Explanations for Love, Friendships and Empathy
Posted: 17 March 2015 02:12 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Altruism Hierarchy
by Derek Cantrell

I recently became aware of the concept that some Darwinists believe we have reached a point in our evolution where we can deny our behaviors engrained in genetics and practice an unfounded level of altruism toward fellow humans. While humanity has indeed evolved from our primate ancestors, I think these claims of unbridled altruism are exaggerated and misunderstood.
Not only do we as a species, compete against one another in an attempt to pass on our specific genes, but we as a species, compete against other species, in an attempt to pass on the genes of our species. It is known that countless species have become extinct, since the beginning of life on Earth.
At one time, our ancestors and our primate cousins, competed for rights over the finite resources of our planet. They may have also competed with large cats, wolves or even insects, over domain, food, etc.  These aspects enforce an altruism hierarchy. A species is driven to be altruistic toward its own species, then its own family, then its own immediate family, then as the top target of its altruism, we will find itself or its offspring.
We as a species, show altruism toward cattle over insects, we show altruism toward other humans over cattle, we show altruism toward our specific family members over other humans, we show altruism toward our immediate family over distant family, we show altruism toward ourselves and our offspring over immediate family. There are of course exceptions, as these are simply predispositions, not laws.
While self-preservation is seen as priority one, I agree with many Darwinists who feel that we are simply carriers of our genetic code. Once an offspring shows potential to be a superior (through sheer potential or longevity), carrier of the specific gene code, the parent may self-sacrifice in benefit of the superior carrier.
My concept challenges the idea that we are at some pinnacle of evolution that allows us to break free of our pro-gene-passing methods and live in an elevated position. I believe we are nothing more than another species, practicing altruism hierarchy.
While I realize my concept keeps everything wrapped in a tight little package, this package has withstood time, since the beginning of evolution. I believe that evolution does allow us to understand and manipulate various aspects and laws of nature.
Mathematics is a perfect example. A bear may not show complicated math skills, but it can understand statistics enough to know that it’s more likely to find food near a water source, than places without a water source. By the same token, we can use our ever-increasing knowledge of things such as math and physics, to expand our domination over various environments, threats and concepts.

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Posted: 13 May 2015 03:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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NolenTwoHundred - 17 March 2015 02:12 PM

Altruism Hierarchy
by Derek Cantrell

I recently became aware of the concept that some Darwinists believe we have reached a point in our evolution where we can deny our behaviors engrained in genetics and practice an unfounded level of altruism toward fellow humans. While humanity has indeed evolved from our primate ancestors, I think these claims of unbridled altruism are exaggerated and misunderstood.
Not only do we as a species, compete against one another in an attempt to pass on our specific genes, but we as a species, compete against other species, in an attempt to pass on the genes of our species. It is known that countless species have become extinct, since the beginning of life on Earth.
At one time, our ancestors and our primate cousins, competed for rights over the finite resources of our planet. They may have also competed with large cats, wolves or even insects, over domain, food, etc.  These aspects enforce an altruism hierarchy. A species is driven to be altruistic toward its own species, then its own family, then its own immediate family, then as the top target of its altruism, we will find itself or its offspring.
We as a species, show altruism toward cattle over insects, we show altruism toward other humans over cattle, we show altruism toward our specific family members over other humans, we show altruism toward our immediate family over distant family, we show altruism toward ourselves and our offspring over immediate family. There are of course exceptions, as these are simply predispositions, not laws.
While self-preservation is seen as priority one, I agree with many Darwinists who feel that we are simply carriers of our genetic code. Once an offspring shows potential to be a superior (through sheer potential or longevity), carrier of the specific gene code, the parent may self-sacrifice in benefit of the superior carrier.
My concept challenges the idea that we are at some pinnacle of evolution that allows us to break free of our pro-gene-passing methods and live in an elevated position. I believe we are nothing more than another species, practicing altruism hierarchy.
While I realize my concept keeps everything wrapped in a tight little package, this package has withstood time, since the beginning of evolution. I believe that evolution does allow us to understand and manipulate various aspects and laws of nature.
Mathematics is a perfect example. A bear may not show complicated math skills, but it can understand statistics enough to know that it’s more likely to find food near a water source, than places without a water source. By the same token, we can use our ever-increasing knowledge of things such as math and physics, to expand our domination over various environments, threats and concepts.

You may want to look at the “Mirror Neural Network”, which may be present in all sentient life. It is definitely a brain function in humans.

Learning facilitation[edit]

Another possible function of mirror neurons would be facilitation of learning. The mirror neurons code the concrete representation of the action, i.e., the representation that would be activated if the observer acted. This would allow us to simulate (to repeat internally) the observed action implicitly (in the brain) to collect our own motor programs of observed actions and to get ready to reproduce the actions later. It is implicit training. Due to this, the observer will produce the action explicitly (in his/her behavior) with agility and finesse. This happens due to associative learning processes. The more frequently a synaptic connection is activated, the stronger it becomes.[45]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirror_neuron

and thought to be responsible for empathic reactions.

