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Ch. 1 - The Divided Self 
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 Ch. 1 - The Divided Self
Ch. 1 - The Divided Self



Tue Feb 25, 2014 1:03 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 1 - The Divided Self
He describes some amazing research on split brain experiments, I've heard some of it before.

It's one thing to say that you rationalize your choices after the fact, but to see it done with these split-brain experiments makes you really question everything you know about self-awareness and free will.

I imagine he's going to make a connection to the idea of the self as sort of an illusion in the Buddhist tradition.



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Thu Mar 06, 2014 7:40 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 1 - The Divided Self
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to see it done with these split-brain experiments makes you really question everything you know about self-awareness and free will.


I'll have to buy this book now.

I've always considered powerful introspection to be the key to grasping how free will is an illusion. Maybe split-brain experiments offer a good substitute. For all the beliefs I have, the idea that free will is an illusion is the one that I haven't found anyone else in my circle of acquaintances that agrees with me on. And in my arrogance, I'm convinced they are all wrong. :yes:


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Thu Mar 06, 2014 9:34 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 1 - The Divided Self
Interbane wrote:
Quote:
to see it done with these split-brain experiments makes you really question everything you know about self-awareness and free will.


I'll have to buy this book now.

I've always considered powerful introspection to be the key to grasping how free will is an illusion. Maybe split-brain experiments offer a good substitute. For all the beliefs I have, the idea that free will is an illusion is the one that I haven't found anyone else in my circle of acquaintances that agrees with me on. And in my arrogance, I'm convinced they are all wrong. :yes:


It's a brief section on the split-brain experiments, but he says he's going to revisit this idea of "confabulation" throughout the book

http://www.edge.org/response-detail/11513



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Thu Mar 06, 2014 10:04 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 1 - The Divided Self
Dexter wrote:
He describes some amazing research on split brain experiments, I've heard some of it before.

It's one thing to say that you rationalize your choices after the fact, but to see it done with these split-brain experiments makes you really question everything you know about self-awareness and free will.


This was so cool, the idea that there's a part of the brain that comes up with a running narrative to explain our actions. Never mind that most of our actions are instinctive or emotional-based impulses that for the most part occur automatically without us thinking about it. The split brain experiment really show that we come up with after-the-fact explanations by the language part of the brain. So the rider, Haidt says, goes beyond being just an advisor to the elephant; he becomes a lawyer, who is there to explain the elephant's actions.

Quote:
This finding, that people will readily fabricate reasons to explain their own behavior, is called “confabulation.” Confabulation is so frequent in work with split-brain patients and other people suffering brain damage that Gazzaniga refers to the language centers on the left side of the brain as the interpreter module, whose job is to give a running commentary on whatever the self is doing, even though the interpreter module has no access to the real causes or motives of the self’s behavior.


Haidt will talk some more about the lawyer in Ch. 4.

Good stuff. This is going to be an easy book to pick up and read any time. It's very approachable.


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Sat Mar 08, 2014 2:11 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 1 - The Divided Self
Haidt quotes Hume: "Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them."

He probably explained this in his other book, and might be about to do the same, but why did Hume say "ought" here?



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Sun Mar 09, 2014 6:33 am
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Post Re: Ch. 1 - The Divided Self
Dexter wrote:
Haidt quotes Hume: "Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them."

He probably explained this in his other book, and might be about to do the same, but why did Hume say "ought" here?


Good question. From the Stanford Encyclopedia site, I gather that Hume meant exactly what it sounds like. We should not (ought not) pretend that reason ever drives the boat. Because "passions are the engine for all our deeds: without passions we would lack all motivation, all impulse or drive to act, or even to reason (practically or theoretically)."

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/emoti ... gOnlSlaPas

Hume seems to have had a remarkable understanding of human nature.


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Post Re: Ch. 1 - The Divided Self
Hume's "passions" is a rather generic term, but even in Haidt's book we are dealing with fairly broad brush strokes. Just as we use shorthand with genes, for example, saying there's a gene for being tall, Haidt identifies four basic divisions of the mind as:

FIRST DIVISION: MIND VS. BODY
SECOND DIVISION: LEFT VS. RIGHT
THIRD DIVISION: NEW VS. OLD
FOURTH DIVISION: CONTROLLED VS. AUTOMATIC

The language has changed from St. Paul's "flesh" vs. the "spirit" into something more scientific. And while we've certainly come a long way, I still get a sense that we are only at the beginning of understanding the complexity of the human brain. Even so, I would argue that what little understanding that we do have of the brain and our evolutionary heritage enables us to better understand ourselves—Plato's "know thyself"— and as such helps us to gain introspection. My question: does that introspection give our driver more control of the elephant or does it enable the driver and elephant to become more in sync? Or does it only give us the illusion of understanding (i.e. we will always be a slave to our passions)?


