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You Are An Animal

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posted on Apr, 12 2018 @ 09:10 PM
Why does this word bother some people? It's very simple, really. Humans are intelligent; we perceive deeply, and even more importantly, we metacognitively experience ourselves perceiving deeply.

This 'existential' level of awareness is deeply significant, as can be seen, in the fact that humanity and a sense of the sacred seem to go together.

How many thousands of years have we been myth-making? Speculation, if it is to be done, should be done with reference to some invariable. And what better invariable than the two modes the autonomic nervous system self-organizes through: the sympathetic (HPA axis, dopaminergic and serotonergic systems) and the parasympathetic (noradrenergic and vagal pathways).

This is the stop and go of the mammalian organism's nervous system. The entirety of a biological organisms homeostasis passes through the sieve of autonomic networks to mediate everything the organism does. This is how mental processes stay completely 'in tune' with biological processes.

Ancient Contexts, Random Events, and The Need For Meaning

I think Viktor Frankl's claim to fame is an unusually special one: emphasizing, that at root, human beings need meaning to survive. Yes, other philosophers before him thought of these things as well, but he was the first to really emphasize it as a general category of human existential need.

Of course, he also has a grueling story of being in the holocaust, and recounting, as he does so well, what he needed to do in order to survive the deprivation, torture, evil, and suffering all around him.

It's an obvious thing to say, but it is treated with contempt by most people: the environment creates us. The significance of early life relational interaction and the shaping of the genetic and neural systems of the brain to accomodate the nature of the social interactions the infant was subjected to cannot be disputed. It is irrational to think external perturbation on a dynamically organizing meaning-making system wont force it to self-organize in a more adaptive way.

To really get this difference, we need to also understand that the mind and the brain are not quite the same thing. The brain presents us with a new experience every waking moment of our day. If we turn our head, whatever our visuoaffective systems take in will engender a reaction: and from whence does that reaction come, if not from a past experience? In this way, the bottom, or ventral and embodied part of our existence, is constantly being apprised by meaning reactions that have to do with past adaptations to alike or analogous situations in the past.

Consciousness, or 'holding the object in mind', occurs at a later interval, and it is from here that we experience the manual manipulation of our awareness, to choose to defocus from the object we reacted to and focus on something else, or pursue a more directed mode of awareness by recalling something that is more 'essential' to the larger patterns of the 'self', such as an agenda or goal.

But are the agendas or goals some 'higher' spiritual power? Or, rather, as the cognitive scientist Merlin Donald believes, is it a higher level pattern that organizes 'higher level existential meanings'? The truth is, since we are fundamentally embodied beings, everything is entrained to the homeostasis patterns of our autonomic nervous systems.

Now, in order to appreciate how these two systems work in human consciousness, imagine a third system, which has been described by the neurophysiologist Stephen Porges as the 'social engagement system'. This system actually has its own brand-new neural component: the nucleus ambiguous, which helps synergize the effects of both the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems; the nucleus ambiguus connects into the orbitofrontal cortex where the conscious mind can literally guide at a preconscious level its affect state during the process of speaking. When we speak, we are explicitly attuned to the meanings of the words were using. But at the implicit level, we are also seeking to regulate our affective state, controlling how what we respond to and how we respond. This lower level system, as everybody knows, is far more significant in convincing, persuading or annoying people than the words we use. The contents of the words we use - to pay attention to that - requires the social engagment system being used - and the conscious mind - an emergent property of the social engagement system - can then bring about 'top-down' effects from its studious attunement to the relevant informational categories of interpersonal interaction within an environment.


What is trauma other than horizontal information flow - the outside world, the world of our attachments, and the world which enlivens us - overactivating the sympathetic nervous system to such a dangerous point that the parasympathetic system 'slams the brakes' by engaging in a very primitive response which derives from reptiles: the freeze response.

When we freeze, a molecule called dynorphin plays a role in inhibiting dopamine and noradrenaline production, more or less 'stunning the mind' out of its relationship to reality. This response is for the sake of the systems homeostasis: the body seeks to survive, and so when the environment becomes too much, the mind cannot do anything to prevent the primitive response of your body to protect itself.

Now comes the complicated part. Imagine a major disaster, like the one which apparently happened to the people in and around Gobekli Tepe in southern Turkey 11,000 years ago, or 9000 BCE.

There are megaliths which show relevant astronomical configurations that point back to what the sky looked like 11,000 years ago, and beneath these symbols, we find the image of a headless human. Many take the headless human as representing the human having 'lost his head' - or his intelligence. Of course, humans are spiritual, so the loss of the head would not imply a loss of spirituality; rather, it would seem to represent the loss of a coherency of awareness - of recognition of how things work, and what sort of belief systems and forces had been let loose and had begun to undermine human social-relations.

What we see here, I believe, is the emergence of a dynamic that has at least 4 individual scales, each feeding back on the brain-mind at a larger and larger temporal scale.

  • Material
  • Social Relations (class)
  • Emotion Regulation
  • Psycholinguistic narratives (cherished beliefs)

    In this language-obsessed world of ours, it is mostly the last one that occupies the minds of humans. Why is that?

    On the largest scale, we can all admit that material things are desirable; and that having a lot of stuff over and against another person, or group of people, could easily produce feelings of "deserving to have" what you have.

    Already, the description above includes all the above scales, because they are constantly feeding back upon one another. In todays world, the 'elite' own the material structures - infrastructure, properties, etc; they also have their own unique cultures - their own group of social connections, or attachments to other people like themselves; inside each of these people, lies a brain, which, being composed of two hemispheres, requires the regulation of 'feelings' in the form of symmetrical or coherent explanations in language. Hence, beneath emotion regulation lies 'psycholinguistic narratives'. The human...

