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Grand Theories and Everyday BeliefsScience, Philosophy, and their Histories$
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Wallace Matson

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199812691

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199812691.001.0001

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A Brief History of Coping

A Brief History of Coping

Chapter:
(p.10) (p.11) Chapter 2 A Brief History of Coping
Source:
Grand Theories and Everyday Beliefs
Author(s):

Wallace Matson

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199812691.003.0002

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

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