ALPHABETICAL BRAIN™ VOCABULARY
HUMANIST GALAXY
OF SECULAR SCIENCE STARS
ANTONIO DAMASIO

July 16, 2021

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THE STRANGE ORDER OF THINGS:
Life, Feelings, and
the Making of Cultures

by Antonio Damasio
Pantheon, 2018 (336 pages)

www.antoniodamasio.com

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BOOK OUTLINE
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PART 1 --- BEGINNINGS (3-8)

1) ON THE HUMAN CONDITION (11-32)
    [1] A Simple Idea (11-15)

    [2] Feeling Versus Intellect (15-17)

    [3] How Original Was the Human Cultural Mind? (17-19)

    [4] Humble Beginnings (19-22)

    [5] From the Life of Social Insects (22-24)

    [6] Homeostasis (24-27)

    [7] Foreshadowing Minds and Feelings Is Not the Same as Generating Minds and Feelings (27-28)

    [8] Early Organisms and Human Cultures (28-32)
2) IN A REGION OF UNLIKENESS (33-43)
    [9] Life (34-36)

    [10] Life on the Move (37-43)
3) VARIETIES OF HOMEOSTASIS (44-52)
    [11] The Distinct Varieties of Homeostasis (47-48)

    [12] Homeostasis Now (48-49)

    [13] The Roots of an Idea (49-52)
4) FROM SINGLE CELLS TO NERVOUS SYSTEMS AND MINDS (53-68)
    [14] Ever Since Bacterial Life (53-56)

    [15] Nervous Systems (56-65)

    [16] The Living Body and the Mind (65-68)
PART 2 — ASSEMBLING THE CULTURAL MIND (69-161)

5) THE ORIGIN OF MINDS (71-83)
    [17] The Momentous Transition (71-72)

    [18] Minded Life (72-75)

    [19] The Big Conquest (75-77)

    [20] Images Require Nervous Systems (77-79)

    [21] Images of the World Outside Our Organism (79-80)

    [22] Images of the World Internal to Our Organism (80-83)
6) EXPANDING MINDS (84-98)
    [23] The Hidden Orchestra (84-87)

    [24] Image Making (87-89)

    [25] Meanings, Verbal Translations, and the Making of Memories (89-91)

    [26] Enriching Minds (91-93)

    [27] A Note on Memory (93-98)
7) AFFECT (99-161)
    [28] What Feelings Are (102-105)

    [29] Valence (105-107)

    [30] Kinds of Feelings (107-108)

    [31] The Emotive Response Process (108-109)

    [32] Where Do Emotive Responses Come From? (110-112)

    [33] Emotional Stereotypes (112-113)

    [34] The Inherent Sociality of Drives, Motivations, and Conventional Emotions (113-115)

    [35] Layered Feelings (115-116)
8) THE CONSTRUCTION OF FEELINGS (117-142)
    [36] Where Do Feelings Come From? (121-124)

    [2] Assembling Feelings (124-125)

    [3] The Continuity of Bodies and Nervous Systems (125-128)

    [4] The Role of the Peripheral Nervous System (128-131)

    [5] Other Peculiarities of the Body-Brain Relationship (131-133)

    [6] The Neglected Role of the Gut (133-136)

    [7] Where Are Feeling Experiences Located? (136-138)

    [8] Feelings Explained? (138-140)

    [9] An Aside on Remembrances of Feelings Past (140-142)
9) CONSCIOUSNESS (143-161)
    [1] About Consciousness (143-144)

    [2] Observing Consciousness (144-148)

    [3] Subjectivity: The First and Indispensable Component of Consciousness (148-153)

      (1) Building a perspective for mental images (149-152)

      (2) Feeling: the other ingredient of subjectivity (152-153)

    [4] The Second Component of Consciousness: Integrating Experiences (153-156)

    [5] From Sensing to Consciousness (156-159)

    [6] An Aside on the Hard Problem of Consciousness (159-161)
PART 3 — THE CULTURAL MIND AT WORK (163-244)

10) ON CULTURES (165-193)
    [1] The Human Cultural Mind in Action (165-167)

