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The Body, Its Emotions, the Self, and Consciousness


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Boyd, GW 2012 , 'The Body, Its Emotions, the Self, and Consciousness' , Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, vol. 55, no. 3 , pp. 362-377 , doi: 10.1353/pbm.2012.0031.

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Available under University of Tasmania Standard License.


This article proposes a means for better understanding the self and
consciousness. Data indicate that the basic “emotional brain” continually computes
potential survival risk against reward to rank consequent “emotion scores” for all sensory
inputs. These scores compete to yield winner-takes-all outcomes that determine
the choice of attention or action. This mechanism prevails regardless of whether the
competing options gain their emotion scores through a rational or an intuitive pathway.
There is no need to postulate any homunculus or inner self in control of such
choice; indeed, our belief in a first-person self in overall control is wrong.The self is a
passive construct arising from each individual’s social development, where language
acquisition vastly heightens communication and awareness not only outwardly, but also
inwardly, as if to a controlling “inner I.” However, when society comes to hold the
maturing being accountable for his or her actions, the brain must respond, and it does
so in the only way it can, by deeming that this passive, inner self-construct act as if it
were the active self in charge. Consciousness emerges when the language-based output
of the higher brain is referred for ownership to this artificial self-construct.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Boyd, GW
Journal or Publication Title: Perspectives in Biology and Medicine
Publisher: University of Tasmania Library Special and Rare Materials Collection
ISSN: 1529-8795(e-ISSN) 0031-5982 (Print ISSN)
DOI / ID Number: 10.1353/pbm.2012.0031
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