Home

1. A Concept of Conscious Experience

 

 

 

 

A Note to the Reader: This is a prepublication manuscript. Feedback is welcome.

 

 

DAVID SWIFT

 

1.

The birth of my beautiful but unplanned daughter cut short my intended academic career at a bachelor's degree. The subsequent divorce puzzled me. Why had life been so unkind? Accepting some blame sent me to psychology for repair. Dismay at their attempt to treat me without a general mind theory, started me on a life-long research project because common sense told me that such a general theory is necessary for any science-based help. How can you fix something when you have no idea how it was supposed to work before it was broken? How would you know it was broken? Now, at a white-haired seventy, I am still very much the same fool, but grasping what happened and changing a few beliefs has led to contentment. What follows is my sought-after, general theory of animal minds. My selfish, private investigation used this work as a notebook to deal with my thoughts - a hold-fast record to look back on. It could be a thousand-pages detailing my mistakes and discoveries, but that would bore the reader. Instead, we cut to the chase scene, jumping into the action where I ended: wondering why the facts have not always been obvious.

The next section (2.) starts by asking, "How do we proceed?" It is a reasonable question. How do we try to analyze our minds? What are minds? Where do we look for answers? Despite general confidence that science will someday discover how our minds work, current methods show scant progress. No one yet can really explain what a mind is. After digging through the layers of misassumption in my previous book, (The Epicurean Concept of Mind, Meaning and Knowledge, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2008) this work begins by explaining how the brain's operating system edits many of our learning steps out of recorded memories. Although this editing applies to all learning, most obviously, two childhood learned skills (3D sight and hand/eye coordination) distort our adult observations, which in turn hides our mind's relationship to the world and, in a surprising turn, misleads us about an assumption that underpins modern science. Correcting that deductive chain in this section (1.) will start the next section's (2.) investigation from scratch.

While this work is science, the reader may note that all the quotes in the early going come from philosophers. The science of psychology is currently an egg in search of a sperm, not much is worth quoting because the whole science has been misclassified. The average reader, indeed, the average scientist may not realize that science is the child of philosophy. While physics has been the star child for some two hundred plus years now, the parent repressed psychology with a mistaken mind concept. One of the first philosophers and scientists of the modern era, Rene Descartes' (1596 to 1650) believed that while just about everything else is real, our minds exist beyond this reality. Later, this history will be explained in more detail, but the bare bones version is this. His religion convinced him that minds (souls) are not physical, and as transcendental minds could be neutral observers, the rules of science were set accordingly. His idealistic mistake forced science to demand objectivity, which barred psychology from the only useful observational method available to it - subjective observations. Today, hardly anyone believes that their mind exists in heaven, we mistakenly believe that our brains do the thinking, but no one has dealt with the implications of a physical mind. Philosophically, I am a pragmatic realist (read scientist) and will later show that consciousness is not an other-worldly, metaphysical entity, but a biological process like blood circulation or digestion. As you can see this is not philosophy, if anything it is anti-philosophy. We will show that minds, reasoning, ideas, judgements and knowledge are physical things that can only exist in conscious beings - books consist of ink on paper that represent one part of knowledge symbolically: whole, physical knowledge can only exist in the minds of writers and readers. Consciousness evolved as a homeostatic, feedback loop; a part of our perceptual system that allows awareness of threats to existence. It makes us self-interested by defining our relationship with reality as helpful or harmful to evolutionary goals. Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason, 1781) realized that we put too much trust in Descartes', heavenly perspective. Kant's argument implies that the, so called, transcendental observer, in fact, has biological sense organs with physical limitations. Without realizing it, he had pulled the transcendental mind into physical reality. At that point he had unwittingly stopped doing philosophy and started doing science. His insight does not much affect the physical sciences, but it does affect psychology. A physical mind can only be studied as a branch of physics in the sub-category of biology. Other so-called philosophers who were really doing science like, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche and Husserl picked up and advanced Kant's point. Of them, only Husserl noticed the shift and called his field 'Phenomenal Science'. The correct relationship between observer and observed, mind and reality, must be acknowledged and scientific methods adjusted, before psychology can be studied. In other words, you must know that your mind is physical and understand the implications of that reality before you can grasp why its mechanisms are not obvious. 