    [2] Homeostasis and the Biological Roots of Cultures (167-169)

    [3] Distinctive Human Cultures (169-170)

    [4] Feelings as Arbiters and Negotiators (170-172)

    [5] Assessing the Merits of an Idea (172-175)

    [6] From Religious Beliefs and Morality to Political Governance (175-179)

    [7] The Arts, Philosophical Inquiry, and the Sciences (179-183)

    [8] Contradicting an Idea (183-185)

    [9] Taking Stock (185-191)

    [10] A Hard Day's Night (191-193)
11) MEDICINE, IMMORTALITY, AND ALGORITHMS (194-210)
    [1] Modern Medicine (194-198)

    [2] Immortality (198-200)

    [3] The Algorithmic Account of Humanity (200-206)

    [4] Robots Serving Humans (206-209)

    [5] Back to Mortality (209-210)
12) ON THE HUMAN CONDITION NOW (211-233)
    [1] An Ambiguous State of Affairs (211-218)

    [2] Is There a Biology Behind the Cultural Crisis? (218-227)

    [3] An Unresolved Clash (227-233)
13) THE STRANGE ORDER OF THINGS (234-244)

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS (245-247)

NOTES AND REFERENCES (249-294)

INDEX (295-310)

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR, SUMMARY,
AND BOOK DESCRIPTION

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR = Antonio Damasio is University Professor; David Dornsife Professor of Neuroscience, Psychology, and Philosophy; and director of the Brain and Creativity Institute at the University of Southern California. Awards he has received include the Prince of Asturias Prize in Science and Technology, the Grawemeyer Award, the Honda Prize, and the Pessoa and Signoret prizes. In 2017 he received the Freud Medal from the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences. Damasio is a member of the National Academy of Medicine and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Bavarian Academy of Sciences.

He is the author of Descartes' Error, The Feeling of What Happens, Looking for Spinoza and Self Comes to Mind, all of which have been published in translation and are taught in universities throughout the world.

www.antoniodamasio.com

SUMMARY = From one of our preeminent neuroscientists: a landmark reflection that spans the biological and social sciences, offering a new way of understanding the origins of life, feeling, and culture.

BOOK DESCRIPTION = The book is a pathbreaking investigation into homeostasis, the condition that regulates human physiology within the range that makes possible not only the survival but also the flourishing of life. Antonio Damasio makes clear that we descend biologically, psychologically, and even socially from a long lineage that begins with single living cells.

Damasio assumes that our minds and cultures are linked by an invisible thread to the ways and means of ancient unicellular life and other primitive life-forms. And he further assumes that inherent in our very chemistry is a powerful force, a striving toward life maintenance that governs life in all its guises. This chemical force includes the development of genes that help regulate and transmit life.

Damasio's book gives us new arguments with which to comprehend the world and our place in it!

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EDITORIAL BOOK REVIEWS
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LIBRARY JOURNAL REVIEW = Neuroscientist Damasio (neuroscience, psychology, & philosophy, Univ. of Southern California; Self Comes to Mind) argues that feelings such as pain, suffering, and pleasure were key motivators encouraging the development of culture, which is a uniquely human phenomenon. Central to the author's theory is the relationship between feelings and homeostasis (the state of equilibrium between internal and external forces). Homeostasis is the foundation of all forms of life and is a driving force in the struggle for survival within the simplest cells, such as bacteria, as well as in complex organisms, such as humans. Feelings are connected to homeostasis in that they are, according to Damasio, "the subjective experiences of the momentary state of homeostasis within a living body." Every living organism aims to achieve homeostasis for survival, but only those with nervous systems are capable of feelings.