  • posted on Apr, 12 2018 @ 09:11 PM
    speaks and get's lost in its speaking, so much so that it is not even apparent that the speaking exists in the service of the feeling; which in turn is deeply related to the social attachments you have with like minded people; who together, want to maintain what they have.

    You are Tiny

    Each animal thinks it is the 'complete' world. Why do humans think that the way they know the world - or have known the world in the past - is the true one? In my estimation, we have been creating religions in the form and shape of our psychological trauma - and therefore expresses the 'mythology' of our dissociative disorder.

    Socrates was right: we don't know what we think we know. More often than not, the act of positing is almost always in the service of 're-righting' the negative feelings we are having. Furthermore, the assumption that our thinking necessarily 'lands' on the truth simply because we believe we are 'loving' and 'good' is profoundly erroneous and can be proven wrong when we simply compare our beliefs against that of like-minded others and notice the discrepancy.

    Magic, apparently, seems to have created the illusion that because human biosemiosis can create meaning, even in a physical sense, that the world we assume exists in our thinking is exactly the world as it exists. No, again. There is no reason to assume willy nilly without first seeking clarification that such a one to one correspondence exists.

    Human spirituality evolves, and evolves, again, with reference to the environment.

    The developmental sciences, and indeed, biosemiotics, would seem to be the most fertile ground for a future religion - but be sure: the human is and will be rightly cut down to size - and finally, after tormenting ourselves with ideas of being God, can come to accept and embrace the profound mystery that divides the living from the dead.
    edit on 12-4-2018 by Astrocyte because: (no reason given)

    posted on Apr, 12 2018 @ 09:17 PM
    a reply to: [post=23313294]Astrocyte[/post

    Definitely saving this post for later when I actually have the time to kick back and read it.

    posted on Apr, 12 2018 @ 09:22 PM

    posted on Apr, 12 2018 @ 09:47 PM
    Two months ago, I would have glossed over this OP...

    Six weeks ago, I got a horse.

    I get it now.

    posted on Apr, 12 2018 @ 10:50 PM
    Yup we are products of our environments like any other animal. You hit the nail on the head.

    a reply to: Astrocyte

    posted on Apr, 12 2018 @ 11:23 PM
    a reply to: Astrocyte

    Nice thread, I think humans tend to set themselves apart from animals due to having advanced intelligence compared to other animals. But yep we absolutely reside in the animal kingdom.

    What's funny and ironic about our intelligence, is the fact it could lead to our extinction by our own means, while other animals would adapt and survive.

    Who really are the smart ones?

    edit on 12-4-2018 by Vector99 because: (no reason given)

    posted on Apr, 13 2018 @ 01:37 PM
    a reply to: Astrocyte

    Most people are in gross denial.

    If they are "just an animal" then they think their life has little or no meaning.

    They want to be some grand, immortal cosmic entity, not a "dirty chimpanzee".

    (we are just 1.6% different in DNA from a common chimp. There are species of animals
    whose members have up to a 4% difference in DNA, yet can still breed (by definition
    for species). By any measure, we should be classified as a sub-species of chimps.)

    Now.. I'm not discussing other possibilities here.. but just the raw, undeniable


    posted on Apr, 13 2018 @ 04:22 PM
    That's...not what she said... to me...

    posted on Apr, 13 2018 @ 04:31 PM
    On the other hand, just because we're animals doesn't make us any less frickin awesome. Which we totally are.

    posted on Apr, 13 2018 @ 05:34 PM
    a reply to: Blue Shift


    I don't close the door on "other parts" either obviously... but rational science is
    always the base starting point to any discussion.

    If you can add to it, or talk around it... fine...

    but not mentioning the obvious is just delusional and pointless.


    posted on Apr, 13 2018 @ 06:06 PM
    Simple question to pose to the next person you meet who disagrees with being an animal.

    What are you then? Mineral, Plant, Fungi..

    posted on Apr, 13 2018 @ 06:24 PM

    originally posted by: johnb
    Simple question to pose to the next person you meet who disagrees with being an animal.
    What are you then? Mineral, Plant, Fungi..

    Eh, that's just taxonomy. Is a virus an animal?

    posted on Apr, 13 2018 @ 06:28 PM
    a reply to: Blue Shift

    hence the ...'s virus, bacteria and all the other possibilities are implied.

    If somebody claims not to be an animal I would like to know what they think they are.

    Oh and of course it's taxonomy that's what we are discussing is it not? Somebody disagreeing with their classification.

    posted on Apr, 13 2018 @ 06:38 PM

    originally posted by: johnb
    If somebody claims not to be an animal I would like to know what they think they are.

    We are a construct of waves left over from the continuing Big Bang, not really that different from a tree or a crawdad or a chunk of limestone. Chaos put through a feedback loop generates patterns and in our case after billions of years the chaotic energy of spacetime eddied and swirled and shaped itself into us. The only real difference between us and a plant is that we float around a little more untethered before returning to the mush of energy, but everything moves. Everything decays. Everything is energy.

    posted on Apr, 13 2018 @ 06:42 PM

    posted on Apr, 14 2018 @ 01:10 AM

    Why does this word bother some people? It's very simple, really.
    a reply to: Astrocyte
    Very simple? Then why do you go into doctoral thesis mode to explain?
    LOL wow that's funny!

    Umm, mind If I try?
    O.K. boys and girls why are some people bothered by being referenced as animals?
    The 200 proof truth can be explained by a simple analogy:

    Brain is to forest as computer is to city

    You can't serve two masters .Because you will end up loving the one and hating the other.
    Can't ride the fence.
    You will have to choose .
    This is why transhumanism is now the desire of some people The city wants computers and not human brains.
    The city wants Robots and not humans(animals).
    Now THAT sir IS the plain and simple truth! ( Exits forum and heads to woods to empty bladder).

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