Fiction and Brain Science

Do you have a conversation topic that doesn't seem to fit any of the other conversations? Here is where we discuss ANYTHING about Joseph Campbell, comparative mythology, and more!

Moderators: Clemsy, Martin_Weyers, Cindy B.

Locked
User avatar
Clemsy
Working Associate
Posts: 10645
Joined: Thu Apr 04, 2002 6:00 am
Location: The forest... somewhere north of Albany
Contact:

Post by Clemsy » Thu Apr 01, 2010 7:36 pm

Give me stories before I go mad! ~Andreas
User avatar
nandu
Associate
Posts: 3395
Joined: Fri May 31, 2002 12:45 am
Location: Kerala, the green country
Contact:

Post by nandu » Fri Apr 02, 2010 6:44 am

Clemsy,

Thanks for the link. A really intriguing article.

I have found that the main force of Dracula stems from the fact that the omnipotent narrator is eliminated. The story is narrated by a group of people who literally do not know what is going to happen the next day - the diary format takes care of that. More interestingly, the characters in the story have less information than the reader has. For example, we know that Jonathan Harker is trapped in the count's castle, whereas Mina only knows that he is away on business.

It would be worthwhile to explore the novels we have read based on the premises of this article.

Cheers
Nandu.
Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavanthu
Neoplato
Associate
Posts: 3907
Joined: Fri Nov 21, 2008 3:02 pm
Location: Virginia
Contact:

Post by Neoplato » Fri Apr 02, 2010 2:08 pm

It would be worthwhile to explore the novels we have read based on the premises of this article.
I think "Dune" fits into this category. :D
Infinite moment, grants freedom of winter death, allows life to dawn.
User avatar
Clemsy
Working Associate
Posts: 10645
Joined: Thu Apr 04, 2002 6:00 am
Location: The forest... somewhere north of Albany
Contact:

Post by Clemsy » Fri Apr 02, 2010 2:16 pm

I believe any novel can be applied, though Dracula and Dune do provide the complexity discussed in the article.

This is very interesting:
To Mr. Flesch fictional accounts help explain how altruism evolved despite our selfish genes. Fictional heroes are what he calls “altruistic punishers,” people who right wrongs even if they personally have nothing to gain. “To give us an incentive to monitor and ensure cooperation, nature endows us with a pleasing sense of outrage” at cheaters, and delight when they are punished, Mr. Flesch argues. We enjoy fiction because it is teeming with altruistic punishers: Odysseus, Don Quixote, Hamlet, Hercule Poirot.

“It’s not that evolution gives us insight into fiction,” Mr. Flesch said, “but that fiction gives us insight into evolution.”
It's not mentioned, but I couldn't help but wonder about the intersection of this theme and myth...
Give me stories before I go mad! ~Andreas
Andreas
Associate
Posts: 2274
Joined: Sun Aug 23, 2009 6:07 am

Post by Andreas » Sat Apr 03, 2010 10:56 am

This is very interesting, indeed, thanks Clemsy. So if these stories hold some truth, it is logical to assume that this is where the human brain tends to lean more, in cooperation. And perhaps this is the message of evolution.
“To live is enough.” ― Shunryu Suzuki
Cindy B.
Working Associate
Posts: 4719
Joined: Wed Oct 05, 2005 12:49 pm
Location: USA
Contact:

Post by Cindy B. » Sat Apr 03, 2010 11:59 am

Clemsy wrote:This is very interesting:
To Mr. Flesch fictional accounts help explain how altruism evolved despite our selfish genes. Fictional heroes are what he calls “altruistic punishers,” people who right wrongs even if they personally have nothing to gain. “To give us an incentive to monitor and ensure cooperation, nature endows us with a pleasing sense of outrage” at cheaters, and delight when they are punished, Mr. Flesch argues. We enjoy fiction because it is teeming with altruistic punishers: Odysseus, Don Quixote, Hamlet, Hercule Poirot.

“It’s not that evolution gives us insight into fiction,” Mr. Flesch said, “but that fiction gives us insight into evolution.”
It's not mentioned, but I couldn't help but wonder about the intersection of this theme and myth...
...and for any interested, the scientific perspective:

Putting the Altruism Back into Altruism: The Evolution of Empathy
Frans B. M. deWaal (2008)
Link must be copied & pasted: http://www.emory.edu/LIVING_LINKS/pdf_a ... (2008).pdf

Cindy
If the path before you is clear, you’re probably on someone else’s. --Jung
Andreas
Associate
Posts: 2274
Joined: Sun Aug 23, 2009 6:07 am

Post by Andreas » Sat Apr 03, 2010 12:33 pm

Thanks Cindy, this is the real gold. :)

With the Hero we empathize...
“To live is enough.” ― Shunryu Suzuki
Evinnra
Associate
Posts: 2102
Joined: Tue Feb 24, 2004 4:12 pm
Location: Melbourne

Post by Evinnra » Tue Apr 06, 2010 1:49 am

Clemsy wrote:

Alas, the dilemma is that of Plato's philosopher king: Only a philosopher king can solve the society's ills, but it takes an enlightened society to produce one. Round and round we go.
Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day. ~Jefferson
It does not have to be the enlightened society that produces philosopher kings, for philosopher kings can born just by the grace of God, as a timely gift from God.
As much as the politician's touch on education inevitably turns it into indoctrination, many of us still consider our mission to teach students how to think, not what to think. (Be that as it may, I certainly don't understand the political right's complaint about educational liberalism. If the plan was to liberalize the country, it's been an abysmal failure. So maybe there isn't a grande Marxist conspiracy.)

