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The brain in love - Comments

coodgee's Avatar Comment 1 by coodgee

Poems, plays, quotes, more poems...

Sun, 20 Jul 2008 23:53:00 UTC | #203748

thewhitepearl's Avatar Comment 2 by thewhitepearl

I don't have a very real very physical need for romantic love...

Mon, 21 Jul 2008 00:03:00 UTC | #203752

gcdavis's Avatar Comment 3 by gcdavis

Human reproduction requires a male and a female. Nurturing of offspring is more reliable if both parents combine their resources. "Love" the bond that holds that parental relationship together and ensures the care of the offspring is no more than reciprocal altruistic behaviour. Human society reinforces this biological necessity by creating the concept of romantic love.

Just call me a romantic old fool!

Mon, 21 Jul 2008 00:07:00 UTC | #203755

8teist's Avatar Comment 4 by 8teist

gc, you romantic old fool .:)

Mon, 21 Jul 2008 00:23:00 UTC | #203760

thewhitepearl's Avatar Comment 5 by thewhitepearl

gc,

Oh well when you put it that way it seems so much more appealing than I thought before. :)

I have no need or desire to reproduce. At this point I will refer back to my original comment.

Mon, 21 Jul 2008 00:32:00 UTC | #203762

8teist's Avatar Comment 6 by 8teist

Don`t worry twp the biological timebomb will start ticking sooner or later............oooops sorry I was just channeling joe moroneale there for a second.....;0

Mon, 21 Jul 2008 00:42:00 UTC | #203763

Laurie Fraser's Avatar Comment 7 by Laurie Fraser

Ah, but whitepearl - who knows what will happen when that alluring stranger enters your life and your little heartstrings go "tiddle-de-dee" - it's babies and cooking roast dinners for the beloved, my dear. You know it's true - we've just been told by an expert! : P

Edit: looks like 8teist & I are thinking alike, tonight, wp :)

Mon, 21 Jul 2008 00:44:00 UTC | #203765

thewhitepearl's Avatar Comment 8 by thewhitepearl

[snaps finger] Damn! And the expert put me on the Not Marriage Material List.

"tiddle-de-dee". he he that's cute.

Ahh you do make a point you never know when my heartstrings will go "tiddle-de-dee". It could very well happen. But it won't happen because I'm out looking for it to fulfil my biological time-ticker.

Mon, 21 Jul 2008 00:52:00 UTC | #203768

Laurie Fraser's Avatar Comment 9 by Laurie Fraser

Ah yes, but you're only a young lassie yet - the clock hasn't even been wound up yet! *takes cover behind wife*




Edit: *wife belts with frypan on behalf of wp*

Mon, 21 Jul 2008 00:55:00 UTC | #203772

8teist's Avatar Comment 10 by 8teist

I wonder how much joe wants for that list?

Mon, 21 Jul 2008 00:57:00 UTC | #203775

robaylesbury's Avatar Comment 11 by robaylesbury

One of my favorite quotations is "Love is wanting someone else's highest good"

That speaks to me much more than the mushy nonsense. It implies a choice, an act of the will.

Mon, 21 Jul 2008 01:08:00 UTC | #203785

DamnDirtyApe's Avatar Comment 12 by DamnDirtyApe

exec whitepearl.exe -tiddlededee

(Just trying to push the right buttons!)

Mon, 21 Jul 2008 01:20:00 UTC | #203791

Apathy personified's Avatar Comment 13 by Apathy personified

*groan*
Ahhh, they're in love, so sweet!
Bollocks, bollocks i say!
To quote a leading modern philosopher,
'What's love got to do, got to do with it, what's love but a second hand emotion' - Tina Turner

Call me cynical, but love is just a load of claptrap made up by Jane Austin (Oh, Mr D'Arcy!), then subsequetly sold on to card companies and Disneyland (don't get me started on Disney).

