Our Empathic Self

Following on with the 'consciousness' theme, the RSA presentation by Jeremy Rifkin gave me plenty to digest (see below). It seems every time I come to some resolution about things like: what is consciousness? some new empirical information comes in from neuroscience and overturns my ideas. The latest to upset things are mirror neurons -- " ... we are soft wired to experience another's plight as if we are experiencing it ourselves." Things like anger, frustration, sense of rejection or a spider crawling up someone else's arm. These mirror neurons (first discovered in MRI scans of monkeys) now extend to other primates, elephants, dolphins, our pets, etc. [An aside: This probably explains why pornographic videos are so prevalent -- apparently 50% of Internet traffic.]

Okay, I'll have to include mirror neurons in my understanding of consciousness , but the confounding part is the concept of being 'soft wired' for empathy. Rifkin goes on to give us a brief history of man and how our empathy has changed as a result of advances in communications and particularly now in the Internet Age.

So now I have to extend my consciousness to include the whole human race, including other creatures and the Biosphere.

Are we heading for the emphatic civilisation?  -- is our concern about a 'self' a vestigial blind alley like our appendix?

For more -- see Jeremy Rifkin

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