The misunderstanding starts in our need to see the world through a distorting lens that lets us accurately touch, grasp and aim at things beyond our bodies. 3D sight gives us the depth perception necessary for the hand/eye coordination we constantly use to meet our needs and desires. You could not pick up a pen from your desk without it. Newborns learn to concoct depth perception by coordinating a single view from the sights in two baby eyes. That is how adults know what is in front of what and how to get a hold of it. Depth perception distorts our natural view by producing a convincing picture of things as though we see them where they exist, which helps us touch and handle them but at the expense of a baby's pure and unschooled view of our minds at work. Picturing things where they exist logically convinces us that others can see the same things we see - that our brains see objectively. We will present evidence that proves that this basic assumption of science is not true and has been obstructing psychology for hundreds, if not thousands of years. Such a little mistake, yet correcting it changes everything.

We can no longer easily see the newborn's view that we traded for depth perception because our own brain biology adds to the confusion by forgetting parts of the learning process. Evolution has favored brains that cut down the assessment time needed to react. Those who stopped to wonder how to handle a second or third charging lion failed to reproduce. We survivors must puzzle through first encounter but can deal with repeat experiences using the stock answer. (For example, most of us can easily solve the math problem, five times fifteen. Take a second to "do the math" for yourself. Now that you have the answer, you can respond to the same question without "doing the math". You need not rework the result; your brain jumps past the calculation to seventy-five. We do not do "the math" unconsciously; the calculation is sequestered, no longer quickly available, ignored because seventy-five has replaced it. Editing promotes survival by saving time. Sight of a second lion prompts survivors to climb.) Adults fail to consider this brain biology driven abridgement. Reflex editing hides any record of a newborns learning to see depth. Using depth perception without a memory of learning it, leaves us believing that our brains have always seen the world where it exists and, again, that others can see what we see.

Enhancing raw data for depth perception and hand/eye coordination and then editing out our learning experience helps us survive but misleads us about what part of us sees and where. As will be shown in more detail later, we cast our mistake in iron by thinking and talking about what we see using word symbols, which barely stand in – scant representation for our richly-detailed, sensory experience. Sparse as language is, sharing labels reinforces our belief that we see exactly the same sights. We will argue that anyone who understands 3D sight, hand/eye coordination, automatic editing and the language illusion can discover our mind's operations by observing their own consciousness. The proof lays in the answers to four riddles. Are our sense organs reliable? What part of you is reading this? Where does it see these words? Does our ability to communicate mean that we share experience objectively? Do not respond too quickly, almost none know evidence-based answers. Philosophers doing science offer help. Kant gives an answer to the first question and Edmund Husserl (Ideas: General Introduction to Pure Phenomenology, 1913) offers insights into the third and fourth. These first few pages will alert the reader to a new kind of evidence-based method for answering all four questions. 

 

Four Riddles

 

Are our sense organs reliable?

If you try to imagine how any mouse, trout or sparrow might view the world, you could assume that they see it much as you did when a child. That is, a child assumes that they see and sense an accurate and complete picture of reality. Edmund Husserl called that view the "natural attitude". Any animal intent on surviving the day would naturally assume that their view was the only possible view. Adult humans grow suspicious of that theory when confronted with color blindness and myopia. Immanuel Kant argued that data from our sense organs is not a thorough nor a true report of reality. The problem is not the odd illusion; mirages rarely fool us. The less obvious problem rests in the fact that no sense organ can directly experience, what Kant called, "nomenal" or absolute reality. It is the underlying source of, what he called our "phenomenal" (five senses) observations. Design limits the reach and grasp of all sense organs. They evolved to help us survive, not find ultimate truth. For example, our eyes interpret the various wavelengths of light as color and shape. We focus on the color and shape because they represent things that might help or harm. If current science's theories are correct, sight is the response of light sensitive cells to some frequencies of electromagnetism, but Kant tells us, in an early hint of postmodernism, that no final answer is possible. We can only sense the effects produced in our sense organs; we do not directly sense or comprehend the true nature of energies like light or sound, nor is the result anything but the way nomenal energy affects our sense organs. Before Kant's insight, like Descartes, we innocently believed that our senses reported a true (nomenal) view of the world. After Kant, we realized that, that belief was naive. Our sense organs are purpose built for survival and cannot be trusted for scientific work without understanding their inherent limits.

 

What part of you is reading this?

