posted on Oct, 7 2014 @ 10:03 PM
Think about how you are and ask yourself, how am I like this? Why do I think what I think, and why do I believe what I believe. If you asked these
questions sincerely and dared to probe your own history, you will have discovered that everything you are has been built in the process of
relationship. The Affective Neuroscientist Jaak Panksepp sees the human brain - and thus the human mind - as having three "levels"; the core area is
the core part of our brain; this is the hypothalamus, the periaquaductal grey, and the nucleus acumbens; these parts of the brain generate the
neurotransmitters associated with emotional arousal: serotonin, dopamine, endorphins, etc. The second level is a social part of the brain; the
thalamus and insula would be considered this. In Panksepps theory, human cognition is evolutionarily "built" upon a preexisting mammalian
neurobiology, a concept he terms "the archeology of mind" in that human and animals are on a continuum, an evolutionary continuum, with reptiles at
the bottom - performing "reptilian" functions like basic homeostasis, breathing, heart rate, temperature control, etc; mammals (or paleomammals) in
the middle - performing mammalian functions like socializing with other members (something reptiles dont really do), and humans at the top, with our
fantastically large forebrains, called the "neocortex" by the great neuroscientist Paul McClain.
Human beings have within us these 3 anatomical areas within our brains, which correspond to 3 types of cognitive functioning; basic anatomical and
conservative support (the brainstem); the architecture for socializing (the diencephelon, thalamus) and a represenational awareness (the frontal
To translate this into cognitive language, this is the 'capacity to feel', the capacity to relate and connect with other selves; and the capacity to
internally represent, or 'reflect' what is felt within or perceived without; that is, to think, in language.
The Evolution of the Self
When we think about our political system its damn-near hackneyed to point out that political science isn't scientific. Nothing from the social
sciences, developmental psychology, cognitive science, neuroscience, relational psychoanalysis, dynamic systems theory, makes its way into their
thinking: particularly with conservative thinkers, its seems fantasy and business interests dominante their epistemological universe. Even though the
scientific method yields true understanding, and thus provides us with the cognitive perspective needed to remedy a certain problem, conservative and
free-market analysts don't seem to care very much. It's a disturbing disjunction that must change - and needs to change, given how badly free-market
and "its all about liberty" thinking has destroyed our common environment: we face an impending climate disaster, droughts, stronger hurricanes,
tornadoes, etc, if we do not fix this.
Conservative politics take basic "facts" as "immutable"; these facts are about human nature, human moral weakness; the need for discipline; the
need to reward effort and punish laziness. Lost in all this thinking is how things become that way; lost are the facts of developmental psychology,
attachment theory, etc; Even for those of them who denounce such theories, surely it counts for something that the vast majority of scientists working
in these fields subscribe to these views; and why is that? Are the detractors conflicted by a countervailing view? Interest? A preexisting
To return to the topic of this section, the self, just like the body, is determined by its environment. Take the frog. If you removed the cornea of a
frog and flipped it over, you would be amazed to see that the frogs whole world also flips; there is nothing in the brain of a frog that is
"interpreting" its environment: the eye is fitted to the environment, as evolved over countless eons, so that when you flip the cornea over, the
frogs tongue goes to the opposite side of where the fly is. The body, mind, and environment in this sense are organically "one". The mind gets it
perceptions from a body that has evolved in a particular environment: so too the human self.
How? First, and this is really obvious if you pay attention, what we "think" - our higher level, cognitive capacities, the 3rd tier in the above
epistemological diagram, needs to "make sense" of what is felt, in the body, both at the basic physical brain stem level, as well as at the more
social mid-brain level. These "affects" disturb our self aware consciousness; and the only way to "control' these affects, to keep them from
disturbing the stability - and feasability - of an organisms survival, is to "think": which for humans, simultaneously means to "posit". To posit
something as existing - God, or whatever metaphysics we subscribe to - keeps the horrible and demonic affects away.
No affect is more determinative to the formation of self structure than shame. Shame exists everywhere in our early life experiences, and although
some very naive and poorly informed people actually use it to train their children in their view of the world, its actually horrible to do so. Shame
becomes a bulwark in the mind: it holds off "this cognition" so that the self can maintain continuity - can make sense and FEEL GOOD - so long as it
doesn't feel this horribly dysregulating emotion.
All consciousness is dissociative, which is to say, we can only think of one thing of a time. When we focus - as happens naturally and unconsciously
all the time - we simultaneously "dissociate" something else from our awareness. Its in this way that our early life experiences shape how we think
and feel about our selves; those things which we felt that became disconfirmed by an"other" - a main attachment figure or a peer - become pushed
into what relational psychoanlysts call a "not-me" state; human representational cognition relies on these object relations to organize its
perceptions of the world. "Not-me" are those experiences which make us feel bad; and since we are a species that "knows that it knows", when we
feel ourselves in a certain way that feels very bad, it is the 'whole' of the perception, the idea of ourselves, that is unconsciously
This essentially is how a certain culture is formed; how someone could believe that "whites are superior" or 'christianity is true". Everything
outside that perception is in the category of "not-me"; thus, not thinkable, and not meaningful.
But, and this is the linchpin of my thread: we've been operating in this way only because we've been ignorant of how it is we organize our
Imagine a world in which children are raised early on to take the facts of its inner mental experience into consideration. Introspection has never
been treated as very important, which is rather asinine, since it's our minds which control our bodies; and so much of how we our - damn near all of
it, in fact - is unconscious to ourselves. Our perceptions are constantly being framed by past experiences; by sense perceptions (such as colors,
sounds, touch, etc) and yet we go forth as if this information weren't valid; like wacky cowboys waving their guns senselessly about, an
"unawakened" mind, a mind ignorant of its own mind, is tragically dangerous.
Can we ever hope for a political system in which scientific findings influence government policy? Where what has been learned about how minds think,
how we learn, h