Questions regarding Damasio’s Self Comes to Mind

1. Having now read Damasio and Hustverdt…Do you have a clearer idea of the differences between emotions and feelings?
2. Damasio theory is biological explanation of consciousness. He basically say that this is not a linear process but in some cases a parallel processes that happen almost simultaneously in different parts of the brain. Physically he locates the proto-self in the area of the primitive brain…he even locates the core consciousness in close proximity…and then the autobiographical self is located in the temporal and frontal higher order cortices as well as the amygdala, but he also talks of an auto biographical self of which we are 200. This implies a higher level of consciousness above the autobiographical self. Based on my own experiences and the work of people like Roberto Assigoli I would say this is a possibility. My question: Does anybody know where he might have biologically anchored this fourth level of consciousness or observing-self in the mind? (The first being proto, the second being core consciousness, the third being autobiographical consciousness and the forth being the observer of the autobiographical consciousness.)

3. My third question has to do with evolution and is a little more philosophical. A great deal of Damasio’s theory is built on Darwinian theory of evolution…that survival of the fittest dictated how and why our biological neurologically generated brain, accidentally (by way of mutations) settled on something that knows that it knows, which includes knowing that it will die? Does it seem like biology has created an unsolvable conundrum for a biological entity which moment by moment strives to live in a state of homeostasis? Of course if biology does not create the conundrum then what does?

4. At the end of the fourth Chapter Damasio states that the body of an organism represented in the brain is essential for the creation of the self, (loc 1695 of 5527, Kindle) along with another implication: “because we can depict our own body states, we can more easily simulate the equivalent body states of others… The range of phenomena denoted by the word empathy owes a lot to this arrangement.”

From such a statement are we to understand that over the course of evolution, while random mutations of our genome have been forming our brains to be empathetic, these same random mutations have been honing our biological tools to survive at all cost? I’d like to believe this, but the realities of the world I live in like IS, or the Nazi death camps, or the 21st century unique way of shaming people on twitter, seem to deny the idea that humans have been biologically and genetically wired for empathy as Damasio would have us believe. What do you think?

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