Evolution of Consciousness

PDF EBook by Robert Evan Ornstein

EBook Description

In this review I summarized the book under sixmain topicsthen I wrote my critiques. Evolution of Consciousness PDF EBook.

1.Human are not rational creatures:
Initially I used to believe that the mind is mainly used for making rational decisions. However Ornstein emphasized that “ rationality is one component of the mind, but it is used rarely, and in a very limited area” ( Pg 3) .This limitation in rationality is due to many reasons. One reason is because most of our reaction is done automatically based on stored fixed routines not based on rational thinking. Ornstein stated“ A mind built up with countless specific adaptions can never be rational.. We do not always do what we want, nor do we always know what or why we are doing something.”(221). Another reason is because many mind process are not accessible to conscious awareness under any circumstances (Pg231). A study mentioned in the book showed that ” spontaneous act begins before we are aware we have ‘ decided’ to act.. An unconscious decision center may decide to initiate an action, then there is a period of time which the conscious self can choose to stop the action. Consciousness, the center of the mind/brain system, may well have ‘ negative options’ on our actions. Voting the proposals of the separated minds. However, it does not control or even know about the birth of these action- PDFideas.”(147) .So our many of our actions are initiated unconsciously within the later permission or veto of the consciousness, but usually have no need to be aware of this (pg150).
Moreover Ornstein stated that the primary function of the mental system is not reason or self-analysis, but adaption to the world (pg4). He wrote, “The brain evolved primarily to control different body reactions. It is more like the liver than it is like a computer. It is not organized for thought. Those operations that seem most human- language, perception, and intelligence- make up only a small function of the brain’s functions. The data that we are not using 95 percent of the brain can not be true for a living being, since most of it completely engaged.”(Pg132). Another limitation in our mental system is that we pay attention to urgent events while ignoring the gradual changes even if it were more harmful and dangerous .We pay so much attention to aTerrorist event while paying less attention to issue such as global warming. Moreover human cognitive system stops noticing any event that continues for along time. Ornstein stated, “When an event continues, we stop noticing it. The air conditioner in the room, the noise of the street, our breathing- all seem disappears. This happens because our senses do not respond ti the unchanging stimulation. This decline in response is called sensory adaption”(pg 109)

2.How emotion effect our consciousness:
Another factor that limits mind rationality is emotions. Ornstein mentioned that emotion control human behavior even more than reason and rationality. He stated “Feeling is first in two senses: Emotions appeared first in the mind’s evolution , to operate as a special-purpose organizers. Second, they are at the front of our experience. Since they evolved to short-circuit deliberations, they spring quickly into action, before rational deliberation has the time to function” (Pg 92). His statement is based on a “ New research shows that emotions have a separate system of nerve pathways, through the limbic system to the cortex, allowing emotional signals to avoid conscious control. This signal separation is beneficial in emergencies – we do not have to think before run. But it can make us act in ways’ we’ do not want. Emotions contradict conscious impulses.” (Pg. 80-81). Ornstein believe that mental processes are organized around emotional ideals – how we feel how we want something to be- rather than around thought or reasons . He wrote “What matters is that emotions set our agenda. And they do so largely without our being aware of them. Far from being disorganizing, they are focal point of the mental system’s activity. They govern our choices, they determine our goals and they guide our life. We are, for the most part, in most of life their servants, and we are usually not conscious of them” (97).

3.How the environment affect our mind:
The environment influences the development of human brain. People who encounter different circumstances in their lifetheir brains are developed in different ways.Since“ The nervous systems begins with a great number of possibilities and elects them during our early years.. Abused children are much more aggressive when they become adults, which would seem to indicate that such abused children learn that abuse is a way of life (pg: 129).A study mentioned in the book shows that even children who are in the womb are influenced by their mothers’ behaviors . We can alterour consciousnessby changing our environment .Since “Our normal waking consciousness builds as a model of the world, based on sense and body information, expectations, fantasy, and crazy hopes, and other cognitive processes. If any of these factors is radically altered, an altered state of consciousness may result.” (228).

4.Why do we need to redirect our Consciousness :
We need to redirect our consciousness and mindsince they are not adequate to our contemporary challenges. Our time now so dynamic while the adapted cognitive system evolved form a stable world. Ornstein stated “The ancestral system of adaptions flourished when the world was stable. And it is this stability that is so changed in the modern world. The world that we adapted to is no more. The mind is the way it is because the world was the way it was some 40.000 years ago”(253). He then continued,“Now humanity is changing the world beyond the generation-to-generations adaption time. Now human inventiveness is overwhelming human adaptiveness . Once an invention becomes widespread such as electronics or jet planes, everyone is under pressure to adapt to a new situation. As a result of the way we evolved our ability to judge lags behind our ability to create.(256)”.

5.How can weredirect our mind:
Even though Ornstein mentioned many limitation on human mind he believe thatit can be redirected. He stated ‘ People can consciously redirect their mind, but, like learning to read or to do math , this ability does not come naturally “ (p7). The first step to redirect the brain is to understand it’s limitation and the first step to strengthen consciousness isto understand it’s weakness. Ornstein wrote that we can strengthen the consciousness by brining the automated routines to consciousness using self observations (239). The observer simply watches his actions and notice what is happeningthen try to redirect his consciousness. These exercise are called in ‘ Just siting” zen ,Mindfullness in Youga ‘ self observation “in Sufisim (243). Ornstein emphasized that small shift in the minds operations can change is greatly. We should concentrate in redirecting our consciousness not in improving rationality. He proposed anaction plan to alter consciousness ” We have to take command of our evolution now and begin a massive program for conscious changes in the way we think, the way we relate o other, the way we identify with the rest of humanity.. WE need a new curriculum about the nature of the human mind now, and we need to require politicians to pay attention to the long-term consequences of their actions. WE need to update our education continually, in schools, in the home, and in the media, and teach a new upbringing. We need school curricula to teach about why our mind react quickly to emergencies, whereas small, slow changes in the world are the real threats. Humanity and its limit, should be what is thought early on, along with geography and the like.”(pg268).

6.Some Critiques :
The bookprovides an excellent explanation forthe nature of the brain consciousness,emotions and how evolution influence the way deal with the world. However , there are many repetitions of information in the book without any added value. Also many times he mentioned results of studies without wrtingany reference or even mentioning the study title or the research name. This is a big drawback in this book since Itshould be considered a scientific book not a novel. The book explainsthe limitations of the mind and the consciousness with deep details but the solutions the author proposed to deal with this limitation were so general and weak. I could barley see any solution he proposed based on a scientific research. Most of the solutions were like personal advices and motivational speech. Also when he recommended that topics related to mental operations and consciousness should be taught at school, at house and via the media he did not considered the obstacles against applying his recommendations. There are hundreds of topics that should be taught at school and should be covered via the media but this is not happening.
Like this book? Read online this: 12 Brain/Mind Learning Principles in Action, Consciousness.

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