The way it works

Steven Harris stevenharris at
Thu Feb 3 17:28:03 EST 2000

The way it works

Think of a newspaper photograph. You see a scene, perhaps a picture of a
car. The subject of your attention appears to be one unit: a car, or a
picture. But close inspection shows the photograph to really consist of a
field of very small dots, either black or white.

>From the point of view of that spot, it has no idea of anything but being
black or white. It does not know if it is on the right or the left of the
picture. It does not know what it's relationship to the other spots may be.
It does not know if there are other spots or if they are black or white.
There is no degree or compromise in the existence of that spot. It is either
white or black, yes or no. The spot does not know if it is a bit of shading
on the hood of the car, a piece of cloud in the sky, or a part of a line on
the driveway.

As we look at such a photograph and think we are looking at the unity of a
scene from life, that unity of experience in sight is only an illusion
because that image of an abundance of objects in a photograph showing us the
world is really just an arrangement of dots. Many small experiences of
dots - black and white, off and on - appear to be one thing, the
representation of sight. Many small things give the impression of being one
bigger thing.

Now think of the nerve cells in the eye. To simplify my example for a moment
let's imagine that all of the million or so light-sensitive cells are
responsive to the same range of wavelengths of light, so that the person
sees in black & white.

We don't experience light but we can experience the evidence of it. The
light is not felt by the light-sensitive cell. The light-sensitive cell
feels the experience of it's own firing. (This experience is the same
experience as the firing of an auditory cell, or the nerve cell attached to
a leg muscle, et al.) The nerve cell might fire in response to a chain of
reactions that began with exposure to light, but the cell is not feeling
anything but it's own experience of what it is like to fire an action

None of these cells reacting to light has any awareness of the nature of the
firings of any of the other cells on the retina. Just like with the
photograph the cells are registering only on and off, white and black (but
unlike the photograph they are also able to communicate degrees of gray from
black to white because of the added factor of time/animation where different
frequencies of firing can give evidence of degree to the later logic of the
brain computed by other cells). The different variations in light that hit
each cell in one instant give the illusion of being one thing (sight) but in
reality are just the accumulated experiences of many different cells in
firing (with light acting as a catalyst to that firing).

But you say the brain takes that information and makes it one thing with the
many cells dealing with optical processing. And, yes, an array of cells will
calculate the geometric relationships of every retinal cell to the others,
and the geometric/mathematical relationships of the cells responding to
matching wavelengths of light to each other, and, well, that part of the
brain will invent mathematical properties and invent questions, calculations
to perform, relating to that visual information relating to those cells and
answer any questions it asks.

ANY CALCULATION performed by the brain is an illusion of being one thing
just like the photograph is an illusion of being one representation of sight
and is rather many dots of black or white. Any understanding, any
processing, any function, any experience is not one thing but an
accumulation of small experiences. Any calculation of the brain is
"pixel-ated" as the result of the many singular experiences of cells in
various states of firing (just like the photograph is an arrangement of
pixels and has none of the shape or content of the items represented in the
photograph). Any thought, perception, or emotion is not one thing but caused
by the many small cellular experiences as they are (mathematically) related
to each other animated in time. (A "flash-photograph" of a thought would be
no thought at all because time has to be a factor.)

Every one of those small parts of consciousness is one range of experience,
one thing. Every cell has the same experiences (relative to the nature of it
's action potentials) as the experience of any other nerve cell in the
system firing in the same way.

What is the experience of a single cell? A single-cell organism cannot
report it's experience to us. But the answer can be found using mathematics
(and most of you will not even be able to fathom the complexity of the
mathematics required to solve this problem). The problem is even more
difficult because the sense of time of a single nerve cell must be very
different as a cell can go through a full range of experience (on-off-on)
thousands of times in a second.

The efforts and experiences of a single cell struggling for health and
survival will add up as it's part of the efforts of a multi-cellular
organism seeking it's own health and survival.

Wouldn't it make sense that a principal of all life be that pleasure is the
road to health and pain be the road to follow to distress and disease? Even
at the cellular level?

