Brain and Values: Is a Biological Science of Values Possible

By Karl H. Pribram | Go to book overview

Abstract

We find in the creative act the highest expression of human mental achievement. Models of creativity have, however, not specified the underlying brain-behavior processes that give rise to it.

Human creativity is characterized as a psychobiological phenomenon. Its common function in everyday and sublime action is described in an integrated model. This view draws from literature on autism ( Baron-Cohen, 1994), creative language use ( Turner, 1996; Turner & Fauconnier, 1996), dysfunctions of memory and planning ( Pribram, 1996), affect's role in cognition ( Redfield, 1993) and creativity ( Rothenburg, 1990).

Broad models of brain function are employed to explain the integrated nature of creativity ( Pribram, 1991; MacLean, 1990). Convergent zones of brain function ( Damasio, 1996) are tied to mental space models of metaphor comprehension ( Fauconnier, 1994); these are tied to Pribram ( 1996) model of frontal function and Sternberg ( 1994, 1995) view of complex problem-solving and creativity. Cloninger ( 1986, et. seq.) view of temperament serving as substrate -- tendencies -- and character as determinant of outcome is related to Sternberg ( 1996) view of "successful intelligence". Pribram's "surface structure" of memory is demonstrated to comprise the higher-order substrate for the characterological dimensions of processing; this surface structure constitutes the developed store and constructed values of a lifetime -- it is "consequences of behavior that stand in relation to each other" ( Pribram, 1996b). The tendencies to actively experience, which underlie behavior lay the groundwork for mental instantiations of sensorimotor and internal state data to object form and immediate (unintentional response) represent Pribram's deep surface -- and underpin Cloninger's temperament and the early processes of Baron- Cohen's ( 1995) and Turner ( 1996) "being-in-the world".

Shore ( 1995) work emphasizes -- and delineates the processes of -- intersubjectivity which allow us to construct intention, develop attention, and suspend disbelief (in a complex world) to generate effort. The bonds between self and other that represent the grounding of experience, likewise represent the basis for self- and other-regulation -- which produce the creation of "mental spaces" ( Fauconnier, 1994) and the grounding of episodes that lead from primitive, syntactic-level experience to episode-building into parable ( Pribram, 1991 and 1996a and b; Turner, 1996).

It is argued that models of brain dysfunction ( Redfield, 1993; Leven, 1996) can be used to comprehend the links between affect, context, and creativity. Yet, most "creative" acts ( Csikszimenthalyi, 1996) are not dysfunctional

This apparent conflict between creativity as a "special, private" act and as a "common, public" experience is resolved in presentation of a physiological and computational model which allows us to test its implications -- and offers a means to learn from its failings.

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