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1. A Concept of Conscious Experience

 

 

DAVID SWIFT

 

A THUMBNAIL SKETCH IN BROAD STROKES

 

1.

The core and essential part of you that understands these words as you read along is neither your soul nor your brain. Other parts of you, for now we'll call them survival triggers, have spent all your life so far learning and using your brain to store the layers of meaning that allow them watch, understand, and sit in judgement of these words. You can feel yourself becoming each one as they take turns being the real you.

 

2.

Allow me to explain with a comparison.

Like a floor-vacuuming robot that scurries around by itself, we too have a task. Its is vacuuming; ours is reproducing.

As running out of power would thwart the vacuuming mission by stranding the robot mid-suck, its designers have put in a subroutine. A low battery reading prompts the robot to interrupt its main task with instructions to return to its charging station. Threats to our mission and opportunities to support it prompt comparable interruptions and changes in behavior.  A drop in available power triggers in the robot's behavior; we respond to reflex survival triggers like hunger, sweet taste, thirst, injury, sexual opportunity, extreme cold, salty taste, or extreme heat - mission-threatening or mission-supporting conditions that trigger a pause and change our behavior. Just as a low power reading overrides the cleaner's main task, each threat or support to survival and reproduction momentarily becomes our controlling motivation, and each survival trigger continues to direct behavior until the danger to our main mission is past or support for it is no longer useful.

This idea is not new. More than a hundred years ago, physiologists were postulating self-preservation as an explanation for animal behavior. They just couldn't square behaviors like celibacy and heroic self-sacrifice with survival and reproduction. This theory explains such behavior, not as attempts to survive and reproduce, but as attempts to feel the pleasure that characterizes those attempts and avoid feelings of pain that characterize failure.

Humans have developed complex responses tailored to each basic survival trigger. While other animals can only graze or hunt, we can choose from a variety of educations and jobs to satisfy our need for food. While the males of other animal species take advantage of any available opportunities, we develop social relationships in order to procreate. That kind of flexibility and variation enables each human to develop an assortment of responsive behavioral sets. People 'in love' tap into one of those assortments, and often report "not feeling like themselves", while under the spell of the reproductive trigger. Sex organ triggers provoke different emotions and sets of instructions (or personality) than the behavioral set based the need for knowledge and work.

Such responses depend on the happenstance learning based on experience associated with each survival trigger. While the previous psychological theory held that our personalities had a single, unified source, this theory suggests that it is necessary for the same individual to have separate, even Jekyll and Hyde type, personalities within their various response patterns. The same person could exhibit a law-abiding personality when seeking a job, but could become a complete liar and thief when feeling the desire for a drug induced high. That same individual might also hold to traditionally acceptable sexual behavior, but become a vengeful psychopath when criticized. Each behavior set depends on past experience in dealing with each survival danger or opportunity type.

As will be discussed in detail later, most behavior depends on hunger and thirst because nutrition in the form of mother's milk creates the pleasure bond necessary to teach language, and language is the basis for and mode of most of our thought and behavior. We deem it normal to have consistent personalities because the biggest part of our motivation can be traced back to the pleasure of pleasing and acceptance based on our early dependence on mother for survival. However, nonverbalized triggers, like the pleasures of sex and drugs, can inexplicably wrench control and provoke uncharacteristic behavior. This theory holds that our separate behavioral sources can cause conflicting emotions, which can only be resolved by understanding the sources of the conflicts.

Every purposeful act, no matter how far extrapolated from our basic survival triggers, either seeks to feel the pleasure or avoid feeling the pain linked to supports for or protection of our reproductive mission. Pleasure seeking or pain avoidance, either here and now or extrapolated to the hereafter, may even compel individuals to completely forgo reproduction.

Learned abstract sophistication so successfully assures human survival, that today we mostly concern ourselves with the pleasures of mere comfort. The rest of this work explains how our brains interact with our survival triggers, five senses, and muscles to deal with danger that might interfere with or support our basic reproductive mission. Those four: brain, survival triggers, five senses, and muscles together comprise the mind of any animal.

 

3.

We haven't considered any of these new ideas before because psychologists currently occupy the same position that fourteenth-century alchemists once held. Alchemists were the established experts, but they couldn't turn lead into gold. Neither can todays' psychologists reliably fix problems like criminality, addiction, anxiety, or psychosis. The mind concept sketched above offers an alternative to the ongoing attempts to make the current psychological theory work. The result is not perfect, pieces are missing, much work remains. It's a preemie on life-support, but its heart beats loudly. It explains how our minds work in a way that allows us to understand our motives, re-evaluate our lives, and change undesirable behavior.

 

4.

Firstly and mostly, the current brain-in-charge theory fails because it ignores the role of our reflex survival triggers and the emotions based on them. We derive our emotions by remembering previously experienced survival reflexes. Reflex survival triggers and emotions have a prerequisite role in understanding the world as reported by our sense organs. They provide a kind of meaning necessary for us to evaluate threats and supports to our survival and reproductive mission. Two kinds of meaning exist. Everyone knows about definitional meaning because it identifies things for us, dictionaries define the differences between things, but secondly, we also need to evaluate the usefulness or threat value of those identified things to our main reproductive mission. Reflex survival triggers and emotions provide us with evaluative meaning, but before we go any further, some readers may be wondering exactly what is meant by 'emotions'. Sooner or later, we must explain what we mean, and that might as well be now because emotions are crucial to thought and behavior.

 

5.

Emotions start out as survival-trigger feelings like hunger and thirst. We experience such feelings at the various locations in our bodies that generate them. Stomach hunger, for example, keeps us from starving ourselves. We feel the pain of extremes of cold and heat on our skin. We feel injury pains at the location of the scrape, cut, or blow. We feel the pleasure of relief from thirst and hunger in our mouths and the pleasure of relief from a warm sweater or cool breeze on our skins. Our survival depends on such basic reflex feelings. Later, sourcing such reflexes from memory makes them emotions like anxiety, pride, and hope. We remember pain as fear, respite from pain as hope, and pleasure as joy.

Let me use an example, Biff the bully punches you in the nose. That physically hurt. The next time you see Biff, you remember the survival-trigger's physical pain by re-feeling it in your nose. You may involuntarily raise your hand to protect your nose. Maybe even give it a rub.

Understand, this time Biff is still across the room. You haven't been physically hurt yet, but you remember the pain of your last encounter. That remembered pain comes from a memory stored in your brain. We remember a survival-trigger's, physical feeling as an emotion. Your original physical hurt is now a psychological emotion called fear.

So Biff comes over, and apologizes for hitting you and gives you a hundred dollars. You use the money to take your current romantic interest to dinner, who is so impressed that she or he agrees to spend the night at your place.

The next time you see Biff you will remember both pain and gratitude. Those conflicted emotions will produce nervousness. You would feel pain, nervousness, and sexual arousal, and that's just the result of two encounters with Biff.

Your emotional evaluation of Biff will develop greater complexity with each meeting, depending on the result of your last encounter. The accumulating result will determine whether you run or hide or jump up and shake his hand. Over time, emotions develop so much nuanced complexity that we can hardly follow the process. The ever-growing layers of emotion about everything affecting you, developed between childhood and adulthood, keep you from realizing that emotions trigger our responses. It feels like thinking because it comes from your brain and determines your actions, but it is just remembering.

 

6.

Brains feel in charge because they are the source of most of our current conscious experience. We know that because we couldn't recognize Biff without a memory of a previous meeting stored in our brains. We also couldn't understand Biff's threat or support meaning to us or respond without memories of his previous painful/nervous/sexual effect on us. We argue hereafter, that reflex survival feelings and emotions derived from them evaluate the sensations from our five senses and trigger all our muscle responses. That is a predictive and testable scientific theory; it's also, all of animal psychology expressed in a sentence.

We know that our experience comes from our brains because a current punch in the nose feels different from a memory of a punched nose. We experience all feelings, either current or remembered, at their original locations. A punched nose (remembered or current) always hurts in the nose. Nevertheless, while we feel memories at site of original experience, we are also aware of their source, which distinguishes current from remembered feelings and dreaming from waking experiences. To paraphrase Scottish philosopher, David Hume (An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, 1748), "memory is real experience lite." Memory is a shadow of the primary experience.

A tenth of a second current glance at Biff prompts the brain to produce several seconds of recognizing (that is Biff), evaluating (he hurt me), and action (where can I hide) memories. Eyes were the source of only the tiny current bit of the whole experience; the brain produced the rest from memory, which gives us the awareness that we feel most of our ongoing experience from the source of memory. We correctly feel that most of our current experience comes from our brains. The brain matches the situation identified in eyes triggering our emotions and actions from memory. Most response is remembered, not currently thought out. You run or hide or jump up and shake Biff's hand according to the learned emotional evaluation triggered by recognition. Brains store our decisions; emotions are those decisions; and we experience those decisions as feelings in survival reflexes and muscles. A tenth of a second current glance at Biff prompts the brain to produce several seconds of recognizing, evaluating, and muscle-action memories. Again, it feels like thinking, but it is just remembering from the brain that is experienced in sense organs, survival reflexes, and muscles.

 

7.

The four-element mind concept presents such a simple, straightforward explanation of our behavior that it is hard to imagine that no one else has thought of it before, but we have been tricking ourselves for a long time, and it is instructive to examine how and guess at why.

 

8.

We misunderstood our emotions right from the start of recorded history. The ancient Greeks were the first to write the accumulated religious, philosophic, and scientific knowledge of pre-history, Babylon, and Egypt, along with their own. That allowed for its European rediscovery two thousand years later. The intervening millennia represent an intellectual dark age. We can imagine the feelings of medieval European monks and priests reading Aristotle or Plato. They had survived an economic and cultural apocalypse.

They lived in rude shacks or chilly cloisters, but Greek and Roman ruins like the Parthenon and the tombs that pilgrims viewed along the Appian Way mocked them with far finer architecture demonstrating unattainable power and lost expertise. The Bible, and surviving Greek and Roman works on philosophy, mathematics, science, and engineering had reputations for wonder and infallibility. Hundreds of years later, such books were still portrayed as the source of magical powers wielded by Shakespeare's Prospero and Goethe's Faust. Moveable type hadn't been invented; naive readers would naturally overrate such precious, hand-copied books.

Plato's Theaetetus, https://archive.org/stream/the00aetetusofplatplatrich#page/158/mode/2up is an example of interest to psychology. It purports to be only an examination of knowledge, but Plato, apparently unintentionally, secreted the misclassification of emotions into the fabric of his epistemological discussion. He ignores their actual role, assumes that they are parts of our five senses, and that our consciousness and decisions come from within our soul. He treats those beliefs as already proven facts and neither of the other dialogue participants questions that.

As we will see later, this misunderstanding was already millennia old. It was a religious belief, supposedly revealed to long forgotten priests by their Gods and, I suppose, generally accepted as common-sense in all ancient texts. We cannot be surprised that wide-eyed medieval readers focused on Plato's discussion on knowledge, assumed that he had superior psychological understanding, and became unsuspectingly infected by the assumptions that emotions were sub-sets within our five senses and the soul directed behavior.

Priests and monks were especially susceptible because his explanation confirmed their own Christian soul concept. As we will soon see, it came from the same Platonic source, and was in reality only self-affirmed verification. They couldn't know that because it had been long-before injected into their religious dogma by Plotinus, a Roman, Christian student of Plato. (No lessor classics scholar than Friedrich Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols - 1889 (Things I Owe to the Ancients part 2) wonders if such ideas were originally taught to the Egyptians by their Hebrew slaves and then taught to the Greeks before Plato's time.)

 

9.

Those priests and monks were not just any readers; they were the founders and teachers of our first universities and, in laying the groundwork of modern scholarship, they would exert influence on science far beyond their lifetimes. As we will see, they carefully organized their universities to eliminate any conflict with their religious beliefs. 

