By Anthony Damasio
Considering that Descartes famously proclaimed, "I imagine, consequently I am," technological know-how has usually neglected feelings because the resource of a person’s precise being. Even smooth neuroscience has tended, till lately, to be aware of the cognitive elements of mind functionality, brushing off feelings. this angle started to switch with the e-book of Descartes’ Error in 1995. Antonio Damasio—"one of the world’s prime neurologists" (The ny Times)—challenged conventional principles in regards to the connection among feelings and rationality. during this wondrously enticing booklet, Damasio takes the reader on a trip of medical discovery via a sequence of case stories, demonstrating what many people have lengthy suspected: feelings usually are not a luxurious, they're necessary to rational pondering and to common social habit.
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Extra info for Descartes' Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain
It was even acceptable that the injury did not render Gage unconscious for a long period. (The event anticipated what is current knowledge from studies of head injuries: The style of the injury is a critical variable. A severe blow to the head, even if no bone is broken and no weapon penetrates the brain, can cause a major disruption of wakefulness for a long time; the forces unleashed by the blow disorganize brain function profoundly. ) But to understand Gage’s behavioral change would have meant believing that normal social conduct required a particular corresponding brain region, and this concept was far more unthinkable than its equivalent for movement, the senses, or even language.
Feelings, along with the emotions they come from, are not a luxury. They serve as internal guides, and they help us communicate to others signals that can also guide them. And feelings are neither intangible nor elusive. Contrary to traditional scientific opinion, feelings are just as cognitive as other percepts. They are the result of a most curious physiological arrangement that has turned the brain into the body’s captive audience. Feelings let us catch a glimpse of the organism in full biological swing, a reflection of the mechanisms of life itself as they go about their business.
The sun is declining and the heat is more bearable. A younger colleague of Dr. Harlow’s, Dr. Edward Williams, is arriving. Years later Dr. Williams will describe the scene: “He at that time was sitting in a chair upon the piazza of Mr. Adams’ hotel, in Cavendish. ’ I first noticed the wound upon the head before I alighted from my carriage, the pulsations of the brain being very distinct; there was also an appearance which, before I examined the head, I could not account for: the top of the head appeared somewhat like an inverted funnel; this was owing, I discovered, to the bone being fractured about the opening for a distance of about two inches in every direction.