By Noshir H. Antia
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Extra info for A Life of Change
Although the left hemisphere of this adolescent boy did not see the word, immediately after kiss was exposed to the mute right hemisphere, the left blurted out, "Hey, no way, no way. " When asked what it was that he was not going to do, he was unable to tell us. Later, we presented kiss to the left hemisphere and a similar response occurred: "No way. " However, this time the speaking half-brain knew what the word was. In both instances, the command kiss elicited an emotional reaction that was detected by the verbal system of the left hemisphere, and the overt verbal response of the left hemisphere was basically the same, regardless of whether the command was presented to the right or left half-brain.
Hebb's observations should remind us of the strategy of the ethologist. The ethologist looks to find patterns of behavior in animals. If there are patterns that occur again and again, and if these patterns can be found in isolated groups and even in closely related but different species, then this is some evidence for a homologous behavior. The ethologist is not therefore much distinct from the evolutionary biologist, utilizing the concept of homology for behaviors as well as for anatomical structures (where homologous behaviors would presumably arise from, and ultimately be explained by reference to, homologous structures).
What it is to be aware of a state is not clear, and there certainly are mental states of which the subject is not aware but which influence working-conscious action. This lack of clarity alone casts grave doubts upon the idea that we can gain any definitive understanding of emotions by asserting that they are conscious, or by otherwise finding a role for consciousness in them. Thus, in order to try to ground my discussion of consciousness and emotions, I will have to find some criteria for something's being conscious.