Re: Damasio: The Feeling of What Happens

From: Mpiima Krisztina (
Date: Mon May 07 2001 - 10:00:35 BST

Damasio, A., The feeling of what happens: Body and emotion in the making
of consciousness

According to Damasio:

a, the process of consciousness can be related to the operation of
specific brain regions and systems

b, consciousness and wakefulness as well as low-level attention can be

c, consciousness and emotions are not seperable

d, consciousness is separeted into core consciousness and extended

1. core consciousness: (=first step into knowing)

    -its scope is here and now

    - stable across the lifetime of organization

    - does not depend on conventional and working memory, on
      reasoning, on language

    - does not illuminate a whole being

2. extended memory

    - complex, many levels of biological organization

    - evolves across the lifetime of organization

    - depends on conventional and working memory

    - enhanced by language in humans

    - past and future also sesed

    - built on core consciousness

e, autobiographical self:

  -sense of self which emerges in core consciousness

  - idea of identity

  - collection of facts and ways of being which characterize a person

David's case:

  - has defect in learning and memory, cannot learn any new fact at all

  - unable to recall many old facts

  - his memory loss goes almost all the way to the cradle
What I do not understand:

Why does Damasio say that David is conscious only in terms of core
consciousness? e.g.

1. David shows consistent preferences and avoidances for certain
persons. When he was brought to a bad-guy encounter the sight of the bad
guy induced a brief emotional response and a "brief here-and-now
feeling". I do understand what Damasio says about core consciousness but
in this case I do not understand why Damasio says that David's response
was a here and now feeling. For me it would be more understandable if he
says that David memory worked unconsciouly, brought memories, facts that
he learned sometime in the past.
David's extended memory is impaired, but in my opinion humans are much
more complex, and if he says that David is conscious in terms of core
consciousness, then core consciousness is much more complex.

2. David can play a whole set of checkers and win. He does not know the
name of the game and cannot tell any single rule of it or indicate when
he last played it.

Again Damasio explains David's case with core consciousness. Core
consciousness requires a very brief short-term memory, he says but what
does David's memory do? Though he cannot name the game or its rules, yet
his brain goes back to the past, uses long-term memory.

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