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Evolving Systems Course: PGnotes24

Paul Grobstein's picture

Making sense of ourselves in an evolving universe

Paul's notes - Session 24


Course subject: evolution (physical, biological, cultural, individual)

Course method: co-evolution, co-constructive inquiry, evolving by telling/hearing each other's stories, using them to create new ones, individually and collectively = co-constructive dialogue

Course arrangements:

  • Paper due FRIDAY - role of unconscious and unconscious/conscious interactions in story construction
  • Individual meetings this week and next
    Thursdays Group A Group B
    9 am Elisa Genesis
    9:30 Aijingwen Julie
    2:30 Ilana Christine
    3:00 Angela  
    3:30 Hillary  
    4:00 Eva Valentina
    4:30 Mattie Kayla
    5:00 Carolina Jordan
  •  Rest of course assignments, performance on Thursday, December 9, all else due 12:30 Friday, December 17

Culture as consequence of biological evolution?  Addition to biological evolution?  Differs from biological evolution in what ways?

diversityloopscales biocultdiffs evolfashion
the whole course? evolution biological and cultural: similarities and differences? fashion: a test case of cultural evolution as descent with variation and selection?


Culture and cultural change

  • What similar and different cultural practices have developed in our two esem section meetings?
  • What new cultural practices might evolve from the intersection of the two?

Moving on to individual change

  • Biological change influence cultural change and vice versa
  • So too cultural change influences biological change and vice versa?

Logicomix: An Epic Search for Truth

Despite ongoing cultural change, ongoing individual change, there is only evolution

Individual life begins as babies, what do we start with?  before culture/individual experience?

"Morality" as another aspect of evolution, biological/cultural/individual?  To be continued, after

A look at the brain

  • Phantoms in the brain
  • Ramachandran TED video
  • 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 Bue -
    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 (1830-1886)

Experience, understanding, morality as construction of brain

The bipartite brain as a constructor of stories

Finding the bipartite brain in language

Stories evolve, the brain evolves, we evolve ....

From the forum:

I have been doubtful of the concept of the unconsciousness. However, after considering my experiences of unconsciousness, I found many situations when my unconsciousness plays a part in determining my mood. Hence, this discovery leads me to believe that we are able to detect our unconsciousness and study it ... LAJW

As far as story telling goes, the unconscious IS our story telling because it is what makes us unique and individuals because it is affected by our personal life experiences. Without our control, the unconscious absorbs our experiences and stores them in such a way that they affect our new experiences by determining the way in which we will react to them. If it were not for our unconscious, life would be boring due to the fact that we would all share common beliefs, feelings, reactions, and understandings that would be easily influenced by the present instead of being based on our prior experiences.  .... Valentina

Over break I saw and old friend and we had been very close during high school before she left for college (she's a year older than me). We have ways of acting around each other, patterns of interaction. It only took my minutes to fall back into the same way of moving and talking ... mwechsler

The unconscious and the conscious are always working simultaneously throughout the day, but when you are awake it seems like the conscious is louder. Likewise, when we are asleep, the unconscious is louder. It seems to me that dreams try to formulate a story out of all the emotions and thoughts you had prior to going to sleep ... Angela_MCA

whether we like it or not its our unconscious is speaking to us through our dreams. It's our brain who is trying to make an attempt to file all the thoughts that went about throughout the day ... genesisbui

as the broad function of the unconsciousness surprised me, I was also wondering that if the unconsciousness part of the brain is already powerful enough, why do we still need the consciousness part of the brain? ... elisagogogo

The final thing I found interesting about our discussion was the idea that "time" is actually a construction of our mind above all else.  It's true, if you think about it, that we use time as a way to "make sense of things".  Do animals have a sense of time?  A sense of past or present?  Or is this purely a human construction?  How did it happen that we came to view the world as having a past, present and future? ... Imittelman

"Experience teaches us everything we need to know, immediately after we needed to know it." Part of what this concept of brain construction seems to indicate is that decision-making, as based in both our unconscious and conscious brains, and that our sense of having made the "right" or "wrong" decision stems from the new information we glean from each experience. In other words, we always make the "right" decision, because it seems the most correct to us at that time. The "rightness" or "wrongness" of any decision is therefore post-determined by our own individual preference sets, as well as the accuracy (or lack thereof) of our predictions. (It all comes back to predictions and our future-oriented unconscious!)  .... Julie G.


The unconscious and its interaction with the conscious

Jonathan Haidt, "The Emotional Dog and its Rational Tail: A Social Intuitionist Approach to Moral Judgement." Psychological Review 2001, 108, 814-834