Reader comment on Tenzin Palmo's passage ...

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    On Oct 13, 2009 Admin wrote:

    Just read David Brooks column that essentially speaks about how scientists are discovering what happens to us biologically (and nuerologically) when we cling, and how that shapes social behavior.  Interesting ...

     In 2001, an Internet search of the phrase “social cognitive neuroscience” yielded 53 hits. Now you get more than a million on Google. Young scholars have been drawn to this field from psychology, economics, political science and beyond in the hopes that by looking into the brain they can help settle some oldarguments about how people interact.

    These people study the way biology, in the form of genes, influences behavior. But they’re also trying to understand the complementary process of how social behavior changes biology. Matthew Lieberman of U.C.L.A. is doing research into what happens in the brain when people are persuaded by an argument. [...]

    The work demonstrates that we are awash in social signals, and any social science that treats individuals as discrete decision-making creatures is nonsense. But it also suggests that even though most of our reactions are fast and automatic, we still have free will and control.  Many of the studies presented here concerned the way we divide people by in-group and out-group categories in as little as 170 milliseconds. [...]

    Consciousness is too slow to see what happens inside, but it is possible to change the lenses through which we unconsciously construe the world.

    Since I’m not an academic, I’m free to speculate that this work will someday give us new categories, which will replace misleading categories like ‘emotion’ and ‘reason.’ I suspect that the work will take us beyond the obsession with I.Q. and other conscious capacities and give us a firmer understanding of motivation, equilibrium, sensitivity and other unconscious capacities.

    The hard sciences are interpenetrating the social sciences. This isn’t dehumanizing. It shines attention on the things poets have traditionally cared about: the power of human attachments. It may even help policy wonks someday see people as they really are.


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