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Notes on video lecture:
The Evolution and Purpose of Feelings
Choose from these words to fill the blanks below:
real, raw, steer, counter, accessible, evolutionary, designed, good, illusion, feelings, anxiety, judgements, threat, guides, motivating, fleas, like, psyche, emotions, social, grievances, hedonistic, succumb, met, donuts, traction, clearly, mindfully, environment, primate, crippling, never, accurate, exploited
does the Buddhist prescription help us see the world more               ?
one of the main parts of the Buddhist prescription is viewing the world                   
this can change your relationship to your                 
there are feelings that perhaps used to mediate your interaction with reality in a way they no longer will
but does this changed relationship to your feelings help you see the world more clearly
what was the relationships between the feelings and reality to begin with
we will consider two feelings:                and rage
the Buddha talked quite a bit about                      tone
pleasant feelings
unpleasant feelings
neutral feelings
not talking about                 
he did not address emotions as categories
he's talking about        feeling
positive or negative
pleasant or unpleasant
most emotions are either overwhelmingly positive or negative like joy or fear
feeling tones are essential ingredients in our emotions
what is the                          function of positive and negative feelings?
our base feelings are fundamentally about approach and avoidance of phenomena in our environment: approaching a rattle snake feels bad, approaching food feels good
we assume our                relatives have these feelings as well, and this may go down to very simple organisms
it may be that even water            "feel" at some level attracted to the blue light, and when the blue light turns off, they feel let down
feelings are about                      behavior
direct way
hand in an open fire
indirect way
think of someone you don't         
have a litany of                      against them
feelings influence our thoughts
we feel their impact
Buddhist assert that when they meditate, they are aware that feelings are not         , i.e. they can get their thoughts around them, and change them
when you get outside them, meta-think around them, they may not feel substantial the way they normally do
you sometimes hear that feelings are not "true"
what does it mean that feelings are true or false
it can mean various things
if indeed the evolutionary purpose of feelings is to            the organism away from things that are bad for the organism
and steer it toward things that are good for it
in this case, feelings are                      about what is good and bad for the organism
and judgement about behavior
it is most likely the case that base feelings in humans arose in more primative organisms that weren't smart enough to logically think through whether something in the environment is good or bad for the organism
in this way feelings are the encoding of primal judgements about the environment
and these judgements can be true of false
natural selection is in general good at forming organisms to have appropriate feelings for their environment, but the environment can change, and in the case of modern humans, our environment has changed radically since feeling were baked into our             
and we find ourselves in situations that natural selection did not design us for
look around you, does this look like a hunter/gather village to you? no.
we're living in a radically transformed environment that is nothing like the                        we were designed for
this can influence whether feelings are                  judgements about things in our environment
a simple example is powdered sugar             
they are not good for my body
why am I attracted to them?
because the environment in which humans were designed, sweet things were generally          for you, fruits, and they were quite rare, so when you found them, you craved them, thus eating as much as you could to store up on them
the the sweet tooth that helped us survive in a hunter/gatherer environment can, in our modern environment of easily                      junk food, lead us to do things that are not healthy for us at all
another good example is rage
in a hunter/gatherer environment, it was very important that you sent the message that you were not to be                    or taken advantage of
when this happened, it made sense to got on a rage, not only to send a message to the person who exploited you, but to the whole clan audience
but let's look at rage in a modern society, e.g. road rage
the person you are sending a message toward is most probably someone you will never see again
so there is no value in sending them a message
everyone who's watching this are also people you will            see again
so there is no point whatsoever in pursuing your rage, and there is considerable danger since you are in a moving vehicle
yet as senseless as it is for us, people easily                to this road rage
so while a sweet tooth and a tendency for rage was once a reliable guide for living healthily in our environment, in our modern environment, for the most part, these feeling doing make any sense at all and have become inappropriate              for us to determine appropriate behavior
public speaking
anyone who has done it has found at least a little anxiety
many people have felt a lot of anxiety
sometimes                    anxiety
the anxiety itself makes some sense
what others think of us and what others thought of us during the eons of evolution matters since our              status and how many friends we had was correlated with the chances of us getting our genes into the next generation
so it makes sense that you would be concerned about impressing people
but what's not natural is that you would find yourself talking to dozens or hundreds of people that you've never        before
this is what causes anxiety
it's not something we were                  to do
so while the anxiety could be productive in getting you to prepare well
not being able to sleep the night before or during your speech not being able to find the words are examples of anxiety being                productive
this anxiety is no longer being a reliable guide for how you should act
feeling mislead us
make us think a rope is a snake
can mislead us in the pursuit of happiness
suggest that pleasure is going to last longer than it lasts
while some of our feelings merely cause us to err on the side of caution when there is a             
others such as rage and anxiety do not make sense at all in our modern environment
some say this is all the more reason to be mindful
decide which ones you will let get                  and that you will engage with
this is what Buddhism refers to as wisdom
Buddhism makes the claim that the self, that thing inside of you which you think is running the show, is itself an                 , and there's a fair amount of evidence of psychology to support the idea that the self is in some sense illusory, which has radical implications for how we live our lives, how we view our feelings, which feelings we choose to let govern us, and which we don't.