While they admitted that the brain might be the source of decisions, they held that the thoughts themselves were non-material and, therefore, spiritual, and beyond the methods of science. This setup conveniently preserved the freewill necessary to hold believers accountable for their sins. Those prone to conspiracy theories (like Nietzsche, The Antichrist - 1895) might suspect a Dan Brown, Da Vinci Code like plot to misstate the facts, but it was most probably an innocent mistake based on faith. No one tests religious beliefs with the peer review questioning and replacement process that drives advancements in our modern physical sciences, and as a result, our understanding of psychology could not and has not evolved.

In a few paragraphs, we offer a fuller narrative of the mind concept's development, just to show that its origin is religion, not science. An examination of history will reveal, that few had occasion to question this religious doctrine because the Christian Church has enjoyed the support of our most powerful cultural, educational, and political authorities. Christianity still wields great political power in European rooted cultures, and we cannot be much surprised that only a few hundred years later we still generally accept Plato's basic ideas without much questioning.

 

10.

Emotions provide the self-interest meaning part of our thought process and motivate our behavior. Being unaware of their role in the comprehension of evaluative meaning and decision-making, Plato could not make sense of perception without using a non-physical, soul concept to understand and make decisions. Today, scientifically sophisticated psychologists believe that physical brains produce our decisions, but switching brain for soul didn't change the ancient psychological model. It still holds that a single source understands and controls us, and for that reason, scientists still believe that our thoughts must be immaterial, spiritual. That required a twisting of observed reality to accommodate their belief.

They made four accommodations: they misclassified our evaluating reflexes, they misconstrued the site of our experience, they misconstrued the site of thought, and they misidentified the trigger for our behavior. They didn't intentionally twist those beliefs; their conclusions flowed logically from their fundamental religious beliefs. The non-material concept of the 'soul' and 'thoughts' is necessary to maintain freewill, but denies us the insight provided by direct observation because we cannot see things that do not ordinarily exist in our reality. If the same kind of religious foundation limited physics and chemistry, we would still be banging rocks together in hope of a cutting edge. No such conflict limits physics. Its direct observations of the physical world provides an understanding that gives us mastery over nature. Given a physically observable, material source for consciousness, meaning, and decisions, psychologists could use direct observation to drive the social sciences to a reality-based understanding of animal, and especially human, behavior. That depends on finding a tangible counterpart to Plato's soul and the Christian based scientist's immaterial thought concepts. Modern science offers powers well beyond those available to ancient philosophers and medieval priests; it's time to reexamine their four mistaken accommodations and replace their religion biased explanation.

Following the freely available, observable evidence leads to a simple scientific explanation of animal psychology, but first we need to re-evaluate what is observable and where it can be seen. We misunderstand where we observe the world around us, and that stops us from seeing the obvious - that we experience all observations and memories (both inwardly and outwardly focused) in our sense organs. Understanding that concept would reconcile the division between the observational methods of philosophy and science. Those two have conflicting perspectives because the founding Christians organized every university by classifying philosophy as one of the Humanities, which insulated it from the more serious Science, Math, Medicine, and Engineering studies. Those two discipline streams assume that they observe knowledge in different places. Philosophers believe that only the perceptions in each individual's conscious stream exist for each of us, and perceptions make up all the evidence we can observe. If they are correct, our experience of the world can only be entirely internal and private. This philosophical truth dates back to Plato, but it's not the scientific concept relied on by either the physical or social sciences. Science assumes that we can see things where they exist; that our experience is external and public. There is little or no contact or opportunity for cross-pollination of ideas, and for that reason scientists are not aware of important methodological progress made by philosophers.

It was almost entirely a German philosophical movement, and started with, Immanuel Kant, who appears to have been unaware of the revolution in method created by his, (Critique of Pure Reason - 1781). That work produced an entirely new concept of consciousness. He examined his conscious stream closely, and saw that it was all that could be seen. It represents all of our experience of ourselves and our world. (Here we need to explain Kant's distinction between nomena and phenomena that inspired the direct observation of conscious sensations. The world exists in an unknowable nomenal form, but, as Kant said, we can only know the phenomenal form reported by and filtered through our five senses. We theorize that radio waves and magnetic lines exist, but we cannot normally detect them through any of our five senses, and cannot know what else our sense organs are adding or missing. This is why I will call the externally generated identifying and defining reports of our five senses, phenomenal sensations.) This insight inspired Edmund Husserl's, Ideas; General Introduction to Pure Phenomenology - 1913 - the first formal statement of Kant's method. Friedrich Nietzsche had previously used it without acknowledging the difference in method, and following Husserl's work, Martin Heidegger, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and Jean-Paul Sartre (to name the principals) studied their conscious steams using direct observation, and invented Existentialism: an attempt to answer the ontological question - an examination of Being. If Kant and the Phenomemalists are correct, the physical sciences can also only study the world of things through that same conscious stream because it represents all the evidence available. Everything we can observe about the world around comes to us through our phenomenal sense organs. The sensations reflexively generated by them make up a big part of our conscious streams. Edmund Husserl's famous example is about the reality of coffee. He says, it is less about the rational constructions of filtered water in a cup and more about what we actually experience - the phenomenal experience of color, aroma, and taste. We mentally construct the water and cup by comparing the sensations in our conscious streams with previously learned memories. We haven't noticed that because the way our minds work edits our experience, misleading us by projecting experience to its source and object.

Science and other non-philosophers misunderstand where we see things because all predator animals learn that life is easier and more pleasurable if we misinterpret our true sight experience by subtracting the steps necessary to calculate how far things exist from our eyes. We misunderstand our sight and hearing sensations because our minds automatically teach us to use our eyes and ears in a way that takes advantage of their most practical hunting potential but denies their true nature. While still in our cribs, we learn to interpret our sight as if we could see things where they exist, instead of in our eyes. That, combined with the closeness of the eye to the brain, misidentifies the eye as a mere conduit between the seen object and the brain, when in fact the eye is the site of seeing. We say and believe that a hand between our eyes and their object blocks our sight of it, when logic tells us that the reverse is true. The hand blocks the light reflected from the object into our eyes. Our eyes are cameras, not flashlights. The light reflected from objects enters our eyes; our vision does not travel to the object. If it were the other way around, we would see in the dark.

Normally, readers believe they see these words some fourteen to thirty inches in front of their eyes, but while they probably do exist at that distance, we can only see the light reflected from these words into our eyes. The rest of the world exists away from our eyes and so cues like the size and clarity of the picture help us judge our distance from far-off objects. At close range having two eyes helps establish the exact distance by providing two views of the same thing. Our automatic learned compensation adds up to a stereoscopic illusion that empowers us to accurately hunt and kill, touch and grasp things. We make the adjustment as quickly as we turn the color, aroma, and taste into a mentally constructed cup of coffee. So quickly, we aren't even aware of having done it. Anyone who has seen a baby in a crib experiment with its hands and fingers will understand the learning process. We call the child's adjustment, the learning of hand-to-eye coordination. No doubt, other newborn animals with two front-facing eyes (predators have front-facing, prey have nearly 360 degree vision) learn the same lesson because quickly and accurately touching (killing a moving target) depends on this misinterpretation. We could not operate without the hand-to-eye coordination made possible by the stereoscopic illusion. If we, like a drunk with double vision, were constantly conscious that we really see two separate two-dimensional images of the same thing, one in each eye, we would always need to go through the steps necessary to interpret these two images to touch things accurately. Hawks and foxes would starve. Driving a car, even at five miles an hour, would be a nightmare of constant calculation, correction and collision, which is why we never want drunks to drive. For reasons discussed later, we edit out the learning process but store the result of hand/eye coordination ability to judge distance with the memories of things, so we automatically remember and compensate for the distance to anything we see as part of the, to be explained later, recognition process.

Automatic sight compensation presents the objects as seen where we touch them, and we do not normally notice compensating any more than we take note of the steps we skip while making the adjustments needed to sip scalding coffee. We can even sip hot drinks while reading! If we really could see things where they exist, we would not need two eyes - one would tell us how far distantly we see things. We misjudge the site of hearing and smell for the same reasons. We have learned to interpret the loudness of sounds in each ear to gage the direction and distance of the sound’s origin. We hear sound in our inner ears, which, like eyes, reside next to our brains, but we automatically skip the direction finding steps and just look to the sound’s origin. Likewise, we can smell scents that originate elsewhere and automatically look into the breeze for the source.

Misunderstanding our sight experience convinces the official scientific community of another misunderstanding: that we objectively share our sight experience among us, when, in fact, we do not. All our experience is private. Their misunderstanding has kept us from seeing the obvious. The way we use our eyes leads us to believe that, while feeling emotions and other psychological events take place unobserved inside our minds, we experience the rest of the world where we believed we could see it. For all history, humans have assumed that the operations of their minds were unconscious operations occurring in a 'mental' state. This assumption leads to an unnecessary and false 'mental'/physical division leading us to believe that our 'mental' state could objectively observe the physical world. Using that misconception, a high-school science class asked to find the boiling temperature of water would report that they had all seen bubbles in the beaker at a thermometer reading around one-hundred degrees Celsius. Like all of us, the students would misunderstand their experience by misidentifying where they had seen the bubbles - they really saw the bubbles in their eyes, not the beaker - but that would not stop them from answering the physics question correctly. It doesn't matter to physics where they see the bubbles; all evidence suggests that sea-level water boils at one-hundred degrees Celsius.

Let me explain how and why that matters to psychology. Captain Kirk takes the Enterprise into a space cloud that blocks his visuals. Spock reports that sensors detect a planet dead ahead. Kirk launches a probe that finds no planet. Which is correct, the sensors or the probe? Kirk cannot know. Sensors and probes are Enterprise sense organs providing Kirk with the only information he can get to choose his course. Without them, he is blind to both the potential danger and any safe course around it. Like Kirk, the decision making part of us is completely blind to the world beyond us except for the reports of our eyes and other four senses. He cannot see the planet where it does or does not exist; he can only see the reports of his sensors and probes. In the same way, we can only become conscious of even our own bodies through reports from our sense organs. So, while the world is likely, much as our sensory organs report, like the starship captain, we can only access indirect or second source sensory reports, and can never know for sure. Like Captain Kirk, we cannot know if the phenomenal report is a complete or accurate representation of nomenal reality because our sense organs only record parts of it.

Babies are not sophisticated enough to realize that they constantly compensate for their visual limits and few adults have had a reason to question or consider the implications of it. Because we have believed that we were seeing things where they exist, we naturally assume others see exactly what we see. All the members of the science class in the example above would believe that they had seen the same bubbles in the same beaker. The stereoscopic illusion has erroneously convinced us that two observers can share and objectively confirm an experience. Cognitive scientists believing that they can only know objective truth through shared observations have previously rejected subjective introspection as a means of reliable scientific observation, but we can only see and hear in the same way we touch and taste – subjectively in each individual's eyes and ears. To understand how our minds work we need to acknowledge that sight is actually in our eyes because that realization disproves one of the basic assumptions of science. In reality, the Phenomemalists are correct, all observations can only be subjective. I may report seeing water boil at one hundred degrees Celsius and others might confirm my observation, but while we duplicate our reports, we do not share them. Properly understanding the sight concept is not necessary for physics in the same way that understanding space travel is not necessary for driving to Toronto. However, if the science class accurately understood how and where they really see water boil, they could observe the evidence needed to understand their subjective psychology because they would realize that no observations can be objective, and all science, including the physical sciences, can therefore, only be subjective. None of us is privy to another’s experience of any kind and the phrase 'shared observation' is an oxymoron. Objectivity is a misconception caused by the stereoscopic illusion. Realizing these misconceptions lets us recognize that we have always based our understanding of physics on nothing more dependable than private and subjective observations. Nevertheless, those observations have proved reliable enough to put feet on the moon because it doesn't matter where you actually see things, it only matters that you observe accurately. Our success at understanding and using the physical world convinces us that the overwhelming majority of scientists have made good faith efforts to give true reports of their observations and others catch any mistakes. Realizing that our experience is subjective and, therefore, could be misunderstood or one of us could be lying or, more likely, yielding to peer pressure does not call the validity of physical sciences into question. It, rather, expands science to include duplicable subjective accounts of any kind of observation as evidence. We still need independent verification; we just have to understand it is a subjective confirmation. We have not been able to observe our psychology in action because of "value free" science’s assumption that we share objective observations. That has caused the whole community to dismiss subjective introspections as unreliable, but any observations validated by others deserve consideration because they might well be true and valuable.