Mon, 21 Jul 2008 01:48:00 UTC | #203800

black_fire's Avatar Comment 14 by black_fire

"Human reproduction requires a male and a female. Nurturing of offspring is more reliable if both parents combine their resources. "Love" the bond that holds that parental relationship together and ensures the care of the offspring is no more than reciprocal altruistic behaviour. Human society reinforces this biological necessity by creating the concept of romantic love."

Interesting. But can it explain love between gays and lesbians? May be it's a misfiring?

Mon, 21 Jul 2008 02:20:00 UTC | #203808

hungarianelephant's Avatar Comment 15 by hungarianelephant

13. Comment #214897 by Apathy personified on July 21, 2008 at 2:48 am

Call me cynical, but love is just a load of claptrap made up by Jane Austin (Oh, Mr D'Arcy!), then subsequetly sold on to card companies and Disneyland (don't get me started on Disney).

Why do you suppose they found such a ready market?

Mon, 21 Jul 2008 02:38:00 UTC | #203817

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 16 by Steve Zara

Comment #214905 by black_fire

Interesting. But can it explain love between gays and lesbians? May be it's a misfiring?


Not everything that doesn't lead to producing babies need be a misfiring. There could be a good evolutionary reason for certain members of the population to refrain from breeding (perhaps to assist parents and/or siblings with child raising). Same-sex relationships may have some role in bonding groups together.

Mon, 21 Jul 2008 02:57:00 UTC | #203819

bucketchemist's Avatar Comment 17 by bucketchemist


Interesting. But can it explain love between gays and lesbians? May be it's a misfiring?

In 'The God Delusion' Dawkins refers to the application of adaptive behaviour out of context as 'misfirings', so, for example, heterosexual desire is part of the evolutionary logic of reproduction and therefore adaptive. When this desire is felt for partners who are infertile, or taking contraception, ore who are of the same sex, these desires cannot serve adaptive reproductive ends and are therefore misplaced and the behaviour constitutes a misfiring. This almost unavoidably carries something of a perjorative implication (although Dawkins probably does not intend it to so do). Those acts which are designated as misfirings, and the feelings which motivate them, when measured against the yardstick of evolutionary history (and futurology) in this way are bound to be regarded as inferior to behaviour which more accurately follow the script and progress the narrative. This phrasing of certain behaviours as misfirings presents an interesting metaphor. It sets up an interpretation of variant sexual behaviour as the result of the shaky hand of some Darwinian Eros aiming the arrows of lust at procreative partners but sometimes mistakenly firing them into 'unsuitable' targets. Alternatively, it presents the mechanism of evolution as faulty, going off half cocked and taking out the wrong hit. However open-minded and liberal the intent, there are strong suggestions of a naturalistic appeal to rightness and wrongness in the language and the entailments of the metaphor. To fire at the 'correct' target is right, to fire at another target is wrong.

It may also be the case that this metaphor of firing and misfiring might detract from an important feature of the evolutionary process: the fact that, in order to work at all, evolutionary transmission of information must contain a certain amount of 'noise'. A perfectly accurate copying of the structure of a replicator forbids the possibility of any evolution at all taking place. Without variation nothing changes. Furthermore, there is not way of knowing in advance which variations will prove useful in the future. It may seem self-evident that some features such as improved eyesight will be adaptive, but this certainty is only evident in retrospect and would not be the case in, for example, a cave-dwelling animal that spent all its time in darkness.

Some features which provide long term adaptive benefit are not immediately obvious but instead seem to exist as random behaviour or accidental add-ons. Stephen Jay Gould has referred to some such features as 'spandrels' and cites certain aspects of our biology, including our large brains, as candidates. These features initially emerge either to fulfill a relatively trivial function and are then brought into service to provide a more mission-critical role, so the human thumb, which allows us to grasp branches can also allow us to hold a pen, or they may develop as a kind of side-effect of other processes. Walking upright may have initially have served the purpose of allowing our ancestors to see greater distances, but it had the side-effect of freeing up our hands, which might then be used for manipulating the environment, tool use etc. In all cases these spandrels either started out performing some other function and were then utilised for something completely different, or began as apparently pointless adjuncts to the real business of evolution, mistaken misapplied junk activity; what Dawkins might call a 'misfiring'.

