posted on Oct, 28 2014 @ 07:06 PM
The theme of most of my threads is the brain. Why have I chosen this as a starting point? It seems important to me. Of course, if you don't know a
thing about this subject, you hear one thing and you'll interpret it in your own way. The way I intended and the picture formed in my mind will be
lost in translation. The words - although constructed in my mind as part of a larger contextual scheme - can mean something altogether different in
yours. There's a space between us. So what fills up that gap? How do different minds read something different from the same words? I'll get back to
this question later on.
It was Rene - perhaps autistic? - Descartes, who strengthened the perspective of a duality between mind and brain/body. Although it was popularized
early by the Greeks, the idea that the mind and body are different is perhaps intuitively plausible. Each of us can sense that thought occurs "up
here"; and the body and it's processes are felt in the body; nevermind the fact that the body is visible, finite, structured, and the mind is
etheral, ephemeral, hard to quantify.
Nowdays, the linear thinking so tempting to early philosophers and scientists has been highly qualified; in fact, for more and more thinkers, much of
what we humans do - mathematics, physics, social sciences - are approximations; mental mappings of what appears to be from the standpoint of our
pattern seeking frontal lobes. Chaos theory and the study of non-linear dynamics in particular has called into question the idea of a "static"
For example, when you see a body, if you're religiously inclined, you infer "God created it". Of course, as an ultimate reason, this can't
be refuted. But as an efficient claim, it's lousy. For most moderners, everything is justifiably understood in terms of evolution. For an
evolutionary minded person, the human body as well as the human mind are hermenetic constructs - a living breathing archeological specimen that allows
us to know WHY we look the way we do. As well as why we THINK the way we do.
Evolution is an ecological idea. It may not seem so at first - especially with what social darwinism did with evolutionary ideas - but in fact
evolution is about the relationship between life and environment. This means every organism is explicable in terms of it's environmental conditions.
And what we see in the organism is the adaptation to the environmental niche it inhabited.
Take dogs. Dogs and wolves evolved from the same common ancestor; Wolves stayed wild - and thus kept their vicious look - whereas dogs, who stayed
closer towards humans, evolved to survive in that particular environmental niche. Because cuteness is emotionally attractive to humans, a dogs way
of being in the world, psychologically and physically, evolved towards neotony: that is, a dogs physical and psychological characteristics were
that of an adolescent wolf: cute, playful. Dogs also developed psychological abilities like paying attention to human eyes as a way to predict what we
want; also as a way of getting what they want
Why the Brain is Important
Evolution teaches us that everything is in flux; things are always changing. At this very moment, each of us are changing; in fact, our changed
environmental conditions - computers, phones, etc - is already changing our brains. We do no think the same way because we interface with reality
As I've written in previous threads, the brain is a social organ. When were born, only 1/3rd of it is complete. The cortex is tiny - and thats he
vast majority of our brain. Early on, paradoxically, our amygdala (what alerts us to threat and tirggers the stress response) is working just fine;
but our hippocampus - the organ in the brain which allows us to transfer short term memories into long term memories, and thus the very tool needed to
regulate emotional reactions - is not even constructed yet. This means early on in life the human mind, subjectively, is enormously dependent on
receiving from without.
Imagine being born. What do you know? Nothing. Think of the human subjectivity as blank; and all we really have is the "soft assembly" of inbuilt
biological reactions: the need to eat, the need to sleep are obvious ones. But as John Bowlby and attachment theorists have proven, the human infant
has basic emotional needs; this is because the self - that thing we feel and use in our social relations - is largely constructed from without; at
least the lowest part, the autonomic, instrumental part which biases our mental processes before we act.
For instance, you feel before you act. You feel before you think. Have you ever been some place social on a rainy day, depressing outside - you feel
depressed or off in some way; do you notice how we oftentimes perpetuate these experiences in ourselves and others merely by enacting them? I'm
always amazed at how conjunctively dependent we are on one another. My dad asks me a strange question, spurring a range of thoughts in me, which
settle in my unconscious and then into my body as feelings; which produce another round of thinking. I wonder to myself after observing these changes:
"this could have been avoided had my dad reflected on the origin of his desire to ask me that question". Because self-awareness - and what that
means in the brain - was not exercised early on in life, as an adult, and like many adults, there is a torpor towards developing it. The "momentary
emotional landscape" makes the idea unappealing and uninteresting. This is the situation for many of us.
Frustratingly, this behavior is actually a denial of how things are. All the time we speak because of past patterns of relating. We invite argument
with someone else because, unbeknownst to us, a past relational system has been activated in unconscious emotional systems (relational systems,
essentially: as all emotions are "motions" outwards into something else). The feeling is felt; the desire is created; and thinking, like a lemming,
carries out the will of its unconscious patterns - failing to see the roots that lead back to a long forgotten trauma.
If you were a psychotherapist with a patient who dealt with this - as essentially all patients do - the way you conduct the therapy will be geared
towards spurring awareness in the mind of the client; to eventually become interested in his own thinking; to become his own psychoanalyst. To
recognize the relationship between past experiences and present experiences.
How can we create a world where people aren't afraid of their own minds? Since suggestion - the suggestion that permeates our thoughts and feelings
from youth to adulthood in the surrounding culture - creates the fabric of our lived experience, it is perfectly possible for us to create a world
where each individual is raised to become highly self aware by adulthood: in place of unresolved wounds from preverbal times would be a detached
observing awareness compassionately oriented to the self-body as well as all others.
This is possible, and indeed, today, mindfulness in schools movements around the world are preparing the ground for changes in tomorrows political and