Reading Damasio comes with a danger, namely, that you will be forced, by the weight of the knowledge /Information served, to change your view about things that have to do with Life and Evolution of Organisms, especially Homo Sapiens. That has happened to me a few times since I read his first book, two decades ago: Descartes Error. His latest: ‘The Strange Order of Things’ with subtitle: Life, Feeling and the Making of Cultures makes no exception and inspired me to the following comment:
It is a good starter to remind oneself about the fact that, in the immensity of what we call Universe, LIFE is only a very miniscule exception from what seems to be the goal of Universe, namely, Entropy, i.e. everythings de-organization into equilibrium. What’s happening in the human domain and is looking very impressive to the Human mind, is, in fact, not even a footnote in Universe perspective.
Entropy just went on and on for some 9 B years before LIFE appeared on the scene. Probably just by chance. That was when Entropy found a new and more efficient way: through the organizational happening called LIFE; a temporary exception to the rule as it constitutes negative Entropy. REPRODUCTION, is the main of life’s properties and causes a considerable increase in Entropy production.
Damasio is turning many, so called, ‘mainstream’ opinions upside down using massif data/knowledge and observation as support. He shows that Homeostasis with resulting bodily reactions, Emotions, and the conscious counterpart: Feelings is the main game in town.
He has, as an example, an explanation to how religions occurred that I have not seen before; but I like it. Chapter 13. It is based on the fundamental Homeostasis Imperative, the main basic idea of the book.
I do not feel qualified to make a summary of this book. I can only assure you that you miss something very interesting if you do not read it.