I have no doubt that Dawkins does not intend to construct an image of evolution in which the lessons of our biological past are transmitted into the bodies of future generations through the barrel of a gun, even if the bullet is such a pleasant projectile as that which explodes from the love gun of sexual desire. And if this prose appears too purple it merely indicates that the language of 'misfirings' plays into an intuition about targets and relationship to success and failure, winners and losers, worthy and unworthy, right and wrong. It also misrepresents the fuzziness of the genetic transmission process.

Mon, 21 Jul 2008 03:05:00 UTC | #203821

Apathy personified's Avatar Comment 18 by Apathy personified

15. Comment #214914 by hungarianelephant on July 21, 2008 at 3:38 am

Maybe brainwashing? Consistantly ramming it down our throats? If you made films about people wearing tin hats, showing how great it was, wrote novels where people are only 'happy' at the end when they finally get their own tin hat, etc. - now do that for 120 years - kinda pushes it into the mainstream culture (a meme, maybe?)
However, I wouldn't know, i don't harbour any illusions about 'love' - if i suddenly have a mad dash accross Heathrow terminal 4 to stop someone getting onto a plane - i'll let you know.

Also, are you aware of the concept of 'tongue in cheek' comment?

Mon, 21 Jul 2008 03:06:00 UTC | #203823

gcdavis's Avatar Comment 19 by gcdavis

Blackfire. Well I did leave sexual attraction out of the equation. If it is the simply the spark that sets of the reproduction cycle then it doesn't need much explanation. An interesting question to ponder: If reproduction did not involve the need for sex or the nurture of offspring would love exist at all? And if in that scenario men and women still had sex drives would heterosexual sex be the prevailing choice as it is now for most people?

Mon, 21 Jul 2008 03:07:00 UTC | #203825

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 20 by Steve Zara

Comment #214919 by bucketchemist

It may be because I am gay, but I can't see that behaviour which turns out to be very widespread through the animal kingdom, and in some species clearly has an important social role, can be usefully considered a "misfiring".

Mon, 21 Jul 2008 03:09:00 UTC | #203826

hungarianelephant's Avatar Comment 21 by hungarianelephant

18. Comment #214921 by Apathy personified on July 21, 2008 at 4:06 am

Also, are you aware of the concept 'tongue in cheek' comment?

Yes, but apparently a "tongue in cheek" comment in response to a "tongue in cheek" comment doesn't come across well over the interwebs ;)
Maybe brainwashing? Consistantly ramming it down our throats? If you made films about people wearing tin hats, showing how great it was, wrote novels where people are only 'happy' at the end when they finally get their own tin hat - now do that for 120 years - kinda pushes it into the culture (a meme, maybe?)
However, I wouldn't know, i don't harbour any illusions about 'love' - if i suddenly have a mad dash accross Heathrow terminal 4 to stop someone getting onto a plane - i'll let you know.

The serious point is that I don't buy this.

Certainly there's a cultural push towards this kind of thinking, and certainly the likes of Disney make a lot of money from packaging it in a certain way. Marriage, for example, is today assumed to be the product of love, whereas it was until fairly recently primarily a financial arrangement. (This hasn't noticeably led to more successful marriages, though I wouldn't be in a hurry to point this out at a wedding.)

But that doesn't explain where it came from in the first place. Jane Austen didn't sit down to write Pride and Piffle with a marketing plan up her sleeve. She tapped into some sort of human aspiration which was already there (and recorded in thousands of years of literature). Disney didn't start with a multi million dollar advertising budget and a random idea. Blaming vested interests is like trying to explain the origins of religion by reference to the wealth and power of the 13th century church.

Mon, 21 Jul 2008 03:19:00 UTC | #203829

Apathy personified's Avatar Comment 22 by Apathy personified

21. Comment #214927 by hungarianelephant on July 21, 2008 at 4:19 am

First,

Yes, but apparently a "tongue in cheek" comment in response to a "tongue in cheek" comment doesn't come across well over the interwebs ;)

Touche :) - Serves me right for trying to be clever and funny at the same time, although i don't think i did either.

