Underlying Behavioral Theory
Figure 1.1 from Lynne (2020) gives the essence of the underlying theory of the Human brain for the Cory-Lynne theory on ego and empathy. In effect, based in paleontology, Humans have evolved with a reptilian core of brain modules overlain by a mammalian group of brain modules. The person in charge works to resolve the natural tension and find balance in the Ego&Empathy, the Self&Other-interest.
Stanovich (2011; see review in Lynne, 2014) provides the foundation for a way to connect the overview of Figure 1.1 with a deeper, modern understanding of how the Human brain works. As illustrated in Figure 1.2, the Human brain can be viewed as having 3- parts that interact through several different submodules, subselves we might argue.
The most fundamental part of the brain, in alignment with the idea of a reptilian core, is the Autonomous Mind, which runs more or less automatically, as in "the genes made me do it." It is in large part what economists refer to as what goes on as though guided by an invisible hand, the unconscious, primal tendency to an ego-based pursuit of self-interest. It is the Self-preserving, the survival at all costs, greed is essential program of Figure 1.1.
The next most fundamental part of the brain is the Algorithmic Mind, that which is associated mainly with the mammalian overlayer in paleontological terms, the Affectional Program of Figure 1.1. The Algorithmic Mind is about bringing Empathy-based other-interest to play in tempering the core tendency to Ego based self-interest. The Empathy-based other-interest works to temper the excessive greed inherent in the pursuit through the Autonomous Mind, the not much considered choices, running without reflection.
And, who chooses? Well, hopefully, the Reflective Mind will step forward, and make good decisions based on the myriad of choices coming out of the Autonomous and Algorithmic Mind modules. Think of the Reflective Mind --- which is the Rational Mind --- like did the Buddha: Lots of possible choices, but we let most go on by, until one comes along that works the best, as we see at the time, pragmatically speaking.
As Adam Smith characterized it, a person would go to the Station of the Impartial Spectator to address and otherwise consider all the information coming of the arenas of Autonomous and Algorithmic Mind and make a choice, a Reflective and Rational Choice. The arrogance of self-love from the Autonomous Mind which is ego based would be tempered by the Algorithmic Mind which is empathy based, with the Reflective and Rational Mind choosing that which the other can go along with, i.e. a choice meeting the standards of a moral philosophy, a set of ethics that worked for everyone.
The problem is, as made clear in Figure 1.3, the Reflective Mind often fails to override what is coming out of the other two arenas, especially out of the Autonomous Mind. It especially can work to ignore the empathy based considerations in the Algorithmic Mind. Empathy may have to be nudged, in order to bring it to the table to temper the more Autonomous, automatic expression of Ego. Also, the person can become lazy, or otherwise unwilling or unable to control choices, and run only on the Autonomous Mind, especially in cases of extreme choices involving food, sex, and drugs. The Reflective Mind --- the Rational Mind --- often fails in engaging and otherwise consulting the Algorithmic Mind in doing the best thing.
Lynne, G.D. Review of Stanovich, K.E. “Rationality and the Reflective Mind.” New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2011, 328 pp., in Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics 53 (2014): 34-35.
Lynne, G.D. Metaeconomics: Tempering Excessive Greed. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2020 ( https://www.palgrave.com/us/book/9783030506001 )