It is feelings, argues the Damasio, with their inherent connection to the concept of homeostasis, that spurred the development of culture. His sophisticated and complex theory on the role of feelings in the emergence of culture incorporates hard science, neuroscience, and even philosophy. VERDICT Densely packed with information, this title will appeal primarily to avid science readers who are interested in discovering new ways of looking at the world and the complex relationship of humans to it. – Ragan O'Malley, Saint Ann's School, Brooklyn

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY REVIEW = Damasio (Self Comes to Mind), director of the Brain and Creativity Institute at the University of Southern California, continues his quest for a theory of human consciousness, here linking feelings and culture with homeostasis and evolution. His ideas are exciting, yet his explanations tend to be abstract, as when he writes that "the constructions that inhabit our minds can well be imagined as ephemeral musical performances, played by several hidden orchestras." Attempting to explain "the biological underpinnings of the human cultural mind," Damasio begins with the Cambrian unicellular organism and shows how the mapping of internal and external images led to the development of nervous systems, which in turn laid the groundwork for verbal language, consciousness, subjectivity, and feeling. Damasio posits that feelings in humans "arose from a series of gradual, body-related processes... accumulated and maintained over evolution." He then explores the biological roots of culture, particularly the role homeostasis played in generating behavioral strategies. Damasio extends his thinking on homeostasis to the shaping of moral codes and the emergence of religious and political systems, and even to the internet and what he dubs "the current crisis of the human condition." Wide in scope, though occasionally difficult to follow, Damasio's book contains moments of genius but feels like a work in progress.

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PROFESSIONAL BOOK REVIEW HIGHLIGHTS
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[1] Almost a quarter century after Descartes' Error, Antonio Damasio has done it again—created a grand exploration of the inextricable relationship between mind, body, and the source of human feelings. Along the way, Damasio takes the reader on an adventure that starts with the single-celled organisms that existed billions of years ago, proceeds through the development of nervous systems and brains, and culminates with the origin of consciousness and human cultures. Thought-provoking and highly original, this book can change the way you look at yourself, and your species. —Leonard Mlodinow, author of Subliminal

[2] The book is a foundational book. It provides the concepts, the language, and the knowledge to explain in an integrated framework the interplay between Nature and Culture at the heart of the human condition. Damasio unveils the codes and protocols that make humans human. After a long period of fragmentation of science, he ushers in a paradigm that reunites scientific knowledge, beyond the diversity of its fields of inquiry, around the study of the networks of the mind in communication with the networks of its biological and social existence. This is the beginning of a new scientific revolution. —Manuel Castells, Emeritus Professor of Sociology, University of California, Berkeley

[3] In the book, Antonio Damasio presents a new vision of what it means to be human. For too long we have thought of ourselves as rational minds inhabiting insentient mechanical bodies. Breaking with this philosophy, Damasio shows how our minds are rooted in feeling, a creation of our nervous system with an evolutionary history going back to ancient unicellular life that enables us to shape distinctively human cultures. Working out what this implies for the arts, the sciences and the human future, Damasio has given us that rarest of things, a book that can transform how we think—and feel—about ourselves. —John Gray, author of Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals

[4] Bold and important….Damasio, by unseating the mind from its elevated throne within the brain, delivers an onslaught on one of the core dogmas of conventional neuroscience. In his view, mind is distributed — for instance, to distant anatomical regions such as the peripheral neural networks that control organ function. Thus, different tissues in the body contribute incrementally to the mind's function. Damasio's vision offers a new and specific incarnation of the thesis of unified body and mind….Compelling and refreshingly original. —Nature

[5] Damasio analyzes the continuities and the differences between natural life and human cultures, considered in their artistic, political, ethical and medical dimensions. In this effort the borders of the human do not disappear but are instead shifted, made movable. As a result, his exploration of life"s surprises becomes a stimulating and exhilarating exercise in redefining humanity itself... Damasio's books are marvels of scientific effervescence, of conceptual invention, and, in the end, of modesty, of that sense of the limits of knowledge that only knowledge is capable of imposing.. .In Damasio's thinking, to live consists of projecting yourself into life, shunning vulnerability and death, powered by a foundational force that he names homeostasis, a concept that The the book perfects and amplifies. —Le Monde

