Thursday, March 9, 2017

The secret history of emotions

Interesting article on the topic, how a certain rational view was wrong about not only the nature of emotions but the mind as well. It reminds me of when Varela teamed up with Thompson and Rosch for the classic The Embodied Mind. Thompson alone is now working in a similar vein. Even meditative states are a subtle construction of meaning around primary affects. In this video he first explores how such states are not located in a particular part of the brain but whole brain and whole body. In the rest he articulates how said meaning of meditative states is embodied, enacted, embedded and extended in cultural contexts.

Also of interest near the end of the linked article is that humans are not the pinnacle of evolution, just one variety of it. There was no Spirit or Eros guiding evolution to man's complex brain, or even that complexity is a marker of evolution. The article, like the work of many cognitive scientists, calls into question the hubris entailed in models of hierarchical complexity based on the very sort of false reason criticized therein.

I've written at length on how Varela & Thompson (and Luhmann) see even the systems in an individual are autonomous yet structurally coupled; they are not transcended and subsumed in ever higher dominant holons. And there is plenty of evidence of this in other fields, like the alternative complexity models of Morin and Prigogine, or that of DeLanda's dynamic systems, Bhaskar's critical realism or Lakoff's embodied realism.

Structural coupling, whether intra-individual or inter-socially, acknowledges that such coupling indeed forms another structure, but one that doesn't need to subsume the parts in a dominant monad based on a Hegelian dialectic, aka amodal hier(an)archical synplexity.

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