A Brief History of Coping

Wallace Matson

in Grand Theories and Everyday Beliefs

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199812691
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199919420 | DOI:
A Brief History of Coping

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Plants cope passively with their environments. Animals can act – move from places less to more favorable for feeding, fighting, fleeing, and/or reproducing accordingly as their nervous systems provide internal indications of their situations. The actions are reflex – 'hard-wired' responses to specific stimuli – and/or instinctive, more general behavior patterns acquired by evolutionary 'slow learning,' and/or choice. Acquisition of memory enables an animal to modify its own behavior patterns, by trial-and-error learning. With memory comes the notion of a sequence in time, therefore of consequences of happenings and doings, therefore of a future, therefore of goals. Goals are objects of desires. Hence animals with memory can choose between courses of action, the anticipated consequences of which differ in value, imagined desirability.Anticipations are one kind of belief. They are all practical to begin with, and are frequently jeopardized This means that propensities to form erroneous beliefs get selected out. So nearly all beliefs of the kind subject to the selection process are true, that is to say, they constitute a sufficiently accurate map of whatever is the object of coping.

Keywords: choice; action; reflex; instinct; memory; anticipation; belief; value; desire; future

Chapter.  8741 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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