Re: virus: (un)selfishness

Robin Faichney (
Wed, 23 Apr 1997 12:19:00 +0100

Martz wrote:
>>>That's a whole 'nother debate.
>>No it's not, it's the same one. How can neuroscience or
>>phrenology or any analysis of motivation locate something
>>that doesn't really exist? What does "selfishness" mean
>>if there's no self?
>If the study of the nervous system progresses to the point where we can
>accurately model the human mind and we can trace effects back to causes
>right down to the level of individual neurons we may well be able to say
>*precisely* what motivated a given act.

Not so. Whenever you identify a cause, you can ask what caused that,
right back to the Big Bang. A decision to stop at any particular point
can only be arbitrary. It's only because there's a self-image that
"you" think "your self" is responsible for anything, or that anything/
everything "you" do is "selfish", or that "you have" a "self".

>I'm reminded of an experiment
>which was done (in the 60s I think, if anyone can jog my memory on this
>I'd be grateful) where a number of volunteers had little receivers
>placed in their brains. When the doctor pressed a button a small
>electric charge was delivered. One one patient this would cause him to
>look over his left shoulder. Every time the button was pushed, he'd
>glance to the left. When he was asked what he was looking for he always
>had a sensible reason; "I was looking for my slippers" or "I heard
>something". What does this say about motivation?

It tells us that small electric currents come into the picture.
But then we knew that, didn't we? :-)