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Ask Mark – Week 4 responses

Ask Mark responses
© University of Cape Town CC-BY-NC

Thank you to everyone who posted questions last week. I have recorded a response to four of the many interesting questions you had posed in Step 4.8 of Week 4. My video responses are on YouTube with links below. Transcripts will be posted as soon as they are available.

Question 1: You speak in very broad terms about cognition and emotions. It is very enlightening to me, when you use the external/internal distinction to differentiate those two forms of mental life. Speaking in terms of brain (functional) asymmetry, would you confirm that right hemisphere is more internally oriented, and that the left hemisphere is more externally oriented? And if not, then what kind of basic distinction would you choose, if you had to, to explain brain lateralization?

Question 2: We so often must make a decision only to end up making the wrong one. The irony of the matter is that most often the correct choice came to mind first and as such you just knew it but when you start pondering about it you end up making the wrong one. Why do we doubt our instincts? Could this be because we could not learn from our own mistakes but from those of others. Many have lost their lives because they did not trust their initial thoughts and instincts. Many have lost fortunes not going with their initial instinct. What is it about ourselves that makes us doubt ourselves especially so in life threatening situations. Or is this merely like flipping a coin?
Question 3: Following that the pleasure/unpleasure are the biological determinants of our decisions, and underpin our value choices, does this mean that we humans are absolutely egocentric, even when motivated by ‘higher’ needs, like self-actualisation, or social justice, or human rights? How is it that martyrs will ignore the unpleasure of social rejection and can pursue ‘higher’ needs? It seems we decide to endure what we expect to be lesser pain in the service of greater pleasure and that underpins ‘value-related’ decisions. Is there no point at which humans become ‘noble’, not merely bestial?
Question 4: Is depression simply a lesser amount of the encephalitis lethargica? I’ve got it that people suffering from depression have lost motivation for seeking, etc., not finding enough meaning in life.

I look forward to your questions for this week – you can post them in Step 5.12 of Week 5

© University of Cape Town CC-BY-NC
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