There's Evidence that Aging Mellows Us

[cite] sleepydave:[/cite]....I can have thoughts that do not involve language....
.... but i believe they can exist without names.
This feels like we're poking around into that lovely question, 'what is consciousness?' Do you need to have language to be conscious? Some say so, which makes all the other animals on earth 'not conscious'. Kind of silly species centric elitism there I 'feel'... or is it 'think'. What is the difference? Think a thought vs. feel a sensation. Can I feel without using language? If not, that means other animals don't feel, which is silly as well. Are you saying that "thoughts" are feelings. Certainly we feel, whether of not we use a word to describe the sensation. In fact, there are sensations - feelings - which have no '[chref=1]name[/chref]' per se - no thought which can adaquately describe them. Then we end up just beat around the 'word' bush... OK, I confess!

Anyway, for me thought implies the use of language, words and names. If thought includes all perception, like feeling emotion and 'seeing' the stuff of the five senses, then all animals have thought. If so, then what does that bird out my window think of me? :) Actually, that jay bird likes me for I give him peanuts every now and then.

Hmm, now is 'like' a thought or a feeling. Let's ask the ant who appears to 'like' honey more than vinegar. Hmm again... are we not just like ants, spending most of our life chasing what we like and avoiding what we dislike. How natural. As a test, notice how emotion precedes thought. When you feel good, good thoughts bubble up. When you feel crappy, crappy thoughts bubble up.
[cite] Topher:[/cite]
(1) I can't say that you are right or wrong because I cannot be without language to test it. Neither can I be sure that I am right or wrong.

(2) I don't see that you can have thoughts or feelings without language.

(3) I believe Helen Keller said that before she gained language, she had no distinct memories. She was unable to create memories without language.
(1) To paraphrase: [chref=2]The right and the wrong complement each other...[/chref] The notion there is more reality in one than the other is why people have so much 'fun' misunderstanding each other.

(2) So are we are lumping "thoughts" and "feelings" into the same language based phenomenon? Thus, if a living thing has no language it doesn't feel? I know you don't mean that, or is suffering not a feeling?

(3) Exactly! Memories are the stuff of language. Language and the sense of a future and past (memories and plans) - the cozy cabin we hang out in until old death comes a knockin' at the door. Cozy 'inside', yet disconnecting us from the 'outside' - inside vs. outside; right vs. wrong. Language tames the wild beast of awareness by squeezing awareness and shoe horning it into the politically (i.e., socially) correct paradigm of the era. Yet, in the end, its promise is always broken, and the chickens always come home to roost. Reality trumps [chref=32]names[/chref], and the arbitrary languages they create, every time.


  • edited December 1969
    Well duh! Anyway, a recent article in Science News (June 24) reporting research on the emotional effects of aging offers evidence for what I see as the only solution to humankind's 'problem'. First, the 'solution',... (see Ethics: Do They Work Anymore? for the full thesis.)

    There may be a silver lining
    As the average age of a population increases, so does its average wisdom. The longer each of us attends the school of life, the more we experience personal dead ends. We become wiser as we realize our own mortality and ignorance. A wiser population can not help but lead to a more mature and ethical culture. Surely, humanity will think and act differently when the average age is 100+ compared to Roman times, for example, when the average age was probably in the teens. Thank you modern medicine! A falling birth rate also moves a population's average age upward. Wealthy populations have declining birth rates, so let's spread the wealth! All in all, things are looking up, . . . and not a moment too soon!

    Older but Mellower: Aging brain shifts gears to emotional advantage
    Here are a few excepts from this article. There were also some very dramatic and convincing brains scans, but I have no way to show these here.

    * Advancing age heralds a growth in emotional stability accompanied by a neural transition to increased control over negative emotions and greater accessibility of positive emotions,

    * In contrast, people under age 50 experience negative emotions more easily than they do positive ones. These younger adults' emotion-related activity centers on the amygdala, a brain structure previously implicated in automatic fear responses.

    * This gradual reorganization of the brain's emotion system may result from older folk responding to accumulating personal experiences by increasingly looking for meaning in life.

    * The researchers studied 122 males and 120 females, ages 12 to 79, who had no current or past mental illnesses and good physical health. Scores on a questionnaire that assesses emotional stability rose steadily from adolescence into the senior years.

    * The new results provide a neural framework for growing evidence that, unlike young people, older adults focus on positive information and downplay negative events.

    This last paragraph sums up the significance. After all, it is our "negative emotions" with the ensuing impulsive reactions that spins much of life out of control. "Downplaying negative events" makes a reflective response more likely. This helps minimize the 'knee jerk' reactions which propel us to extremes, e.g., Bush at age 90+ would have been less likely to rush to war in Iraq than he did at 50+.

    Oddly, for me anyway, is how unconvinced many are when I mention this 'solution'. Has the notion 'the old the wiser' been diluted with 'don't trust anyone over 30'? Of course, thought always tends to paint us into a corner of preconceptions making it difficult to conceive of anything outside that corner. But this idea is no big leap, although it didn't occur to me until just a few years ago. But then [chref=20]my mind is that of a fool - how blank![/chref]

    Andy and I were discussing this as he is unconvinced that 'old is wiser'. So, I asked him, which is wiser, a young racoon or an old racoon. "A younger one", he replied without hesitation. So Andy, 'older is wiser' applies to all animals except humans? Mmmmm... :roll: What do you think?
  • edited December 1969
    You can find the full text of the article, including the brain scans, on the Science News web site:
  • edited December 1969
    Have you ever eaten an old male wild pig? Anything but mellow, my friend. errr... That isn't what you were talking about, was it?
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