Almost everyone would assume that our brains do the reading. The accepted theory, the basis of psychology for hundreds of years, holds that a sensorium or screen in the visual cortex 'sees' through our eyes. The half-understood Latin jargon sounds impressive, but, as we will soon show, the real answer is simpler: brains get a form of the data, but they do not see the letters, nor, as we will show later, do they understand the words. We guessed wrongly that they see because 3D sight and hand/eye coordination mislead us.

Adults no longer see and hear raw sights and sounds the way that babies do. All animals with two front facing eyes naturally benefit from learning to use their crude two-dimensional perceptions to see depth. We do not notice this acquired skill much as we do not notice reversing our reflected view in a mirror, that is, we do not notice until we cannot read the reflection of written words. We use 3D sight for the depth perception that guides muscles while touching, grasping and aiming. Our minds naturally use 3D sight with hand/eye coordination without question because, without them, we would find life nearly impossible. We know learning edits our raw perceptions because when impaired we forget how to see in 3D and how to control our muscles. If you have ever experienced drunken double vision, reason will tell you that each newborn starts life with double vision, seeing two views - one from each eye. Drunks also forget how to walk efficiently. An adult's drunken sight and movements are impaired; a baby's sight and movements are raw and uncorrected. Within six weeks of birth, the mind's algorithmic learning rules (see chapter three) naturally coordinate the two pictures, merging two views into one that provides depth perception. You can prove this to yourself by straitening up your fingers and holding them against your nose between two open eyes. Your fingers nearly disappear. Yet, closing either eye proves that each eye sees your fingers fully but ignores that data when both eyes are open. This effect is due to the learned skill of 3D vision. (For many more examples and experiments see: Arthur Schopenhauer, On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason, 1813) Babies learn to merge our two eye's current data, and thereafter we (as explained above) skip "the math" needed to re-see (explained in the next paragraph) a single, 3D view a fraction of a second later. Even with effort, sober people cannot revert to double vision because reflex editing skips over the double vision to 3D vision, and we cannot re-do "the math" again. Unless impaired, our two eyes only see the single 3D view for the rest of their lives. Although it takes years instead of weeks, the same algorithm teaches muscle control, and thereafter, desire is all we need to guide our sober actions. Again, because we skip "the math".

3D vision would just be another helpful childhood learned skill except that it misleads us about which part of us sees. Seeing one picture persuades adults that our brains look out through two eye windows. We believe that the visual cortex end of the connection sees the single view. As might be expected, we assume that closing one eye forces the brain to look out through the other eye. In these brief periods, we do not notice that using one eye limits us to 2D vision. We also overlook the experience of seeing memories in our eyes. Remembering your mother's face is easier if you close your eyes. Closing our eyes makes it easier to remember past sights because open eyes tend to override memory with a flood of current sight. Only eyes, not the visual cortex, have the light sensitive cells to "see" both current and remembered data. Our minds feel discomfort when memory does not confirm current sight. We identify by remembering past experience. We easily spot the miss-synchronization of movie pictures with spoken words because our brains constantly bombard our sense organs with synchronized memories. While visual memories are brain data, we see it in our eyes; light does not affect brains.  Brains are blind because they have no light sensitive cells that see.

 

If eyes see, where do they see these words?

Most readers will assume that our eyes see these words in the place where they exist - on a page or screen at some distance from their eyes. However, our brains' learning algorithm teaches muscles to work with depth perception. The ability to accurately touch and grasp convinces our minds that we see things where they exist.

Any sighted person with a coffee cup in front of them emphatically believes that they see it in the place it exists. It is right there, on their desk! They can confirm that by reaching out and touching it. Things exists where we touch them, but we do not really see them there. Learning hand/eye coordination usefully but falsely convinces us that we see things where they exist. Any first-year physics student will tell you that we cannot project sight. Sight is one way. All light reflected from things enters our eyes. They absorb reflections, and then, memory compensates for the distance. While our brains do store memories, as with current experience, only our eyes can see what we remember. Blocking all light sources convinces us that we are completely blind to anything beyond the surface of our eyeballs. Nothing comes out. Our eyes are cameras, not flashlights.

 

Does our ability to communicate mean that we share experience objectively?

