Parallel Selves?

Facial expressions, cringing...yeah, I can agree with that. However, the actual pain is absent, IMO. We may mirror a response to what we are observing, but still, it's not completely the same as actually feeling the physical pain. A guy at work skewered his hand accidentally with a metal rod. I can relate to that in the sense that it makes me cringe at the thought, but it's not the same as actually feeling the pain.

But I think we are nitpicking over a fine line here. I agree with you that we do mirror what we see. My best example would be the reflexive yawn one might experience after watching another person yawn.
I agree that at this time we do not yet fully understand the function and implications of the mirror system. It's just a speculative hobby horse of mine.

You cited an example of yawning, but consider a stadium of a hundred thousand people rising as one when their team scores, or a school of fish making a sudden but clearly synchronized change of direction, which can be seen in flocks of birds as well.

Mobs of otherwise rational people being caught up *in the moment* and committing acts they would not dream of when alone.

My intuition tells me the MNN is an important part of our cognitive abilities and I believe may reveal many aspects of how the brain functions and how it relates to our response behaviors.

One little experiment I like to cite : two Bonobo chimpanzees were placed in separate but adjoining cells with a door which can be opened only from one side. The Bonobo in the cell with the door that could be opened is fed a bunch of bananas, but not to the other who could not open the door and just sat by the fence, hungry and miserable.

The clip showed that the Bonobo with the bananas, got up, opened the door and freely shared the bananas with his/her cellmate. It was a remarkable act of selflessness and watching them sit side by side enjoying the tasty treat filled my heart with compassion and admiration.

First, why did the Bonobo with the bananas even want to share of the abundance and secondly, it took analysis and positive action (opening the door) to allow the other to share of his treasure. Just think of the advanced brain processes involved in this scenario. Truly remarkable and admirable behavior for any species, apart from humans.
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