Damasio

António_Damásio

Antonio Damasio (1944 ...) 

Some say that Antonio Damasio is not a great researcher. But there is no doubt that he is an excellent communicator who seems to be up to date regarding on how the brain works. At least in relation to our ideas. I sent him a copy of Survival and Altruism to the Brain an Creativity Institute from Los Angeles on 10.6.17.

According to our basic idea, all current living beings have inscribed somewhere, and in some way, the vital imperative to try the survival of their species. One of the questions that this hypothesis poses is to try to know where and how that imperative "inside" of each living organism is located. And if these questions could not be answered exactly, at least it seems convenient to know the possibility that the mandate is, "inside" the living beings, somewhere and in some way. That is, there is nothing that prevents the vital imperative to be installed in living organisms, from birth to the end of his life. Although we do not know where.

For this purpose I searched for works on the brain. I include several in the bibliography (Fuster, Gazzaniga....) And I was able to personally consult with an expert. With all this, I think it can be said that the vital imperative "fits" perfectly in the nature of the first living beings. Another matter is to know if it has arrived and how to us. Damasio (2010) deals with these and many other things in "And the brain created the man" I quote and comment what I believe most significant for us:

 On page 66 he says: "Individual cells, however simple they were in the past and still are, had what appeared to be a decisive and unshakeable determination to stay alive for as long as the genes within their microscopic nucleus ordered them to do so." 

And in 69: "Any cell in our body has the kind of non-conscious attitude that I just described. Could it be that the properly human desire to live, our will to overcome and persist had begun to be an aggregate of the wills of all the cells of our body, a collective voice released in a song of affirmation?

And about the biological value says on page 83: "The most fundamental possession of any living being in Any time is, in my opinion, the balanced repertoire of body chemicals compatible with a healthy life, and it is something that applies to both the amoeba and the human being." 

On page 86 he says: "The value is directly related to the survival. In the case of human beings in particular, value is also related to the quality of that survival in the form of well-being. The notion of survival - and, by extension, the notion of biological value - can be applied to different biological entities, from molecules and genes to the set of organisms. " 

 And why do the amoeba and the human being want this priceless biological value? Says on page 87: " For any organism considered as a whole, what has a primordial value is, said without bluntness, the survival with a good health until an age compatible with the reproductive success. " 

Although he does not notice it, translating these paragraphs into our language, Damasio is saying the basic idea:

"...the decisive and unbreakable determination to stay alive in any cell of our body"  it is the vital imperative. And "...the most fundamental possession of any living being ...for any organism considered as a whole is ...reproductive success." 

Damasio, neurologist and psychologist, works with individual organisms. But, to be rigorous, and perhaps without fully realizing it, he does not speak of the primordial value being reproduction, but to have reproductive success. Reproductive success is achieved when the progeny is able to live and reproduce iteratively. That is, when it survives.

And he confirms later that this notion of survival, can be applied "...even for the set of organisms" This whole concept can be applied to the total biomass, but it seems better to apply it earlier to the biological entities who share the same genetic programming, that is, the species. And it is very interesting that he also talks about well-being as a factor related to biological value and survival.

Damasio, in this and other works, is also very interesting to follow the path of the vital imperative. Located at the beginning in the proto-brain of bacteria and simple amoebas, it continues to operate at the bottom of the encephalic trunk of the later, more complex brains of worms, insects, fish, reptiles, mammals. Brains in which, each species, has been added specific instructions for the behavior of their individual organisms. Damasio, a neurologist, uses these mechanisms to try to explain, as far as possible, the evolution of our consciousness as an important factor for the survival of Man.

It is also very interesting what he says on page 6 of "Descartes Mistake"(Damasio, 2006):

 "... the mechanisms of basic homeostasis are a way of cultural development of human values that allow us to judge actions as good or bad, and classify objects as beautiful or ugly".

With his technical prose, Damasio is describing, in neurophysiological terms, the mechanisms of Newton's natural law of gravity and poses the question:, and Humme's and oders moral sense. And also our broad altruism, essential for basic and social homeostasis.

Madrid, 8.10.2018. Revised on 9