We now need to tackle another misconception.

In modern times, the idea that our brains experience our conscious streams seems like science and feels like common sense, but that is an illusion. It is based on the idea that we experience sight, hearing, and smell in our brains, but we are aware of our contact with the things we touch and taste and so need no adjustments to use the data from those two phenomenal sense organs. We hold no illusion of feeling touch and taste in our brains because we feel the sensations from those organs at some distance from the brain. We only need to touch ourselves or eat, in order to perceive correctly that we experience those sensations on our skins and tongues. If you wish to understand yourself and others, directly focus on your conscious feelings; the attentive observer will find surprises; different kinds of feelings exist there that will contradict previous teaching. Please observe in your own conscious stream now, that we experience phenomenal perceptions and memories in our five senses, that our brains feel no consciousness and only store information. (You can generate your own evidence to confirm this arrangement. Close your eyes and remember your mothers face. Closing your eyelids stopped current sight from overwhelming the rods and cones view of mom that you remember from the brain side of your eyes. If you were 'seeing' the remembered vision in your brain, the position of your eyelids wouldn't matter. The close proximity of eyes and ears to the brain generates confusion, but you can feel the pain of a burn on your skin. You taste in your mouth, not your brain. Clearly, a toothache is felt in the tooth. The dominant usefulness of eyes and ears combined with their closeness to the brain confuses the location of our experience.) We don't experience our conscious streams in one place; each sense organ becomes the focus of experience as it becomes conscious. OK, that's a second new concept in this paragraph and, at first, it's hard to accept. We have assumed and been taught that our essence is unified within the soul or brain. The idea that our consciousness and identity is a crowd effort has distasteful implications. We are less angel and a more plant-like, biological machine than we were a few sentences ago, but our experience tells us that we feel most sensations as a movie in our eyes with a self-generated voice-over in our ears. Taste, smell, and touch account for other conscious phenomenal feelings, felt in their individual organs. Perception is a group effort, but who is in charge? We'll start with a brief description of a new scientific approach and theory based on the observation of inwardly focused reflex part of thought; later, details and proofs will be offered.

The claim that "our brains or souls run the show" has been hard to explain. So try this: our brains don't run the show. They just store information and understand none of it. The part running the show changes, sometimes moment to moment. Control, like phenomenal perception, is swapped among sense organs that have been misclassified as a sub-set of our five phenomenal senses. Phenomenal senses, like a starship's sensors and probes, only generate reports of the external world. Close attention will reveal that the decisive Captain Kirk in our conscious stream is the second set of misinterpreted and uncounted evaluative sensory reflexes that fall into three classifications:

nutritive (nose, tongue, stomach, bladder and intestines - examples: hunger, thirst),

defensive (skin - ex: injury, itching) and,

reproductive (nipples and genitalia - ex: sexual arousal).

Those reflexes produce graduated evaluating feelings of pain and pleasure. Since ancient times these evaluative, sensory reflexes have been counted and classed as subsets of our five phenomenal senses. This miscategorization has stopped us from seeing how our minds control our behavior. Unlike our five phenomenal senses, which neutrally report on conditions external to us, the evaluative sensory reflexes detect and value internal states. For example, none of our sense organs measure outside temperature, but we do feel a feverish internal state as hot, a chill as cold. We have assumed that these feelings arose from our sense of touch, but they don't focus outwardly. They don't bring us the kind of reports that sensors and probes brought to Kirk. Awareness of being uncomfortably hot or cold are analogous to Kirk's internal feelings, not information about the environment beyond his ship, but rather information about how that environment affects Kirk. Such perceptions are felt as pleasure or pain, and represent the consciousness of self-awareness, self-interest, and self-identity. They are definitely not 'value free' or neutral. Consider hunger. It tells us nothing about the outside world. It speaks to our internal condition, and pain stops us from starving ourselves to death. Each such pleasant or uncomfortable feeling represents a commanding Kirk in our consciousness. The one we currently experience feels like our real being and has the command of our thoughts and muscles. Hunger pains empower your stomach until you eat. Discomforting cold empowers your skin until you find a sweater or turn up the temperature. Pleasant arousal empowers your genitalia until they are satisfied. The feelings from these evaluative organs demand control until they feel neither pleasure nor pain. As we will soon see emotion, based on previous experience with these physical appetites, often uses reason to overrule them, and this confuses us. We use evaluative reflexes as emotions. We re-experience them from memory, and, as we can distinguish between current and remembered experience, the single source of remembered emotional memories provides the illusion of a unified evaluator and single self-identify. Both reflexive and the learned emotional evaluative feelings based on them choose between options using a comparative standard (most pleasure/least pain available) called motive. Those evaluative reflexes, not the brain, run the show, and each one in the moment of its use is the real self-interested being that you call you.

Did I forget muscles? We can consciously feel tension in our muscles; again, the brain cannot feel. They are our agent that reacts to our evaluative feelings by neutralizing pain or generating pleasure. 

That's it; those elements (five phenomenal senses, evaluative senses, muscle sensations, and memories of all three) make up our conscious stream, the only experience and record of life we will ever have. Readers, who are suspicious of conventional authority, will already know that this is a better description of their psychological experience. I have placed this bullet-point explanation in the first few paragraphs here to prepare the reader for the explanations, proofs, and insights that follow.

All previous explanations of human psychology have faced two supposedly insurmountable obstacles. First, any theory must account for the apparent inconsistencies in our motivation. Pleasure appears most often to be our goal, but sometimes, rational choice steps in. Sometimes rules seem to bind us, other times we look entirely irrational and self-destructive. Occasionally we appear to sacrifice our pleasure or best interests in favor of another person or cause. Any theory of psychology must explain how a single motivating force or principle produces such apparently inconsistent behavior. As has been explained the evaluative organ in charge changes with their internal perceptions, but that is only one cause of our inconsistency, the most affecting cause will be explained shortly. Before we explain that, we need to address a second supposedly insurmountable obstacle. How do humans, using the same biological equipment (brains, nerves, and sense organs) as other animals, produce an intelligence exponentially greater? As it turns out, these two queries have the same answer. Explaining the main cause of our inconsistency explains our intelligence.

While previous attempts at using the pleasure principle to explain our choices have failed because they could not account for reluctant or self-harming behavior, chapter four describes the four-steps that automatically find and direct individuals to execute their most-pleasurable, least-painful known option. Previous attempts have ignored the overwhelming emotional pleasure inherent in our apparently reluctant behavior. There was a trade. Each of us has acquiesced to obedience, sometimes acting against our own immediate interests motivated by a desire for approval. Humans crave acceptance the way other animals crave food. We work hard for promotion. We phone home to keep the peace. Good marks keep parents off our backs. Soldiers obey dangerous orders. Charitable acts feel good. We have traded obedience, often denying our basic appetites, for the pleasure of approval and the advantage of surpassing intelligence.

Without proof, we believe that prehistoric humans were every bit as smart as modern humans and that newborn humans are genetically more intelligent than other animals, but reports of feral children disabuse us of both conclusions. Human children kept alive without human contact exhibit the same limited intellectual development as the species that raised them. Children raised by monkeys speak no language and cannot do simple math. Without any awareness of doing so, parents model their thought processes for their children, and thereby we learn intelligence from our parents. Interactions with them teach language, the means of reflection and thought. Interactions with other adults builds on that base. Our intelligence has been a progression over tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of years, and history traces the human community's improvements in its ability to reflect and think. A desire for approval is the key requirement for learning from those whom we respect, and the reason that we humans are magically smarter than other even larger brained animals like whales, elephants, and porpoises. As will be explained in chapter five, physiology and learning, not genetics, make us smarter because they produce a communication ability and the motive to learn. Learning abstract concepts like symbolic language depends on our life-long pleasure bond with parents. Mom's smile nearly always feels good.  Our parental pleasure bond allows teaching the older generation's accumulating knowledge and thinking skills to successive generations by keeping students focused on apparently boring ideas like language, math, and physics. Imagine life without taught knowledge. Each generation would start over from the caves; even bone and flint tools would need constant rediscovery. Some generations might not even get that far, and we can forget about getting to farming, let alone computers or cars, in one lifetime. We have history and can pass information on; other animals do not and cannot. Our history records each generation's ratcheting contributions to our body of knowledge; learning the wisdom of ages materially improves our lifestyle, but at a price - a kind of addiction to the approval of parents, lovers, teachers, and other authorities. Without the fear of rejection, the pleasure principle would distract us as it does other animals with immediate pleasures like food and sex. Obedience teaches language, freeing each generation from the necessity of starting over again from roots and berries, but unfortunately, obedience also demands a need for acceptance. The craving for acceptance correlates to obedience and intelligence, but has an inverse relationship to power because obedience requires self-deprecation and anxiety.

The pleasure principle chooses the most pleasant/least painful behavior option; it doesn't guarantee that pleasure will always be an option. I came to understand why most humans find approval pleasurable by realizing that evaluative meaning, in the form of pleasure and pain, is a second biological process necessary to produce our understanding of the world. Two kinds of meaning, recognition and evaluation, work together to make sense of our world and direct our behavior. Emotions learned from pleasure and pain evaluate the significance of our recognized perceptions. Understanding the role of evaluative meaning led me to discover that biology doesn't produce our greatest pleasures and pains. Most, but not all, of us constantly strive to earn psychological emotional pleasures based in parental bonds and earned by approval. The same parental bonds drive most of us to avoid the psychological pains inflicted by disapproval. The rules of psychology are clear, consistent, and depend on a unique human physiology that normally demands obedience and automatically teaches the knowledge of parents to their children. There are exceptions consistent with the pleasure principle, and they will be rationally explained in chapter five. 

Because they have failed to understand the pleasure principle, scientists, business owners, and government leaders cannot yet notice that we already have the hardware to produce artificial intelligence superior to our own natural faculty. Even the cheapest computer can produce answers quicker than any hundred experts. Yet while computers have the necessary hardware along with access to all the knowledge on the internet, trillions of facts; they understand only the recognition part of it. Ten year olds often outwit them. We have been trying to make artificial intelligence machines that calculate output based solely on input; ones that work the way we believed our minds work. We humans make slower, less informed, but better decisions because the pleasure principle evaluates everything that we recognize. Observations of our whole conscious stream leave no doubt that we use our emotions to represent our interests in every conscious perception and action. Computers can recognize things and relationships by matching or not matching a previously established standard, but they do not feel pleasure or pain. Emotions based on pleasure and pain provide animals with evaluative meaning that defines the significance of recognized things. As we will see, evaluation has been omitted from speech and thought because the primary communications channel common to all animals, consisting of facial expressions, tone of voice, and body language, automatically conveys evaluative information as we speak and our emotional feelings represent that meaning as we think. Speech represents a uniquely human secondary communications channel. Most of us also focus our attention on the recognition part of our conscious stream, as described by a parallel, voice over, verbal conscious stream, the secondary part we use to verbalize our thoughts and use to communicate. We do not verbalize the emotional primary channel. It represents the significance of our perceptions and words in thought and speech. Readers here must supply their own emotional estimation of the significance of my written words. We have been missing the role of self-interest in understanding perceptions because both spoken and written words omit emotions, but as will be shown, all animals need to use unverbalized feelings to select behavior out of biological necessity. Adding the primary emotional elements to our perceptual and secondary verbal streams accounts for our whole conscious stream. Evaluation drives both muscle and thought actions. By computerizing the description of human psychology found in the fourth chapter following, one of the big three automakers could mass-produce cars that would not only adroitly drive themselves, but also make witty conversation, accurately diagnose your latest ailments, and at the same time, conduct speed-of-light research to prolong your life. We have the right technology, but we have misunderstood mental architecture; programing computers to evaluate perceptions and propositions would take advantage of their speedy hardware to humanize their responses.

