LOOKING FOR SPINOZA --- JOY, SORROW, AND THE FEELING BRAIN
by Antonio Damasio. Harcourt, 2003
1) ENTER FEELINGS (p1-24)
 Enter feelings (p3-8)
2) OF APPETITES AND EMOTIONS (p25-80)
 The Hague (p8-15)
 Looking for Spinoza (p15-17)
 Beware (p17-23)
 In the Paviljoensgracht (p23-24)
 Trust Shakespeare (p27-80)
3) FEELINGS! (p81-133)
 Emotions precede feelings (p29-37)
 A Nesting Principle (p37-38)
 More on the emotion-related reactions --- from simple homeostatic regulation to "emotions-proper" (p38-40)
 The emotions of simple organisms (p40-42)
 The emotions-proper (p43-52)
 A hypothesis in the form of a definition (p53-54)
Taking the varied kinds of emotion in consideration, a working hypothesis of "emotion-proper" can be created in the form of a definition:
 The brain machinery of emotion (p54-57)
(1) An "emotion-proper," such as happiness, sadness, embarrassment, or sympathy, is a complex collection of chemicals and neural responses forming a distinctive pattern!
The classic components of an emotional reaction are encompassed by this definition, although the separation of the phases of the process and the weight accorded to those phases may appear unconventional.
(2) The responses are produced by the normal brain when it detects an "emotionally competent stimulus" --- an "ECS," the object or event whose presence, actual or in mental recall, triggers the emotion. The responses are automatic.
(3) The brain is prepared by evolution to respond to certain ECSs with specific repertoires of action. However, the list of ECSs is not confined to those prescribed by evolution, since it includes many others learned in a lifetime of experience.
(4) The immediate result of these responses is a temporary change in the state of the body proper, and in the state of the brain structures that map the body and support thinking.
(5) The ultimate result of the responses, directly or indirectly, is the placement of the organism in circumstances conducive to survival and well-being!
Your emotions provide a natural means for your brain and mind to evaluate your social and physical environments within and around you, and respond accordingly and adaptively. One of the key purposes of your formal educational development is to interpose a nonautomatic evaluative step between causative objects and emotional responses.
 Triggering and executing emotions (p57-)
By doing so, you shape your natural emotional responses and bring them in line with the requirements of your culture! However, in order for emotions to occur there is no need to analyze the causative object consciously, let alone evaluate the situation in which it appears, since emotions can operate in different settings.
 Out of the blue (p65-73)
 The brain stem switch (p73-74)
 Out-of-the-blue laughter (p74-77)
 Laughter and some more crying (p77-79)
 From the active body to the mind (p79-80)
(1) Spinoza intuited the congenital neurobiological wisdom, namely, that emotions proper, including appetites and the simpler regulatory reactions, occur in the theater of the body under the guidance of a congenitally wise brain designed by evolution to help manage the body. And he encapsulated that intuition in his "conatus" statements, such as the notion that, of necessity, all living organisms endeavor to preserve themselves without conscious knowledge of the undertaking and without having decided, as individual selves, to undertake anything. In short, individual living organisms do not know the problem they are trying to solve!
 What feelings are (p83-88)
4) EVER SINCE FEELINGS (p135-179)
A basic thought experiment: What does "feeling well" consist of?
 Is there more to feelings than the perception of body state? (p89-90)
Two consequences of the "feeling well" experience are:
(1) The appearance of thoughts with themes consonent with the emotion;
You should never again be allowed to say "I feel" happy, but rather, "I think" happy! (p86-87)
(2) A mode of thinking, a style of mental processing, which increased the speed of image generation and made images more abundant.
 Feelings are interactive perceptions (p91-92)
 Mixing memory with desire --- an aside (p93-96)
 Feelings in the brain --- new evidence! (p96-101)
 A comment on related evidence (p101-104)
 Some more corroborating evidence (p104-105)
 The substrate of feelings (p105-108)
 Who can have feelings? (p109-111)
 Body states vs. body maps (p111-112)
 Actual body states and simulated body states (p112-113)
NATURAL ANALGESIA (p113-115)
 Hallucinating the body (p118-119)
 The chemicals of feeling (p119-121)
 Varieties of drug-induced felicity (p121-124)
 Enter the naysayers (p124-126)
 More naysayers (p126-133)
(1) the intimate design of the life process in a multicellular organism with a complex brain.
(2) The operation of the life process.
(3) The corrective reactions that certain life states automatically engender, and the innate and acquired reactions that organisms engage given the presence, in their brain maps, of certain objects and situations.
(4) The fact that when regulatory reactions are engaged due to internal or external causes, the flow of the life process is made either more efficient, unimpeded, and easier, or less so.
(5) The nature of the neural medium in which all of these structures and processes are mapped.
 Inside a decision-making mechanism (p145-147)
5) BODY, BRAIN, AND MIND (p181-220)
How could emotion and feeling play a role in decision-making?
The answer is that there are many ways, subtle and not so subtle, practical and not so practical, all of which make emotion and feeling not merely "players" in the process of reasoning, but indispensable players.
Consider that, for example, as personal experience is accumulated, varied categories of social situation are formed. The knowledge we store regarding those life experiences includes:
(1) The facts of the problem presented;
(2) The option chosen to solve it;
(3) The factual outcome to the solution, and importantly,
(4) The outcome of the solution in terms of emotion and feeling.
For example, "Did the immediate outcome of the chosen action bring punishment or reward?"
In other words, was it accompanied by emotions and feelings of pain or pleasure, sorrow or joy, shame or pride?
No less importantly, was the future outcome of the actions punishing or rewarding, regardless of how positive or negative the immediate outcome?
How did things work out in the long run?
Were there negative or positive future consequences resulting from the specific action?
In a typical instance, did breaking or starting a certain relationship lead to benefits or disaster?
6) A VISIT TO SPINOZA (p221-264)
7) WHO'S THERE? (p265-289)
APPENDIX 1 (p291-294)
APPENDIX 2 (p295-297)
 Action Potential
 Basal Forebrain
 Brain Stem
 Central Nervous System
 Cerebral Cortex
 Corpus Callosum
 Gray Matter
 Neurotransmitters and Neuromodulators
 Periaqueductal Gray
 Peripheral Nervous System
 PET Scanning
 Projection --- See "Pathway"
 Substantia Nigra
 Synapse --- The microscopic region where the axon of one neuron connects with another neuron. For example, the region where the axon of one neuron connects with dendrites of another neuron.
In essence, the synaptic connection is a gap rather than a bridge!
The link is established by neurotransmitter molecules released on the axon side, as a result of the electrical impulse that traveled down the axon.
The released molecules are taken up by receptors in the neuron they target and thus contribute to the activation of that neuron!
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