The hypothesis for my research project is the possibly that there exist a major contradiction In Antonio’s Damasio’s work regarding the human biological body-brain as the sole source of self and consciousness; because this ‘self’ once generated in the mind of the brain, has then historically demonstrated its capacity for believing in forms of life affirmation beyond the biological death of the human body-brain. Such beliefs created by self and consciousness, whether true or not, will have as their source of existence, according to Damasio’s theory, a biological foundation, evolved in accordance with the theory of evolution. Yet many times during the course of human evolutionary history, beliefs in life affirmation after death, seem to run counter to the dictates of Darwin’s theory of evolution by allowing or dictating the self-sacrifice of the biological human body and brain, in order to preserve a belief. A belief in a detached or dual “Self” capable of living beyond the death of the biological self.
I must admit that I am challenged linguistically to present this hypothesis in a few simple to understand sentences. But let go on.
Is it possible for the outcome of one theory (Damasio’s theory of self), built on the foundations of another theory (Darwinian evolution), to generate through natural selection a biological entity (which has survived until the present-day) while one part of the self believes in the importance of preserving a duality which contradicts the validity of the first theory, and still have the second theory be valid?
Or is the fault in Damasio’s theory of a non-biological “Self” which his theory must contend with because its existence is self-evident in the vast majority of human beings, while not allowing the theory to admit to the paradox?
This paper makes one assumption, every original idea had to be created by at least one mind, and then eventually accepted by other minds. The issue here is not if culture influence decisions but the capacity of a biological brain to conceive of a life after death for a biologically created “Self” that survives after the death of the biological self that created the other “Self”.
I propose to look at these questions by first showing how, from a variety of quotes from, ”Self Comes To Mind”, how Damasio’s theory is linked and enmeshed with Darwin’s theory of evolution.
Then outline Darwin’s theory and Neo Darwinism theory from reliable source material.
Then the paper will propose at least two different kinds of conditional life affirmations found in the history of the human species.
The first type of conditional life affirmation is one which could require the self-sacrifice of the biological self in order for the created “Self” to survive in another ethereal place temporarily or permanently.
The second type of conditional life affirmation to be discussed would be one that requires either celibacy of individual biological humans (no passing on of genes) or the sacrifice of children of direct descent. Examples are Vestal Virgins, Shakers, celibate roman priest, etc., and the myth or story of Abraham being called to sacrifice his only son.
Most forms of life affirmation seem to be conditional on a Quid pro quo basis, the biological-self must sacrifices itself in some way so the mind created “Self” gets some form of life affirmation after death.
Both forms of life affirmation contradict one, or both of the prime tenants of Darwinian evolution.
Whether or not the reader believes in these life affirmations is not the issue. Whether they are logical is not the issue. Most belief systems are not built on logic; for example reincarnation, the coming of a messiah. I would contend that even atheist believe in some form of life affirmation beyond the death of their physical biological bodies, even if it only in the minds of humanity or for one or two generations, be it by monument building, striving for fame, living thru their children, ancestral worship, etc., for which they will tolerate a great amount of delayed gratification and sacrifice of the biological self to achieve.
What I hope to be able to conclude is that Damasio’s theory supports the creation of a mind that historically has continued to create the belief in a life after death for another entity beyond the biological self. That the creation of this entity and the self-sacrifice of the biological self to perpetuate this “Self” contradicts the basic tenants of Darwin’s evolutionary theory and thereby undermines Damasio’s own theory of Self Coming to Mind.
- Alva Noë: "Why Is Consciousness So Baffling?"
- Antonio Damasio: "The Quest to Understand Consciousness"
- Big Think: "Antonio Damasio & Siri Hustvedt"
- Big Think: "Daniel Dennett"
- californica: portrait of the artist as an organism (Jason Tougaw's blog)
- Daniel Dennett: "Cute, Sexy, Sweet, Funny"
- Emily Singer: "The Measured Life"
- Extraordinary People: The Boy Who Could See Without Eyes
- Gail Hornstein's Bibliography of "First Person Narratives of Madness in English"
- Gail Horstein, "The Hearing Voices Network"
- Gary Wolf on "The Quantified Self"
- Hearing the Voice Project
- Interview with Alva Noë (Salon)
- Jesse Prinz: "Waiting for the Self"
- Jill Bolte Taylor: "My Stroke of Insight"
- Koestenbaum on Viegener
- Maud Casey
- Rufus May: "Living Mindfully with Voices"
- Siri Hustvedt
- Tarnation Trailer
- The Quantified Self
- V.S. Ramachandran: "3 Clues to Understanding Your Brain"
- We Live in Public Trailer
I can see why you’d have a hard time articulating your ideas. This is a big topic about big ideas with a long history.
It would probably be helpful to contextualize your argument by framing it in response to recent debates about evolution and religious belief. I’d start with Richard Dawkins and hist various detractors. I don’t know a lot about this topic. I can help with process and methods, but you might want to find a GC faculty member who’s really an expert on these debates and get some advice about how to anchor the project.