Adding to the confusion, we are misled in another way; our brains also edit necessary calculations down to an instant reaction. Favoring a timely response, evolution has produced a brain that subsequently eliminates the in-between thinking and evaluation steps that followed our first experience with something new. For example, a business manager needing to deliver a machine to North Bay must calculate the cheapest means of transport. The options would be to hire a delivery company or send an employee in a truck. The calculations might look like this: costs of sending an employee (gas + wages+ running expenses) minus cost of delivery company (price per kilometer x distance). The plus or minus result will determine the choice, but making the same decision about a delivery to the same place a week later does not require any calculation. If there have not been any substantial changes, the manager will have forgotten how to readily make the calculation by the fifth or sixth sale to this customer. It works this way for the manager because all our minds work the same way: we edit out the unnecessary steps. Once we have learned to climb stairs, we take the extra high steps needed automatically without conscious effort. A good touch typist can deliver three-hundred, error free, words a minute, and yet has forgotten how to locate the letter 'a' on the keyboard without looking or touching with fingers from hands held in the standard position. Such unused steps in our thinking process are not unconscious, they are completely missing. Evolution timed out the genetic code of any individuals repeating all the steps to calculate an appropriate action to avoid a stampeding mastodon herd. As a result, we do not have to waste time figuring out how to respond to a poisonous snake or burning building; we just run.

Editing improves efficiency, and thereby survival, by deleting unnecessary information from our thought process. We act immediately on recognition. Editing also hides the causes of our responses when survival is not on the line, which, when coupled with the politeness of others conspires to make our social gaffs hard to notice and correct. Most often, these gaffs cannot be found in our spoken words, but are mistakes in second channel evaluative communications. Unfortunately, seemingly trivial social mistakes have significant consequences. Offensive values can ruin careers, limit friendships, and end romances. The source of the pleasures that originally resulted from our parental bonds and childhood values are normally edited from our verbal conscious stream, but they still drive our social behavior. Only well-informed and somewhat heroic intervention can change those bonds and values, which explains why the children of the poor seldom become rich, criminals rarely go straight, and good students usually find success. Basic relationships with and osmotic learning from family usually predicts fate. I discovered all these things over a lifetime of research, observation, and reflection. Other individuals have their own reasons for probing the mind mystery; nineteen-sixties, government funded higher education threw me into university classrooms with kids from a different kind of neighborhood. My obsessive curiosity stemmed from an intuitive realization that having a poor and low status background meant that the cool and admired students saw me as awkward and rude. Their contempt made me stubbornly determined to understand the source of my inelegance.

To outsiders, psychology is an obscure, even occult science. I had to admit knowing nothing and started with research. Back in the seventies, self-help psychology books were advertised as the best route to social acceptability. Authors of popular books like Eric Berne's Games People Play (1964) or Manuel J, Smith's When I Say No, I Feel Guilty, (1975) had interesting suggestions of more or less value, but they did not even pretend to understand the basics of how our minds work. I upgraded to a scientific approach. Delving into Brett's History of Psychology (1912) or basic university course books, like Wolman's Handbook of General Psychology (1973) or Dennis Coon's Introduction to Psychology (1980) found their subjects to be the various studies conducted to confirm hypothesis about behavior of the "What would happen if we ... ?" variety with no attempt at, or mention of, an overall theory. Casting around for any information that might help, I consulted theorists, like Sigmund Freud (Beyond the Pleasure Principle, 1920) and Carl Jung (Analytical Psychology, 1990). Their proposed explanations based on concepts like "Id, Ego and Super ego," "archetypes" "libido" were more like fairytales based on imagination than scientific observation. The established knowledge base held no usable answers for me.

Well before my sojourn into psychology turned desperate, I had earned a university degree in philosophy; now an antique and irrelevant discipline. However, anyone with a philosophy background could see that psychology had no general theory, nor has the new century improved the situation. Starting circa 1850, modern scientists took the view that all phenomena are explicable by physical cause and effect connections, but mind and behavior appear to be so hard to connect that they just scratch their collective heads trying to nibble at the edges. Social scientists go through the physical science motions: applying the scientific method to this or that hypothesis and publishing their results in journals, but without producing any useful general conclusions. Their breathlessly-wordy and convoluted language betrays their ignorance. This problem has been so hard that we know more about things billions of light years away than we know about how we think. As a result, we have no hypothesis to disprove. It seemed to me that something was wrong. How could we can put feet on the moon, but have no idea how our minds work? Western science is nothing without a hypothesis to work on, and for that reason the social sciences are call soft sciences, they have no successful counterpart to 'feet on the moon', and nobody has much confidence in them. Calling the result a science of any kind credits their public relations hype with far more plausibility than it has earned. Psychology is, practically speaking, as irrelevant to science as philosophy; we need to peel back the misconceptions in order to get the facts strait. Understanding how we got it wrong provides the basis for getting it right.

As I learned later, our generally accepted modern belief in an unconscious mind make it impossible to explain, let alone prove, that our minds operate by a fully conscious recognition, evaluation, and editing process referred to above because that editing has removed some steps in the original thought process. The conscious mind experiences our lives as they unfold, but it appears, another part produces decisions readymade because we have no conscious record of the thought process. Our conscious minds feel in control, but logic seems to tell us that they are no more than mouthpieces for a much larger, puzzling and decisive unconscious process. In fact as stated above, evolution and the spoken word have edited all traces of that process out. As we will see, experience has filled our brains with now unconscious memories, but we become conscious of all components in our conscious stream as they are used. Those wanting to understand this murky process study their conscious minds for clues, but because we occupy our minds seven twenty-four, we can only look at them through themselves - we cannot gain the advantage of a sidewalk perspective, so we are easily misled. We stare into mirrors but see only our preconceptions. We demand truth, but hungrily, greedily, gratefully settle for pleasant illusions. That realization developed into the detective story told below. Research taught me that we base our current mind model on several misleading ancient religious concepts and that a mistake made many years ago has hobbled our understanding of human behavior ever since. So far this has been an overview that needs far more explanation; now we'll slowdown by start over again at the beginning.

The majority of experts agree, for most of history humans were too busy beating off starvation to notice they had minds. Most think that early humans were like chickens, running from danger or wandering around eating and having sex as opportunities presented themselves. The earliest recorded question about the unconscious part of us that appears to make decisions comes from ancient Egypt, and there I started my search. Their answer appears to be the root of our modern mind concept. James Breasted tells us in The Development of Religion and Thought in Ancient Egypt (1912) that, based on his translation of their tomb writings, they believed the heart made decisions, and did not even bother to mummify the brain because they believed it useless. Tracing backwards to their concept of soul, called the Ka, we find the root of our mind concept. It differed from our modern soul notion. While their Ka was born with the person, it did not live on earth, had no purpose in this life, but went immediately to the afterlife to wait. Funeral rites made their deceased physical body recognizable to its nonphysical Ka. Someone, somewhere, had either (depending on your beliefs) invented or discovered the afterlife: a nonphysical place where nonphysical things exist, and in doing so, split the universe into two dimensions. This concept allowed Egyptian priests to offer real estate in their nonphysical world to believers in this world. Paying with compliance here ameliorated your fear of death with a reservation in the next world. Compliance and accountability to their Gods for their sins implies that they believed that they acted with freewill, that some part of them made decisions by choosing between options, and also that their mind would join their Ka in the afterlife.

The Egyptians' soul and mind concepts spread beyond their borders when about three thousand five hundred years ago, around 1450 before current era (BCE), Pharaoh, Thutmose III, took his army on an adventure. They conquered and, for two or three hundred years, occupied parts of the Mediterranean shore between Egypt and, what is now, Turkey. The inevitable cultural exchange introduced their mind, Ka, and afterlife concepts to those new subjects. The idea of existence after death in an idealized place proved a crowd pleaser, and would not quit even after the Egyptians retreated. Trade may have spread these ideas along the Mediterranean shore.

What is now Israel (Palestine on the map provided) lay east, next door, along the same coast, and the Jews developed a modified version of Ka they called Nephesh. Like the Egyptian Ka, it really did not have a function in the physical world and survived death. Unlike the Ka, it inhabited the body until death and then went on to the afterlife leaving the body behind. Their upgraded concept united the Nephesh with the body during life, and set the stage for Plato to identify it as our thinking organ.

 
  

Eastern Mediterranean

 

The Jesuit philosopher and historian, Friar Frederick Copleston, History of Philosophy (1962), tells us that a thousand years later, further along the same Eastern Mediterranean coast, ancient Greeks speculated on unconscious minds and souls. In our modern times, the fashion is wealthy investors, actors and sports heroes, but in those ancient times, great fame and status attached to philosophers and members of their schools. Most of them agreed that the soul was like a fire that sparked the difference between living and dead bodies. Around 600 BCE, one of them, Anaxagoras, teacher of Socrates, noticed our ability to think and called it 'nous'. In the same way that the Egyptians had joined their consciousness with their Kas, Socrates’s student, Plato, connected soul with 'nous'. He noticed that when asked to visualize a thing like a horse or boat, not a specific one from experience but a representative of the general category, we visualize them in an idealized, perfected form, one without the rough edges that distinguish the individual thing from the general idea. The idea of an abstract thing is perfect. While today we might have attributed that to the common features of the original teaching examples, he concluded that such perfection means that 'nous' or intelligence must come from the soul. That produced a concept where rational thinking was an operation of the soul and, therefore logically, thoughts and knowledge must exist in the Egyptian-invented, nonphysical, unconscious dimension of reality. Others continued to develop these mind, soul and nonphysical dimension concepts.

 

Anaxagoras

Socrates

Plato

Aristotle

Epicurus 

Hippocrates of Cos

 

These models were roughly concurrent with the scientific ideas of Aristotle, Epicurus, and Hippocrates of Cos, the acknowledged father of western medicine and author of the Hippocratic Oath. He independently and on an island in another part of the Mediterranean, came up with a scientific idea, that physical brains were the seat of thought and action - the mind as a characteristic of the brain. This, of course, is the modern medical model.

Some seven or eight hundred years later the Roman, Christian philosopher, Plotinus, Enneads (200 – 270 CE) a keen student of Plato’s works and now classified a Neoplatonist, adopted a concept of mind, body and soul as a kind of turducken (a chicken stuffed into a duck and then stuffed into a turkey). He interpreted Plato's work in a way that allowed him to stuff the unconscious mind into the nonphysical soul, and then slip the result into the conscious physical body. No one in his time had heard ancient Greek spoken as it was in Plato's time, so his interpretation is suspect. He had his own motives and beliefs. Christian bishop, St. Augustine of Hippo, (354 - 430 CE) (On Marriage and Concupiscence) refined this position. He described the partnership of soul and body as a marriage like that between a man and a woman. Their positioning of the mind within an eternal soul gave the Christian Church a metaphysical view of a personal, accountable mind with a memory of this life after death. Over time, the Church incorporated Plotinus's turducken into Christian dogma (unquestionable truth from authority). In this arrangement, human personalities could jump the line between life and death easily because the mind and soul were never physical in the first place, and so could divorce the body at death and naturally continue into the afterlife.

If thinking souls populated the afterlife, Christians feared, not an ethereal and remote concept, but their very own minds going to hell. It was more than a threat; it was a stick-up. The promise of eternal life came with the threat that it could also be eternal misery and that would give the Church hierarchy land and political power. Even a passing familiarity with human motives tells us that convenience married Plotinus's account and the Church's doctrine to Plato's metaphysical view of human psychology. The Church loved Plato's message and chose to become its medium through their colleges at places like Bologna, Oxford, and Paris. This is more than just history; while current governments fund most universities, many of their colleges still belong to Christian churches even to this day.

