188 research outputs found

    "Monsters on the Brain: An Evolutionary Epistemology of Horror"

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    The article discusses the evolutionary development of horror and fear in animals and humans, including in regard to cognition and physiological aspects of the brain. An overview of the social aspects of emotions, including the role that emotions play in interpersonal relations and the role that empathy plays in humans' ethics, is provided. An overview of the psychological aspects of monsters, including humans' simultaneous repulsion and interest in horror films that depict monsters, is also provided

    Ancient animistic beliefs live on in our intimacy with tech

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    Animistic cognition has adaptive value in domains of social and physical niche prediction. This argument is extended to our contemporary relationship with digital and AI technology

    The Evolution of Imagination

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    This book develops a theory of how the imagination functions, and how it evolved. The imagination is characterized as an embodied cognitive system. The system draws upon sensory-motor, visual, and linguistic capacities, but it is a flexible, developmental ability, typified by creative improvisation. The imagination is a voluntary simulation system that draws on perceptual, emotional, and conceptual elements, for the purpose of creating works that adaptively investigate external (environmental) and internal (psychological) resources. Beyond the adaptive useful values of this system, imagination also possesses significant intrinsic value (e.g., in the joy of play, and states of wonder). The book argues that imagination is not a late arrival in the evolution of mind, but one of the earliest human abilities

    This Friendship has been Digitized

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    We can share experiences with a person online, but the experiences seem thin when compared with face-to-face experiences. Online adventures (social networking, gaming) can certainly strengthen friendship bonds that were forged in more embodied interactions, but can they create those bonds? The kind of presence required for deep friendship does not seem cultivated in many online interactions. Presence in friendship requires “being with” and “doing for” (sacrifice). The forms of “being with” and “doing for” on social networking sites (or even in interactive gaming) seem trivial because the stakes are very low. More important, the “shared space” of digital life is disembodied space. We cannot really touch one another, smell one another, detect facial expressions or moods, and so on. Real bonding is more biological than psychological and requires physical contact. The emotional entanglement of real friendship produces oxytocin and endorphins in the brains and bodies of friends — cementing them together in ways that are more profound than other relationships. It is possible that virtual reality and augmented reality technology will soon be able to generate such friendship-forming experiences. Having embodied adventures with another person — even in a V.R. suit — is more likely to trigger the deeper oxytocin-based bonding. Current social networking, however, seems to privilege the shallow triggers of the brain’s reward system (dopamine squirts in the ventral tegumental area)

    Music and the Evolution of Embodied Cognition

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    Music is a universal human activity. Its evolution and its value as a cognitive resource are starting to come into focus. This chapter endeavors to give readers a clearer sense of the adaptive aspects of music, as well as the underlying cognitive and neural structures. Special attention is given to the important emotional dimensions of music, and an evolutionary argument is made for thinking of music as a prelinguistic embodied form of cognition—a form that is still available to us as contemporary music creators and consumers

    Why We Need Religion

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    How we feel is as vital to our survival as how we think. This claim, based on the premise that emotions are largely adaptive, serves as the organizing theme of Why We Need Religion. This book is a novel pathway in a well-trodden field of religious studies and philosophy of religion. Stephen Asma argues that, like art, religion has direct access to our emotional lives in ways that science does not. Yes, science can give us emotional feelings of wonder and the sublime--we can feel the sacred depths of nature--but there are many forms of human suffering and vulnerability that are beyond the reach of help from science. Different emotional stresses require different kinds of rescue. Unlike secular authors who praise religion's ethical and civilizing function, Asma argues that its core value lies in its emotionally therapeutic power. No theorist of religion has failed to notice the importance of emotions in spiritual and ritual life, but truly systematic research has only recently delivered concrete data on the neurology, psychology, and anthropology of the emotional systems. This very recent "affective turn" has begun to map out a powerful territory of embodied cognition. Why We Need Religion incorporates new data from these affective sciences into the philosophy of religion. It goes on to describe the way in which religion manages those systems--rage, play, lust, care, grief, and so on. Finally, it argues that religion is still the best cultural apparatus for doing this adaptive work. In short, the book is a Darwinian defense of religious emotions and the cultural systems that manage them

    Against Fairness

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    Imagination: A New Foundation for the Science of Mind

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    After a long hiatus, psychology and philosophy are returning to formal study of imagination. While excellent work is being done in the current environment, this article argues for a stronger thesis than usually adopted. Imagination is not just a peripheral feature of cognition or a domain for aesthetic research. It is instead the core operating system or cognitive capacity for humans and has epistemic and therapeutic functions that ground all our sense-making activities. A sketch of imagination as embodied cognition is offered, followed by suggestions of how to organize imagination studies into a more rigorous science–humanities research area
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