Neurological basis[edit]

Research in recent years has focused on possible brain processes underlying the experience of empathy. For instance, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) has been employed to investigate the functional anatomy of empathy.[57][58] These studies have shown that observing another person’s emotional state activates parts of the neuronal network involved in processing that same state in oneself, whether it is disgust,[59] touch,[60][61] or pain.[62][63][64][65] The study of the neural underpinnings of empathy has received increased interest following the target paper published by Preston and Frans de Waal,[66] following the discovery of mirror neurons in monkeys that fire both when the creature watches another perform an action as well as when they themselves perform it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empathy#Mirror_neuron_activity

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Posted: 13 May 2015 03:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Posted: 13 May 2015 06:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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We human animals, are fundamentally, like all other animals, a product of our genetic make up.  But with this, we have, also, developed skills that we can, now, with relative ease, use to pass on information to other humans.  We developed writing, the printing press, mass education systems, mass communication systems, etc.  So we can learn, in a way that other animals cannot, the value (or not) of altruistic behavior toward fellow members of our species.  That doesn’t mean that our behavior is suddenly freed from our genetic predispositions.  But we do have a clear advantage (compared to other animals) in over-coming some of our baser non-productive tendencies.  OTOH, we also, have an “advantage” (compared to other animals) in being able to engage in some of our baser non-productive tendencies.

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As a fabrication of our own consciousness, our assignations of meaning are no less “real”, but since humans and the fabrications of our consciousness are routinely fraught with error, it makes sense, to me, to, sometimes, question such fabrications.

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Posted: 13 May 2015 07:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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TimB - 13 May 2015 06:46 PM

We human animals, are fundamentally, like all other animals, a product of our genetic make up.  But with this, we have, also, developed skills that we can, now, with relative ease, use to pass on information to other humans.  We developed writing, the printing press, mass education systems, mass communication systems, etc.  So we can learn, in a way that other animals cannot, the value (or not) of altruistic behavior toward fellow members of our species.  That doesn’t mean that our behavior is suddenly freed from our genetic predispositions.  But we do have a clear advantage (compared to other animals) in over-coming some of our baser non-productive tendencies.  OTOH, we also, have an “advantage” (compared to other animals) in being able to engage in some of our baser non-productive tendencies.

I understood the question as “what allows us to experience abstarct emotions such as love, friendship, empathy.
IMO these emotions are produced by the mirror neural network, which allows us to actually experience another’s joy, pain, even “intent”.  We watch someone eat a delicious steak and we experience salivation. We watch someone hurt themselves and we experience their pain, hence our cringing when we see someone hit themselves with a hammer.

The question then becomes what causes us to physically react without actually physically experiencing the pain?
I do agree that there must be a previous experience, absorbed by our mirror neural network when growing up, and experiencing these things ourselves.  But the fascinating part, IMO, is that we are able to generalize these emotions and experience them even as we have not previously experienced them in any specific way. So it cannot be just our own memory, but a recognition of the dynamics in the event. Any heavy object hitting someone translates into a neural reaction to pain in the observer.

Even ants will help a trapped nestmate, but not a stranger. However, I believe this is probably due to chemicals released by the trapped ant and detected by others. So while we may call this a form of mirror repsonse, it is nowhere near the sophistication of our (and other species) ability to relate to almost all human (or other’s) emotional experiences.

[ Edited: 13 May 2015 07:44 PM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 14 May 2015 04:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Write4U - 13 May 2015 07:35 PM
TimB - 13 May 2015 06:46 PM

We human animals, are fundamentally, like all other animals, a product of our genetic make up.  But with this, we have, also, developed skills that we can, now, with relative ease, use to pass on information to other humans.  We developed writing, the printing press, mass education systems, mass communication systems, etc.  So we can learn, in a way that other animals cannot, the value (or not) of altruistic behavior toward fellow members of our species.  That doesn’t mean that our behavior is suddenly freed from our genetic predispositions.  But we do have a clear advantage (compared to other animals) in over-coming some of our baser non-productive tendencies.  OTOH, we also, have an “advantage” (compared to other animals) in being able to engage in some of our baser non-productive tendencies.

I understood the question as “what allows us to experience abstarct emotions such as love, friendship, empathy.
IMO these emotions are produced by the mirror neural network, which allows us to actually experience another’s joy, pain, even “intent”.  We watch someone eat a delicious steak and we experience salivation. We watch someone hurt themselves and we experience their pain, hence our cringing when we see someone hit themselves with a hammer.

The question then becomes what causes us to physically react without actually physically experiencing the pain?
I do agree that there must be a previous experience, absorbed by our mirror neural network when growing up, and experiencing these things ourselves.  But the fascinating part, IMO, is that we are able to generalize these emotions and experience them even as we have not previously experienced them in any specific way. So it cannot be just our own memory, but a recognition of the dynamics in the event. Any heavy object hitting someone translates into a neural reaction to pain in the observer.

Even ants will help a trapped nestmate, but not a stranger. However, I believe this is probably due to chemicals released by the trapped ant and detected by others. So while we may call this a form of mirror repsonse, it is nowhere near the sophistication of our (and other species) ability to relate to almost all human (or other’s) emotional experiences.

Nolen didn’t pose a question.  He made a series of assertions.  In response to that, I provided an alternative, and what I consider more accurate, set of assertions.

As to the question that you drew: ” ...what allows us to experience abstract emotions such as love, friendship, empathy(?)”  I would say that our emotional proclivities are primarily inherited along with our “mirror neural network” and we subsequently, then have our individual experiences which influence our particular emotional development and reactions.  Although not a perfect analogy, the hardware/software view is pretty good, I think.  We have emotional proclivities hardwired in, so to speak, and we have an inherent “software” that impacts our emotional reactions through learning.

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As a fabrication of our own consciousness, our assignations of meaning are no less “real”, but since humans and the fabrications of our consciousness are routinely fraught with error, it makes sense, to me, to, sometimes, question such fabrications.

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Posted: 14 May 2015 09:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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@Tim,

I can agree with that, it is a combination of hardwired ability to feel emotions and the learned ability (from experience and observation) to relate to other’s emotions.

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