In the words of Antonio Damasio, we always feel the importance of affect and emotions in the development of people. This professor, considered “the magician of the brain”, is one of the neurologists who have contributed the most to understanding the fascinating world of human feelings and motivations.
Vilayanur Ramachandran, another prestigious neurologist from the University of California, once claimed that Homo Sapiens is this fascinating creature who at one point was able to look at his own mind and see the universe reflected in it. . This poetic and revealing approach contains an almost obvious reality. The moment from which we began to reflect on ourselves marked the achievement of a great leap as a species.
On the other hand, we cannot deny the fact that the human brain contains almost the same mysteries as those contained in the universe. Watching this bottomless vastness inhabited by celestial bodies that surround us every night produces the same dizziness that we experience when we observe our own interior. However, and according to Antonio Damasio, today we know much more about the brain than about the universe.
Excellent scientist, curious passionate and exceptional communicator, Damasio is this neuro-philosopher capable of giving us the simplest answers to the questions we have always asked ourselves. Ultimately, everything we are, everything we feel, everything we have created as a society and as a civilization resides in this wonderful organ: the human brain.
Phrases of Antonio Damasio to know us better
One main thing that characterizes human beings is their sophisticated intelligence. We have a great memory and our language defines us and sets us apart from other species on the planet. Damasio points out that beyond all this there is an aspect that we cannot omit.
Everything we are and what we come to be has to do with our feelings. They are the ones who give us sufficient motivation to seek solutions to problems, alternatives to our doubts and new paths when we are faced with our difficulties. Another crucial aspect of the theories of this professor at the University of California is the clear distinction he draws between emotions and feelings.
Beyond what we can think of, these two notions are very different. This is something we can often see in the phrases of Antonio Damasio that feed into his interesting books such as Descartes’ Mistake, The Strange Order of Things, And the Brain Created Man.
1. Feelings are mental experiences
When we see danger, when we face someone who worries us or makes us unhappy, our body reacts with emotion. Our heart speeds up, we have chills, our stomachs twitch …
The mental representation that we have of this fear and the associated thoughts constitute the feeling. This is undoubtedly one of Antonio Damasio’s most famous phrases. Emotions precede feelings, they are chemical and organic alterations. However, feelings are the guides that will ultimately allow us to make a decision such as avoiding someone who scares us.
2.Consciousness in human beings
Antonio Damasio left it clear: Consciousness is largely present in human beings. When a brain, primate, dolphin, dog or reptile, creates a sense of its “me”, consciousness arises. This entity is not located in our brain, it is in fact a process.
What sets us apart from the rest of the species is the fact that evolution has extended our consciousness. In our consciousness rests creativity, memory, logical reasoning …
3.Emotions drive life
This is another phrase from Antonio Damasio that is very important to understand his work. His hypothesis is based on the following principle: an emotion is a set of chemical and neuronal responses that are part of a distinctive pattern. When we face a specific stimulus, a type of reaction is generated. This is because our brain is the result of an evolution of learned behavioral repertoires.
After this emotional response, the mental process comes along and then the feeling comes. With it, we regulate the emotion and we can direct it towards a determined behavior, towards a motivation and towards a more or less effective type of response. So we can say that emotions are like the spark of life, the one that pushes us to act.
4.The Importance of Compassion
Damasio is always very sensitive to the social crisis that lives in humanity. In his lectures, it is usual to hear insights into violence, inequality, conflicts between countries. For this famous philosopher, we have lost the ability to have compassion and we often allow ourselves to be carried away by negative emotions such as anger, rage and resentment.
We need to be able to create close environments where more positive emotions can be generated. This is the only way to prosper, to better understand each other.
5 artificial intelligence can never equal human intelligence
This is one of Antonio Damasio’s best-known phrases. It’s common to hear his skepticism about artificial intelligence and its future in our society. As he explains to us in his latest book “The Order of Things”, this type of entity can never be compared to human consciousness. We must remember the fact that our brain is the result of sophisticated evolution.
These technological processes based on codification and silicon lack past experience, emotions, fears, vulnerability and of course conscience. It is for this rule of three that they will never manage to feel feelings. They will be able to help us with many things, but will never be emotionally intelligent.
To conclude, as we saw in the sentences of Antonio Damasio, the human being is undoubtedly the result of a cerebral development based on the consciousness of the ego, the language and above all the emotions. Although this organ may at first glance seem like a mystery made up of 100,000 million neurons, every day we get more information and knowledge about who we are from great scientists like Damasio.