[6] The originality of the unity proposed by Damasio is that it is rooted on the mechanisms of life itself and in particular on the conditions of its regulation, an ensemble of phenomena generally designated by a single word: homeostasis. This daring approach allows us to tease apart the links between cultures and nature and to deepen as never before the question of how the cultural process can be humanized... The book bridges two contradictory readings of the elaboration of culture and human behaviors: autonomous cultural phenomena versus the consequences of natural selection conveyed by genes. For Damasio there is no need to choose between them. Damasio also refuses to reduce cultural phenomena to their biological origin, or to explain the ensemble of cultural phenomena in pure scientific terms... Intriguingly, this novel Copernican revolution in no way reduces the specificity of the human, on the contrary... Here is a new, strange and unassailable definition of life. —Slate (France)

[7] For this world renowned scientist brain and body are in dissociable and produce the mind jointly... Ever since his first book, Damasio has not wavered in his efforts to rehabilitate emotions and feelings within cognitive processes. In The Strange Order of Things he nails down the effort and goes well beyond... Feelings are agents of homeostasis, the powerful principle behind the regulation of life. The human saga, in the strict sense, owes a lot to a highly developed cerebral cortex, but the essentials of that saga had been germinating long before. —Les Echos

[8] [Damasio exerts a considerable influence on the fashioning of contemporary thought and on all debates concerning neurology. Damasio is one of the great thinkers of our time. A pioneer in his field. —L'Express.

[9] Damasio has introduced something baroque in a science that has been centered in one single organ, the brain. The Strange Order of Things vibrates with a baroque sensibility. The word baroque has a Portuguese origin and signifies 'irregular pearl'. Human intelligence and its products are irregular pearls and not perfect algorithms...The book is a biological interpretation of human phenomena, complex human societies included. The book expands on a proposal Damasio made following his first discoveries in the eighties: the brain is only a part of a whole and that whole is the body. Together body and brain engender feelings... Feelings are sentinels for life's fragility, for the body's mortality. This is how Damasio installs homeostasis at the origin of all human endeavors. We can not attain any goal without the desire to attain it, in short, without desire itself. —Le Figaro.

[10] This disturbing book shakes our conceptions of the mechanisms behind life, mind and culture. The author brings them together in a single perspective centered on homeostasis … It is incredibly, formidably, refreshing... This is a memorable book. A strange and ambitious book, which draws on multiple disciplines and moves across time and space to give us, very simply, a new definition of life. —Revue Medicale Suisse.

[12] Bold and important. By unseating the mind from its elevated throne within the brain, Damasio delivers an onslaught on one of the core dogmas of conventional neuroscience. In his view, mind is distributed — for instance, to distant anatomical regions such as the peripheral neural networks that control organ function. Thus, different tissues in the body contribute incrementally to the mind's function. Damasio's vision offers a new and specific incarnation of the thesis of unified body and mind….Compelling and refreshingly original. —Nature.

[13] Damasio analyzes the continuities and the differences between natural life and human cultures, considered in their artistic, political, ethical and medical dimensions. In this effort the borders of the human do not disappear but are instead shifted, made movable. As a result, his exploration of life's surprises becomes a stimulating and exhilarating exercise in redefining humanity itself... Damasio's books are marvels of scientific effervescence, of conceptual invention, and, in the end, of modesty, of that sense of the limits of knowledge that only knowledge is capable of imposing... In Damasio's thinking, to live consists of projecting yourself into life, shunning vulnerability and death, powered by a foundational force that he names homeostasis, a concept that The Strange Order of Things perfects and amplifies. —Le Monde

[14] For this world renowned scientist brain and body are indissociable and produce the mind jointly... Ever since his first book, Damasio has not wavered in his efforts to rehabilitate emotions and feelings within cognitive processes. In This book, he nails down the effort and goes well beyond... Feelings are agents of homeostasis, the powerful principle behind the regulation of life. The human saga, in the strict sense, owes a lot to a highly developed cerebral cortex, but the essentials of that saga had been germinating long before. —Les Echos

[15] This disturbing book shakes our conceptions of the mechanisms behind life, mind and culture. The author brings them together in a single perspective centered on homeostasis … It is incredibly, formidably, refreshing....This is a memorable book. A strange and ambitious book, which draws on multiple disciplines and moves across time and space to give us, very simply, a new definition of life. —Revue Medicale Suisse.

