Sunday, March 05, 2006

Mirror Neuron Update

Here's a Nova segment on the discovery and significance of mirror neurons (1, 2). I wonder what E.O. Wilson would say. A new point for contemporary moral sense theorists?

"As we have no immediate experience of what other men feel, we can form no idea of the manner in which they are affected, but by conceiving what we ourselves should feel in the like situation. Though our brother is on the rack, as long as we ourselves are at our ease, our senses will never inform us of what he suffers. They never did, and never can, carry us beyond our own person, and it is by the imagination only that we can form any conception of what are his sensations. Neither can that faculty help us to this any other way, than by representing to us what would be our own, if we were in his case. It is the impressions of our own senses only, not those of his, which our imaginations copy. By the imagination, we place ourselves in his situation."

Adam Smith, Theory of Moral Sentiments, Chapter 1, "Of Sympathy"


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