It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.

Please white-list or disable in your ad-blocking tool.

Thank you.


Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.


Rotating Selves

page: 1

log in


posted on Apr, 4 2016 @ 02:26 AM
In us, at all times, the ticking clock picks out a new version of us. In we come and out we go, thinking, at a level, but which level? Different minds think at different decibels. Some minds have 'touched' something that seems to keep them ticking to a wholesome tune. The world feels different, and so a mind can maintain different types of thought and behavior. What is this phenomena?

Like all of matter, its a dynamical force. The scientist Terrence Deacon has thought deeply about how mind is "made" (or given the vehicle for expression) and he considers first thermodynamics as being a fundamental variable that acts upon the organization of any macroscopic physical process. He then asks us to imagine a boulder in a river, and to consider how the normal flow of the water in the river is disrupted by the presence of the boulder, effectively creating two streams that then "crash" into each other on the other side. In reality, this 'crashing' motion is less efficient in dealing with thermodynamic dissonance than the formation of a whirlpool, which spreads out the energy equally into a stable geometric structure. Deacon calls this stable state a "morphodynamic" process, which exists by virtue of the energy diffusion occurring at quantum and molecular levels. This tendency to diffuse energy into particular forms - an example he gives being the hexagonal cells which form in dry cracked land, permafrost, or in hardened lava - is a fundamental physical constraint on energy diffusion. The 2nd law of thermodynamics states that all things move from a state of order to disorder, or, in informational lingo, increases in shannon entropy. Whirlpools form as a consequence of this law, which is quite strange indeed. A physically differentiated phenomena arises because the universe is trying to increase the efficiency of loss, or in Deacons term, minimize the amount of "work" to be performed. What is there, as it were, is an absence; a bunch of constraints forcing physical molecules into particular 'efficient' arrangements.

What is adaptation but the conservation of that which increases advantage? Deacon talks about orthograde and contragrade processes, which in the example above would be the normal flow of the river (orthograde), and then the crash (contragrade) and then the formation of a whirlpool (orthograde). The flow of the river moves from one stable state to an unstable state to a stable state. But the stable state is a unique state, differentiating itself from the world around it. The whirlpool exists by virtue of the power and flow of the river; yet it is entirely dynamical, entirely 'alive', as it were, with physical motion.

We are essentially this. This is Deacons tremendous insight, which seems to be, I think, profoundly complex, yes, but enormously plausible as an explanation for how living things emerge.

But to get life, and mind, you need telos. You need a goal. Cells live because they manage to make use of the molecular energy around them to regenerate its macroscopic form. None of this happens without a cost, without an energetic arrangement with the outside. But the cell, and later the animal, and then the human being, is intrinsically linked with a telos. Without purpose, there is no life. Without a containment - a body - there is no way to differentiate self from other. Matter forms, and somehow contains ingredients, that lead to thermodynamically logical macro-structures.

Eventually, you get us. A morphodynamic being that has evolved such molecular complexity to become a fully teleologically sentient being. This is an awesome way of seeing things, yet I feel there is a fundamental "lack". Thermodynamics isn't everything, and Deacon is fairly sketchy on the details of how morphodynamics becomes teleodynamics (although he assures us that it could happen in what he calls an "autogen" - a primitive molecular structure). The tendency to cohere, and then to perpetuate your coherence, seems just too good to be true. The differentiation that has accumulated and becomes more and more 'spiritual' in nature cannot possibly be simply physical. I think, perhaps, that we should consult eastern wisdom and consider the dualistic nature of the reality we function within.

How do you get a life? How do you get mind? Lets say awareness is always there, passive. The universe explodes, planets form, solar systems stabiize, and special planets are "naturally selected" by some universal selection. On these planets, life forms, in just the thermodynamic ways described above. Cells form, then for some interesting reason, at one point, they combine, one swallowing up the other (eukaryote), and in just a necessary combination, giving rise to a necessary phenomena. Aeons pass as these processes perpetuate themselves, and these processes, now animals, are obviously alive and invested with functional purpose. Pierre Teilhard De Chardin, the great Jesuit paleontologist, believed that life was amazing because it was animated by purpose. It existed because it wanted to exist. He also described the neatness in which natural selection finds routes for life to progress, to find niches, and in some lines, to move forward, adapt, and discover pathways that weren't available to organisms before. Life at these levels - primates - entails not just energy, but something else. If thermodynamics is a centrifugal force (diffusing energy into a statistical 'smoothing out'), then perhaps, quite paradoxically, life coheres, reproduces, differentiates, and then re-adheres, because it, as the Eyptian myth of Osiris intuited long ago, has some sort of purpose that achieves itself at whatever "dead end" it finds, or stabilizes at, for however long.

