I think Damasio is foremost fascinated by Spinoza. By the fact, that person living in such a different era, without having knowledge that the modern science is providing now, was able to reach such prominent insight into the nature of living organisms. Spinoza's idea of conatus is consonant with Damasio's idea of homeostasis. Just as Damasio divided emotions and feelings, Spinoza distinguished between appetites and desires. It seems to me that the work that Damasio is doing is meaningful not only as an advancement in science. It also serves as the evidence of the Spinoza's ideas he was so harshly mistreated for in his time. Spinoza worked out, but the modern science allows Damasio to work in. They both try to lay down and prove the very same idea. That mind and body are not separate, but the parts of the whole.