Since we have no direct physical evidence of the process, machinery, or existence of the supposed unconscious thought process, it could be nothing or anything and anywhere. Friar Copleston's exhaustive research tells us that we have inherited two concepts of this supposed unconscious mind: (1) Plato, Plotinus, and St. Augustine’s mind in a transcendental soul existing in an ideal nonphysical dimension, (2) Aristotle, Epicurus, and Hippocrates’ mind as the physical brain, soul or sense organs. Based on this division, two schools have evolved: idealism and materialism. Plato envisioned the supernatural mind in an ideal, perfect place that supplies this world with its ideas. Philosophers and theologians over the ages have provided us with many creative versions of this source, but, as all exist in Plato's inaccessible world or dimension, they were concepts of idealism and therefore beyond scientific examination. Scientifically speaking, Plotinus's take on Plato's ideas led to a dead-end. Materialism holds the overwhelming endorsement of the scientific community. No alternative arrangements have gained any serious scientific attention in the two-thousand five-hundred years since Hippocrates. While no one claims to understand how it works, it underpins all officially sanctioned medical treatments.

Official science's search to understand our own motives was stuck and we had no method for getting it unstuck and so we were patiently waiting. But, I didn't have time to wait. My one and only life was ticking away one red-faced humiliation after another.

Well, when you are stuck you can take inventory, asking, what do we know? What can science deduce from the evidence we have? Assuming that the materialists are correct because the idealist option dead-ends in Plato's inaccessible supernatural dimension, we can only use the science we do know to guess at a hypothesis. Based on Darwin's evolutionary theory, we can suppose that minds must be what Sorbonne physiology professor, Claude Bernard, first conceptualized (1860’s) and Harvard physiology professor, Walter Cannon, named (1932) - homeostats. Minds must be giant, multi-functional homeostats. Homeostats, in general, make both simple single-celled animals and complex organisms like human beings possible by controlling their biological systems. They are the evolution-engineered feedback loops that operate essential biological systems and keep them from getting too far out of whack. On a cellular level, they facilitate nutrition and cell division and make the difference between inanimate, animate and dead. The homeostats of animate beings keep what should be stable, like blood pressure and body temperature, from jumping around. Each homeostat uses a law of physics or chemistry to produce biology. For example, the reflexive homeostat that regulates your breathing uses the chemical reaction between acids and bases in blood to trigger a breath as needed. Each breath reduces the acidity by increasing its oxygen level, and when other homeostats use oxygen for their reactions, the increased acidity of the remaining carbon dioxide rich blood will trigger another breath. The more oxygen you use, the more acidic your blood and the faster you breathe. This law of chemistry expressed through a reflexive homeostat is one of the secrets of life. Our minds must be a far more complex homeostat designed by the same evolutionary principle - they control biological behavior in a way to maintain our bodies in a healthy balance long enough to reproduce. In that cause, it must be designed to find behavior that keeps our whole bodies from getting too far out of whack. While minds probably started out using consciousness as a feedback loop to control simple behavior, they have morphed into thinking machines that have spectacularly outgrown their original function. Eating nutritious food and sheltering from extreme temperatures are the kinds of behaviors that help keep us alive long enough to reproduce. Knowing where to find and how to use food and shelter constitutes knowledge of reality. Picasso's painted depiction of war, Guernica, and Einstein's special theory of relativity are way beyond such basic homeostatic goals, and such intellectual leaps will be explained later. However, many animals that did not improve on basic connections failed to reproduce with human success, and fewer and fewer of their genetic codes still exist. While the necessity of a mind that produces balanced homeostasis seems obvious, that realization doesn't help us much. The mechanism still eludes us. We need a simple step-by-step explanation, like the one for the breathing regulation homeostatic process, outlined above.

Step-by-step, algorithmic descriptions usefully express simple repetitious processes like breathing physiology, and can also teach us how psychology works. Larry Page's algorithm, PageRank, is a familiar example of one because Google uses it to rank internet pages according to how often they are used. Like all algorithms, PageRank provides straightforward step-by-step instructions to accomplish a certain goal. Wikipedia tells us that, "In mathematics and computer science, an algorithm is a self-contained step-by-step set of operations to be performed. Algorithms perform calculation, data processing, and/or automated reasoning tasks." It also tells us what an algorithm does, "Typically, when an algorithm is associated with processing information, data are read from an input source, written to an output device, and/or stored for further processing." The evolutionary process described in the previous paragraph can be reduced to an algorithm. Evolution uses random genetic variation as its data input source, stores that data as a double helix genetic code, and the new beings produced by those genes are its output device. Changing the genetic code changes the characteristics of the offspring - a new bone structure allows chimps to walk upright. Enough changes create a new species - humans are no longer recognizable as apes. The rules by which any algorithm stores and recalls data sorts the information according to an evaluative principle until the answer bubbles to the top. For PageRank that evaluative principle is popularity, for most sorting algorithms the sorting principle is size, but evolution sorts using reproduction as the reality check for each random innovation in a genetic code. If the variation makes the organism less efficient, reproduction will be challenging and extinction will eventually delete the code. If the new configuration results in greater efficiency, success will reproduce the new code in new organisms. The reality test eliminates the genetic codes that do not survive long enough to reproduce and multiplies those that do. Nevertheless, while the steps in the evolutionary algorithm help the whole species find more effective configurations, they work by eliminating ineffective genetic codes with death; there's no second chance with death. Plants use that standard because they have no choice, but it doesn't help individual animals with options to choose effective behavior in unique situations. Responding in the moment requires a different, more forgiving, algorithm: one that chooses future behavior based on, but not wholly determined by, past experience. Our minds must have evolved a set of operations that make us more likely to survive and reproduce in fleeting situations that were impossible to anticipate by evolution.

We can conclude that, if scientific materialism can explain how our minds work, the mental process seems most likely to be a homeostatic process that can be described by an algorithm that sorts behavior by understanding reality. It seemed obvious; correctly analyzing the input would generate behavior that promotes surviving long enough to reproduce. Those basic assumptions appeared rock solid but there must be at least one mistake in even these first concepts, and we know that because this is as far as we have gotten. You get lost by taking the wrong fork, and I was aimlessly wandering towards the same dead-end as the accredited psychologists. However, was it because of a wrong assumption or is the mental algorithm so complex that we have not been able to follow or deduce how our minds would correctly understand the input arriving at an understanding of reality? The modern scientific community has assumed that the complexity of brains defies understanding because the algorithm is impossibly complex. After all, it needs to understand reality. An algorithm that finds such an elusive prey must be utterly sophisticated. The enormity of the problem just stumped me, and I lost interest.

At a party held months or years later, a friend of a friend (after hearing that I had been a philosophy major) asked me to explain the meaning of a then bestselling but puzzling book: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (1974) by American philosopher, Robert Pirsig. After discussing his confusion over a couple of beers, I agreed to read the book. Pirsig, like Plato, was an idealist and argued that an undefined entity called by him, Quality (His capitalization.) produces all of reality. For those, like my friend of a friend, a down to earth lawyer unfamiliar with idealism and steeped in our twentieth-century scientific materialism, Mr. Pirsig's work presents a conundrum. How, they wonder, can an undefined, nonmaterial force create the physical world? Good question, but that is not what interested me about Pirsig's work, and if that is all he had to say, we could lump him in with the other idealists and ignore him. His concept of 'Quality' excited me. It provides us with an unexpected clue as to how our minds work. By subtracting evaluation (measures of Quality) from everyday decisions, he concluded that without some way to measure value we could only choose basic utilitarian clothing and food because we would be unable to recognize degrees of value. We could not be aware that one thing looks, feels, or tastes better than another thing without comparison based on evaluation. Now that is correct, but I realized, it is not the complete story. In truth, without the ability to evaluate, we could not distinguish between the value of clothing and not clothing or food and not food. If the difference between roast beef and gruel is value, then so is the difference between gruel and nothing. Without evaluation, we would have no motive to cover ourselves or eat. We could identify the difference between roast beef and gruel, but it would not matter because we would not care. We would be in the same position as today's computers: we would have factual meaning, but without evaluative meaning, we could not prioritize those things and behaviors important to survival. In that case, our mind's algorithm would have no decisive standard and we would just sit until we died of exposure or starvation. The evolutionary algorithm must have selected our behavioral algorithm's decisive standard to prevent just such a death by neglect. It must be designed to evaluate the 'Quality' or 'meaning to us' of things and behavior. While a true understanding of reality could be expected to produce useful behavior, we do not need those facts; we only need our useful behavior. Emphasis on the word USEFUL, which is an evaluation of meaning to us. We believed that we were looking for truth, but evaluations of pleasure and pain obviously evaluate both the significance of things and the usefulness of our behavior. Our feelings of that evaluative meaning chooses the behavior that saves us from extinction.

Emotions were the missing signpost leading me back onto the path to grasping how we understand reality. Emotions add meaning to our recognized perceptions of reality.

 

Our phenomenal five senses and evaluative feelings have different causes. The feelings of pain and pleasure reflect our internal states. The feelings from our phenomenal five senses are our sense organs responses to the external, nomenal world. The nutritive, defensive and reproductive evaluations described before combine with representations of our five phenomenal senses, combine to form emotions. We feel pleasure at the sight of ice cream and call it hope. We feel pain at the sound of alarm and call it anxiety. Once learned, emotional pains and pleasures function as an opinion about the phenomena of what we experience, think and say. They evaluate meaning through emotions like significant, amusing, sad, silly, interesting, and so on. We act on our emotions: if we believe that something is unjust, we feel indignation and oppose it - is silly, we feel boredom and ignore it. We are as conscious of evaluative emotions as we are of phenomenal sight, hearing, taste, touch and smell. How did we fail to notice the role of emotions in thought? Anyone with access to their own consciousness can feel for themselves that emotions dominate our conscious streams. How had emotional evaluation been subtracted from the examination of human thought? That question sent me back to research that eventually led all the way back to, ancient Greek philosopher Plato. He altered social science history and committed a crime against reason, science, and humanity.

As it turns out, we have misunderstood human mental architecture all these years because Plato could not understand the source, function, or logic of emotions. As one of the inventors of rational thought, Plato denied the Greek's previous belief (that events unfolded at the whims of Gods) and insisted that nature follows universal, rational laws discoverable by a questioning method he called the dialectic - a question and answer dialogue. According to American professor, William Barrett, Irrational Man (1958) Plato sought to create something immortal by explaining the world in universal, theoretical terms. The Greek philosophers were using rational questions to search for invisible laws that explained cause and effect. No doubt, many skeptically sensible readers have been asking themselves questions as they have been reading along. What's he talking about? Could this be true? Is he kidding? Few will have realized that these questions come from an ancient Greek philosophy that still impacts our modern lives. Questions are part of the rational thinking process taught to them by an education system that uses the Socratic questioning method. Teachers don't just tell their students facts in the way educators before the Greek philosophers would have. Teachers don't just tell modern students that two plus two equals four, and expect them to remember that fact. Modern teachers ask questions in an effort to get students thinking for themselves. They ask, "What is the sum of two plus two?" The question and the student's desire for approval lead, by trial and error, to learning to 'do the math' for themselves. Using internally voiced dialectic questions and answers modeled on their classroom experience, they can then reason to find the result of adding other numbers, without having to memorize the answers. We don't have to depend on previous experience or wait for accidental enlightenment. Socratic questioning upgrades our thinking by allowing us to reason the facts we want directly from nature. Where is the water? The first step in our scientific method is the hypothesis framed by a question. It leads to another question, "How do we test our hypothesis?" That leads us to theories, which while not absolutely provable, give us a pretty good idea about what's going on. That is good, and useful, but then Plato subtracts emotions, evaluative meaning, from his rational thought process, and replaces them with reasons. 

