Societies of Brains: A Study in the Neuroscience of Love and Hate

By Walter J. Freeman | Go to book overview

Chapter 1
Brains and Minds

What is man, that Thou art mindful of him? ... for Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels. Psalms 8:2-5

We and our ancestors for countless generations have followed two roads in pursuit of understanding our minds in relation to our bodies. One has been observation of the effects of physical and chemical damage to our bodies on our thinking and behavior. The other has been introspective reflection on our experiences, thoughts and feelings, and their relations to similar processes in other beings like ourselves and those imagined to exist in animals, objects, events, or pure abstractions not of this world.


1.1 The origin and growth of introspection

Far from being a solitary preoccupation, introspection as distinct from mere experiencing is an intensely social enterprise, as much as eating, defecating, being born, and dying. Reports that we have heard and read from others tell us what to look for, how to interpret nuances of feeling, and what to accept or reject as valid or invalid. The task is incomplete until we have compared our notes with those of others in conferences and late-night talk shows. Moreover, the capacity for introspection requires the prior existence of awareness of the self as distinct from the world and others like the self. The emergence of this capacity in the evolution of mankind is lost in the remote past, but it recurs in each individual at some time in childhood. Then as now the realization of the self must have had catastrophic consequences. The self comes quickly to the realization that the self will inevitably die. Children respond to this insight with denial and levity. They sing:

Did you ever think as the hearse rolls by
that you will be the next to die?
The worms crawl in, the worms crawl out,
the worms play pinochle on your snout,

and dissolve into laughter. They play

-9-

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Societies of Brains: A Study in the Neuroscience of Love and Hate
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Societies of Brains - A Study in the Neuroscience of Love and Hate *
  • Acknowledgements *
  • Prologue 1
  • Chapter 1 - Brains and Minds 9
  • Chapter 2 - Nerve Energy and Neuroactivity 27
  • Chapter 3 - Sensation and Perception 44
  • Chapter 4 - Intention and Movement 68
  • Chapter 5 - Intentional Structure and Thought 93
  • Chapter 6 - Learning and Unlearning 111
  • Chapter 7 - Self and Society 135
  • Epilogue 155
  • Notes 159
  • References 177
  • Index 197
  • Glossary of Terms Used with Special Meanings [page] 203
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