HIGHLIGHTS OF FRENCH REVIEWS FOR THE FRENCH TRANSLATION

LE FIGARO, 11.23.2017

"Damasio has introduced something baroque in a science that has been centered in one single organ, the brain. The book vibrates with a baroque sensibility. The word baroque has a Portuguese origin and signifies "irregular pearl". Human intelligence and its products are irregular pearls and not perfect algorithms."

"The book is a biological interpretation of human phenomena, complex human societies included. The book expands on a proposal Damasio made following his first discoveries in the eighties: the brain is only a part of a whole and that whole is the body. Together body and brain engender feelings." "Feelings are sentinels for life's fragility, for the body's mortality. This is how Damasio installs homeostasis at the origin of all human endeavors. We can not attain any goal without the desire to attain it, in short, without desire itself."

LES ECHOS, 12.4.2017

"Feelings are agents of homeostasis, the powerful principle behind the regulation of life. The human saga, in the strict sense, owes a lot to a highly developed cerebral cortex, but the essentials of that saga had been germinating long before." "Ever since his first book, Damasio has not wavered in his efforts to rehabilitate emotions and feelings within cognitive processes. In Strange Order of Things he nails down the effort and goes well beyond."

SLATE (France), 11.17.2017

"The Strange Order of Things bridges two contradictory readings of the elaboration of culture and human behaviors: autonomous cultural phenomena versus the consequences of natural selection conveyed by genes. For Damasio there is no need to choose between them. Damasio also refuses to reduce cultural phenomena to their biological origin, or to explain the ensemble of cultural phenomena in pure scientific terms."

"The book is a foundational book. It provides the concepts, the language, and the knowledge to explain in an integrated framework the interplay between Nature and Culture at the heart of the human condition. Damasio unveils the codes and protocols that make humans human. After a long period of fragmentation of science, he ushers in a paradigm that reunites scientific knowledge, beyond the diversity of its fields of inquiry, around the study of the networks of the mind in communication with the networks of its biological and social existence. This is the beginning of a new scientific revolution". -- Manuel Castells, L'Ordre Étrange Des Choses

Reviews for the French Translation:

LE MONDE, 12.1.2017

"In Damasio's thinking, to live consists of projecting yourself into life, shunning vulnerability and death, powered by a foundational force that he names homeostasis, a concept that the Strange Order of Things perfects and amplifies." "Damasio's books are marvels of scientific effervescence, of conceptual invention, and in the end, of modesty, of that sense of the limits of knowledge that only knowledge is capable of imposing." "Damasio analyses the continuities and the difference between natural life and human cultures, considered in the artistic, political, ethical and medical dimension. In this effort the borders of the human do not disappear but are instead shifted, made moveable. And a result, his exploration of life's surprises becomes a stimulating and exhilarating exercise in redefining humanity itself. -- French translation published in November 2017.

"Here is a new, strange and unassailable definition of life." -- Slate (France)

LE FIGARO, 11.23.2017

"[Damasio] has introduced something baroque in a science that has been centered in one single organ, the brain. The Strange Order of things vibrates with a baroque sensibility. The word baroque has a Portuguese origin and signifies "irregular pearl". Human intelligence and its products are irregular pearls and not perfect algorithms."

"The Strange Order of Things is a biological interpretation of human phenomena, complex human societies included. The book expands on a proposal Damasio made following his first discoveries in the eighties: the brain is only a part of a whole and that whole is the body. Together body and brain engender feelings." "Feelings are sentinels for life's fragility, for the body's mortality. This is how Damasio installs homeostasis at the origin of all human endeavors. We can not attain any goal without the desire to attain it, in short, without desire itself."

LES ECHOS, 12.4.2017

"Feelings are agents of homeostasis, the powerful principle behind the regulation of life. The human saga, in the strict sense, owes a lot to a highly developed cerebral cortex, but the essentials of that saga had been germinating long before." "Ever since his first book, Damasio has not wavered in his efforts to rehabilitate emotions and feelings within cognitive processes. In Strange Order of Things he nails down the effort and goes well beyond."