A nerve cell must fire to grow and thrive. Inactivity leads to atrophy and

I know how it works. To really understand the mathematical event happening
in the relationships of nerve cells to each other and understand the way
this creates possibilities of almost infinite intelligence (but for other
tempering mathematical factors that dampen down that ability) requires an
unusual ability to animate mathematical/geometrical factors into many
dimensions in one's mind and then to keep multiplying the mathematical event
into increasing numbers of dimensions as you simulate the way logic grows in
a nervous system. Much like with the elite of theoretical physics, few can
have this kind of mathematical ability. Some parts of the equation are
difficult to explain in text because of the need to animate various diagrams
in a variety of dimensions. (Remember, the brain thinks in millions of
dimensions at a time while the language we use to communicate with each
other and with ourselves in the language portion of the brain must be
converted to a logic that can be expressed in a linear form of only
two-dimensions because language needs to be expressed vocally with only one
sound following another at a time. This is the reason that so many mistakes
can occur in philosophies of consciousness when so much bias for
'reportability' of experience and our lack of having any other way of
communicating with each other means that the only logic we use is the logic
of the brain that can be understood by the language center and expressed
within the limits of such language. This is also the reason we identify a
conscious and also a subconscious mind which are really the language and
non-language minds. The non-language mind is much more powerful in the
clarity of it's logic and it's speed. Remember, also, that our advanced
mathematics is unable to approach the complexity of the natural math of our
brain because any math that we can communicate to each other is a
mathematical notation system using the language center of the brain and
restricted to forms that can be communicated in a linear language form.)

But I can explain enough so that you can possibly see how the logic works.
And this is a remarkable way of looking at things because you can run out
the math models much like you can run many small units of data about weather
to run a super-computer program compiling small units of data into
calculations that can predict various weather events. You map it out and
there is very little about behavior that can't be explained using this
language. You can show why certain behaviors and symptoms go with others,
why a certain percentage of people with disorders are the predictable result
of the mechanisms for success in the design of the brain and explain for
each disorder why a greater percentage of people are male or female. You can
totally reorganize the groupings of symptoms in the DSM-IV into different
explanations of the brain and throw out this system where discovery is only
coming from looking at differences in functioning for identifying into an
apparently endless array of "disorders" and start seeing the real
understanding coming from looking at the factors that are universal.

And it is a new language of looking at the brain. The implications for
change in the way an extraordinarily massive amount data is explained means
also that a large number of arguments will result about these ideas. The
number of new explanations of data seem to be infinite. So I will be having
to answer to a large number of objections.

Here goes:

In a sense, all thinking is emotion. At the cellular level a spike of
activity is a form of pleasure for the nerve cell. The more a cell fires,
the better chance it has of survival. All cells have some form of emotional
life as they seek stasis/health and avoid damage/imbalance. Nerve cells have
a faster and exaggerated "experience" as an evolutionary development needed
once colonies of cells grew too large to effectively communicate chemically
across the group in time to react to the environment. But a variety of
mathematical factors were needed for the nerve cell to effectively
communicate in a large organism.

When a cell fires it feels pleasure. When it is not firing it feels nothing.
There is a small period of time at the end of firing in the transition from
pleasure and nothing where there is a change in sensation which is pain. In
slow-frequency firing the percentage of time with pleasure is much greater
than that of pain so in terms of our sense of time (from the point of view
of a large organism) the experience is pleasure. Fast-cycling firings with
many more "offs" per unit of time result in a greater percentage of the time
with pain rather than pleasure. The most growth in a cell occurs with
activity somewhere between the highest and slowest frequencies of firing.

The many mechanisms of the cell increase the mathematical chances of
slow-frequency over fast-frequency firings. (So the logic is that of the
cell "seeking" pleasure and "avoiding" pain.)

The cells seek out new connections with cells firing with the same
frequencies at the same time. This creates feedback loops that increase the
ability of the cell to fire by signaling itself to fire until a certain
frequency is reached and then this same influence becomes more inhibitory so
that it signals itself to cycle quickly off from high-frequency firings.
(There will be observations that many cells always cycle-quickly so they
must be "seeking" the fast activity but any large organism will sacrifice
many of the small parts to suffering and death for the good of the whole.
Mental processing involves many conflicts with parts of the brain suffering
trauma until the right path of the excitation occurs and an understanding

Exposure to the various transmitter chemicals cause the number of receptors
for the particular chemical to change. The cell can then learn to be more
receptive to the particular chemical at that location so that it takes less
chemical to create an action potential, speeding up the reaction. The math
of how these receptor changes occur also increases the chances of that cell
having slow-frequency firings over fast-frequency firings.

Active dendrites will re-attach closer to the nucleus of the cell which also
increases the chances of that cell being fired. Without any inputs from
other cells, the cell will fire itself a few times a second as well. The
cell becomes organized as a voting mechanism with a quorum of influence
required to produce an action potential (regulated by the exponentially
different influences of different dendrites and mechanisms in the nucleus
that affect the "quorum").