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Sun Mar 09, 2014 10:20 am
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Post Re: Ch. 1 - The Divided Self
geo wrote:
The language has changed from St. Paul's "flesh" vs. the "spirit" into something more scientific. And while we've certainly come a long way, I still get a sense that we are only at the beginning of understanding the complexity of the human brain. Even so, I would argue that what little understanding that we do have of the brain and our evolutionary heritage enables us to better understand ourselves—Plato's "know thyself"— and as such helps us to gain introspection. My question: does that introspection give our driver more control of the elephant or does it enable the driver and elephant to become more in sync? Or does it only give us the illusion of understanding (i.e. we will always be a slave to our passions)?



I agree that we do have a long way to go towards an understanding of the elephant. From an evolutionary perspective, the beast has been working on its survival strategies for a million plus years while the rider apparently has been around for a much shorter time. It is clear that our instincts (the elephant) were formed in a very different environment years ago and not designed to always keep us happy today.
Haidt has some interesting ways to gain a deeper understanding of our elephant and strategically syncronize the two through meditation, cognitive therapy and even Prozac. This part of the discussion should be interesting.



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Sun Mar 09, 2014 10:53 am
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Post Re: Ch. 1 - The Divided Self
geo wrote:
Dexter wrote:
Haidt quotes Hume: "Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them."

He probably explained this in his other book, and might be about to do the same, but why did Hume say "ought" here?


Good question. From the Stanford Encyclopedia site, I gather that Hume meant exactly what it sounds like. We should not (ought not) pretend that reason ever drives the boat. Because "passions are the engine for all our deeds: without passions we would lack all motivation, all impulse or drive to act, or even to reason (practically or theoretically)."

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/emoti ... gOnlSlaPas


Thanks, they also seem to be somewhat unclear about it:

Quote:
this model does little to explain why reason “ought to be” the slave of the passions


geo wrote:
Hume seems to have had a remarkable understanding of human nature.


That's for sure. Even in economics, Hume was a pioneer.



Sun Mar 09, 2014 2:49 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 1 - The Divided Self
I tried to see whether Haidt had answered Dexter's question in The Righteous Mind, but could not find anything beyond what geo came up with. It seems that Hume's statement about passions being the driving force in humans is tied to his looking at the matter scientifically, that is, by observation concluding that passions, sentiment, or intuitions (all in the same category) are in essence what propel people. "He saw that 'sentiment' (intuition) is the driving force of our moral lives, whereas reasoning is biased and impotent, fit primarily to be a servant of the passions" (p. 115).

The word 'passion' is archaic for us. It helps me to use 'intuition' as a near substitute.

I couldn't find where I'd posted the link to an Atlantic article by Paul Bloom called "The War on Reason," but I'll post it here again. I read the article and found it balanced. The title gives the wrong idea of Bloom's argument (the Atlantic is always sensationalizing titles). I felt a little better about reason after reading it, feeling that the glass is at least half full. Bloom mentions Haidt a couple of times.

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/arc ... on/357561/



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Post Re: Ch. 1 - The Divided Self
The context of Hume's quote is human morality or what makes us decide to act morally. As such it seems to me that he is aligned with modern evolutionary psychology. We are altruistic because we must function together in social groups. We evolved that way. Altruistic behavior is celebrated in our culture because it resonates with who we already are. So I interpret Hume as saying we ought not pretend that our altruistic nature derives from reason. Because it's innate no matter what post hoc reasons we come up for it in our culture.

Thanks for reposting that article. I hate reading articles on my computer, but I just figured out a way to send the article to my Kindle. There's a plug-in for Firefox that adds a button to the toolbar. Click "Send to Kindle" and voila!


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Post Re: Ch. 1 - The Divided Self
Technology is really amazing, magical as far as I'm concerned. In the Coursera on Thomas Jefferson, we were speculating about how he would react to our world. Most people felt he would delight in the wonders of our technology and be curious to know how it worked. And I would tell him: well you plug it in, or, you push this thing to make this happen. Dumbkoff about how this stuff might work, that's me. If Jefferson ran up to a modern bicycle and got all excited about it (as I hope he would) then I could tell him about it. But even an automobile engine--a little sketchy on that.



Tue Mar 11, 2014 11:11 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 1 - The Divided Self
this lady seems to have gotten the hang of it, the elephant seems happy too. :-D

Image

these guys are still working on it :lol:

Image



Wed Mar 12, 2014 8:07 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 1 - The Divided Self
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Wed Mar 12, 2014 8:14 pm
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