I've been thinking about love recently and wanted to learn more. I read this book last night. Well, actually, Anna told me it had to go back to the library today, so I decided to read the first chapter to see if I wanted to order it again, and then I got a bit sucked in, and then I decided it didn't require full reading but only skimming, and then I was done skimming it.

I was hoping that the book would be a "General Theory" a la Einstein's "General Theory", but it ended up feeling more like "Unspecific, Vague Theories of Love." I was also pretty familiar with a lot of the material. I can't really recommend this book, but I'll quickly summarize the key points:

  • In some sense, we have three brains: the reptile brain, the limbic brain, and the neocortex. All mammals have at least some limbic brain. Higher mammals have more limbic brain and at least some neocortex. Abstract reasoning and logical thought are all about the neocortex. Love and emotions come more from the limbic brain. Thus they cannot be (fully) controlled rationally.
  • Neural networks are rad. I don't necessarily agree with this point or understand why the book was making it.
  • Traditional psychoanalyst theories (Freud etc.) are not valuable. The authors clearly had an axe to grind here. I have no dog in it.
  • We fall in love because we're mammals, and mammals need affection and close connection. This was really the main point.
The authors were trying to argue that new insights in brain theory tell us a lot about love, but I dind't find it especially compelling. It's always fun to read about chicken wire mother experiments, and how emotional expressions cross culture and also species barriers to a large extent, but it didn't really make me think about how to live my life. At least the book was short. A fun fact:
  • Echidna's are pretty much as close to the borderline with reptiles you can get and still be mammals. They are solitary and meet only to mate. They lay eggs and carry the eggs around in a kind of open-air uterus. They also have the smallest limbic brain of any mammal.

Welcome to derifatives.

This is my "public" blog, as opposed to my "private" blog over on livejournal. Of course, with me the public and private are never too far apart, so I'm not 100% sure yet what's going to go here and what's going to go over on livejournal.

Things you're likely to read about here at derifatives:

  • My musical projects
  • My attempts to learn to draw better than a five-year old
  • Technical issues related to machine learning or computer science
  • Books I've been reading
  • Attempts to balance traditional professional, personal, and artistic goals in a world of limited time and resources
I'm sure other topics will pop up as I go along.


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