On Wed, 11 Apr 2001, Olah Szabolcs wrote:
> I don't see the contradiction between the selfishness of genes and the
> mechanism of group selection. I use the word group selection for the
> mechanism when a group of members of a species has adaptive advantage
> compared to another group of this species because of a change in their
> structure, physiological mechanisms or their relations to each
> other (this relation of course chemical, biochemical- I use the word
> communication in a boarder sense, that is including chemical,
> physiological communication as well). This can be happen at early stage
> of evolution as well (I used evolutional level in this meaning).
This can all happen, but it would be controversial (and would require a
digression from the seminar's topic to the topic of population biology)
to suggest that a genetic trait is selected for -- or codes for, or is
adaptive in the service of -- the group rather than the individual.
> You said that "genes are in individuals (their vehicles), and they are
> selfish, being selected for the traits that make their vehicles survive
> and reproduce". But if -under some ecological circumstances- the
> reproduction of these selfish genes is safer in a group of vehicles
> (for example a group of ants) than among many individual vehicle, then
> there is an urge -of course from the part of the selfish genes - to
> stay in this group, moreover through the traits of their vehicle to
> listen to the signs of the other potential partner in this group. So
> behind the cooperativity the competition of genes still exists.(Of
> course this group is maintained by the reproductional demands and
> usually consists of genetic kins- but we have to explain why kinship
> And what all this has to do with the theory of Damasio about
Not very much, I think. You seemed to be alluding to genetic/adaptive
traits/behaviors based on benefits to the group, and I suggested that
that was controversial. Social (i.e. group-related) behaviors that
benefit the individual are not controversial.
> If I correctly understand the theory of Damasio, the core consciousness
> has developed because it has adaptive advantages. But I think what is
> the object with which the organism meets isn't indifferent for the
> organism- it can be an agressor, a potential partner or an edible thing
> in the environment and detection of the signs of these objects which
> certainly causes changes in homeostasis is extent to evolutional
Inasmuch as interaction with the objects in the world (whether social
or inanimate) affect internal milieu, they interact with the organism's
homeostasis. But an organism can really only "defend" internal states,
not external ones. An internal furnace can heat me when I am cold, but
it can hardly heat the world.
I don't think Damasio would argue that only internal sources change
internal states. External sources do too. But the state is still an
> And as working with signs is especially important for the
> organisms whose selfish genes have an urge to stay in a certain group
> (the signs can have chemical nature as well), I think object-imaging
> (because of the greater relevance of objects) in this kind of organism
> is as important as making maps about the object-organism relation which
> is the ground of the core consciousness at Damasio, if I correctly
> understand it.(I wanted to express this greater relevance of social
> objects by the concept: social aspect of homeostasis, but I think it's
> a wrong concept.)
I'm afraid I still can't understand what you mean by "object-imaging".
> Can the development of core and extended consciousness be divided so
> sharply as Damasio did (even we consider neurological facts about it),
> because I think they helped each other in forming out during the
Perhaps you might start by giving a full, clear definition of what
Damasio means by core and extended consciousness (perhaps using
quotes). Then we can see how sharp the distinction is, and whether
and how homeostasis and socialization are relevant to it.
> And is there any neurological disease in which the patient's core
> consciousness is intact but he cannot send any signs of it or when
> core consciousness is damaged but he sends signs toward the environment
> causing changes in it?
I am not sure, but akinetic mutism (if the person is feeling and not a
Zombie) sounds like an approximation to the former and epileptic
automatism to the latter.
But your quoting form the book was rather minimal, so we have no basis
on which to discuss Damasio's concept and distinction.
(In general, for such big books, I recommend more quotes, as by the
first skywriter. The second and third skywriting was a little to short
of quotations and comments.)
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