Second,
Blaming vested interests is like trying to explain the origins of religion by reference to the wealth and power of the 13th century church.

That's fair enough.

The semi - serious point i was trying to make is how it is portrayed in modern culture. I was taking a swing at a lot of modern literature, films and all other crap that sells this gross caricature of a thing, which, i'm sure, had/has an evolutionary advantage attached to it.

As you are one of the intelligent posters on here and you may not have got what i was on about - i'd have to say it's a swing and a miss from me.

Mon, 21 Jul 2008 03:32:00 UTC | #203833

irate_atheist's Avatar Comment 23 by irate_atheist

16. Comment #214917 by Steve Zara -

There could be a good evolutionary reason for certain members of the population to refrain from breeding (perhaps to assist parents and/or siblings with child raising). Same-sex relationships may have some role in bonding groups together.
Where the relationship(s) are exclusively homosexual, and given that homosexuality is - at least primarily - genetically determined, surely exclusive homosexuality cannot be selected for? I may be wrong - I probably am - but you seem to be suggesting a kind of group selection.

May I suggest an alternative idea?

As a hypothesis, may I pose that human/primate sexuality (and not necessarily the desire to reproduce) may be an extension or affected by (or part of) that function of our brain that deals with empathy, understanding and the ability for benefical mutual co-operation. (Love & desire being, perhaps, just stronger emotions and facilities, but of the same 'type'.)

If this were so, I can see how - on a continuum - a species with a tendency for bisexual behaviour could be naturally selected for. This would result in stronger bonds, better co-operation etc. amongst members of the species. Rampant heterosexual behaviour and purely homosexual behaviour would be both be extremes of 'the norm'. This would, perhaps, go some way to explaining why we are all slightly bisexual and exist on the continuum.

Comments on this, rude or otherwise, are welcome.

Mon, 21 Jul 2008 03:47:00 UTC | #203839

hungarianelephant's Avatar Comment 24 by hungarianelephant

Apathy, you are being too nice to me. I am just an elephant with a semi-permanent bad headache and an attitude.

I got your point and it's well taken. There's even a whole genre dedicated to this nonsense, with a sprinkling of shoes and shopping. Chick Lit: how to read without learning anything. Not to say it isn't well written, of course. Some of it is superbly written, in the same way that a clever ad is superbly written (if you have a spare afternoon, pick up a Louise Bagshawe book and marvel at her craft).

What's interesting is how successful this meme is. It would be hard to put it all down to cultural manipulation. I've only got half way through this talk so far and haven't heard anything particularly original or compelling. The "we all" stuff gets a bit frustrating too. It seems wiser to consider the possibility that some people (like you) might respond to different stimuli.

Oh, and I'd recommend not running across Terminal 4. The police seem to be a bit trigger happy these days.

Mon, 21 Jul 2008 03:52:00 UTC | #203841

Oromasdes1978's Avatar Comment 25 by Oromasdes1978

The brain in love?

Depends on how much beer I have been drinking! :)

I have read all the right poetry like Shakespeare's sonnets or Keats' magnificent works, I studied loads of literature at university - I learned everything I could - you would think my brain after all this wonderful education would have become an expert on the subject.

Nope,I am absolutely crap at it! :)

Ay me! for aught that I could ever read,
Could ever hear by tale or history,
The course of true love never did run smooth;

Mon, 21 Jul 2008 04:01:00 UTC | #203842

riki's Avatar Comment 26 by riki

Too painful for me to watch.

Mon, 21 Jul 2008 04:09:00 UTC | #203844

Kentrel's Avatar Comment 27 by Kentrel

thewhitepearl

You have no real physical need to listen to music, but I guarantee you there are one or two powerful songs that generate intense physical feelings in your body.

Why can't romantic love be the same?

You don't have to have a baby everytime you listen to music (it would certainly mess upthe dancefloor!), but listen to a Jack Johnson song (or whatever's to your taste) and suddenly you understand the term "Babymaking music".

