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"The Brain -- is wider than the Sky..."

Towards Day 20 of Evolving Systems course

I. coursekeeping

*by Friday @ 6: your paper about individual evolution is due

* before Tuesday's class: reflect in our course web forum about today's discussion (upcoming!) of brains

* afterthoughts/transition from the thinking (and socialization?) of babies--

Gopnik: "children learn  about the world in much the same way that scientists do - by conducting experiments, analyzing statistics, and forming intuitive theories of the physical, biological, and psychological realms ... There is a trade-off between the ability to explore creatively and learn flexibly, like a child, and the ability to plan and act effectively, like an adult" 

Bloom: "Socialization is critically important.  But this is not because babies and young children lack a sense of right and wrong; its because the sense of right and wrong that they naturally possess diverges in important ways from what we adults would want it to be ... The aspect of morality that we truly marvel at - its generality and universality - is the product of cultural development"

Bloom's claim that "the notion at the core of any mature morality is that of impartiality" has long been challenged by  the feminist critique (developed by Carol Gilligan and others), which replaces the "ethic of justice" with an "ethic of care" and responsibility that is grounded in personal relationships

Summer: I love to talk about babies!!! ... I believe that they know what are the right things to do and are definitely aware of their mistakes. However they don't have good self control.

MC: our society today focuses on: making everything as easy as possible ... But maybe we should be focusing on making more people capable of dealing with the complex .... Which brings up education all over again. I think of the education system as how we teach socialization .... We can't get dessert or the cool toys until we learn how to play nice. Learning how to socialize is aggravating .... Who knows what's really right or good though?

Olivia: a baby staring longer at a person that has different color from him/her tells us nothing about whether babies are racists or not. Or even racism is just one defensive feeling towards color difference.  And humans have defensive feelings towards all kinds of differences.

* another way to get @ this question--moving today into part 4 of the course: Our Brains as Storytellers (or: looping back to our original discussions about "Telling Stories"--remember Thomas King's The Truth About Stories??--only now from "the brain's point of view"):

"The Brain--is wider than the Sky--
For--put them side by side--
The one the other will contain
With ease--and You--beside--

The Brain is deeper than the sea--
For--hold them--Blue to Blue--
The one the other will absorb--
As Sponges--Buckets do--

The Brain is just the weight of God--
For--Heft them--Pound for Pound--
And they will differ--if they do--
As syllable from Sound--

(Emily Dickinson).

Cf. two talks by V.S. Ramachandran:

What sort of story is he telling about the brain?
What have you learned from his story? (For example, what is "really" happening, neuroanatomically, in a Capgras delusion?) What are your questions--for him, for us?