Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Essential Realizations IV

When we experience phenomena, and we desire to negotiate some relationship with them, we seek to understand the phenomena.  This means that we want to reach a sort of "meeting of the minds" with those phenomena, just as if we could inquire of them what are their intents and what might be done so as to either better enable or limit their manifestation in a way that seems better for ourselves and perhaps also of the phenomena themselves in some classes of relationship.  That negotiation process is itself a manifestation of a more complex form of reaction patterns that are the reacting entity's attempt to optimize its relationships on simpler levels than on the more advanced levels which are readily recognized as "mental" per se.  But the very idea of reaching an understanding of phenomena seems no different in its essence than the process of reaching an understanding with the phenomena.   It is just that in the former aspect it is implied that there is some sort of "take away" of the understanding, and not just a relation confirmed during the actual interaction.  These changes of condition of the entity which is capable of taking away information from an exchange with phenomena are the components of what amounts to gaining an understanding. And this information is a key component in predisposing the reacting entity to better adapt itself to future negotiations with phenomena which are "adventitious" to itself (not organic to itself  qua specific entity).  

This is what the whole process of intelligence is all about.  Entities maintaining their own integrity by entering into relationships with other entities in a way that better and better comports with their own agendas, and less and less are merely happenstance and less-than-ideal varieties of interactions which, if only they had been better negotiated, could have been better integrated with the agenda of the reacting entity.  Sometimes one entity can possess great latitude over the relationships to be negotiated with the other entity, and can very greatly delineate the relationship toward more specific and more reliable relations to its own agendas.  If it does, it may do so to such a great degree that the subdominant entities register only as passive phenomena to the dominant entity, and are experienced as "objects" in the relations which are adopted with them.  This registers as a certain fixity in the phenomena as they are experienced, and is really a range on the spectrum of possible relations between entities, which can be experienced on the other extreme as well if those "objects" overtake the conditions which hold when they are "objectified" and become more like agents with their own agendas requiring a ready, focused and constant attention as they assert their own will.  Taking will to be an abstract way of looking at certain expressions of beings as they act, it could easily be understood that so-called "material objects" really do have minds "of their own".

Perhaps it could be a function of looking at different scales of phenomena with the right perspective that could cause one to see that their behavior is all "mental", and that regularity and predictability are a function of the size and complexity of the "essence" of that being, which might seem without enough nuance to constitute a personality on the scale of a human being, but still may seem in their own way, on their own scale, as "persons of a sort" in their lateral relations in kind.  Different isotopes, different degrees of ionization, different forms of entanglement lineages, and perhaps other factors which are recognized as simply "quantum phenomena" are altogether just some ways that elements of matter are still with a sort of personality with respect to their own generalizations within our understanding of them on our own scale.   If we are to take the evolutionary model (without regard to ultimate origins), we could thereby understand relationships of elements, compounds, and certain forms of their more complex interactions, to result in stable forms of cellular life which can also then become more complex in ways that demonstrate an aggregation of simpler intelligence into more complex intelligence, such that the higher ranges of intelligence can regard the personalities of the lower ranges as being more "simplistic", although their actual behavior and the models of behavior which must be developed to describe them could be naturally quite complex and nuanced.

The understanding that is reached, the negotiated relations that are created from those understandings, the bonds formed and contractions of  conduct which result, both firm and flexible, all seem to imply "intelligent behavior", not as something developed only later in the scale of beings such as at the animal level, but which seem to exist in "their own ways" at the most basic levels of beings.  When these relations are sufficiently graded in favor of the dominant entity, then it can have a surplus of adaptive potential represented as its enhanced capacity to respond to, store, retrieve, and apply information concerning its experiences with its complementary phenomena.  It may even be capable of doing this in ways that do merely outstrip the the complexity of the phenomena with respect to their relevant relations to the dominant entity, but may even be capable of outstripping their own cycles of direct relevance, becoming more abstract, more diverse, more precise, more broadly related with other forms of information, more "cognitive" in the full sense that captures human intelligence in all its different respects, both as similar to less intelligent animals and also as peculiar to its own special level of development.