Is it a coincidence that music and sexual relationships are closely related? Few people will die if you starve them of music or even love, but their personalities will change and their ability to find a suitable mate will be very much affected.

Music generates the feelings that make it more likely for two people to reproduce. That doesn't mean a middle aged post menopausal woman can't enjoy music too, but the body isn't that smart. It doesn't know to switch off these feelings just because reproduction is impossible.

Its not a romantic notion to imply that love is a purely physical need like all the other great things in life that make us more likely to survive reproduce, but it certainly doesn't make it wrong, scientifically.

Romantic love, music, the need for status all generate powerful feelings that push us into situations where we maximize our mating success.

It's not the stuff of great poetry, but either was Newton's view of the rainbow. I hope people don't make the mistake that John Keats did, and miss the point that in life there is the scientific view (the truth), and then there's the poetic romantic emotional way in which we experience the truth. They're both different sides to the same coin.

Mon, 21 Jul 2008 04:19:00 UTC | #203847

bucketchemist's Avatar Comment 29 by bucketchemist


20 Steve Zara

It may be because I am gay, but I can't see that behaviour which turns out to be very widespread through the animal kingdom, and in some species clearly has an important social role, can be usefully considered a "misfiring".

I agree, which is why I find Dawkins use of the word slightly unfortunate. It seems to me there is a kind of teleology built into the metaphor or 'firing' and 'misfiring' which does not best reflect natural selection at work. I have to say though, that I also have problems with some of the attempts to find adaptive justifications for homosexual behavior, or rationalisations based in comparative ethology.

Mon, 21 Jul 2008 04:26:00 UTC | #203850

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 28 by Steve Zara

Comment #214937 by irate_atheist

Where the relationship(s) are exclusively homosexual, and given that homosexuality is - at least primarily - genetically determined, surely exclusive homosexuality cannot be selected for? I may be wrong - I probably am - but you seem to be suggesting a kind of group selection


Gosh no. I would never do that!

Here is a suggested selfish gene mechanism. It's probably completely wrong, but illustrates that such a mechanism is possible.

There could be some genes in the mother that, given certain environmental conditions (such as having many children, or being at a certain population density), changes the hormonal environment in the womb during pregnancy to produce an increased tendency for homosexuality. These children would not reproduce, but assist with the raising of previous children, or the mother's current or future grandchildren. These children would also assist with mixing of genes by encouraging links with other families through same-sex relationships.

Such genes would be entirely "selfish". They would assist their own reproduction by the production of "helper" offspring who would help increase the frequency of these genes.

Mon, 21 Jul 2008 04:26:00 UTC | #203849

justinesaracen's Avatar Comment 30 by justinesaracen


I can see how - on a continuum - a species with a tendency for bisexual behaviour could be naturally selected for. This would result in stronger bonds, better co-operation etc. amongst members of the species. Rampant heterosexual behaviour and purely homosexual behaviour would be both be extremes of 'the norm'. This would, perhaps, go some way to explaining why we are all slightly bisexual and exist on the continuum.


I rather like irate_atheist's thesis, but then I am gay myself and prefer to think of my orientation as being part of the whole evolutionary process and not an aberration like, say, mental illness.
I CAN attest to the fact that I have experienced romantic love of Wagnerian intensity and feel every bit as fulfilled as someone with a hubby and gaggle of babies. As Steve Zara pointed out, homosexuality is too widespread throughout the animal kingdom to be aberrant. I think sexual orientation (and love) are very complex, multi-symptom (not sure that's the right word here) events that probably involves a score of genes and another score of environmental factors. I can "imagine" myself as a hetero mommy, but being a lesbian is just more (ahem) 'natural'. While I am sure there are lots of people on this list who would deny having any trace of same-sex urges deep down inside (and who I am to judge?) I still think it is accurate to suggest that the human race has an unmistakable bisexuality to it (I mean of interest focus, not only of reproductive mode).

Mon, 21 Jul 2008 04:29:00 UTC | #203852