The mirror neuron paradox: How far is understanding from mimicking?
The same mirror neuron system (MNS) is behind both understanding and mimicking. Mirroring per se is the spectator's simulation of the emotion/action of the principal. While the understanding process usually involves the attenuation of original emotions, the mimicking process often leads to escalation and mob psychology. What is paradoxical is how the same primitive, mirroring, gives rise to divergent processes. To solve the paradox, this paper distinguishes between two kinds of evaluations: rationality and niyya. The rationality axis evaluates whether the action is proper (rational) or improper (irrational), while the niyya (an Arabic word for "faith" or "trustworthiness") axis evaluates whether the motive is virtuous (wellbeing-supporting) or malicious (wellbeing-threatening). The interplay of the two-axes promises also to explain the differences among four kinds of fellow-feeling.
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