To help sell his reasoning method, Plato (in the dialogue, Phaedrus), portrays humans as chariots pulled by two horses. The white horse of rationality and truth follows the consistent (analytic) course, but the black horse of emotions responds to contradictory feelings and veers off, diverting us from our search for knowledge. The idea that reason and emotions are opposites is implicit in his allegory. He correctly believed that the Greeks had been ruled by their emotions, but mistakenly believed that those emotions were always irrational - the very opposite of reasonable thought. The desire for drugs is just as emotional as the desire for approval. Plato counseled ignoring one's subjective, animal appetites and passions in favor of objective, reasoned evaluation and universal truth. He was inventing the foundations of reason and science by insisting that evaluation and truth are both universal, not any group's or individual's opinion. In fact, in the Theaetetus, he makes clear that he doesn't understand the difference between phenomenal sensations and evaluative feelings. He equates the phenomenal counting of numbers with the evaluative feeling of temperature in response to Theaetetus's attempt to define knowledge as perception. He believed that meaning resided in rationally understanding affirming the value and truth of propositions. No other culture has adopted this concept of meaning. It is the basis for our rational questions, and the source of our comfortable, technical world. Reason reveals the relationships between things. Gravity draws water to the lowest point. However, the evaluation concept is slippery. Plato's zeal to promote and defend his invention (rational thought produced by dialectic questions) against emotional thought, drove him to vilify and exclude subjective emotions from his true and universal, rational laws. That meant that he could not use reason to analyze them, and thereby lost his opportunity to grasp how we really evaluate the affirmed propositions. Plato did not understand that the search for truth is driven by subjective evaluation. Problems and pain motivate the search for scientific explanations and finding a universal law prompts its own kind of pleasure. Need we ask Archimedes if he felt joy at exclaiming "Eureka!" as he ran naked into the street to proclaim his method for determining the density of matter? Although unacknowledged, even ignored, subjective evaluative emotions were present in Archimedes day, and continue to be the driving force behind science.

Plato apparently realized that individual subjective emotions could not produce one true objective universal evaluation, and therefore, concluded that universal values cannot come from emotions. Plato paraphrased and quoted from Phaedrus on the first page of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance says, "And what is good, Phaedrus, and what is not good - need we ask anyone to tell us these things?" Plato must have believed that just as true universal propositions existed, true universal evaluations must also exist and come from the same ideal dimension as ideas. No doubt, the church's interpreters and translators convinced later thinkers that true Christian values would lead them to the right course of action, while emotions would lead them into sinful and damning self-indulgence. They did not think to look into the psychological function of emotions scientifically because evaluation seems irrelevant to the truth of propositions - water always runs downhill, and it will no matter how we evaluate that fact. Plato's idealism would have obscured the possibility that universal evaluation had a DNA programmed, biological source. Entertaining the possibility that knowledge has two meaning components allows that phenomenal understanding could be true or false and universally objective, while evaluative meaning could be relative to individual experience and subjective. Who cares if water runs downhill? As it turns out, thirsty people care. Desire focuses questions in search of truth. Emotional caring drives the search for phenomenal truth; thirst sends us in search of water. Truth or falsity and evaluation are not opposites; as we will see in the next chapter, they are separate and biologically necessary characteristics of the same thing - knowledge. Had scientists known that, they would have realized that an account of Pirsig's 'Quality' as represented by emotions must necessarily be the driving force behind rational thought - must necessarily be the driving force behind all thought and behavior. Philosophy means nothing, until it changes everything. Necessity is the mother of invention? Desire is the real mother. Emotions are not the opposite of rationality; they are the source of rationality, and leaving emotional evaluation out of our knowledge concept has had a destructive downside.

Who is to decide the correct universal evaluations? Martin Heidegger, The Essence of Truth (1988) says "...  genuine and superior objectivity, is either childish, or, as is usually the case, disingenuous." The Church was not and is not the only authority to claim that their interests reflect the objective, universal evaluation. Long before I came to the realization that almost all authorities were insisting that rationalizations of their self-interested values were objective and universal, our break with Plato's insistence on ignoring individual emotions had already tentatively started. Science, government, and business had ignored English poet, William Blake's early warning about the dehumanizing consequences of the "dark Satanic Mills" in his hymn Jerusalem (1808). The unrestrained power of rational, scientific progress directed by selfish economic interest made the inhuman conditions in those mills inevitable.

William Barrett tells us that suspicious questions about Plato's vision of epistemology and metaphysics started with Kant's indictment of pure reason. His distinction between the nomenally existing world and our phenomenal reports of it started others directly observing and thinking about our conscious stream experience. Other philosophers in the German tradition (Soren Kierkegaard, 1813 - 1855 and Friedrich Nietzsche, 1844 - 1900) responded to Kant with direct observations of their conscious experience. Another German philosopher, Edmund Husserl, Ideas: General Introduction to Pure Phenomenalism (1911) pointed out that we cannot be conscious without being subjectively conscious of something. (A cup of coffee has less to do with logically constructed containers of strained liquid and more to do with the directly experienced sensory phenomena of color, aroma, and taste.) Whether in real-time or as remembered, our consciousness consists of phenomena produced by our sense organs because of an emotional response to nomenal reality. Husserl's phenomenalism became the basis of the Existentialist emotional reaction to 1914 (Martin Heidegger, 1889 - 1976, Jean-Paul Sartre, 1905 - 1980).  According to Professor Barrett, nineteen-fourteen was the year when some started to realize that Romantic poets like William Blake were right: "value neutral" theoretical science was not continually improving life based on ever more precise understandings of reality. In fact, theoretical science brought too much power to the battlefields of Passchendaele; the power of science, in the forms of chemical weapons and machine guns, was destroying the very lives it was supposed to improve. Generals do not wage war to improve lives, but to win at any cost. If you think that the millions of lives lost in winning WWI and WWII were costs far too high for some general's ego, imagine the cost of winning an atomic WWIII. Philosophy means nothing, until selfish self-interest starts killing people and destroying our planet. The more truth we learn about reality; the more likely "value neutral science" will accidentally destroy us. What was true of politics in the twentieth century is now true of bureaucracy in the twenty-first century. CEOs do not administer to improve lives, but gain monetary efficiency at any cost. Many managers view the abolition of slavery as a temporary setback. They would willingly bankrupt their companies by putting every consumer out of work to produce their product at an infinitesimal cost - one that would get them a promotion, but no robot would want and no slave could afford. Efficiency without regard for its human cost would destroy both our economy and our planet. Plato's rush to search for universal truth and evaluation ignored the necessity of individual evaluation - the effects of 'his' truth on ordinary people. Ignoring common human values in decisions creates its own kind of inefficiency. We acquire and use knowledge isolated from its effect on ordinary humans at our peril. What science and bureaucracy badly needed then, and still needs today, is to replace selfish, self-interest with common human values in "value free" science and administration.

Husserl, Heidegger, Sartre, and Pirsig were suggesting that we consider values as an alternative to blindly opening a Pandora's Box that could prolong a more comfortable life, but also exterminate us all. The acknowledgement of our emotion's role can only help us choose human centered goals as we consider the exploitation of people and nature. The scientific account of emotional learning that follows will empower us to understand our happenstance learned parental bonds and evaluations and realize self-interested evaluations. In as much as we share our human physiology and a desire for pleasure, we should be able to reduce conflict and get a fairer share of pleasure for everyone.

If Pirsig had not been so excessively rational, he would have realized that we do not get our evaluations of meaning from another world, they are the same emotions that Plato has excluded from his version of the rational universe. Emotions based on our reflex feelings of pleasure and pain provide us with the motives to cover ourselves and eat. Evolution has preserved a four-step mind algorithm in our genetic code. It does not kill us for every mistake, but uses pain and pleasure to set limits on behavior by evaluating successful behavior with pleasure and unsuccessful behavior with pain. We all feel pleasure at eating and pain when starving because our genetic codes supply those evaluations. Degrees of pleasure and its negative, pain, evaluate our actions. Just as Google's PageRank finds the most used pages, not the best or truest information; our mental algorithm does not select behavior based on the true situation, it selects the most-pleasurable, least-painful option. The mind algorithm does not have to find the truth; it only needs to respond to evaluative standards that keep us alive, and maybe that was Plato's objection to emotion as a standard for decisions, but this is biology as bound to the laws of physics. Evolution sets the relationship between pain and pleasure and true and false by extinguishing all the reflexive code stipulating pleasure and pain evaluations that do not meet the reality check. We feel pleasure when we act to sustain life by doing things like eating and protecting ourselves from heat or cold or act to reproduce by having sex. We feel pain when we act to starve or expose ourselves or forgo the opportunity to reproduce. Any organisms with code that produced pleasure while starving or freezing did not reproduce. Our mental algorithm uses evaluation to sort sensations and actions. It peruses all available sensations from our five senses and muscles, marking those coincidental with pleasure or pain by making them conscious. This gives us an algorithm that is much easier to find and understand because its standard is inborn, not based on a correct understanding of the external world, and, rather than being unconscious, it expresses itself consciously - incessantly, insistently.

Emotions, like everything else in this universe, conform to the rational laws of nature and in chapter four; we explain their biological necessity for determining both rational and irrational behavior. An individual's emotions define meaning as self-interest by representing the effect of things, events, and actions. In some instances, we might agree on our interests, but that does not make meaning absolute, only duplicated. As has been explained, the Christian Church chose Plato's version of meaning because his idealism conveniently confirmed the Church's belief in absolute meaning from a higher power - their Christian God. That excluded the role of human emotions, and produced the crippled "value free" scientific analysis taught in their universities. A system roughly parallel to the disastrously inhuman Canadian government funded residential schools for aboriginals that were also run by churches. The Greek language in Plato's time had no separate word to distinguish art from other manufactured objects, so they could not have conceived of objects without value or a "value free science". For some two-thousand years, we have scientifically ignored emotions because the Church owned all the universities; their beliefs coincided with Plato's concept of absolute meaning, and they taught their students to dismiss emotions as irrational, unscientific, and sinful. Plato was a human being, science is a human invention, and like other human inventions such as automobiles, it needs an occasional upgrade like seatbelts to improve safety. Before we can understand how our minds work, we need to redesign the assumptions of Western Science because they explicitly exclude a vital component of thought. Adding a rational explanation of emotional meaning to the new model will heal the division between hard and soft sciences producing a unified and more realistic human-centered scientific concept.

Once you know the answer, the mistake of looking for a truth seeking algorithm is obvious, but to understand the rules that govern the mind algorithm, the readers must unlearn what they think they already know because our minds dissemble, offering pleasure while convincing us that we've found the truth - no matter how many times we're proved wrong. We have been rationalizing, each of us believing that our pleasurable behavior is based on a true understanding of reality. Now we must put ourselves in the position of an explorer who has beaten his way through jungles, climbed mountains and swam oceans convinced that if he just keeps plodding on while refining his direction, he will eventually get to the Moon, but while that astral body is over the next horizon, he cannot get there on foot. The wrong concept guides his method: land travel is nothing like space travel. American physicist, Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962) described two kinds of science. He identified 'normal science' as the kind done by 'club members' working for institutions who plod on while refining their hypothesis. The second kind, what philosopher of communications Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man (1964) claimed only amateurs, ('non-club members') whose horizons are not limited by a university paycheck, could do; Kuhn called McLuhan's kind of investigation 'paradigm shift science'. If this work intrigued you because you search to understand how our minds work you must now start over; Plato or his interpreters gave us the wrong concept and method. The following paradigm shift science uses a subjective rather than objective method and starts with the Epicurean not the Hippocratic concept of mind. Either change would ask the reader to reverse their basic understanding of the science of psychology; taken together they represent an action like running off an intellectual cliff in the dark. I ask the reader to indulge me for a few more paragraphs, and promise that what follows will represent more familiar territory. This work met no deadline nor did it earn a Dean's approval. Only rejection, humiliation, and despair motivated this private investigation.