People:

George Romanes (1848-1894)
Canadian-born English evolutionary biologist who laid the foundation of comparative psychology, postulating a similarity of cognitive processes between humans and other animals
  • the youngest of Charles Darwin's academic friends
  • invented the term neo-Darwinism, which is still often used today to indicate an updated form of Darwinism (i.e. transmission of characteristics from parent to child through genetic transfer rather than Darwin's "blending process")
  • our base feelings are fundamentally about approach and avoidance of phenomena in our environment: approaching a rattle snake feels bad, approaching food feels good
  • we assume our primate relatives have these feelings as well, and this may go down to very simple organisms

Spelling Corrections:

primativeprimitive

Ideas and Concepts:

Why many of the feelings that we have in everyday situations are completely inappropriate guides for healthy behavior, via tonight's Buddhism and Modern Psychology class:

"We often ask ourselves if feelings that we have are "true" or not. What we are really asking is whether or not feelings we have are reliable information to make judgements in situations in our lives. The purpose of feelings seen from an evolutionary point of view is to steer the organism away from things that are unhealthy for the organism and to steer it toward things that are healthy for it. It is most likely the case that our base feelings arose in more primitive organisms from which we descended who weren't smart enough to logically think through whether something in the environment was good or bad for them, and in this way feelings are a kind of encoding of primal judgements about the environment on which we could rely. And natural selection is in general good at forming organisms that have appropriate feelings about their environment in order to stay alive and healthy in it, but the environment can change, and in the case of modern humans, our environment has completely changed since eons ago when our feelings were baked into our psyche, and so we often find ourselves in situations that natural selection did not design us for.

Take the example of powdered sugar donuts. They are not good for your health at all, yet we tend to be extremely attracted to them. The reason is that the environment in which humans were designed, sweet things were generally good for us, i.e. fruits, and since fruits were quite rare, when we found fruits, our sweet tooth feeling encouraged us to eat as much as we could to store up on the sugar that our body would need later. And so this feeling of craving sweets helped us survive in a hunter/gatherer environment, yet in our modern environment were sweet junk food is ubiquitous and easily accessible, this feeling leads us to do things that are not healthy for us at all.

Another good example is rage. In a hunter/gatherer environment, it was very important when you were exploited or taken advantage of by other clan member, that you sent a message to that person that he should never do it again, and the wilder you acted and the more fiercely you fought back at him, the less likely he would be to do it again, and the more likely the other members of your clan would understand how you expected to be treated in the future. And so in the hunter/gatherer environment, it made sense to go off on a rage, not only to send a message to the person who exploited you, but to the social members in your environment who knew you.

But let's look at rage in our modern society, e.g. road rage. The person you are sending a message to when you go on a rage while driving your car is most probably someone you will never see again, so there is no value in sending them a message, and everyone who's watching your act of rage are also people you will never see again. So there is no point whatsoever in pursuing your rage, and there is considerable danger since you and everyone else are in moving vehicles. Yet as senseless as it may be, people easily succumb to rage of all kinds including road rage.

So while a sweet tooth and a tendency for rage were once reliable guides for living healthily in our environment, today in our modern world, these feelings for the most part make no sense whatsoever and have become almost completely inappropriate guides for us to determine healthy behavior."
From the useful concepts department via tonight's Buddhism and Modern Science class: "Buddhism makes the claim that the self, that thing inside of you which you think is running the show, is itself an illusion, and there's a fair amount of evidence in psychology to support the idea that the self is in some sense illusory, which has radical implications for how we live our lives, how we view our feelings, which feelings we choose to let govern us, and which we don't."
Naturalistic Buddhism
Feelings and Illusions
The First Two Noble Truths
Buddhism as Rebellion Against Natural Selection's Agenda
The Eightfold Path and the Matrix
Mindful Meditation
The Default Mode Network
The Evolution and Purpose of Feelings
Anātman: Buddha's Concept of the Not-Self
The Five Aggregates and the Non-Self
Left Brain, Right Brain, and The Self
Delusions of the Self
What Mental Modules Are Not
The Modular Theory of the Mind
Modular Theory of Mind and the Non-Self
Mind Modularity, Cravings, and Self Control
The Experience of the Not-Self
The Exterior Version of the Non-Self