Two people sitting across a table at breakfast see completely different colors and words from the front and back of the same cereal box. As Edmund Husserl said, we see different views of the same thing because the reflected light comes from different perspectives, but that does not fool us into believing that we see different boxes. Most of us have never heard of Husserl. His was a German Jew, who came into the full prime of his career in the late 1930's, so the Nazis made sure his phenomenal approach did not get the timely publicity it deserved. They forbade him teaching or even speaking in public. After WW II, his so-called "existentialist" followers, Martin Heidegger and Jean-Paul Sartre, got the attention and fame. They used his new scientific method to delve into the philosophical mystery of consciousness. Why are some groups of atoms conscious while others are not? Their focus on the nature of consciousness missed the big-picture, psychological science that naturally follows from researching its use. The nature of consciousness does not concern us. Our interest is psychological. We will use the science of phenomenalism to investigate how consciousness helps us survive and reproduce. In other words, how our minds work. Like all animals, you the reader, took your natural experience at face value. You believed that your brain "naturally" saw the world, as it exists, where it exists. As if that were not enough to mislead us, as Husserl discovered, the three illusions explained above gain even more creditability by our use of language.

Husserl missed the inherent deceptions in depth perception and hand/eye coordination but did notice that our brains edit raw sensory perceptions by skipping "the math". We jump over sight, taste and aroma to the word symbols "cup of coffee" that labels and identifies each individual's perceptions. (This is another example of editing down to the useful essentials. Later we will see how it tends to make our decisions mysterious and our thoughts ridged.) Husserl noticed that individuals, seeing the same object, like a cereal box, from different sides, still use the same word label to identify it. We taste, smell, feel, hear and see differently from each other because each of us has exclusive sense organs that sense from our specific perspectives. Nevertheless, we have all learned to label our own perspective on taste, aroma and sight with the same words "cup of coffee". That is the essence of learning language. Husserl held that while each person's five senses give us a private (subjective) view of reality, our brains jump past that basic, raw view to the universal concepts labelled by language. Speakers of any one language use the same words to describe the things they see; using the same labels appears to confirm that others see exactly what we see. We assume that our brains see what other brains see in the places others see them. In fact, we only share a label for the shape and color of light entering our eyes. We can only experience raw sight from our own perspective. Even when alone, we jump past the phenomenal view and substitute the word label. Unless specifically mindful of raw sensations, we ignore the sight and aroma by jumping to "cup of coffee". (Freud also noticed the effect of this edit, and called the original, later forgotten, thought steps between stimulus and response, the "unconscious". He guessed that our brains repressed these in-between thought steps, rather than abandoning access to them because they were no longer useful for survival.) We cannot share our direct private experience with others, but we share the same language. You might see a boat from an airplane above; I might see it from a submarine below. We experience vastly different sights from each perspective but share the same word label "boat". While we share a bare-bones, symbolic language, our rich sensory experiences remain personal.

Some readers might object. They will say that we share more certainty in, "The sky is blue." than "I feel angry." However, while all English speakers call the color of the sky blue. We cannot see through another's eyes or hear through their ears. Others may experience what I call "blue" as what I would experience as red, green or yellow. That is why colorblindness is not obvious. Regardless of what color we experience, English speakers have learned to label the color of the sky, "blue". As has been explained, this misunderstanding is the result of the brain's automatic editing feature that jumps over the current phenomenal experience to the word label.

Mindlessly trusting depth perception has formed the premise of a logical chain that leads us, deduction-by-deduction, further from raw sight and its subjective picture of reality and naturally results in a mistaken distinction between kinds of observations. It convinces us that outside observations are more dependable than inside observations. We assume that inside observations only reflect our private thoughts, emotions and other bodily conditions. We call them subjective observations because we observe ourselves. They seem unreliable because only one witness exists. On the other hand, we call our outside observations, objective, because we believe that if our brains see the things outside our bodies where they exist, other brains must be able to see what we see. We trust these supposedly shared observations because using the same words convinces us that we share experiences, and so we assume, others can confirm them. While we share the word "blue", we can be no more certain that we share the same color experience than we can be sure that we share the same emotional experience. All observations take place inside our sense organs. No one is directly privy to another's experience. Scientists dismiss the use of subjective observations as unreliable and unscientific because, based on Descartes religious belief, they have mistakenly assumed that outside and inside observations have different degrees of credibility. We do not see things where they exist; we see them inside our eyes, so all observations are subjective, and have equal creditability. Taken cumulatively, the four mistakes explained above have led science to the false, objectivity rule. This was an honest attempt to weed out dubious "unconfirmed" knowledge. Husserl called the objectivity illusion, the "defect of science". However, knowing that depth perception and hand/eye coordination depend on interpreting raw sight reveals that all raw sight is always subjective. Learning hand/eye coordination has taught us to fabricate objective observations.

