a reply to: Bluesma
Daniel Kahneman is a great cognitive psychologist, but he's also a presumptuous idiot - thats how I emotionally feel about it.
I remember when I read in "thinking, fast and slow" that 'flow', what mihaly csikszentmihalyi has systematically studied, is an 'illusion of the
mind'. That is. It isn't real. Statistics prove it. You can't doubt statistics.
Well, you can, Daniel. This just shows that math can't properly model human experiences. Flow is real. Anyone who has ever played a sport or a game
knows it when they're in it, and they know that they are OBJECTIVELY PERFORMING BETTER BECAUSE of it.
Another problem with Kahnemans thesis is his reliance on behaviorism. I remember reading some essays of Robert Sapolsky where he argued in a few of
them that people who believe in telepathy have a schizotypal personality disorder. Basically, the argument is, is that people who believe in telepathy
share a gene with people with schizophrenia. Hmm. I don't know, how, on earth this idea seemed plausible to him, since everyday there are people who
fall in and out of belief of something: whats happening to them? Is there a gene for this too? Of course not. This was the nonsense dogma that
prevailed up until the human genome projects completion in the 2000s. Now we know much better that genes alone can't do it. It's a process involving
effects effecting causes, proteins triggering genes, the environment regulating cell events, turning 'on' or 'off'' gene function via
membrane-cell nucleus interactions.
I'm mentioning this to point out that we can't yet explain how mind or consciousness works, and there is much we still don't understand.
Consciousness when it grows and expands within a mind is essentially a process of complexification. Making the mind more complex. Making "maps" of
the maps within yourself. Having a mental representation - symbol - for every affect. Basic structure of your interactions held in mind, etc.
The mind can grow by leaps and bounds beyond from where it started out. When I look at myself now, at 29, at how I was at 19. I am astonished at what
I see. The massive change in cognition, in it how it relates and organizes the processes of its own affects. Of course - I wouldn't call myself a
"master", but I definitely feel a sense of "mastery" over how I feel. Not all the time, but It's a process of accelerated growth, jerky, but
still forward going.
Does "ego depletion" occur? Yes. Thats unavoidable. It'll happen. It can be facilitated by external or internal events: stress from the outside
impinging on the minds organization. Not eating properly. Not sleeping properly, will deeply affect the quality of consciousness.
That said, growth or the possibility for growth exists in the spaces. It's not "there' or "here', but something that is earned by DOING. Mystics
starve themselves and put their bodies through all sorts of strain, all for what? To strengthen the core of their consciousness: their ability to
focus their own attention. And in fact, fMRI scans consistently show massive left frontal activity in the minds of experienced meditators.
Consciousness does chant, quite massively, when we decided to be more mindful of how our lives our organized by inner experiences.
One more note. You mentioned 'biases'. I'm not talking about the types of biases, framing, etc that Kahneman discusses in his book. These are
likely unavoidable. What I am referring to is a process called dissociation. Dissociation is really beyond being a bias system, although it does
direct consciousness deliberately. It's purpose is far more deeper: to protect the self from overwhelming affect. If something happens to us which
traumatizes us, which hurts our minds by pouring emotions and truly shocking consciousness. The mind responds immeditately. Endorphins are released
(such as dynorphin) that seriously stuns consciousness: the hypo-aroused dissociative state. It allows some reprieve from the experience.
The shock of trauma always organizes consciousness in someway, and for everyone it is different, Narcissism, Anger, Rage, Self Harm, Obsessiveness,
Reclusion, the list goes on, the mind adapts however it can to keep those affects - the shock and fear the trauma evoked - from being something that
is thought about in consciousness.
I would argue that it is morally more important to pay attention to these 'biases' on consciousness than whether a situation is framed a certain way
or whether a particular color is causing me to be more aggressive. These effects, btw, are much smaller than the emotional cyclonic forces of
unconscious dissociated self states. These actually prompt strong reactions and organize mind to attend to the world in 'this' way, as an adaptive
Truly, I think it would be wise of us to train children to come into the world with this type of psychological knowledge, but I don't imagine that
they would be able to capture the abstract conceptual quality of 'dissociation', but I do think a highschool kid could understand it. And so, maybe,
one day, understanding how our minds work and organize themselves in our relationships with others (all mind states are co-constructions between self
and other), it would great if we could explain these concepts in a way that made it interesting and fun for them. In a sense, its exercising the power
of empathy: to attune and feel whats being said emotively, and see how it displaces consciousness within yourself and in others. When we do this, when
we see how facial features, tone of voice, etc are unconsciously and concomitantly taken in by our right brain while our left brain is involved in the
substance and content of speech, we begin to see that, oh my lord, It's not just me perceiving, but WE, are perceiving, together, the two of us are
creating and at the same time being regulated by an interpersonal force field.
This is important stuff to learn, to train your consciousness to be aware of. It'll expand your sense of free will when you realize that the elements
of any interaction are partly within your control, and so you carry responsibility for how things go and whether you did good or did bad. Helped or
break down someone else.