SLATE (France), 11.17.2017

"The book bridges two contradictory readings of the elaboration of culture and human behaviors: autonomous cultural phenomena versus the consequences of natural selection conveyed by genes. For Damasio there is no need to choose between them. Damasio also refuses to reduce cultural phenomena to their biological origin, or to explain the ensemble of cultural phenomena in pure scientific terms."

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EXCERPT - BEGINNING
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1 = This book is about one interest and one idea. I have long been intrigued in human affect — the world of emotions and feelings --- and have spent many years investigating it: why and how we emote, feel, use feelings to construct our selves; how feelings assist or undermine our best intentions; why and how brains interact with the body to support such functions. I have new facts and interpretations to share on these matters.

As for the idea, it is very simple: feelings have not been given the credit they deserve as motives, monitors, and negotiators of human cultural endeavors. Humans have distinguished themselves from all other beings by creating a spectacular collection of objects, practices, and ideas, collectively known as cultures. The collection includes the arts, philosophical inquiry, moral systems and religious beliefs, justice, governance, economic institutions, and technology and science. Why and how did this process begin? A frequent answer to this question invokes an important faculty of the human mind — verbal language --- along with distinctive features such as intense sociality and superior intellect. For those who are biologically inclined the answer also includes natural selection operating at the level of genes. I have no doubt that intellect, sociality, and language have played key roles in the process, and it goes without saying that the organisms capable of cultural invention, along with the specific faculties used in the invention, are present in humans by the grace of natural selection and genetic transmission. The idea is that something else was required to jump-start the saga of human cultures. That something else was a motive. I am referring specifically to feelings, from pain and suffering to well-being and pleasure.

Consider medicine, one of our most significant cultural enterprises

Medicine's combination of technology and science began as a response to the pain and suffering caused by diseases of every sort, from physical trauma and infections to cancers, contrasted with the very opposite of pain and suffering: well-being, pleasures, the prospect of thriving. Medicine did not begin as an intellectual sport meant to exercise one's wits over a diagnostic puzzle or a physiological mystery. It began as a consequence of specific feelings of patients and specific feelings of early physicians, including but not limited to the compassion that may be born of empathy. Those motives remain today. No reader will have failed to notice how visits to the dentist and surgical procedures have changed for the better in our own lifetime. The primary motive behind improvements such as efficient anesthetics and precise instrumentation is the management of feelings of discomfort.

The activity of engineers and scientists plays a commendable role in this endeavor, but it is a motivated role. The profit motive of the drug and instrumentation industries also plays a significant part because the public does need to reduce its suffering and industries respond to that need. The pursuit of profit is fueled by varied yearnings, a desire for advancement, prestige, even greed, which are none other than feelings. It is not possible to comprehend the intense effort to develop cures for cancers or Alzheimer's disease without considering feelings as motives, monitors, and negotiators of the process. Nor is it possible to comprehend, for example, the less intense effort with which Western cultures have pursued cures for malaria in Africa or the management of drug addictions most everywhere without considering the respective web of motivating and inhibiting feelings. Language, sociality, knowledge, and reason are the primary inventors and executors of these complicated processes. But feelings get to motivate them, stay on to check the results, and help negotiate the necessary adjustments.

The idea, in essence, is that cultural activity began and remains deeply embedded in feeling. The favorable and unfavorable interplay of feeling and reason must be acknowledged if we are to understand the conflicts and contradictions of the human condition.

2 = How did humans come to be at the same time sufferers, mendicants, celebrants of joy, philanthropists, artists and scientists, saints and criminals, benevolent masters of the earth and monsters intent on destroying it? The answer to this question requires the contributions of historians and sociologists, for certain, as well as those of artists, whose sensibilities often intuit the hidden patterns of the human drama, but the answer also requires the contributions of different branches of biology.

As I considered how feelings could not only drive the first flush of cultures but remain integral to their evolution, I searched for a way to connect human life, as we know it today--equipped with minds, feelings, consciousness, memory, language, complex sociality, and creative intelligence --- with early life, as early as 3.8 billion years ago. To establish the connection, I needed to suggest an order and a time line for the development and appearance of these critical faculties in the long history of evolution.

The actual order of appearance of biological structures and faculties that I uncovered violates traditional expectations and is as strange as the book title implies. In the history of life, events did not comply with the conventional notions that we humans have formed for how to build the beautiful instrument I like to call a cultural mind.

