posted on Jan, 19 2016 @ 10:31 PM
I wish I had my photoshop to visually represent what I mean, but I will ask you to use your imagination instead. Picture a battery; a tube of medium
with a positive end and a negative end. Human consciousness is this. The Self pole and the Other pole. The other is the interacted with object, and
the self, of course, is our status of being an "observer".
The fluid of course is consciousness, but more specifically, it is "bodily"; it is whats called in scientific language "affects". Affects are the
feeling states in our viscera (chest, stomach), limbs, neck, and face. It has an "oppressive" force on consciousness by biasing the form or
orientation it takes towards the object (or, in batter theory terms, the "other"). It's also reflexive. We move into our experiences with a
celerity that strongly bespeaks a biological imperative. The neuroscientist and philosopher Antonio Damasio has spearheaded the idea that our feeling
states are "constructions" of a 'proto-self' that integrates and translates the various needs of the cells throughout the organism. Hunger, for
instance, will impel the perception of "feeling hungry" and the concomitant bodily states. The organism, our body, in other words, is an object to
our observing consciousness. This representation of "duality" within our very organism, with our head "up here", floating, as it were, and our
body (particularly the viscera) "down there", is a legitimate phenomenological percept that could not be denied by any truly self-aware human being.
The question of course is not whether the perception exists, but whether it is a legitimate representation of ontological, or veridical, reality.
Across the divide of self and body (which are, of course, truly unitary) is a space we call the outside world. On the other end is a person just like
us, with presumably, the very same sorts of states, perceptions, and existential curiousness that we experience. On the other end, just like us, the
other person has the same internal divide between his perceiving self (observer) and the objects he interfaces with (such as his body). The divide
between people, however, is not neutral, but a medium for the real communication: the energies and affects that generate the human mind.
Before we go further, I will state clearly, in bold script: The Human Being Is a FUNCTION of the Human Group. What this means, especially in
light of complexity theory and dynamical systems theory, is that the structure of an organism reflects something about it's situatedness in the
external environment. The organism (it's internal, self-sustaining nature) "extracts" a particular need from it's immediate informational
environment. This means, as a first principle, that every evolving species is a function of it's particular arrangement with the outside world. In
order to maintain itself, a certain continuity and stability of place and position is needed. Organisms can be adaptive, but there are limits, scales,
and degrees which constrain its particular existence in space and time. So it's existence isn't arbitrary: there are "sweet spots" that every
system inclines toward.
A cell is interested in it's chemical environment, whereas a human being is interested in its meaning environment. In both situations, a
"feedback" forms which maintains a particular rhythmic movement in time, giving shape to a particular "structure". Our brain is literally the
embodiment of a mental structure. But what is that mental structure - and what laws does it obey?
Affects are the ground which the observer self obeys. To realize this, you need to remember what I wrote earlier: The Human Being is a Function of the
Human Group. And why? Because we are social, evolved as social beings, and so are subject to those laws which permit the continued existence of our
proclivity to "think together", act together, and develop meaning systems together. What are the affects which enable this? Philosophers and others
have given way to much weight to external activities (such as tool use) and abstract ideas that have nothing to do with immediate phenomenology, and
because of this, we have been kept far away from recognizing the medium in which we swim. The affects which matter, it seems, have to do with
"feeling good" and "feeling bad". Pleasure and pain, are two affects which have nothing really to do with socializing. They are there before
socializing, and could be related to any action that is good for the organism, such as the desire to eat (want, displeasure) and the fulfillment of it
(pleasure). Satisfaction also may be reflective of an intrinsic biochemical potency in stability. Dissatisfaction would be the opposite, and thus
compelling the mind of the organism to relate to the world in terms of the body's dispositions. It could be need (dissatisfaction) or thriving
So, the question is, how does basic pleasure and pain relate to what matters to us humans, meaning? Meaning is operating on the same level as the more
basic pleasure-pain distinction, but now in terms of a particular "product", that is not physical, but entirely mental. In a truly ontological
evolutionary development, the SELF, or this deep, intrinsic sense of wholeness, and beingness, is sought not merely as a good, but as a "thing" that
needs to be filled. The currency of a human beings meaning is positive or negative affect. But the goal is being known - which is to say, to be
known by the other in a good way. Recognition, and being recognized, not badly, but positively, is what each of us deeply, deeply needs. And it
is like this because this is how evolution has built us: this was the "natural selection", the thing that worked and works to keep us both
perceiving as we do (with this self-object ontology) and being structured as we are (our bodily structure, brain, face etc).
To return to this subjects main theme "The battery theory of Self", we can say that the "positive" end of the battery is being recognized by the
other. When this happens, energy flows between the two poles, just as in a real battery when electrons flow from the positive to the negative end. The
"positive" and "negative" only refers to the self (observer) and the object. The object is "negative" in the sense of being foreign, and other,
and bamboozling the mind into energetic engagements in ways the observer struggles to understand.
Whats interesting about this process is that it isn't a conscious one. As far as I know, this idea has never been formalized in a system-like way.
Humans, in fact, are far more propositional in their thought, and tend towards the very abstract when it comes to meaning-making. Another major
stumbling block was the absence of that incredibly powerful thinking tool known as evolution. From the big bang till now, and how we understand
physical matter formed, consolidated itself, and evolved to produce consciousness, and the way thermodynamic laws kept things in a state of constant
adaptation, against absence, the negative, as the organism (a positive) struggled to become and MAINTAIN itself.
Being recognized is process that involves two psychological poles, and two faces, body's and voices. The face and voice "cues" the unconscious part
of our brain into a state of coherence with the other, which creates a state of "co-regulation", whereby the meaning-structures flowing across never
lose contact with the affective dynamics in facial expressions, voices and body's.