Installation by Pippa Skotnes
Installation by Pippa Skotnes

Ask Mark - Week 5

Please post your questions for this week in the comments section below. At the beginning of next week, I will respond to the most interesting, useful and/or popular questions. Please ‘like’ questions posted by other learners if you are also interested in having these answered.

Mark response banner 2

Thank you to everyone who posted questions. I have recorded a response to four of the many interesting questions you posed: The video responses are on YouTube with links below (transcripts to follow).

Question 1:

There seems to be some confusion about the definition of confabulation, with different learners coming up with different definitions from their online searches. What is your definition of confabulation? (giving a few examples) Do you think confabulations are completely unavoidable? Can we learn to be aware of our tendency to confabulate and find another path or way to cope with having a mind? What is the difference between a false memory and a story that you make up that is not true; and can they both be considered confabulations.

Response to question 1 - length: 16:41

Question 2:

It was suggested this week that the “lack of awareness of our own motivational impetus” came as a result of the rapid development of human thinking/reasoning, (function of our young prefrontal lobes), along with an inhibition of our instinctual emotional systems (residing in our older brain). Two other uniquely human tendencies were mentioned: confabulation and hypocrisy.

Question: How about the case when we claim that we do something for a certain reason (e.g. from altruism) and truly believe our claim, while in fact we are motivated by some unconscious drive (e.g. self-interest)? Is it possible that there’s a continuum between confabulation and hypocrisy, with various grades of self-delusion, and perhaps ‘involuntary deception’, in between?

Response to question 2 - length 8:31

Question 3:

To what extent do you feel that we have free will and so can be the first cause of some act, or do you feel that our acts are always motivated by some prior cause? Thought may be able to inhibit emotions but in thinking about alternatives we expose ourselves to their emotional impact hypothetically and ultimately make our choice on that basis. So, perhaps free will is an illusion derived, possibly, from our experience of thought.

Response to question 3 - length 9:22

Question 4:

It’s been 200,000 years since the last major evolutionary step for the human species. Since our scientific and technological advances may well have ‘upset the natural selection handcart’ what do you see as the most likely next step in human evolution?

Response to question 4 - length 5:27

If you missed the Ask Mark responses from last week, visit Step 4.7.

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This article is from the free online course:

What Is a Mind?

University of Cape Town