On this level, it may reflect upon its own development, referencing the entities which are relevant to the cognition "as though" they were present to the reflection in some standard form.  The cognition may even advance beyond reflections upon entities and their relations, and extend to processes as such, and even to its own  process as "cognition in this case".  Building upon cases of its own self-reflection, cognition may even take "cognition as such" as an object and continue its adaptations in a so many diverse and extended arrays of developed understandings.  It may even develop scalable processes which are applied to its own process, a set of protocols which bind cognitive processes toward adaptive relations to expected versus obtained results, so that cognition fashions itself into a more powerful, more specialized tool to occasion more difficult and more specialized tasks.  The processes which are developed in this level of evolution of the complex mind may be called self-consciously cognitive heuristics.  One form of such development lies in the development of explanations for things and events so as to discover their ultimate source and ultimate result.  When taken to a very abstract degree it results in the investigations known as philosophy.  When specified to some restricted range of phenomena it is understood as a branch of philosophy known as "natural philosophy" or "science".  When the development of the knowledge of these disciplines are referenced to their own heuristic processes so as to enhance or reorganize their feasibility they are more of the philosophical and theoretical end of the spectrum, and when they are referenced more acutely to the demonstrable consequences of their application to their related phenomena, and for which their further development relies more upon the empirical demonstrations of their accuracy and precision of reference, then it is more of the experimental and technical side of the spectrum of these cognitive disciplines. 

Now surely not everyone will jump up and agree with the way I've outlined how a human reaches an understanding of his world, which I would say resembles the above description, and is a composite of the full range of his component "substructures" which cooperate to generate his totalized complexity of understanding as a "human being", together with his own uniquely human contributions qua total being (more than the sum of his components).  Also, not everyone will even be able to understand the gist of what I've said nor grasp where I'm going with it, nor have a sense of why or with what import. But I think it is a reasonable model of what goes on when human beings, and other beings, act and adapt their actions to one another. It makes more sense than a model of sheer data recording and collation, and it seems to leave room for a disciplined discussion of the so-called "qualia" of the mind, and of qualities of the mind's experience which are not describable merely as measurable movements of entities correlated with them, however consistent and well-attested such may be within some specifically related science (for example in cognitive neuroscience and its relations to neural network design and artificial intelligence).  I don't deny the substance of valuable information derived in scientific approaches that rely heavily on the descriptive/correlative/mathematical modelling process for their results.  The growth of powerful technologies confirms the power of that approach, and the model of intelligence I've outlined suggests that it is a predictable symptom of the development of intelligence in its outstripping of its own base entity as it develops exteriorized simulacra of its own process so as to extend the scaffolds of its intelligence beyond the practicable scope of its own entity into a fuller realization of itself without its inherent limits in some form or other (but also without the core of its own essence).  

Yet I would say that those are simply the embodiment of ideas, rather than ideas that have been born within the exigencies of a living body.  They are extensions of minds, but not minds "in themselves" in the same sense.  They are artifices, not life forms.  Yet they are composed of life forms, and they do behave systematically in resemblance to the life forms which created them.  They may even one day come to be synthetic reproductions of human beings made from organic materials that possess all the behavioral characteristics to seem reliably like any of some range of human beings whose real and living typology already resembles such simulacra.  I jest derisively a bit there, but I mean it all the same.  And yet they will not be alive in their composite form in the same way as that living being is which they are artificially made to resemble.  Why that is the case is a metaphysical issue, of a specific branch of philosophy which asks questions about essence, and yet I posit here simply as one of many already posited assumptions.

But this is to speak of the world as a collection of beings.  And it is also to speak of one's own entity as a collection of beings.  Neither of these discourses are the same thing as the beings "in and of themselves".  It is an instance of cognition, borne out in linguistic representation.  Nothing more.  But it may reflect an understanding that can have more or less accuracy and precision, more or less significance and relevance to any given interpreter.  I want now to bear out what those aspects of my understanding are, in specific relation to humanity and its world. 

