By Antonio Damasio
A number one specialist of the neurophysiology of feelings, Damasio indicates how our realization arose out of the improvement of emotion. At its center human attention is cognizance of the sensation and experiencing self.
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Additional info for The Feeling of What Happens: Body, Emotion and the Making of Consciousness
Besides, as suggested earlier, it is possible that feelings are poised at the very threshold that separates being from knowing and thus have a privileged connection to consciousness. After all, in our daily experience, we often seem to know the circumstances leading to an emotion. There is good evidence in favor of the covert nature of emotion induction, and I will illustrate the point with some experimental results from my laboratory. As a consequence he cannot learn to recognize any new person, from the face, from the voice, or from the name, nor can he remember anything whatsoever regarding where he has met a certain person or the events that transpired between him and that person.
It certainly does not seem true that reason stands to gain from operating without the leverage of emotion. On the contrary, emotion probably assists reasoning, especially when it comes to personal and social matters involving risk and conflict. I suggested that certain levels of emotion processing probably point us to the sector of the decisionmaking space where our reason can operate most efficiently. I did not suggest, however, that emotions are a substitute for reason or that emotions decide for us.
We have no means of exerting direct voluntary control over the neural processes in those regions. Casual voluntary mimicking of expressions of emotion is easily detected as fake— something always fails, whether in the configuration of the facial muscles or in the tone of voice. The result of this state of affairs is that in most of us who are not actors, emotions are a fairly good index of how conducive the environment is to our wellbeing, or, at least, how conducive it seems to our minds.