Slow-cycling extended firing represents on/yes/excitation. Fast-cycling
firing is on the off/no/inhibition end of the scale.

With all of this desire to fire it would seem that the cells would just fire
all of themselves into an oblivion of constant activity, but there are
tempering mathematical factors.

Many cells are reacting to events outside of the organism. To make sense of
the outside world, various influences are translated into a language of pain
or pleasure. (In the processing of light, for instance, slow-cycling
activity represents light and fast-cycling represents dark or darker, so
light is pleasure and darkness is pain even if absolute darkness is the
absence of experience.) So darkness will increase the inhibition in the
system causing stress because of the way the language of the nervous system
is set. For this reason most animals are awake during the day and asleep at
night. (Nocturnal animals would evolve later as the eyes become too
sensitive to the light and better able to see more with less information.)
This is also the reason that some people are influenced enough by light to
develop Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Also, there is a slight mathematical edge to inhibition over excitation in
this cellular language. This is for the success of any organism because the
stop needs to be stronger and faster than the start. Too much enthusiasm
will lead to death. The squirrel slowly approaches the nut (the good, the
start, the yes) and very quickly stops when a quick movement is nearby (the
bad, the stop, the no) and this saves the squirrel from approaching the food
regardless of dangers.

This mathematical edge for increased sensitivity to inhibition comes when
the cells are very active. A cell that is not firing is changing the
chemical balances in the direction of the next firing. A cell that is firing
is moving in the direction of inhibiting itself. A cell that is firing a lot
is becoming more inhibited because too much inhibition leads to more
inhibition and too much excitation leads to inhibition. (Too much excitatory
chemical is inhibitory. Excitation comes with a certain range of ionic
charge and inhibition with an imbalance in either direction from that
required balance. Inhibitory chemicals are really a form of too much
excitation because they create too much ionic charge. Conversely too much
inhibitory chemical does not turn into excitation.) Mathematically a large
organism needs to evolve ways of shutting down periodically to allow the
small percentage of very active nerve sites a chance to go without firing so
that the sensitivities can change back towards more receptivity to
excitation. (Sleep.) Eventually a gradual change in sensitivities towards
inhibition (and also inflexibility) lead to the variety of changes occurring
in the elderly. Such inhibition can occur early in life in a variety of
brain areas and corrupt the logic so that disorders occur.

When this logic of every cell mathematically set-up to seek ways to fire in
unstressed slow-cycling patterns, to fire for as long as possible, and
insure that future communications and arrangements make this as successful
as possible, the cells organize themselves into an ever-increasing
arrangement of logic. The power of this comes because a lot of the firings
come from outside influences in response to touch, or light, or sound, etc.
and the cells that receive this outside information must develop ways to
make sense of this information to achieve the greatest pleasure for the
greatest number of cells in the system. Because cells are attracted to other
cells firing in the same frequency, they create a mathematical logic of
looking for mathematical patterns and prediction. (To predict when a cell is
going to fire makes it possible to create a logic that improves the chances
of being influenced by those predicted firings and firing more often.) So
eventually the logic grows into enormous mathematical complexity as the
outside world is observed and patterns are recognized mathematically.

All mental and neurological process is math. The math that creates the
decisions of the brain is slightly different than the math involved with the
experience of sensations and consciousness. The math of the cells'
interactions constantly influences the math of everything else which
influences all of the behaviors and functions and thoughts which are
constantly moving calculations. The experience or consciousness part is just
the accumulation of all of those "pixels" of mental processing relating to
different kinds of data and having their own range of cellular experiences
from pleasure to pain and sleep.

The differences in the math of excitation over inhibition sensitivity then
predict a variety of mathematical events that show in behavior changes. The
excitation is mathematically more like a fluid compared to the
mathematically solid movements of inhibition. So eventually channels of
mental processing develop like the channels of water running in veins
through a mud swamp that is slowly becoming less and less fluid. Extreme
inhibition in the system (like a mud swamp that is drying out and hardening
into a smaller number of cleaner running streams of water across the top)
leads to ever-restricting numbers of patterns of behavior, lack of
flexibility, obsessions, addictions. Too much to explain for now.

The brilliance of our minds is caused by the brilliance of a system set-up
to insure the greatest pleasure and health for the greatest number of nerve
cells in the system. Evolution has thrown in some twists and turns in this
logic for the good of the whole, for instance the different varieties of
different transmitter chemicals giving the system different ways to dampen
down the firings in various regions to control focus and serve the greatest
good of the organism (still following the same logic).

I am just starting to explain how this works. It requires a massive change
in the way the system is discussed and a major change in perception.

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