The neural correlate for hatred and much more.

pdt pdt at home.yrd
Mon Jun 9 23:14:38 EST 1997


Title:  Did we want to solve the problem or fix it?  (revision 1)

1.  The Necessities of Life

Organism + Environment + Entropy = Life Process

Entropy is acting by having a dual effect here, pushing the organism
toward death and priming Evolution (see section #2).
 
Take away the Organism and there is no Life Process.

Take away the Environment and there is no Life Process (the Organism
dies).

Take away the Entropy and there’s 
.

Generalizing: 
An Environment is a subset of the Universe.  In the Universe, Entropy is
acting with the same basic dual effect, taking apart matter/energy, then
rearranging it, over and over again.

Universe + Entropy = Complexity
Examples:  Everything?

Take away the Entropy and there’s no Complexity.  Take away the Entropy
and all you have is Gravity to act.  Is Gravity maybe really only the
absence of Entropy?  I could go on like this, but couldn’t all Forces
just be variations on a lack of Entropy? I’ll stop now, because that
really isn’t my biggest interest here.  

We’ve been awfully neglectful of Entropy.  I’ve heard Entropy called
Time’s arrow.  If you’re going to use analogies, I think it would be
better to consider Time as Entropy’s Reference Gauge.


2.  The Organism

The basic functional components of an organism:

a.  Structure and mechanism that keep the substance of the Organism
separate from the Environment, i.e. fortifying it against Entropy’s
effects.

b.  Simultaneously with component a., structure and function that
acquire replenishing energy and matter from the Environment.

c.  A genetic (information) system, to allow the Organism to near
faithfully reproduce these structures and mechanisms and also to serve
as the site of mutation, priming the process of Evolution by Natural
Selection.  

    Certain more complex organisms have a secondary system of
information storage and processing, a brain.  For certain of the most
complex Organisms, the brain appears to have a subset that serves to
near faithfully reproduce learned behaviors and also serves as the site
of  random rearrangements of (memories and instincts), allowing
Abstraction (among other behaviors) to occur.

3.  Abstraction 

Information (as memories and instincts) + Entropy (in the role of the
rearranger, now at the neuron/synapse level) = Novel thoughts (as
Abstraction)

Abstractions that are used to create new concrete things are inventions,
abstractions that haven’t been used  this way but do still serve a
purpose are beliefs. 

4.  A New Abstraction

Now, to our species.  I believe, for some reason, possibly relating to a
heightened level of Separation Anxiety resulting from having such a
plastic brain, one? of us, maybe struggling with a need for identity or
self, came up with a set of abstractions along the lines of "I am alive
and aware and in this universe all around me and (looking at it from
here) at its center, very special, even immortal".  Such a set of
abstractions would have felt really good, believing in them answered a
great need.  Staying with the Separation Anxiety notion, such a set
abstractions, as strong beliefs, might have given this person the
courage and the wherewithal to leave home, to explore, to migrate.  

Complex languages, even ancient ones, the way they are structured, are
very easy ways of sharing abstractions with other humans.  This
particular set of abstractions could have then been shared by word of
mouth, taught to children, made routine.  I believe the different
abstractions of this set persist as beliefs today,  though the set’s
been broken up a bit.  I believe that one of these abstractions
continues as a belief in most of us, serving the same need as before,
though learned to different degrees in different individuals.

5.  Please Follow Close

The one abstraction still widely held?  I think it’s "I am alive".  The
trouble is, it is an abstraction with no basis in reality (please refer
back to section #1).  Speaking for myself, I now believe that I am not
alive, I am not in possession of life.  "I am alive" is mistaking the
part for the whole.  It’s saying "I, the Organism, all by myself, am
Life.  "I am alive" neglects the environment part of life.  It neglects
the entropy part of life.

Is this just a matter of semantics?  I don’t think so, the "I am alive"
abstraction I’ve spoken of is referring to functionality.  Life is
really a process involving three basic parts.  

Sorry, I couldn’t resist this one:  Douglas, you weren’t quite "hearing"
right, it probably wasn’t "42" you were thinking about, but "fortitude". 

The trouble is, while each of us is learning to believe that we’re
trying to grow up to become this autonomous being, every instinct that
has evolved is trying to keep track of the environment, and a certain
region of the brain is trying to keep track of entropy, serving as the
biological clock. (Remember section #1.)

That combination of players is going to cause quite a lot of conflict in
our brains, the learning regions largely ignore the environment and
entropy, while our genetically programmed brain regions are trying to
monitor those same components of the rather precarious balance called
Life.  The equilibria, optimized over so much Evolution, become
chronically upset.  The capacity for learning has evolved to complement
instinct.  We’ve turned it against instinct, profoundly.

Once the "I am alive" abstraction became ingrained in our memories and
learned behavior, it caused a lot of emotional (instinctual) distress. 
With a lack of Entropy awareness training we start to develop
abstractions like "evil" and the need to feel that death can’t mean the
end, that there must be an afterlife, all of this to try to explain the
effects of Entropy while staying blind to the Entropy itself.  With that
lack of environmental awareness training we start to develop
abstractions like conquering to answer territoriality in disequilibrium,
a need to conquer, acted out as war.  We developed so many ultimately
unnecessary abstractions.

6.  Now, Try This  Instead

When you start to grasp the implications, you should recognize one
product of the learning/instinct conflict:  Civilization.

When you start to think about the implications, you might worry that
removal of the conflict will signal the end of all the good things that
Civilization has brought.  There’s no reason to, those things really
were developed to aid in our survival.

The implications are staggering.

When you start to think about the implications, you might worry that
removal of the conflict will leave us as relatively dull ape-people
again.  There’s no reason, we may not have a free will, but with Entropy
we sure are unpredictable, even to ourselves.  Creativity and the
enjoyment of it are not going to be lost, as long as we keep sharing our
abstractions.  There’s no reason, we may not hold exclusive rights to
consciousness, but we sure have a lot of it.  Consciousness is the
signal processing from all the mechanisms that the Organism uses to
monitor the Environment and Entropy, warning of trouble and alerting of
sustenance.  It only might seem like more because one of those "I am
special" abstractions.  Well, each and every one of us is special,
because the Environment/Entropy circumstances of our lives make us
unique. 

I think we need to start teaching our children ecology and evolution,
not autonomy.  We need to continue to encourage them to express
themselves, to abstract.  We should also make the effort to retrain
ourselves, those of us who know that "I am alive" is meant to be only an
abbreviation for "I am alive, here and now."

Penny D. Tansy, PhD.



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