Consciousness Thought

The Feeling of What Happens: Body, Emotion and the Making of by Antonio Damasio

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By Antonio Damasio

A number one professional of the neurophysiology of feelings, Damasio indicates how our awareness arose out of the improvement of emotion. At its middle human realization is realization of the sensation and experiencing self.

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Extra resources for The Feeling of What Happens: Body, Emotion and the Making of Consciousness

Sample text

The sense of self is the first answer to a question the organism never posed: To whom do the ongoing mental patterns now unfolding belong? The answer is that they belong to the organism, as represented by the protoself.  At this point, however, I can say that the simplest form in which the wordless knowledge emerges mentally is the feeling of knowing— the feeling of what happens when an organism is engaged with the processing of an object—and that only thereafter can inferences and interpretations begin to occur regarding the feeling of knowing.

Like a veil thrown over the skin to secure its modesty, but not too well, the screen partially removes from the mind the inner states of the body, those that constitute the flow of life as it wanders in the journey of each day.  Otherwise we would easily know that emotions and feelings are tangibly about the body. Sometimes we use our minds to hide a part of our beings from another part of our beings. I could describe the hiding of the body as a distraction, but I would have to add that it is a very adaptive distraction.

Prior to the onset of their brain damage, the individuals so affected had shown no such impairments. Family and friends could sense a “before” and an “after,” dating to the time of neurologic injury. These findings suggest that selective reduction of emotion is at least as prejudicial for rationality as excessive emotion. It certainly does not seem true that reason stands to gain from operating without the leverage of emotion. On the contrary, emotion probably assists reasoning, especially when it comes to personal and social matters involving risk and conflict.

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