[lbo-talk] Altruism

Chuck Grimes c123grimes at att.net
Wed Aug 10 11:53:58 PDT 2011

I would say, quite a lot of them - more than idealists can possibly imagine - at least according to George Lakoff who claims that many abstract concepts are metaphors built on basic sensory perceptions.

Wojtek --------------

What Lakeoff misses is the human body, and its senses of itself in too many aspects and dimensions to name. Take our concept of space. It is not primarily a vision based concept, but a kinesthic one. Think how blind people navigate without seeing. Consider the physics of gravitation. These are reflected in all the living things that have no vision. Everything now evolved has some kind of gravity sensor. Bacteria use external phyical force perception through a chemi-mechanical molecular path.

I studied how plants grow and build their shape based on their response system to gravity. Notice most trees and plants grow upward. Ask yourself how do they do that? It's called a tropism, but that hardly explains anything. A tropism in the plant world is usually associated with some form of molecular reaction to an external force. Light for example is perceived through a molecule in the phytochrome family. Phytochromes absorb light of different wave lengths. Each of these `perceptions' starts a molecular chain reaction in the cells that is communicated to the growth area of the plant. This is a different molecular pathway than photosythesis which uses chloroplasts.

Molcular responses to the physics of light, gravity and themo-something are very difficult to discover. However, we have discovered that bone cells grow in line with gravitational force. This discovery dependend on reaching space outside of the biological perception of gravity.

What does all this have to do with Lakeoff? The mind is built around the most primative or ancient brain (and its molecular responses) where only elemental molecular processing of perception took place. That gets us back at least to sharks. The most important perceptions for a shark is the giant olfactory complex that is capable of responding to hemoglobin molecules in some tiny parts per million. The shark then swims in the direction of increasing intensity of more parts per million.

Now think of the power of the smell of death or the power of the smell of sex or the power of the smell of fresh bread. These are attractors or repellers. Smell perception is molecularly tied to our hormonal complex within the brain and we have emotional responses to smells. In other words we have our shark brain and we have our frog gravity sensory array... Remember as a kid when you got a cut, one of your first responses was to lick it clean. Your blood didn't taste bad, in fact it tasted kind of salty.

Lakeoff will get nowhere near understanding the mind, unless he changes focus. Which means he starts at too high a level. He needs to go back in evolution and study the evolution of the brain (or perception) in its biophysical molecular function in relation to the environment.

The shape of the face of some species of bats forms a complex echo locater. The vampire bat's nose shape is the best known example. The nose shape together with sound acts as a trianguling homing device.

The point is we have to broaden our understanding of what perception is and how it works, and has worked through evolutionary time, that in turn have created our mind-body.


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