The Emotional Mind


WHEN DARWIN WROTE the Origin of Species, he famously closed the book with the provocative promise that “light will be thrown on the origin of man and his history.”۱ In his Descent of Man and his Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals, Darwin began, as promised, to throw some of that light— especially regarding the emotional and cognitive similarities (homologies) of mammals.2 But shortly after this beacon, all went dark again. The rise of positivism in the early twentieth century, paired with the turn toward ge ne tics and the ascent of behaviorism, effectively lowered the curtain on biological speculations about the evolution of the mind.

When researchers fi nally turned again to the mind in the midtwentieth century, it was the computer that both sparked the cognitive sciences revolution and served as its exclusive investigative heuristic. Yet, for all the successes of artificial intelligence (and they are impressive), our understanding of biological minds seems to have gotten lost in the shuffle. While algorithmic digital computation produces problem- solving machines, such problem- solving— confusedly called “intelligence” by the dominant paradigm— lacks the obvious motivational goads and other affective triggers observed in real animals.

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