Apes became hominids because our fear was dialed down. The universe had provided the ecological conditions for one (or even more) paths to land upon a particular level of consciousness. Human beings evolved from an ape-like creature a million or so years ago. 500,000 years ago, hominids like Homo Heidelbergenesis were making fire, and no doubt experiencing the awe of what their own mind had just accomplished: to create something that required a complex representation of causal relations. Fire is the symbol for that, and the experience, no doubt, fed the neurons within them with the centripetal force of love.

Electricity arises, the self forms. Recognizing selves is how you grow a brain. One center of subjectivity responding positively to the center of another subjectivity, and a spark is released. All creatures which have made the transition into this form (primates, dogs, elephants, whales, dolphins) are not subject to its dynamics, needing to renew their orthograde homeostasis to keep themselves alive. The baboon, following a dispute, will always return to the troop; to be away too long is to depressing. The brain motivates the baboon to go back and make the necessary oblations.
As a social mammal,we are deep into this dynamic, which means we are deeply desirous of the positive feedback of the other. Humans jumped passed apes because our evolutionary line was graced by the ecological conditions to foster a relaxation of the brains fear system, and the opportunities provided by an open (and relatively safe) environment to develop within the creation of this new "quiet space". In this space, which was earlier managed by rough-house play, termite picking, or sex,...

posted on Apr, 4 2016 @ 02:51 AM
...emerged cognitive opportunities presented by our particular anatomical advancements, for example, in the release of our humurous bone from the scapula, allowing us to throw spears and so develop more cognitively complex ways of finding food to eat. Developments such as this represent advanced cognitive evolution, yet this cannot be the 'source' of the change, since the brain, being primarily a social organ, needs to be fed by talking, playing, watching, and the many other forms of implicit relational knowing which we know 'on the inside', but cannot quite express adequately in normal language.

Take a moment when you're lying but know you shouldn't be lying, yet keep lying. Even if it is a small mistruth, we persist and may even be inclined to defend our persistence in what we have come to term "being defensive". Inside a human mind, its as if an internal representation of the process of relating with the other is being constantly "re-represented". The observer self, or the part of us that seems to be more 'anterior' to the content or object of our interest, only becomes an obvious reality when the trauma-scape of primate existence becomes dialed down enough to provide openings to certain ecologically favored lines. The universe, as it were, wills existence, from the outside, with thermodynamics, and from the inside, with some sort of purpose.

The minds of homo sapiens now remains enfeebled by a cultural self-construction that entrains the ordering of lingusitic-symbolic mind that is taught to dissociate from the causal complexes located in the right hemisphere. The right hemisphere is the place of our self, of our personal knowings about what we feel, and what we do to prevent us from knowing what we feel. A persons inner world can be fractured and desperately broken to the point of chronic dissociation. The stabilizes at differing frequencies, with self being linked to context, so that each situation is adequately "fitted" to the tender mind inside.

Humans of the 21st century are dissociative beings, beings which deny certain types of information into their consciousness. Shame, in particular, inasmuch as it has functioned within primate phenomenology as a "depressor" in expressing interest as an agent (or a self), has acted as counter-force against pride in promoting the social dynamic and making it fundamentally "rewarding". We cannot talk about social-mammals without pride, as a basic phenomenological ingredient, necessary to motivate the inside of the creature to get what it wants - which just happens to be something from the other.

Human language can act as a further layer of dissociation in that it provides "beliefs" about what is true. Propositional thought is a gain, but also provides possibility for a double loss. The person maintains a cognitive dissociation from his affective problems, but now can establish within himself a vocal-person who tells him how things are. Beliefs side track the mind. Indeed, it'll likely be established sometime in the future that schizophrenia is the result of repeated social traumas that the mind structurally dissociates from (thanks to the entraining effect of culture), until a certain threshold is crossed - neurologically, and psychologically (they are simultaneous to each other) - and the 'voices' of his mind, or the different self-states that make up his collective 'self' (of which the ego, or observer self, is the 'captain') torment him, as it were. This condition evidently is also heritable, which implies it is probably a severe psychologically induced neurological trauma that that transmits sensitivity to trauma, most likely, as the information for the next generation, itself creating the molecular conditions for the condition to be activated again once a relational trauma kicks into great the next generations personal traumas dissociated from consciousness. Indeed, our human brain evolved for an environment no bigger than 150 people, which begs the question: does schizophrenia happen more often in cities because people are genetically programmed to reflexively orient to people they don't know? And perhaps, certain people who've suffered repeated social traumas have come to dissociate their anxieties and push it of their experiencing consciousness, making more and mores strenuous efforts to present a wished-for image to the world. Is this, perhaps, the etiology of schizophrenia? A war within the mind, and a fracturing into separate centers of volition?


log in