Intending to tell a story about the substance and consequences of human feeling, I came to recognize that our ways of thinking about minds and cultures are out of tune with biological reality. When a living organism behaves intelligently and winningly in a social setting, we assume that the behavior results from foresight, deliberation, complexity, all with the help of a nervous system. It is now clear, however, that such behaviors could also have sprung from the bare and spare equipment of a single cell, namely, in a bacterium, at the dawn of the biosphere. The word, "Strange" is too mild a word to describe this reality.

We can envision an explanation that begins to accommodate the counterintuitive findings. The explanation draws on the mechanisms of life itself and on the conditions of its regulation, a collection of phenomena that is generally designated by a single word: homeostasis. Feelings are the mental expressions of homeostasis, while homeostasis, acting under the cover of feeling, is the functional thread that links early life-forms to the extraordinary partnership of bodies and nervous systems. That partnership is responsible for the emergence of conscious, feeling minds that are, in turn, responsible for what is most distinctive about humanity: cultures and civilizations. Feelings are at the center of the book, but they draw their powers from homeostasis.

Connecting cultures to feeling and homeostasis strengthens their links to nature and deepens the humanization of the cultural process. Feelings and creative cultural minds were assembled by a long process in which genetic selection guided by homeostasis played a prominent role. Connecting cultures to feelings, homeostasis, and genetics counters the growing detachment of cultural ideas, practices, and objects from the process of life.

It should be evident that the connections I am establishing do not diminish the autonomy that cultural phenomena acquire historically. I am not reducing cultural phenomena to their biological roots or attempting to have science explain all aspects of the cultural process. The sciences alone cannot illuminate the entirety of human experience without the light that comes from the arts and humanities.

Discussions about the making of cultures often agonize over two conflicting accounts: one in which human behavior results from autonomous cultural phenomena, and another in which human behavior is the consequence of natural selection as conveyed by genes. But there is no need to favor one account over the other. Human behavior largely results from both influences in varying proportions and order.

Curiously, discovering the roots of human cultures in nonhuman biology does not diminish the exceptional status of humans at all. The exceptional status of each human being derives from the unique significance of suffering and flourishing in the context of our remembrances of the past and of the memories we have constructed of the future we incessantly anticipate.

3 = We humans are born storytellers, and we find it very satisfying to tell stories about how things began. We have reasonable success when the thing to be storied is a device or a relationship, love affairs and friendships being great themes for stories of origins. We are not so good and we are often wrong when we turn to the natural world. How did life begin? How did minds, feelings, or consciousness begin? When did social behaviors and cultures first appear? There is nothing easy about such an endeavor. When the laureate physicist Erwin Schrödinger turned his attention to biology and wrote his classic book What Is Life?, it should be noted that he did not title it The "Origins" of Life. He recognized a fool's errand when he saw it.

Still, the errand is irresistible. This book is dedicated to presenting some facts behind the making of minds that think, create narratives and meaning, remember the past and imagine the future; and to presenting some facts behind the machinery of feeling and consciousness responsible for the reciprocal connections among minds, the outside world, and its respective life. In their need to cope with the human heart in conflict, in their desire to reconcile the contradictions posed by suffering, fear, anger, and the pursuit of well-being, humans turned to wonder and awe and discovered music making, dancing, painting, and literature. They continued their efforts by creating the often beautiful and sometimes frayed epics that go by such names as religious belief, philosophical inquiry, and political governance.

From cradle to grave, these were some of the ways in which the cultural mind addressed the human drama. "A pathbreaking investigation into homeostasis, the condition of that regulates human physiology within the range that makes possible not only the survival but also the flourishing of life. Antonio Damasio makes clear that we descend biologically, psychologically, and even socially from a long lineage that begins with single living cells; that our minds and cultures are linked by an invisible thread to the ways and means of ancient unicellular life and other primitive life-forms; and that inherent in our very chemistry is a powerful force, a striving toward life maintenance that governs life in all its guises, including the development of genes that help regulate and transmit life." -- by publisher.

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