July 13, 2009

An Evolutionary Mind

From Metanexus:
An Evolutionary Mind

By Alice Andrews
"Close your Deleuze; open your Darwin."
Robert Storey, Mimesis and the Human Animal
Not that long ago, for about a year, I dated a cute, left-wing economist off-and-on (though mostly off). We found each other attractive and exotic and perhaps even fascinating, but we didn’t get along or get each other one bit. It was a frustrating and futile experiment in the chemistry and mathematics of pairing with someone so different in every way—even our horoscopes said we were disastrous for each other. (That I would even mention the word horoscope in a piece for public consumption would no doubt make him cringe and clear his throat a few times.) But in the process of going toward something so foreign and at once attractive and repellent, I solidified my worldview that there really are two different kinds of minds.

Recently, the New York Times ran an article titled “The Political Brain.” The piece suggested that the liberal mind and the conservative mind are quite different, and that this difference is related to the differences in the way their limbic systems (in particular, the amygdala) respond to particular stimuli—particularly suffering and violence. The author made clear to point out that it was difficult to parse if liberals were born with more sensitive/reactive amygdalae or if their experiences, etc., shaped the patterns of response; and that indeed it was probably a little of both, as these things often are.
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