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Top-Down Causation

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posted on Apr, 9 2018 @ 09:48 PM
Emmanuel Swedenborg believed that "this world" paralleled a "higher world", and that this world didn't work according to the laws of causality that we believe.

I would call this claim, in itself, the thought of a psychotic person.

Is it because I'm paranoid and afraid that I claim this? No, I don't think so. I think my opposition has to do with a far more sound and parsimonious theory based on the law of emergence.

If Emmanuel Swedenborg says "the laws of this world work differently", what can happen to my mind if I believe this claim? Will I begin to think of causality as a function of 'higher forces' on "physical" things? Will I, perhaps, lose my sense of the awareness and importance of intentionality in human affairs? An example: say I come into a room with a feeling that came from work. Lets say my self esteem was damaged, and I cam home, unbeknownst to my thinking mind, rehearsing the effects of those actions on my present state of mind - a distinctly reflexive thinking process, where thinking follows feeling, with no thinking about thinking, or metacognition, wondering to itself, "why am I bothered"?

The relationship between feelings and situations is typically one to one, as can be seen in the example above. The 'self-state' of the personality in the situation at work, and the effect of being looked at and spoken to in a way that produced shame, and then a sense of anger (they are ineluctably coupled) produced a "inner narrative" that probably follows the contours of previous ones. The 'self-state' is a self state which emerges in those situations. The asymmetry in "not being known", or having your feeling state considered as a function of what the person planned to say, is deeply and inevitably hurtful for the social being. The assumption is: "he knows how situations like this produce these effects", but human minds can be conditioned in monstrously unaware ways. Some people are preoccupied with other things.

Existential Preoccupation

Something tells me many people in this world of ours are preoccupied, daily, in existential feelings that prevent them from becoming aware of the way they are interacting - and the effect of their interactions - with other people.

Is depression an important player here? I would assume so. Depression too is a "negative affect" which is registered by our amygdala as a threatening object'. Since our brain is built by evolutionary patterns to 'respond to threat' with an adaptive defensive procedure, literally everything that happens in your brain - this is basic neuroscientific knowledge - is a function of the way external events have perturbed internal functioning, and how internal functioning is equipped to respond adaptively.

Adaptations in turn derive from visuoaffective stimuli. Do you think the infant is merely looking? Do you imagine some sort of 'spiritual being' in this interaction? While its hard to say what the phenomenology of the infant is like, we know from countless experiments that their adaptive responses derive from the informational streams that have impact their functioning from birth.

Now, back to Emanuel Swedenborg. Swedenborg, and the ridiculous western esoteric world he probably had connections with, has long been bewitched by a dualism which sees the "top" of the pyramid as being dissociated and dissociable - fundamentally - from the bottom. Why is this believed? Is it perhaps because the self is singularly focused on what it can do, or wants to do, which are active states of self-functioning, as opposed to how the world affects it, and more importantly, how its own responses affects its own states? This shows an awareness of how the self is 'passively' constructed by its own awareness of feelings, and reacting - reflexively - from what it has already "learned to do" in the past.

Everything I write about relies upon this sort of awareness: if you don't pay attention to how you're effected, you get caught up in the activity of "metaphysical theorizing", where the notion of the 'top reflects the bottom' comes to be taken as a real thing, as opposed to the emergent property of an EFFECT that fundamentally depends upon the energy-base of biological functionality to 'create' the potential for any 'top-down' causality.

Top-down causation obviously exists, but it is important to recognize it as an emergent property of what has been implicitly embodied in the evolutionary process long before human minds came around. When the mind did emerge, the propositional nature of nature 'fueled' the inference chains of hominid reasoning. Like this, the world and the animal evolved: but not everything the animal knew 'exhausted' what the world had to offer to be known. The human being emerged 200,000 years ago, but it has not had one 'singular world'. The environmental situations and the interactions of self and society in a world has created many different realities - each of which must have felt very "complete" in its knowing, and this is precisely what Karl Popper sought to protect us again: the instinct to return to the primitive world where self and world feel like one, but the knowledge of what is real is more or less ridiculously dependent on a wy of relating that fails to keep track of what is happening.

People who experience very high states of consciousness, such as the living being of nature, tend to come away with a fanatic certainty that what they have experienced is real. This hyper-dependence on a state of perception and reality dependent on non-conscious organization of material by forces you are not coherently understanding - what I call "attractors" - more or less means that the material sought and obtained (because it can be obtained) doesn't necessarily mean that the interaction is itself a basis for coherent knowing.

This idea is subtle, and perhaps few people are advantaged enough to get it (I think Wilber gets it; as did CS Peirce, and Popper as well): the attractors I speak of are emergent archetypes - arbitrarily generated properties that, because of their nature as existing BETWEEN human beings, and existing in a sort of supraphysical way as properties within our phenomenological experiences, appear structured, in their core, to simply promote constructions that ultimately "tunnel" to the archetypal 'oomph' of the attractor. Imagine a funnel, and imagine your conscious attention and energy as 'fuel' for this dynamic. Now, see it as a physical phenomenon: it is embodied in your brain processes, and is not, despite how deeply you may be inclined to believe, an "entity", if "entity" be understood as something independent of physical processes. As an attractor, or 'end-point' which psychological processes work to promote (i.e. motivations, desires, teleos) the 'gods' exist. But to think that they exist beyond planet Earth, simply because complex material can be assembled to facillitate that perception, is to forget that everything thought/felt/imagined comes from the living and dead members of our species; there is obviously something like a 'collective unconscious', and it has to do with what 'infomation' has been generated in the life-time of our species, which I am fairly sure is enormously complex and likely extremely fascinating.

Top-down interaction is complex, and cannot be satisfied by pithy Hermetic aphorisms. In becoming bent on 'practical' power, the self loses all coherent relationship to a plausible theory.

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