THE FEELING OF WHAT HAPPENS
DRIVES AND MOTIVATIONS
PAIN AND PLEASURE BEHAVIORS
Damasio (2003: 37-38) places feelings at the top of a hierarchy of homeostatic regulation. He proposes a combination of two conceptual models to illustrate this:
The ensemble does not look exactly like a neat Russian Doll because the bigger part is not merely an enlargement of the smaller part nested in it. Nature is never that tidy. But the nesting principle holds… A better image is that of a tall messy tree with progressively higher and more elaborate branches coming off the main trunks and thus maintaining a two-way communication with their roots. The history of evolution is written all over that tree.
Damasio, Antonio (2003) Looking for Spinoza: Joy, Sorrow, and the Feeling Brain. Harcourt.
Damasio, Antonio R (1994) Descartes' Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain. Putnam Publishing. New York.
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The Bizarre Story of Phineas Gage
In Descartes' Error, Antonio Damasio cautions against a separation of mind and body. Damasio states (1994: 128) that:
Nature appears to have built the apparatus of rationality not just on top of the apparatus of biological regulation, but also from it and with it.
In the his formal introduction to the book , Damasio points to the importance of the body as the prime mover of mental life. Interactions with patients who had suffered frontal lobe damage informed this view:
I had been advised early in life that sounds decisions came from a cool head ... I had grown up accustomed to thinking that the mechanisms of reason existed in a separate province of the mind, where emotion should not be allowed to intrude…But now I had before my eyes the coolest, least emotional, intelligent human being one might imagine, and yet his practical reason was so impaired that it produced, in the wanderings of daily life, a succession of mistakes, a perpetual violation of what would be considered socially appropriate and personally advantageous.