 

 History, Objectivity and Science

The objective/subjective distinction distorted the rules of science from the outset. The Christian laity already had their faith tested by the fourteenth century outbreak of the "black death". The clergy's deaths and their sensible avoidance of sick parishioners caused suspicion about God's power to protect the faithful. Medieval Church leaders saw that budding science would only add to this crisis. A scientific understanding of our minds' operations would contradict freewill. Psychology would allow men to look into their own 'souls' and, finding them predictable, could only undermine guilt for sinful behavior and, thereby, destroy the authority of religious leaders. Psychology was a threat to their theological worldview and their power to rule, and they had the means to protect themselves. Centuries before, the Church had taken on the task of keeping knowledge and educating each next generation. They founded, owned and taught in the first universities where they used the naturally mistaken distinction between subjective and objective to protect freewill as a religious idea. As we will examine in more detail later, men like Galileo, Descartes and Newton used rationalism to find a "scientific method", but while the Church allowed scientists to use objective observation to look at the outside world, they forbade the use of so-called, subjective observations. Churchmen used their teaching monopoly to allow the supposed objective physical sciences to proceed while misdirecting the subjective sciences by insisting that all science be objective. As a result, psychologists still try to use "objectivity" to observe our mind's operations. As we will see, the hard sciences, believing the illusions already explained, have mistakenly called their subjective perceptions, objective observations. Now that we know that no difference exists, we realize that labeling subjective as objective could make no difference to physics. Where we see things makes no difference to physics. Physics is about what we see; where we see is psychology, which is a subcategory of biology. However, objectivism perplexes psychology, as currently conceived, because our minds do not exist outside our bodies. Only we can experience our own minds. To advance our grasp of psychology we must abandon our belief in objectivity. However, history shows us (Kuhn, Structure of Scientific Revolutions, 1962) that all attempts by innovators to move to any next kind of investigative approach finds resistance from those making a living from the previous one. Now scientific journal editors and university professors have taken over the Church's teaching monopoly. They now own the knowledge and educate the students, and they too will not endure deviation. Like the Church, they will not publish or teach subjective observations. Realizing that all observations are equally subjective and equally creditable gives us license to scientifically examine our subjective observations with the same confidence we have previously given to what we believed were shared observations.

 

 

 2.

 

How do we proceed?

Only now that we have established the credibility of subjective observations can we talk about method. This work will proceed using Husserl's method. After a brief outline of the theory, I will describe my subjective experience while challenging the reader to observe their own minds to test my observations. I will then use logic and already confirmed facts about anatomy to build a model of human (and other brained animals) minds and their operations. It is the same process followed by all scientists when publishing their experimental results while challenging others to duplicate those results. No doubt, much room for advancement exists, and others will take up my invitation. This method needs a second step to confirm or deny our internally observed experience; others, with biological, especially, physiological expertise, are, in the footsteps of Ivan Pavlov, (Lectures on Conditioned Reflexes, 1928) invited to use externally focused, surgical experiments to confirm our subjective insights.

We will now undertake a general discussion of consciousness, its components and their operations. We intend this talk as a preliminary tour to acquaint the reader with the terms and concepts used in the more detailed analysis that follows.

 

What do We Observe?

We feel three kinds or classes of perceptions consciously. It is generally accepted that we naturally and directly feel the conscious effects of our five externally focused senses as light, sound, scent, taste and touch.  Given the advertisements for muscle pain remedies, it would be hard to deny that we also naturally and directly feel consciousness of our muscles in use as motion. In addition, most of us admit to consciously feeling the pains or pleasures associated with DNA pre-set identifications of food, injury, warmth etc. as encouragement or discouragement (motive or will). However, many need guidance to notice that we can reproduce weaker versions of all three feeling classes from memory. We experience all these four feeling kinds (3 current, 1 remembered) in consistent patterns. Readers may not have yet noticed that our mind's operations automatically learn, link and remember our feelings according to coincidence.

While no one feeling type by itself can help us survive and reproduce, linking three kinds makes them useful. Feelings that identify and evaluate the situation automatically produce the linked feelings that move muscles or engage analysis. 

