PDF CHAPTER 2 - Evolution, Genetics, and Experience - Saturday October 1 2016 PS263 Readings CHAPTER 2 Evolution Genetics and Experience Zeitgeist the

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Saturday, October 1, 2016 PS263 Readings CHAPTER 2: Evolution, Genetics, and Experience Zeitgeist the general intellectual climate of our culture 2.1 Thinking about the Biology of Behaviour: From Dichotomies to Interactions IS IT PHYSIOLOGICAL, OR IS IT PSYCHOLOGICAL? Descartes argued that the universe is composed of two elements: (1) physical matter, which behaves according to the laws of nature and is thus a suitable object of scientific investigation; and (2) the human mind (soul, self, or spirit), which lacks physical substance, controls human behaviour, obeys no natural laws, and is thus the appropriate preview of the Church The human body, including the brain, was assumed to be entirely physical, and so were nonhuman animals Cartesian dualism, as Descartes’s philosophy became known, was sanctioned by the Roman Church, and so the idea that the human brain and the mind are separate entities became even more widely accepted IS IT INHERITED, OR IS IT LEARNED? For centuries, scholars have debated whether humans and other animals inherit their behavioural capacities or acquire them through learning. This debate is commonly referred to as the nature-nurture issue John B. Watson, is the father of behaviourism Ethology (the study of animal behaviour in the wild) was becoming the dominant approach to the study of behaviour in Europe Instinctive behaviours (behaviours that occur in all like members of a species, even when there seems to have been no opportunity for them to have been learned) Because instinctive behaviours are not learned, the early ethnologist assumed they are entirely inherited 1
Saturday, October 1, 2016 PROBLEMS WITH THINKING ABOUT THE BIOLOGY OF BEHAVIOUR IN TERMS OF TRADITIONAL DICHOTOMIES Physiological-or-Psychological Thinking Runs into Difficulty Not long after Descartes’s mind-brain dualism was officially sanctioned by the Roman Church, it started to come under public attack There are two lines of evidence against physiological-or-psychological thinking (the assumption that some aspects of human psychological functioning are so complex that they could not possibly be the product of a physical brain) The first line is composed of the many demonstrations that even the most complex psychological changes (e.g., changes in self-awareness, memory, or emotion) can be produced by damage to, or stimulation of, parts of the brain The second line of evidence is composed of demonstrations that some non-human species, particularly primate species, possess some abilities that were once assumed to be purely psychological and thus purely human The first case is Oliver Sack’s (1985) account of “the man who fell out of bed.” - This patient was suffering from asomatognosia, a deficiency in the awareness of parts of one’s own body - Asomatognosia typically involves the left side of the body and usually results from damage to the right parietal lobe The second case describes G. G. Gallup’s research on self-awareness in chimpanzees

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