Emotional meaning can be observed by a method that early psychologist, Edward B. Titchener, Experimental Psychology, (1902) called introspection. I can almost feel any professional scientist who has not read the foregoing recoil in horror. "Sure," I anticipate them saying, "we are conscious of our emotions, but they're subjective. No two people feel exactly the same emotions in response to things and events. Emotions are inconsistent and therefore cannot be part of a scientific explanation." That is what other scientists said in Titchener's time based on Plato's analytic assumptions. Titchener's introspective method was "unreliable, limiting, and subjective." The whole scientific community balks at subjective observations because, as previously explained, Plato, or the church, sold us the idea that meaning must be objective. Plato's rationalism led, Rene Descartes, Discourse on Method (1637), a Jesuit instructed philosopher steeped in their Medieval, scholastic, Plato-inspired rationalism, to set the corner stone of 'scientific attitude'. His apparently unassailable basic proposition that (paraphrased): "Consciousness of my thoughts proves that I exist", was based on the belief that the truth of his proposition was its meaning. In the end, Descartes' Platonic, theoretical interpretation of his own consciousness, as an experience possible without emotions, underpinned all Western scientific theories of physical reality like atomic structure and evolution. His interpretation depends on the belief that observation and thought are objective experiences, and before the work of Edmund Husserl that seemed unassailable. With Husserl's insight, we realize that no phenomenal thought can be divorced from its source in our feelings. As David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature (1740) had already pointed out; phenomenal sensory perceptions are, like emotions, conscious feelings. The universal truth about psychology is that we cannot perceive any phenomena without feeling the self-interest, that is, meaning defined by emotions. Based on the mistaken belief that their mental processes are ideal, unworldly, and unconscious, Plato and Descartes et al mistakenly assumed that emotions operate without definable rules. However, you will never understand something that you refuse to study because you already believe it capricious and undecipherable. So, until the creation of the algorithm laid out in chapter four, ignoring emotions appeared the correct scientific path to knowledge. To get it right now, we need to heal Plato's amputation of emotions from rational investigation. Rationality and science were fine little puppies when they were helping us compete for survival with the rest of nature, but we have crossed a line; now they have turned into ever more powerful rogue monsters, "red in tooth and claw", that make the destruction of nature profitably compelling.

Consciousness of pleasure or pain is a sensation much like the feelings of sight or hearing. Let me repeat that for emphasis. Consciousness of pleasure or pain is nearly the same kind of feeling as the sensations of smell, taste, or touch. While we can experience sight or sound without being conscious of them (we often fail to notice available sights and sounds), we cannot experience sensations of pleasure or pain without being conscious of them. Consciousness is always consciousness of pain or pleasure and any other coincidental phenomenal feelings. Pain and pleasure sensations biologically evaluate phenomenal sensations for us; no one wonders if their feelings of pleasure or pain indicate self-interest, but we have no counterpart inborn, comparable feeling for identifying truth. No little bell goes off when we find a fact. While our stomachs biologically trigger conscious pain sensations that evaluate the hunger condition, our considered experience teaches us that we must turn to the scientific method for proof that we are not fooling ourselves when we think we have found truth. The unconscious decisive, externally sourced, truth standard that science has assumed will guide us is non-existent. Our front and center, conscious, decisive, internally generated, evaluative standards (pain and pleasure) provide the basis for judging phenomena and behavior.

The rules governing physical evaluations are consistent, (we all feel hunger pains) and so are the scientific principles that generate our various psychological emotions. As we will see, happenstance phenomenal experience teaches each individual's evaluative emotions. Individual history accounts for the variations. An individual's history produces their subjective emotions, but the process by which we learn to evaluate is universal. The algorithm is the same for everyone.

The four-step, pleasure-seeking algorithm explained in the fourth chapter follows simple rules. Simplicity must be its hallmark because we can see that even basic animals share the same kinds of brains, nerves and such, and it would be a stretch to believe that they work differently. Natural curiosity prompts us to ask how such a simple behavior control algorithm could remain hidden from all the great minds that history sent to find it. Those great minds searched for a front door, Pirsig's insight that thought depends on evaluation led me to the four-step algorithm through a backdoor. Misinformation led the great minds triply astray. 

Firstly, following Plato, they assumed that finding and acting on the truth would offer us the best chance of survival and reproduction. They were looking for something that does not exist; our algorithm has no regard for truth. If misunderstanding gives us more pleasure, we will misunderstand. For that reason, it is difficult to tell when our algorithm is lying to us for our own good. Moreover, as you will find as you read on, it works better that way; for human babies, dumbly misunderstanding their first experiences teaches a parental bond that allows us to transfer generations of previously hard-won knowledge to new humans without effort and at almost no cost.

Secondly, they did not notice that we use pleasure, not truth as an evaluative standard because our algorithms’ editing process deletes some thinking steps from our mental algorithm. Some steps are missing because evolution has designed the algorithmic process to edit our experience by subtracting the unused steps. Once we have found successful behavior, we fail to reproduce the steps between recognizing opportunity or danger and producing the actions that deal with it.

Thirdly, they were misled because we have not symbolized evaluations in our language. Words only describe what is phenomenally recognizable and actionable, while skipping over the evaluation that Pirsig correctly identified as a necessary consideration in selecting what is worth notice and what action is desirable. The necessary, but missing, evaluative element was my logical backdoor. Identifying emotions as the necessary, but unnoticed element, allowed me to find the other missing steps in our algorithm. Here we will skip my angst, and take the reader though the front door by identifying the missing steps in our thought process.

Automatic sight compensation presents the objects as seen where we touch them, and we do not normally notice compensating any more than we take note of the steps we skip while making the adjustments needed to sip scalding coffee. We can even sip hot drinks while reading! If we really could see things where they exist, we would not need two eyes - one would tell us how far distantly we see things. We misjudge the site of hearing and smell for the same reasons. We have learned to interpret the loudness of sounds in each ear to gage the direction and distance of the sound’s origin. We hear sound in our inner ears, which, like eyes, reside next to our brains, but we automatically skip the direction finding steps and just look to the sound’s origin. Likewise, we can smell scents that originate elsewhere and automatically look into the breeze for the source, but we must have contact with the things we touch and taste and so need no adjustments to use the data from those two phenomenal sense organs. We hold no illusion of feeling touch and taste in our brains because we feel the sensations from those organs at some distance from the brain. We only need to touch ourselves or eat, in order to perceive correctly that we experience those sensations on our skins and tongues. We find it easy and pleasurable to act as though we see things where they are instead of in our eyes. However, to understand how our minds work we need to acknowledge that sight is actually in our eyes because that realization disproves one of the basic assumptions of science; the previously mentioned objection that emotions are only subjective. In reality, all observations, both phenomenal and evaluative, can only be subjective.

Because we can acknowledge that all of our observations have always been subjective, we are free to introspect with the confidence that others will confirm or deny our observations and conclusions. It now seems obvious that we have also learned to misinterpret another part of our conscious experience. We can internally observe five kinds of phenomenal sensation that inform us about the external world, but that is not the total extent of conscious information available. The objectivity illusion leads us to experience our conscious stream as if sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch were some kind of multi-media movie. Scientists have been insisting that we disinterestedly watch this movie while trying to discern facts. They have insisted we can only trust observations when we do not care about the outcome because, presumably, we do not care if insulation saves energy or medicine cures disease. We only want to know how the universe works, but now we have to wonder how we choose what to watch. The best subject, according to this theory, would be those things so boring and inapplicable that they guaranteed the observer's neutrality, but that denies Robert Pirsig's 'Quality' relationship we have with nomenal reality.

I can introspect and others agree that injury generates pain and a memory of that injury also creates a real pain feeling, but remembered pain only affects us psychologically, no blood is lost; its effect is still unpleasant and it definitely evaluates a true account of remembered injury. A bar full of men watching a soccer game on TV will groan and protectively raise their knees in unison at seeing a player accidentally hit in the testicles. We know that others feel the same sorts of physical and psychological evaluative sensations because they independently report them. By induction, we believe our own and all reports of pleasure and pain, made by strangers and acquaintances, in literature or in person, do establish their existence.

If readers would use their memories to imagine the conscious streams of two friends watching a TV football game together, they can imagine how remembered evaluative pleasures and pains (emotions) work. They will realize that from slightly different perspectives, the two sports fans would see an almost identical vision of reality, but if they were rooting for different teams, they would evaluate and act differently. Their friendly rivalry would cause one to evaluate a score positively while the other would evaluate it negatively; one might stand and cheer while the other sits and stews. The part of their conscious streams that identifies reality would be similar, but the evaluation and action parts would be unique to their past experience. Each conscious stream provides a complete record of a mind's control system for thought and behavior.

The only fact worth knowing is the cause of pleasure or pain and the only reason for knowing it is to intervene.

We experience some part of us that watches the sensory movie and feels interest: the approval or disapproval that triggers intervention, actions intended to improve the result. We could identify that part as an executive consciousness. We have believed that our executive consciousness results from rational thought produced in our brains where we cannot observe the steps in the process. As already said, we also owe this misconception to Plato because he believed that the ability to reason is a function of souls. He reasoned, with no possibility of physical evidence, that our knowledge is composed of transcendental elements, and believed that we magically make rational decisions in an ideal, spiritual world behind a metaphysical firewall beyond consciousness. When the Christian church adopted this idea and taught it in their universities as indubitable fact, it permeated our Western culture. However, now that we have located our experience of sensations to various sense organs in different parts of our bodies, we can observe a simpler explanation from within our multi-sensational, multi-sourced, conscious stream.

The 'rational executive function' is, in reality, performed by the previously listed, uncounted number of nutritive, defensive, and reproductive evaluative sense organs that reflexively produce sensations of either pain or pleasure. Emotional pains and pleasures derived from these basic reflexes function as an opinion about what we and others experience, think and say. They evaluate meaning through emotions like significant, amusing, sad, silly, interesting, and so on. Coincidence with comprehension of events represented by our five senses and reflex values of pleasure or pain form emotions. We feel pleasure at the anticipation of a good taste and call it hope. We feel pain at the anticipation of an injury and call it anxiety. These evaluations make our decisions; Plato's rational evaluation is another illusion. In reality, we act on our subjective emotions. We are as conscious of evaluative emotions as we are of sight, hearing, taste, touch and smell, but because they are not represented in speech and thought, we have been editing them out by neglect. Spoken language has no need and, therefore, no facility to express these pains and pleasures. The speaker feels them and expresses them when speaking to others reflexively, normally automatically, and most often unnoticed as facial expression (smiles, frowns), tone of voice (harsh, loud, angry, soft, and enthusiastic) and body language (aggressive, relaxed, and defensive). Listeners pick up these cues and respond through their facial expressions, intonations and body language - again, often unnoticed. All animals share this primary level of communication. Our human invented written words based on spoken words leave these evaluative emotions off and have replaced their decision-making role with the spurious verbal reasoning used to rationalize our decisions to others and ourselves. We usually feel the decisive emotional evaluation and then rationalize after the decision in order to justify it. In rare exceptions, reasons accidentally bring unconsidered factors to light changing the emotion felt and the subsequent decision. 'Rational thought' then is another way of saying, “assign the correct, decisive emotional evaluation to perceptions and courses of action”. Using words to represent emotions we can follow the decisive process of someone offered a promotion at work: the candidate must weigh the effects of more responsibility (pain) more pay (big pleasure) longer hours (pain) and more autonomy (pleasure) less job security (big pain) and your own high status parking spot near the building (huge pleasure). You need not keep track of the anticipated outcomes because their individual evaluations adjust your mood to keep an emotional running total. The net sum emotion will determine the decision. Conventional wisdom advises taking care and time with important decisions because the process needs to start with a neutral emotional state. “Sleep on it.” You do not want an initial good or bad mood to influence your final decision. While we had believed that our ‘rational decisions’ were based on a hidden reasoning process, this example demonstrates that our emotional evaluations attached to our reasons and felt but skipped over in our conscious streams really make the decision.

