Loc: New England, USA
Okay, why does this "alert" not exist as just a signal such as a blinking light on a dashboard of your car?
[...] The pain/alert system in the form that we humans sense it, is IMO obsolete an actually contributes moreso to our failures rather than contributing to our survival.
Because that's not how traits biologically develop. To quote Professor Richard Dawkins in his book "The Greatest Show on Earth":Theoretically, the equivalent of a little red flag could painlessly be raised somewhere in the brain, whenever we do something that damages ourselves: pick up a burning hot coal. An imperative admonition, “Don’t do that again!”, or a painless change in the wiring diagram of the brain such that, as a matter of fact, we don’t do it again, would seem (on the face of it) enough. Why the searing agony? The agony can last for days, and from which the memory may never shake itself free? What’s wrong with having a little red flag?
Just as the desire to be slim can overrule hunger, it is clearly possible to over-rule the desire to escape pain. Torture victims may succumb eventually, but they often go through a phase of enduring considerable pain rather than betray their comrades or their ideology. In so far as natural selection can be said to “want” anything, natural selection does not want individuals to sacrifice themselves for the love of a country or for an ideology. Natural selection is “against” individuals over-ruling the warning sensations of pain. Natural selection “wants” us to survive, or more specifically, to reproduce, and be bowed to country or ideology. As far as natural selection is concerned, little red flags will be favored over if they are never over-ruled.
Now, despite philosophical difficulties, the instances where pain was over-ruled for non-Darwinian reasons (reasons of loyalty to country, ideology etc.) would be more frequent if we had a “red flag” in the brain rather than real, intolerable pain. Suppose genetic mutations arose so that people could not feel the excruciating agony of pain but relied upon a “red flag” system to keep them away from bodily damage. It would be so easy for them to resist torture, they would promptly be recruited as spies. Except that it would be so easy to recruit agents prepared to bear torture that torture would simply stop being used as a method of extortion. But, in a wild state, would such pain-free, “red flag” mutants survive better than rival individuals whose brains do pain in earnest? Would they survive to pass on the genes for “red flag” pain substitutes? Even setting aside the special circumstances of torture, and the special circumstances of loyalty to ideologies, I think we can see that the answer might be no.
Even if a “red flag” system in the brain could be made effective, there seems to be no reason why natural selection would positively favor it over a real pain system just because it is less unpleasant. Natural selection is indifferent to the intensity of suffering. And, just as we should expect if the survival of the fittest underlies the world of nature, the world of nature seems to take no steps at all to reduce the sum total of suffering.
In short, if you can't feel pain, or your pain signalling system is such that you might be reluctant to react to danger, then you increase your likelihood of getting harmed or damaged, which in turn lowers your chances of reproducing and passing that trait on.
Reverend Bill M.http://www.devilsmischief.com
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