Sometimes when I'm reading anthropology, and I encounter what appears to me to be an overly romantic description of an indigenous people's
psycho-spiritual universe, I find myself wincing, and wishing that the anthropologist not overlook whatever concept I happen to see him overlooking.
An example of what can be overlooked is the primacy of those parts of us which respond and react to the impact of other people (motivational systems
like attachment, which seeks affiliative relations, friendships, and romantic relationships) and those parts of us which respond to the wonders of
Its important to understand that phylogenetically (over evolutionary time) and ontogentically (over a person's biological development), social
interactions are the semiotic attractor which organizes mental activity.
We can discern three ontological 'zones' within our actual phenomenology. They are: physical movement; social affection; and spiritual affection.
When a baby is born, its first biosemiotic 'experiences' are related to the governance of the body. The social world is still to 'abstract' - still
beyond what matters at that moment in time; and what matters at that moment in the governance of the body is the proprioceptive experience of
controlling a body - from gait, to timing, to balance, to coordination. If you are curious as to what a neonate is 'thinking' about, it is this: it is
experiencing the motions and activities of a living body. It is precisely this part of the brain which is most active early on - the lower brainstem
and higher cortical areas related to mapping and coordinating all the parts of the body.
“The notion that we can think about how mental matters occur in the absence of reference to the structure, function, development, and evolution of
the brain is intellectually hazardous. The likelihood of guessing how the brain works without looking at its structure seems slim. Certainly, if one
agrees with the ethologists that mental states are a product of evolution, we must at least study how the brain evolved. Our obligation is to complete
Darwin’s program.” – Gerald Edelman, Bright Air, Brilliant Fire: On the Matter of the Mind; pg. 68, 1992, Basic
This is the mistake of the non-scientific mind. It thinks its thinking is clear; but it only thinks this because it refuses to engage another way of
thinking - something that is likely fear-based and related to the way our attachment systems work. When we become attached to a particular moral
philosophy, it is not just the philosophy we are attached to; but also the moral effects that the philosophy has already wrought in us: that is, what
the philosophy, as a cognitive system, has done to process certain negative affects, and how that ultimately leads to actions which affect other
Many people detest mechanistic explanations like this, but this is besides the point: if something is true, it is true because the criteria which
accounts for its truth are satisfied in the description of a phenomenon. In humans, for example, we can say that symmetry is the basis of all things -
and indeed, actual science proves that. From quarks on up to the golden rule in social interaction, 'symmetry' can be seen in the fundamental
inter-inclusivity of the 'other' which is required to complete a formal loop of self-regulation. Since there is a physical body, and an environment,
there is correlation. The brains billions upon billions of processes, in fact, are highly tuned 'homeostats' linked up in specific, context-sensitive
ways to events in the environment. This is the exact same sort of symmetry that we see in the bacterial cell which pursues glucose molecules when it
needs to regenerate itself.
Anyways, following the coordination and the eventual mastery of 'using' the body, the center of consciousness (the 'ego') begins to engage the other
which has been aiding it throughout its growth process. At this time, all the psychodynamc 'signs' of self-experience (imagine each experience as a
clip on a movie roll) are being metaphorically bootstrapped frm the movement in a physical environment level. The semiosis of movement, and the signs
it gives rise, operate as the unconscious dynamic attractors which help the child to detect coherency in the linguistic signaling of others. Many
such basic metaphors have been discovered, and have been extensively analyzed by George Lakhoff and Mark Johnson, and so far it has done wonders
we are able to conceptualize and from where those conceptualizations come from.
This 'how' explanation dovetails with the 'why' explanation that comes from the social-sphere. Since movement is the first ontological attractor which
organizes meaning-making in the infant mind, social affection operates not merely 'above' the first level, but actually builds itself up from the
primary metaphors implicit in physical bodily experience (i.e. such as ideas that can grow from being roughhoused etc; the infant feels at all times;
it's just the object of awareness, in the beginning, is body related; whereas as time goes forward i.e. around 8 weeks, the mind becomes more and more
centered on the social other, with the body receding into the background).
The 'why' things happen always has to do with 'affect correlation'. If I feel this need, we desire the other to take a complementary state i.e. to
affirm our state by showing genuine interest, or, if were not wanting to be bothered, respecting that boundary between us and them. The first state
can be understood as a constructive interference, where two waves in phase leads to what the developmental psychologist Ed Tronick has called "dyadic
expansions of consciousness". Every infant seeks such affect correlations, and if it receives at least 95% in the first two years, its brain growth in
the right hemisphere will be profoundly coherent, and even more importantly, emotionally resilient.
In today's society, a surplus of hatred prevents people from being congruent to the needs of infants 95% of the time; nevermind doing this for the
first 2 years. All sorts of dumb explanations can be conjured, but they all boil down to a false theory of how reality works: they act as if change
can't happen, even though the biology, genetics, and psychology all point in the same direction: yes you can, it says.
This hatred therefore creates brainminds that aren't good at dealing with feelings; like 'father like son'. If the father can't handle reality in a
morally responsible way, than neither should the son. Selfishness begets selfishness; affect dysregulation begets affect dysregulation. All the while
that REAL things like the aforementioned process are happening, a narrative occurs in the dissociative left hemisphere, which 'explains away' the
incoherency of a selfish action by recruiting a false theory of how things work.
It is only after childhood that the spiritual self really starts to grow. By the early twenties, and especially the early thirties, the self can
become engrossed in a way of seeing things thats put it into profound synchrony with the external natural world. The objects 'out there', somehow, are
semiotically continuous with the object of my body. Things 'out there' and my mind 'in here', are paradoxically entangled in such a way that the mind
can affect the thing - in a real way - and the thing can affect the mind.
Now, this is where metaphysics begins, and also where making assertions about...
edit on 19-5-2018 by Astrocyte because: (no reason given)