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Bio 103, Week 13

Paul Grobstein's picture

Welcome to the on-line forum for Biology 103.  This is a place for thoughts in progress, a place to leave thoughts and questions that others may find useful and find ones that you might find useful, a place for conversation.  Join in, and let's see what we can make of life together.  If you're registered for the course, be sure to sign in before posting.  Others are welcome to join in as well but posting of comments will be delayed to check for spam. 
You're free to write about whatever has struck you.  If you need something to get you started though, we had an interesting discussion Monday about what the ways we can, can't make sense of life with the tools in hand so far, what additional tools we might need to make sense of all of life, and whether everything is "biologically based" or whether instead there is biology and ?  Your thoughts along these lines?

lcorhan's picture

combination equation. L(x)= Af(x) + Bg(x)



During yesterday's discussion of biology vs. environment I came up with a different way to think about it. I think of it as a combination equation. There are two functions: biology and environment. Each have their own coefficient that changes based on the case. Not so much as the subject changes do the coefficients change but the coefficients change by case. Each person who was born as one sex and feels as another gender have different proportions of influence from biology and environment.


achiles's picture

 I want more information

 I want more information about the chemical reactions which drive emotion. Our class operates on the understanding that we cannot accept every scientific theory as the gospel truth- we have to ask why. So I'm asking.

Also, I'm really interested in exploring the role of Anti-Depressants in emotion. Can you really neutralize or counter your emotions? How do you know when something is real?

Karina G's picture

Week 13

 This week what struck me the most was the topic of love. Like some have already commented it is difficult to think of love as something that we don't chose but our molecules do.  However if the assembly or arrangement of molecules influences emotions but do not control them, there is something else. I like to think that the change of arrangement of molecules or the secretion of a chemical that makes us fall in love is provoked by us. So in that sense we do have a say. 

Yes biology plays a big part in our lives but I do not believe that everything should be accounted for it or at least not entirely. Like we discussed in class, gender is biologically based but not entirely. Gender is also influenced by social construction. In the case of love I think there is something else that plays a role. It is not just about molecules. 


Terrible2s's picture


I think we are constantly looking for answers to all the questions we have in life. So we make observations and then summaries of observations, and we print them up in journals and newspapers. Most people call it Science and Truth and are comforted by the Answers that they have to their questions. I think, for the most part, what I read is correct, and that we can explain most things in life through science. To a point. Obviously there will always be new things to explore and old things to re-evaluate, but I think that even if we were to explain about our bodies and the physical things in the world, we won't be able to explain. 

We can find so many explanations of chemical reactions and neurons firing off, but I think there's something more. I'll take what the last commenter said about love and its being important in our lives so it doesn't matter that we can explain it as purely biological, and take it a step further. I agree with him or her that it is more imortant than the nuts and bolts of our explanations. But I would argue that its not only more important, that it is more than that in general. I think there are components and details of the spectrum of human emotion which we cannot explain. Who love and how we love, it's completely individual, and I think unexplicable. I think we are wasting our time if we try to call emotions anything different, because there will always be that something else. Some call it soul, some call it god, but I think there's a something else.

So biology is interesting and important and has a function in our lives, but it is limited.

cejensen's picture

Love? Free will?

On Wednesday we discussed the idea that feelings of love are chemical reactions. Although I believe it, I struggled with this idea. After talking with my friends, I realized that it was because to explain a such a strong and complex emotion in terms of chemicals makes it sound clinical, and seems to trivialize it. It's important to remember that even though we can (and should) explain human emotion biologically, this doesn't mean that what we feel isn't there or isn't important. Love is still wonderful, and sadness is still painful, even if they are chemical reactions.
It does make me wonder about the idea of free will though. It seems to me like something "more than the sum of it's parts," and yet I know it must be biologically based. How do we explain the concept of fee will? Do we have a free will?