How We Think: Grounded Cognition Shakes Up Psychology
Grounded cognition theories are expanding our knowledge of how the mind works, and opening a new era in psychology research, says Lawrence Barsalou, a cognitive psychologist at Emory University. February 2010
Dennett on Consciousness and Free Will
Daniel Dennett is a prominent American philosopher whose research centers on philosophy of mind and philosophy of science; particularly as those fields relate to evolutionary biology and cognitive science. He is currently the co-director of the Center for Cognitive Studies and the Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Philosophy at Tufts University.
To most people this is just a cute, viral video, but I think it's a fascinating example of built-in social instincts, in addition to the more common animal instincts. (Please pardon me if the word "instinct" isn't the best scientific term; word suggestions welcome.)
The most obvious built-in social behaviors I see here are the facial and vocal expressions, particularly wrt fear and laughter. Perhaps this is also example of how we enjoy cheap thrills, like roller coasters? Fear followed immediately by pleasure. What's significant about such social behaviors is how they probably serve purpose more than just at a personal survival level, but at a level that enhances our survival as a group. These are the "higher" levels of functioning of human beings as animals.
Other body language is more obviously generalized, animal in nature, like the strong, sudden attempt to focus head/eyes/ears on a situation, the bodily startle, jump, and flailing reflexes, and even the detection of a scary sound. (What makes it sound scary? Because the nose blowing sounds like a large animal?)
So this makes me think of some questions. Do any other animals ever exhibit a cheap thrill response? The jumping and flailing of the arms as a fear response also looks a lot like the expression of enjoyment after the fact, so are the physical behaviors/gestures related, somehow? I see other interesting things here and have more questions, but will stop my observation/speculation for now. There seems to be so much packed into this minute of video!
As a side-note I'd like to emphasize how--even though I love to analyze human nature scientifically--I still love this video just for it's own sake! Studying the scientific beauty of a flower does not take away from the aesthetic nature or pleasure/qualia. (Did Professor Feynman say something like that once?)
[keywords/tags qualia, evo-psych, social]
Daniel Dennett - The Magic of Consciousness
Daniel Dennett is Fletcher Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University.
Here Professor Dennett lectures on the philosophical obstacles to understanding consciousness. This lecture includes topics covered in detail in his wonderful books "Consciousness Explained" and "Sweet Dreams: Philosophical Obstacles to a Science of Consciousness".