What it means to be a living being cannot be separated in fact from what it means to that living being as that living being.  It is what is often referred to as a "subjective phenomenon".   Surely there isn't anyone who knows "what it's like" to be the being that they are who would argue that such a category of phenomena have no signification of, or relevance to "what it means to be" that sort of being.  In fact it would be better said that such a being always begins with that baseline of its own subjectivity, and this reaches out to, and is reached in towards by, phenomena.  In the first case, the phenomena is found to be sourced in the being itself, and it can give its own testimony to that origin.  It can directly realize that it is the reason for those expressions of phenomena that it might describe as its own actions.  In the second case, the phenomena seem to have a mind of their own, and reach in toward the experiencing being, as though they might also be expressions of a mind, but there is no attestation of which mind or for what reason or purpose, not in the same way that there is for the actions which are native from the being experiencing both kinds of phenomena.  Both kinds of phenomena register as "subjective experiences", but only one kind registers as originating from the subjective experiencer.  Freud's models of how the psyche forms its ego structure in relation to objects could be said to bear out this fundamental idea at which I'm getting, and it is similarly detectable in the Meditations of Descartes.  

But what I'm saying is that what the person is, is a mind.  It is not that a mind is part of a person, or that one is a construct of the other.  A mind and a person are the exact same thing.  Also, there isn't something else other than minds.  Everything that is its own entity is a mind, and also on its own scale of dignity, a person.  This doesn't mean that there aren't diversities of essences in what kinds of minds exist, what kinds of persons, or that there aren't different scales of complexity and novelty.  Rather it means that all those aspects of reality, are expressions of mental persons.   There isn't anything else than mental persons and their interactions, which are all themselves aspects found existing as and in mental persons, whether as intermediaries or as conjunctions.  This is not a novel idea, but it is rather the most basic idea.  We always start with a sense of there being some reality, but in doing that we always start with a sense, which is a subjective experience.  That it takes the form of "there being something actual" is a form of that experience, which bears out a certain spectrum of novelties of quality and form and are always personalized as there is no discourse in which they can be discussed "impersonally".  They are always personal experiences which are experienced by mental persons.  There isn't any other sort of reality.  All of reality fits within this basic description.  All of it.

Therefore it is not some grandiose notion that I can understand something.  Nor is it some sort of extra-grandiose notion that I can understand humanity.  Nor is it some mythic or arbitrary claim that I can understand the world.  I can do those and must do them by my nature as a Man in human form. That I possess the faculties for doing so is not a condition of what the world, humanity, nor any adventitious thing has upon me, but it is a response to those realities which is naturally adapted to preserving the integrity of my own nature in relation to those exteriorities.

So it is by way of enlargement upon something I said in an earlier installment of this series that I wrote all of this, where I before said that the truth may be that the reality as such is what would be described properly in panpsychical, panpersonalist, and metaphysically idealist terms.  Even to the point that "matter" is the mere syntax of specific relations between these existing beings, and not something "in itself" that is not in fact also one of these beings.  The closest thing to "material object" that exists in reality is the sense of stability in the model constructed in the cognition of one being which is made of another being due to the dominance of the former subjectivity's intelligence over the complexity of the latter subjectivity's potential to act independently thereof.  That gives the sense of a "concrete existence" that stands apart in a stable form from the experience of it, and stands out in relief from anything which varies from it so that it seems to be the stable expression of a single agent, and therefore is given the status of a stable expression of that agent, and grants a sense of  "solidity" to it which is felt to be what is called an "object".  That is, an object of one mental person's experience of another mental person's expressive act.  This is something essential to realize at least as a possible way of understanding the world, simply in that it is a possible way of understanding the world, and one which I say does not disagree with any of its phenomena, and even gives a sense of better explanation to some of them than could be granted under any reduction into some purely "descriptive data correlation" model of the world, which I also say simply complements my understanding of the world in the same way that a model of something complements the actual being.

Why I stated all of this in more detail, especially in light of what I've already said, will be explained in the next few installments of this series of articles.

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