The educational system in America is obsolete. The structure requires radical change, not the personnel.
Help me Clemsy, I am at a loss to understand what you mean here. On the one hand you seem to identify with those who want to teach how to think, rather than what to think, on the other hand you provide a link to an article that highlights the practical/evolutionary value of the human ability to understand many different state of minds at once. OK, here is what I am not getting: if it is a sign of advanced mental capacity to discern the content (the WHAT) in the minds of others, why would we want to teach HOW to think rather than WHAT is there? :?
'A fish popped out of the water only to be recaptured again. It is as I, a slave to all yet free of everything.'
http://evinnra-evinnra.blogspot.com
User avatar
Clemsy
Working Associate
Posts: 10645
Joined: Thu Apr 04, 2002 6:00 am
Location: The forest... somewhere north of Albany
Contact:

Post by Clemsy » Tue Apr 06, 2010 12:06 pm

why would we want to teach HOW to think rather than WHAT is there?
Well, Evinnra, the former is how people learn... by thinking and subjective discovery. The latter can be indoctrination as "what is there" is often a matter of opinion.
OK, here is what I am not getting: if it is a sign of advanced mental capacity to discern the content (the WHAT) in the minds of others, why would we want to teach HOW to think rather than WHAT is there?
Don't understand your question. The key word is 'discern.' One needs to think effectively in order to do that.
It does not have to be the enlightened society that produces philosopher kings, for philosopher kings can born just by the grace of God, as a timely gift from God.
This is a good example of an opinion. My statement re: philosopher kings is Plato's reasoning, not mine. So between his opinion, socratically derived, and yours, based on faith, ...I lean towards Plato with the caveat that some pretty wise people occasionally show up... who the unenlightened pretty quickly minimize in various ways... including killing.

Evinnra, after our last exchange, I'm somewhat surprised you chose to engage me. Curious.
Give me stories before I go mad! ~Andreas
Neoplato
Associate
Posts: 3907
Joined: Fri Nov 21, 2008 3:02 pm
Location: Virginia
Contact:

Post by Neoplato » Tue Apr 06, 2010 3:00 pm

It does not have to be the enlightened society that produces philosopher kings, for philosopher kings can born just by the grace of God, as a timely gift from God.
This is a good example of an opinion. My statement re: philosopher kings is Plato's reasoning, not mine. So between his opinion, socratically derived, and yours, based on faith, ...I lean towards Plato with the caveat that some pretty wise people occasionally show up... who the unenlightened pretty quickly minimize in various ways... including killing.
Ah...but can "enlightenment" be taught? Even the brightest of minds can go through life "unenlightened". I think school can only do so much, IMHO a person must want it and seek for it. :?
Infinite moment, grants freedom of winter death, allows life to dawn.
User avatar
Clemsy
Working Associate
Posts: 10645
Joined: Thu Apr 04, 2002 6:00 am
Location: The forest... somewhere north of Albany
Contact:

Post by Clemsy » Tue Apr 06, 2010 10:17 pm

Neo... I agree. Enlightenment can't be taught. Not sure where that came from. :?
Give me stories before I go mad! ~Andreas
Neoplato
Associate
Posts: 3907
Joined: Fri Nov 21, 2008 3:02 pm
Location: Virginia
Contact:

Post by Neoplato » Tue Apr 06, 2010 10:25 pm

Not sure where that came from.
Stream of Consciousness based off the above quotes. :D
Infinite moment, grants freedom of winter death, allows life to dawn.
User avatar
Clemsy
Working Associate
Posts: 10645
Joined: Thu Apr 04, 2002 6:00 am
Location: The forest... somewhere north of Albany
Contact:

Post by Clemsy » Tue Apr 06, 2010 10:31 pm

Ah. Plato's reasoning in this context is quite interesting, actually. I recall my undergrad presentation on The Republic quite well: The way to maximize society's shot at enlightenment is to remove the kiddies from their parents and educate them according to their strengths in a highly controlled environment.

Sometimes I think it's worth a shot. ...But then I get better.
Give me stories before I go mad! ~Andreas
User avatar
Clemsy
Working Associate
Posts: 10645
Joined: Thu Apr 04, 2002 6:00 am
Location: The forest... somewhere north of Albany
Contact:

Post by Clemsy » Tue Apr 06, 2010 11:24 pm

A follow up article to Next Big Thing in English: Knowing They Know That You Know titled Can ‘Neuro Lit Crit’ Save the Humanities?.

Hmm... I wonder if this should be its own thread. Let me know.

Also... I post this as having possible interest to the rather educated, or otherwise informed, associates who frequent this site. I claim no expertise in the topic, and put forth no opinion other than "this is really very interesting."

Cheers,
Clemsy
Give me stories before I go mad! ~Andreas
Neoplato
Associate
Posts: 3907
Joined: Fri Nov 21, 2008 3:02 pm
Location: Virginia
Contact:

Post by Neoplato » Wed Apr 07, 2010 12:56 am

The way to maximize society's shot at enlightenment is to remove the kiddies from their parents and educate them according to their strengths in a highly controlled environment.
Unfortunately, this may also remove the "desire for enlightenment" as well. It also may have the opposite affect.

"What about me? I didn't ask for this! What do I care what's good for the world? How about what's good for me?"

It's almost like you have to watch a group of people in a neutral environmrnt and see which ones gravitate toward a path of enlightenment.

Reminds me of free range chicken. :D
Infinite moment, grants freedom of winter death, allows life to dawn.
Locked