio's main ideas are:

  • Emotion is important for thinking
  • The somatic-marker hypothesis
  • An appreciation for the unconscious

Figure 4.2, p. 149, is a somewhat interesting graphic of decision making, showing how the unconscious and emotions affects decision-making. He appreciates the possibility of either deliberate intuition or unconscious biasing of decision-making though affecting the generation of options, reasoning strategies, and the decision itself.

books/looking_for_spinoza.txt · Last modified: 2015/04/12 15:44 by ram