My thoughts/criticisms of _Athene's Theory of Everything_ Part 2 (Mirror Neurons)

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default My thoughts/criticisms of _Athene's Theory of Everything_ Part 2 (Mirror Neurons)

Post by rombomb on Sat Jan 19, 2013 12:45 am

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=dbh5l0b2-0o

I'm confused by part 2. At first he says that we're not in control. Then he says we are. So I can't tell. I'm going to write the rest of this post with the assumption that he's saying we're not in control.

Athene takes brain scans of his subjects and generalizes to the entire human population, implying that *all* people have this mirror neuron effect in *every* social situation. Its a parochial mistake. One that he's making because he doesn't know that all emotion/thought/behavior is theory-laden.

He says that the brain scans indicate that a person has an emotion before the person is conscious of it. Judging from the fact that he juxtaposed this idea with the previous one about mirror neurons, I think he's using this as his reasoning for his explanation that we are not in control of our emotions. But his reasoning is flawed. I agree that the subconscious does its work before serving its result to the conscious (consistent with his brain scan findings), but that does not imply that the conscious is not capable of changing the subconscious. So, we *are* in control.

Consider this. A person is born to parents that are not skilled in conflict resolution -- so conflicts in this family routinely end in yelling and negative emotion. This child is *conditioned* to react to conflicts with negative emotion, because that is what he experienced his whole life.

People who are conditioned in this way will react to conflicts with negative emotion. And people who are not conditioned that way, will not react with negative emotion.

In the future, people will be raised by parents who are highly skilled in conflict resolution -- so conflicts in these families end well -- i.e. no yelling, no negative emotion. These children will not be conditioned to react to conflicts with negative emotion. They'll instead have a positive attitude towards conflicts -- one of optimism.

But even before that future, people who are conditioned in this way can change their conditioning. After changing their conditioning, these people will not react to conflicts with negative emotion. They'll be optimistic that each conflict can end well. They are so good at conflict resolution that they seek it out for fun, e.g. by publicly posting quotes by authors that many people disagree with.


Humans have the capacity for reason. We have the capacity to choose to change our conditioning, and to create/learn the necessary methodological knowledge to do it. Other animals do not have this capacity. They can only *be* conditioned by their masters -- in the case of domesticated animals -- or by the members of their social groups -- in the case of wild animals.

rombomb

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