Is despair due to underperforming canonical neurons?

This is going to circumnavigate a bit.

I disambiguate between despair and depression thus: despair is a Frame which sees the future as hopeless because no possible actions appear to lead to good ends, whereas depression is a pessimistic emotional state adapted for high-risk, low-reward environments that is miserly about spending energy. Despair is a natural Frame for old-timey pagans and intellectually honest atheists/agnostics (because happiness is fleeting, and all actions end in darkness and death), and a sinful state for Christians, whereas depression is caused by anger leading to many frustrations over time (like all emotions, it’s just something that happens to you).

Most mirror neurons fire in three cases:

1) When we perform the neuron’s action
2) When we perform “preparatory” actions that anticipates the neuron’s action
3) Empathizing when we watch someone else perform the neuron’s action (also when we anticipate someone else performing the action)

For example, when I pick up an apple many of the neurons in area F5 fire. When I pick up a paper towel with the intention of polishing an apple, many of the same neurons in F5 fire in anticipation. When I watch someone else pick up an apple, the same neurons fire in conceptual understanding of what I’m seeing.

Recently I learned about a type of mirror neuron called a canonical neuron that also fires under a fourth condition.

A class of neurons—called canonical neurons—fires when we reach for an apple. Canonical neurons also fire at the mere sight of an apple. In other words, our brains respond identically to reaching for an apple and just seeing the apple.

There’s more. Neurons will also respond to hearing “apple,” or seeing the word on paper. In short, whether it’s by sight or sound or written symbol, our brains recognize the main idea of an object—and resonate with it.

The main idea of an apple? You eat it.

The main idea of a spear? You throw it.

As neuroscientist Marco Iacoboni says, “the [actions] necessary to obtain and eat a piece of fruit are inherently linked to our very understanding of the fruit.” French scientist Dan Sperber has suggested the term “concept neuron” for this mechanism.

If our brains can recognize the main idea of an apple of spear (and resonate accordingly—and automatically) why not also with bigger ideas like capitalism, socialism, Sunday brunch—or jihad?

Nathan Jaye
Canonical Neurons: The Main Idea

So canonical neurons fire during pickup, during anticipation, during cognitive empathy, and also simply by recognizing the possibility of performing the action.

This leads me to a weird personal anecdote. Back in the day I worked at a strip club with a lowish-functioning psychopath. One time he explained to me that he perceived most people as having “handles” that he could use to easily manipulate them as easily as arranging furniture, whereas I was conspicuously lacking in these handles because I was so caught up in my own head. In contrast, I perceive other people as hopelessly automatic and, even in the cases that I realize I can manipulate them to get what I want, I find it morally repulsive to do so.

Bringing this back around, the primary cause of despair is a perceived lack of power over one’s environment to achieve desirable outcomes. Because homo sapiens are sociopolitical competitors, the most important form of power in one’s environment is manipulation of other people’s perceptions. Thus, we’d expect that a perceived lack of handles in other people is the primary cause of despair in homo sapiens.

I believe my biological ethic in this case is flawed. Like Game or rhetoric, the use of Frame is not evil per se. It’s the use of Game for personal gratification, squandering the common trust, and moral perversion that is evil. Furthermore, just as despair is a sin, it is wrong not to use the tools we are given to serve God, self, church, kin, kith, and so on. That said I still have the feeling that advertising is still illicit in this framework somehow, so I feel I haven’t completely figured this out.

As an example of good manipulation, I recently called my dad a racist for complaining about the antics of two all-black football teams. His reply was “So what?” It seems you can teach an old dog new tricks :-). Now I just need to break him of his Churchian conviction that “almost all people are basically good at heart”.

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About Aeoli Pera

Maybe do this later?
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15 Responses to Is despair due to underperforming canonical neurons?

  1. Aeoli Pera says:

    >What about despairing just because you like the psychosis?

    That doesn’t make any sense. I think we’re talking about different emotional states.

    Video is unavailable for me :-/.

  2. Tom Bri says:

    …Thus, we’d expect that a perceived lack of handles in other people is the primary cause of despair in homo sapiens…

    More, the lack of handles that you personally can grasp. Watching others play a game that you fail at is depressing. The handles are there, you see them but cannot do anything with them.
    (I have never felt despair, being an almost mindlessly hopeful person.)

    …Now I just need to break him of his Churchian conviction that “almost all people are basically good at heart”…

    Oh, don’t do that! Met one on one, ‘most’ people are good at heart. And also evil at heart. We were made good, and choose sin. Be wise as serpents and innocent as doves when dealing with others.

    • Aeoli Pera says:

      >More, the lack of handles that you personally can grasp. Watching others play a game that you fail at is depressing. The handles are there, you see them but cannot do anything with them.

      That may be true but even if so I think it goes deeper than that. I expect that a prisoner perceives “four walls” rather than “three walls and a door I can’t open”.

      >(I have never felt despair, being an almost mindlessly hopeful person.)

      Hope for the best, plan for the worst. Anxiety is a sin, so don’t worry, but do make plans (it’s the best way to keep from worrying).

      >Oh, don’t do that! Met one on one, ‘most’ people are good at heart. And also evil at heart. We were made good, and choose sin. Be wise as serpents and innocent as doves when dealing with others.

      That is a more precise statement. However, we have no knowledge of whether it’s *most* people or not, because there are tares among us.

      Jesus’ statement is the most perfect formulation, but we need to keep in mind he was talking to the apostles.

  3. Edenist Whackjob says:

    “Thus, we’d expect that a perceived lack of handles in other people is the primary cause of despair in homo sapiens.”

    I’ve noticed that getting validation from HBs (Hot Babes) seems to have an intelligence-boosting effects. I tend to level up in life and do more grand things, as if my brains was dusting off old software programs marked “high status only”. Illuminatus seems this is down to opioids and dopamine being released from aforementioned HBs, but I’m not so sure…

  4. Edenist Whackjob says:

    This video seems to be some kind of occult watershed: http://www.informationliberation.com/?id=55512

    Now they are openly promoting colonization. I showed this to my gf, and she was shocked. “There is no way back” at the beginning is just eerie, it’s like the movie “They live”.

    There’s something totally “off” and occult about that video…

    • Edenist Whackjob says:

      Crazy theory: the Evil One is losing his power to deceive us humans, and the propaganda that is going out these days is much less effective. Maybe there’s even some kind of “protection field” in place which regulates just how good the occult manipulation is allowed to get. Like some kind of cosmic censor who says “no, you can’t send *that* ad, you have to make it a bit more obvious to humans that you’re evil”.

      Either that or:

      – The Powers That Be are *really* clever. They’ve decided to sabotage themselves and install Trump to make it seem like the good guys are winning.

      – Our amygdalae are sharpening up. That video above is actually not any less deceptive than previous videos, it’s just that my ability to see through manipulation has increased a lot.

    • Aeoli Pera says:

      Somebody linked that at VP. My comment was that they found a really ugly cross-section of humans of all races.

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