Antonio Damasio, noted researcher and professor of neuroscience at USC, talks with The New York Times' David Brooks about emotions and the science of being human. He describes the difference between emotions and feelings, and explains why emotions are one of humanity's most important survival mechanisms.
David Brooks has been an op-ed columnist for The New York Times since 2003. Previously, he was an editor at The Wall Street Journal, a senior editor at The Weekly Standard, and a contributing editor at Newsweek and The Atlantic. Currently a commentator on PBS’s “The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer,” Brooks is also the author, most recently, of The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character. His earlier books are Bobos in Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There and On Paradise Drive: How We Live Now (And Always Have) in the Future Tense. He has contributed essays and articles to many publications, including The New Yorker, Forbes, The Public Interest, The New Republic, and Commentary. He is a frequent commentator on NPR, CNN’s “Late Edition,” and “The Diane Rehm Show.”
Antonio Damasio is admired neuroscientist, provocative lecturer and best-selling author. In his new book, Self Comes To Mind, Antonio, who directs the USC Brain and Creativity Institute and is the 2010 winner of the prestigious Honda Prize for scientific excellence, discusses how the brain uses emotion and feeling to create a sense of self in animals in humans, and how the elaborate version of the human self opened the way for creating the tools of culture.
Antonio Damasio, noted researcher and professor of neuroscience at USC, explains how emotions are integral to decision-making. He discusses his experiences working with people with brain damage who are unable to decide things as simple as where to go to dinner.
Antonio Damasio explains that even though many people use the words "feeling" and "emotion" interchangeably, there is a key difference between the two. "Emotion," he explains, is "a set of actions" programmed into us from birth, while "feelings" are how our conscious mind interprets these responses.
I find it odd that you would have such a low opinion of both David Brook and Gene Roddenberry who both seem to me to be quite intelligent, even when compared with the likes of Antonio Damasio.
I find Antonio's thinking to be absolute genious however not revelutionary or unique. I suppose in western thinking it might be fairly unique but when compared with the thinking of many asian and south asian cultures, he is really just reinventing the wheel. His basic idea as far as I can tell is what Buddhists refer to as duality, in this case the duality of logic and emotion. He is realizing on his own the balance of the universe, which is quite remarkable. Not an easy concept to come up with.
Great to hear Professor. Damasio in person. His ideas about the precise involvement of emotional activity in the way we make decisions was revolutionary when it came out in 1995 and it remains so in 2010. Great work.
My frustration with David Brooks as an interview can be summed up by this comment during the portion on STUDYING EMOTION: "We have modern philosophers: a guy named Gene Roddenberry who created a guy named Dr. Spock..." I can't really blame him though. If I had the chance to interview Antonio Damasio (whom I count as one of the most important thinkers of our time) I'm pretty sure I would stutter and stare too. For a more coherent Brooks, who actually has some great ideas integrating neuroscience and sociology I would recommend his lecture (on FORA).