April 1, 2015
The documentary, "Happy," is available on Netflix, and also on reserve at Lilly Library. I hope you will be able to watch it. I think you will find it ties together much of what we have discussed in this class.
Our last class will take part in three periods.
Beginning at 11:00 a.m., we again try to put the whole thing together. In doing so, we will discuss Graziano's Attention Schema Theory, i.e, awareness is information and attention is our activity of augmenting the representation of this information; and Pfaff's Altruistic Brain Theory.
Pfaff mentions the brain's well-known "corollary discharge" activity which takes place automatically at a preconscious level. I suggest that this "corollary discharge" is closely related to the conscious activity we name "intent." The idea of "intent" is implicit in this short article by Nowak and colleagues at Harvard on "Why Did People Evolve to Be Cooperative?"
We will discuss the above theories in the context of what makes us happy. I will suggest that humans come "pre-loaded" with dopamine hits that are associated with the moral modules identified in the paper we read earlier by Jonathan Haidt and Craig Joseph, "Intuitive Ethics".
At 12:30 p.m., we will gather for lunch in the JDC large activity room.
From 1:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., we will revisit areas of interest and questions.
The class description alluded to readings by Einstein, Schrödinger and Darwin.
- Einstein's 1938 essay on "Morals and Emotions". He makes many of the same points we are making in this class, namely, "Morality ... is not a fixed and stark system. It is rather a standpoint from which all questions which arise in life could and should be judged. It is a task never finished, something always present to guide our judgment and to inspire our conduct." And "The delibertate nurturing of the moral sense ... should help ... to lead men to look upon social problems as so many opportunities for joyous service towards a better life."
- Two chapters and the epilogue from Schrödinger's 1943 lectures "What is Life?" delivered under the auspices of the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies. The chapters are "Order, Disorder and Entropy," and "Is Life Based on Physics?".
- Darwin's writings are provided in the context of a book chapter by John Hedley Brooke, "Ready to Aid One Another" , Darwin on Nature, God, and Cooperation, from the book Evolution, Games and God: The Principle of Cooperation, edited by Martin A. Nowak and Sarah Coakley. The chapter provides a nuanced account of Darwin's writings and the personal understandings behind them.