The evolution of emotion

February 23, 2013

Stephen Asma:

After you spend time with wild animals in the primal ecosystem where our big brains first grew, you have to chuckle at the reigning view of the mind as a computer. […]

Computer ‘intelligence’ might be impressive, but it is an impersonation of biological intelligence. The ‘wet’ biological mind is embodied in the squishy, organic machinery of our emotional systems — where action-patterns are triggered when chemical cascades cross volumetric tipping points. […]

What is increasingly clear is that we need more scientists who are willing to bridge the chasm between the new brain science of emotions and the natural history of life on the African savanna. Limbic emotions gave our ancestors their world of friends and foes, their grasp of food and its fatal alternatives. These emotions also motivated much of the social bonding that spurred the sapiens’ great leap forward. If we are to understand ourselves, this is the wild territory we need to rediscover.

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