#24 Antonio Damasio Youtube Cover - DEF.jpg

EPISODE RELEASED 1st JULY 2022

WHY DO WE HAVE FEELINGS AND WHY DO WE NEED THEM TO KNOW?

There’s a short background sound at 10 mins, it only lasts for 5 mins and it was during an important point about the role of feelings in reasoning, which was too crucial to cut out.

 

In this episode we have the fascinating topic of understanding how feelings play a part in reason and consciousness. We’re also going to be learning how feeling is different from sensing, and if internal feelings and homeostasis, which evolved far earlier than other elements of our perceptual systems, can tell us anything about the evolution of human consciousness.

 

To get to grips with this we the hugely influential Portuguese neuroscientist Antonio Damasio. Damasio is professor pf Psychology, Philosophy and Neurology at the University of Southern California and the founder of their important ‘Brain and Creativity Institute’. He’s written many important books like ‘Descartes Error: Emotion, reason and the human brain’ and just out the subject of most of our discussion today, ‘Feeling and Knowing: Making minds conscious’.

 

I’m extremely grateful to previous guest Jonas Kaplan, who works for professor Damasio at USC, for arranging this interview. Check out his fascinating interview Episode #9 ‘The Backfire Effect’ on the neuroscience of belief.

 

Please donate a cup of coffee if you’re enjoying the show

 

What we discuss in this episode:

 

00:00 Intro

02:49 The importance of creativity in science and life

08:30 Creativity can be slow, not always a flash of inuition

09:12 Brain and body are intertwined in the creation of consciousness

14:00 The importance of emotions to reason

17:00 Homeostasis explained

19:15 We have feelings to provoke us to get something that we need

21:15 Feeling is different from sensing

28:00 Sensing predates the nervous systems and feelings in evolution

31:50 Consciousness is related to feelings and they allow knowing

33:15 Artificial intelligence will not be conscious and feeling, but could copy vulnerability

36:28 AI didn’t evolve from surviving like us

38:15 It’s not just the brain - from the start it’s been interrelated with the body

40:30 Will robots suffer?

42:20 There’s no Hard Problem of Consciousness, it’s just physical evolution

47:00 Does awareness of awareness have an evolutionary reason?

48:30 The feeling system is ancient and early in our conscious evolution

51:30 Consciousness isn’t an illusion it’s a representation of your self and the world

53:13 The mind instinctively creates maps and patterns, even ones that don’t exist

 

References:

‘Feeling and Knowing: Making Minds Conscious’ 2021

‘Descartes’ Error: Emotion, reason and the human brain’ 1994