Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Damasio: Biology and the boundaries of humanity

A summary of the talk in the video below is provided at this link. A couple of excerpts:

"There are key distinguishing factors between humans and other species. For example, human cultural productions are much greater and more complex than those of other species. Professor Damasio focused on human mental faculties including symbolism, narrative, learning, and memory. He argued that these capabilities, specifically the extensive integration of memory and language into human cognition, allows for a contextualization of feelings that differs from that of other species. [...] Human feelings are connected to past memories, and other brain structures also connect feelings to imagination and future plans. While animals may have similar basic feelings, their feelings are not contextualized in this way, though we do share the same core mechanisms and biological sources.

"These contextualized feelings facilitated the creation of human moral principles. Professor Damasio argued that moral principles were generated by reflection on the human condition, as a result of examining and contextualizing feelings (e.g. actual suffering and pain, prospective flourishing and pleasure) and imagining how the causes of feelings could be sought or avoided. Thus, human moral principles are not a mere natural result of biology and evolution but are constructed intentionally by humans under the guidance of values.  Taken together, these arguments build a case for the exceptional status of humans, not just in degree but also in kind."

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.