Michael, Damasio demonstrates quite convincingly that there is no rationality without emotions/feelings.
He is a neuroscientist and cites brain injury cases in which people who are damaged in emotion-processing areas are no longer able to make rational decisions. He coins the term "somatic markers" to describe the means by which the brain makes use of body feedback in making judgments.
Simply put, we cannot reason adequately without access to feelings.
Damasio is trying to build a neurobiology of rationality. In this book he provides a neurophysiological analysis of memory, emotions and consciousness. |
The book has three themes.
1. Human reason depends on the interaction among several brain systems rather than on a single brain centre. Damasio believes that the brain structures responsible for emotion and the ones responsible for reason partially overlap, and this fact lends physical, neural evidence to his hypothesis that emotion and reason cooperate. Those brain structures also communicate directly with the rest of the body, and this suggests the importance of their operations for the organism's survival.
2. Feelings are views of the body's internal organs. Feelings are percepts and they are as cognitive as any other percept.
3. The mind is about the body: the neural processes that are experienced as the mind are about the representation of the body in the brain. The mental requires the existence of a body for more than mere support: the mind is not a phenomenon of the brain alone. The mind derives from the entire organism as a whole. The mind reflects two types of interaction: between the body and the brain, and between them and the environment.
Book review of Antonio Damasio
In this context, Dr. Len's dealing with feelings, even his own feelings, to heal others does not seem so far out, I think.