If the argument made so far is valid, we sense reality in our five sense organs, define our relationship with it in our nutritive, defensive and reproductive evaluative organs and intervene with our muscle organs. Assuming that the brain is the storage device that the sense and evaluative organs input to it, and the muscle organs and emotional feelings are output devices, we have the three basic elements necessary for a working algorithm. We now know that the other algorithm explained above, the evolutionary algorithm, changes the code by physically recombining the four elements (guanine, cytosine, thymine and adenine) that make up the DNA in the genetic code, but now we must wonder what comparable physical entity comprises the code in our behavior control algorithm. Where is the juice? What physical elements make up the code that the four-step algorithm processes?

Education in the scientific tradition (because of science’s practical success that includes nearly all education) uses the objectivity and rational evaluation illusions to convince us that both our minds and the products of minds, like ideas and thoughts, are, magically, nonphysical. Again, it was ancient Greek philosopher, Plato, who advocated this dual-realities concept, which was also attractive to the fathers of the Christian Church. While the Church set up and ran our European modeled universities that teach Plato’s concept in some departments, professors of biology and medicine teach an incongruent, slight variation on this concept. They believe that our physical brains are the minds that use Plato’s nonphysical ideas and thoughts to direct our actions. Hippocrates of Cos deduced this theory for two reasons: he observed that brain injuries affect thoughts and behavior and our executive consciousness monitors our senses and moves our muscles. He assumed the brain considered information and generated instructions. Both theories claim that the products of our minds are nonphysical, but idealists claim minds are also nonphysical while materialists claim minds and physical brains are the same physical thing. People accepted the belief that thought is nonphysical over centuries without noticing the inconsistency implicit in a physical brain producing nonphysical ideas and thoughts. We have inherited a sausage-making machine that takes in raw chops and roasts at one end, and magically prints a photo of a sausage at the other. On top of misleading us about objectivity and rational evaluation, educators have taught us to believe that our conscious streams have the atomic weight of fairies or unicorns. In order to proceed scientifically we need to decide if the products of our minds are nonphysical or physical. We need an observable physical mind with observable physical products or we must give up any attempt to understand psychology by assuming that our minds and their produces are spiritual and, therefore, simply beyond scientific observation. We must choose one way or the other because this mashup of physical and nonphysical that enjoys current circulation has baffled all attempts to understand how our minds work.

The biological mind concept of, Hippocrates, has been one of the mysteries quietly taught to each succeeding generation of healers, but it miscast the brain as mind, sense organs as spies and muscles as minions. When you think about that arrangement, you will realize that it made perfect sense according to the information Hippocrates had. Brain injury does affect behavior, which establishes that it provides the instructions for behavior and having the knowledge and memories implies the capacity for decisions. The environment constantly bombards our eyes and ears with sensations that obviously teach us new information that the executive consciousness monitors, evaluates and then decides on action. We behave by voluntarily moving our muscles under the watchful supervision of our executive consciousness. Hippocrates' explanation seems to fit our experience perfectly! However, his physical model presents one insoluble problem: it places an indecipherable burden on the brain.

The difficulty results from the progression of knowledge. The sense organs must take it in, each in its own form: sight from eyes, sound from ears etc. The brain must translate those kinds of information to something it can work with and then translate it again to muscle instruction. This theory stretches creditability beyond the breaking point. Whichever language we have learned as children just happens to be the language of thought? Our brains just happen to be able to translate sights, sounds, smells etc. into that language. The brain, a flesh and blood organ, would have to understand every kind of sensory input and minutely control every muscle, in addition to its presumed chore of manipulating and adapting knowledge to each situation. No ten-story computer could do as much and attributing that kind of operational complexity to flesh and blood makes any attempt to understand how it works so overwhelming as to be futile. Handicapped by demands for objectivity, neuroscience has made progress and asks forbearance, holding out the promise that the brain’s complexity will eventually be dissected and analyzed, neuron by neuron, but not until we invent better computers and not in the foreseeable future.

Hippocrates’ top down management interpretation sounds very normal because it fits with our expectations of how the leaders of family, work, and government make decisions. It assumes that the brain holds an executive power and as a parent, boss or prime minister makes better decisions based its ability to reason. However, Hippocrates used some shady logic in his reasoning; he deduced too much from the fact that brain injuries impair the mind’s operations: strict logic dictates that the premise only proves that brains constitute a component, not necessarily the whole mind. His assumption that the brain takes charge colored his guess about the role of sense organs and muscles and ignored the role of pain and pleasure. We misread our observations because, while our executive function does decide our response to sensations from the world, it is not located in the brain. Instead, evaluative organs throughout the nutritive, defensive and reproductive systems individually produce this decisive function.

The Hippocratic model has only made sense to us because even the doctors and scientists half believe Plato: that while the process is physical, and takes place behind an unconscious firewall, the products are not. This inconsistency is still widely believed because the Renaissance Church correctly suspected that science would derail their gravy train. They burned Italian mathematician and philosopher, Giordano Bruno, at the stake, imprisoned Italian physicist, mathematician and philosopher, Galileo Galilei, and threatened French mathematician and philosopher, Rene Descartes, until he agreed to the Cartesian Compromise. He agreed that science would follow the Platonic division: some things are physical others are not. Science could study the physical world including the brain, but he agreed that the ideal-dimensional world of soul, mind, ideas and thoughts were nonphysical and strictly off-limits. This caused the mashup of Plato’s’ and Hippocrates’ ideas, the division between the hard and soft sciences. The Cartesian Compromise still defines "value free" science’s conceptual framework putting psychologists in the impossible position of studying something that by definition has no place in reality. In 1991 an autodidactic scholar like, Charles Van Doren (Yes, he of the Sixty-four Thousand Dollar Question fame.) was still able to write, “But we cannot sense minds, other persons’ or our own. Minds are immaterial things.” (A History of Knowledge - 1992)

None of this would matter much except that our concept of mind and definitions of its products like ideas and thoughts form the very foundation of psychology and in the end, a body of knowledge clearly depends on its foundation. Because of the Cartesian Compromise, atomic theory can provide a physical foundation concrete enough to take us to the moon, but psychology's immaterial foundation is ambiguous to nonexistent. The solution can be found in the Epicurean mind concept which comes to us mostly second-hand by way of a single copy of a Roman poem (The Nature of Things by Lucretius) rediscovered in the fifteenth century. According to Harvard's, Stephen Greenblatt (The Swerve - 2011) its discovery sparked the seventeenth century science of Galileo and Newton. Epicurus studied under the atomist, Democritus, and greatly influenced by the idea of the Stoic, Zeno, that we must acquiesce to the laws of nature. We learn from Lucretius’s poem that Epicurus believed mind-work, or as Hippocrates would say brainwork, needed more than a brain. He understood the stereoscopic illusion and believed that the mind did not look through the eye like a window (“if that were the case it would see better without the eye”) the eye sees for itself. That is important because he is not only saying that the mind is physical; he is also saying it is bigger than our brains and that the brain is not the seat of consciousness, we experience the world and our evaluation of it in our various sense organs. If Epicurus was correct in saying that eyes see for themselves, then ears must hear for themselves and so on. This arrangement would unburden the brain from the need to understand sensory perception, and so we can ditch the super computer brain, Hippocratic model, because we can now simplify its operations to a level that our current theories of biology can support.

The Epicurean model poses the brain as a library for the five externally focused sense organs, muscles, and the internally focused evaluative sense organs to use as writers and readers, rather than the spies and minions of the Hippocratic model. We have the five senses to identify things and evaluative sense organs that consciously experience self-interest, evaluating threats and opportunities and generating sensations in response. Emotions and muscles, not the brain, drive our bodies according to the instructions they write and later read. While the brain houses, links, and matches those instructions, as we will see, it has no awareness of their content or effects. The brain, like a library building, is unconscious and cannot access its knowledge. The three different kinds of sense organs consciously create and borrow the information brought in and lent out. Only the organs are conscious of each's sensations that result in recognition, evaluation, or effect. Brain injury would be like a fire at one end of the building that burns some books and that would change behavior because knowledge was missing, not because of damage to some supposed decision-making faculty.

The four-step pleasure seeking algorithm theory humbly asks you to ignore the idealistic foundation built by Plato. Consider that a brain could not understand data from all our various sense and evaluative organs while also knowing how to move muscles appropriately to respond to that data, but it also has no need to do all that. As comedians say, "timing is everything". The brain need not understand the various inputs and outputs, only link them. The appropriate action only needs linking to the recognized situation. Learning them together accomplishes that. Linking the need to send a machine to North Bay with the cheapest solution because of their previous coincidence reduces the brain's responsibilities to learning and remembering linked data physically encoded by sense, evaluative and muscle organs. The brain produces the linked, patterned nerve impulses on cue in a system that will be described in more detail over the next three chapters. The parts of our minds then could be the muscle, sense, and evaluative organs, which produce our conscious sensations, and the brain, which unconsciously stores those sensations only to return them to consciousness - remembering and re-experiencing them again at their originating sense organs.

We started with the premise that our minds had conscious and unconscious elements, but now the unconscious appears to be far less mysterious because we understand that memories are only unconscious until we remember them. Mr. Pirsig's insight that our response to reality depends on comparative evaluation was our first clue that the mind's algorithm might be pleasure seeking rather than truth seeking. Using that insight, we realized that our algorithm edits our memories for efficiency - only remembering the recognition and action components. The stereoscopic illusion, which misleads us to believe that we see things where they exist so we can touch and grasp them, is an example of such editing efficiency. Nevertheless, no matter how useful that illusion is, it is still an illusion, and we realized that all perceptions are individually subjective. Established science has wrongly believed that experience is shared and objective; all subjective perceptions, even emotions, have equal validity. Like the observations of physics, psychological observations are private and subjective and we have no reason to believe that they are less accurate or less useful for it. Considering our emotional perceptions allowed us to see that language obfuscates evaluation's role because we convey emotions by facial expression, tone of voice and body language while speaking and therefore had no reason to verbalize them. Reconsidering their importance allowed us to realize that emotions, not rational thought, are our real executive function. Now looking back over the argument presented we find that in combination, the misconceptions of objectivity, rational control, and non-material thoughts have kept us from understanding that our conscious streams consist of physical elements that describe the world and our relationship with it. This new concept of conscious experience allows us to understand a simpler version of our mind's operations. If we are conscious of both inputs and outputs in our sensory and evaluative organs, then storage is the only unconscious activity of the brain. A question based on those realizations would move the inquiry of our high-school boiling-water experimenters beyond physics into the now accessible realm of psychology by observing other sensations in each student's conscious stream.

We could ask the students to report all their conscious sensations. We would expect answers along the line of answers to the physics question. They would mention seeing boiling water and reading thermometers. With a little prompting, they may remember hearing the normal classroom sounds of others conducting their work. Pointed questions may get them to admit slight pains from boiling water bubbles splashing their hand as they reached for the thermometer. Leading questions might get them to admit a feeling of pleasure when comparing their result to the result they remembered as correct. These answers recognize a variety of, some previously ignored, sensations that exist in our conscious streams. So far that includes two kinds of the five senses sensations - sight and hearing; two kinds of evaluating sensations; pain from a current reflex and a remembered emotion of pride; and a memory of the sight or sound of the words one-hundred degrees Celsius. We need only add the sensations of muscle actions that also impose on our consciousness to name all the kinds of sensation.

Readers must accept the validity of using Husserl and Titchener's introspections of their own conscious experience as a credible scientific method in order to proceed because the theory presented hereafter was accumulated step-by-step guided by introspections of my own conscious stream, while checking with others to confirm my observations.

 


 

 
 

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