The feelings generated by our five externally focused sense organs identify objects and situations when compared to memories of the same or similar feelings. Identification is an automatic, biologically driven response to perception, but the identification of specific things depends on having had previous perceptions of them in memory. Logic tells us that we can only identify current feelings by comparing them to matching remembered feelings. Unless previously perceived, things are unidentifiable. We see an apple and our brains consistently produce memories of apples from our thousands of experiences with them. Yet, while we correctly identify apples, we rarely become aware of having remembered apples. (The exception being a highly evaluated experience with an apple. This will be explained later.)  Again, the brain's editing function has tricked us into believing that we magically recognise things by snipping out the matching experience. Identifying apples is automatic biology, but it depends on previously learned experience with the fruit. Adult humans do not identify them by comparing them to a sight or taste. As Husserl pointed out, language links the sight or taste feeling with the word 'apple'. The originally corresponding sight or taste match has been edited out, just as with 3D sight and hand/eye coordination. Learning has rewired the matching memory by shortening the chain from apple sight or taste to apple sight or taste to the word 'apple', redacting the memory to apple sight or taste matching and triggering the learned link to the word 'apple'. This editing, again, helps hide the mind's matching process from us.

The feelings of pain and pleasure generated by reflex recognition of specific identities evaluate them.

The speed of the whole identification process demands an explanation. The data itself may well be its own address in the brain. I can think of no other explanation for the speed at which our eyes identify current data by comparing it, on the run, to previously learned data. The brain produces memories coincidently with matching current perceptions in real time. The sense organs compare current perception to memory confirming the match. We see similarity between current and remembered apples, but the more highly evaluated word 'apple' comes to consciousness. This system helps us survive because any matching perceptual memory also produces a group of highly evaluated feelings linked by learning to that memory by coincidence. For example, identifying a ball re-minds the feelings of the pleasure of the game and the muscle movements needed to play. All three were learned together. Matching any one of the three brings the most highly evaluated linked memories to consciousness. All three feeling kinds are remembered together. Behavior is the execution of feelings expressed through muscles as movement or speech.

This all appears to be complex from our adult perspective, but, again, we have learned the complexity. Our brains re-learn what we remember, recycling old data while adding new, and again, editing the result by evaluation. The hundreds or thousands of recycles reduce complex factors into apparently instant reactions. The view would be much different from a baby's perspective.

In order to survive long enough to reproduce all conscious animals must first be able to identify threats and opportunities. Babies start out with the ability to identify specific feelings. The taste of mother's milk, the chill of cold temperature and the discomfort of diaper rash can be identified by all normal babies. These examples belong to a special class of DNA, pre-matched feeling units. Identity is pre-matched to evaluation. Basic identified feelings connected to evaluative feelings of pain or pleasure physically define the meaning of, relationship between, the identified and evaluated feelings for the organism. Pain and pleasure trigger the brain to both learn and remember. They also control effort. The greater the pain, the faster we run. The greater the pain or pleasure the sharper the memory.

Many believe that we remember everything we sense, but the evidence shows otherwise. Any detailed examination of what has been sensed in the last ten minutes will show that we only become aware of a small percentage of our sensations and we can remember only a small part of that subgroup. Persistent attention to conscious feelings will reveal that the feed-back loop of pains and pleasures trigger both learning and remembering. In other words, we learn and remember the perceptions we identify as causing pain and pleasure. The identifying memory is always linked to the feelings experienced with the original learning experience. Normally, the sight of an apple produces positive feelings in hungry people. The identification of the hammer you hit your thumb with re-triggers pain. This simple biological feedback system links recognition to evaluation that triggers action.

Consciousness is the effect of pain and pleasure feedback evaluations that illuminates concurrent identification and action feelings. Our brains test all perceptions that can be identified for matches to memories with high evaluations. Only the highest evaluation triggers action. This feature allows us to ignore the mundane but act on the important.

 

 

 

The Consciousness Advantage

The accidental mutation that included the consciousness of self-interest in our DNA provided a substantial survival advantage. Selfish animal actions counter happenstance conditions that plants can only endure. We can defend ourselves against attack and walk away from drought or cold. For that reason, conscious life-forms dominate the planet.

While retiring the objectivity requirement for scientific observations will not noticeably change the exploration of our physical world, it will liberate the study of consciousness. Yet, our way forward is not clear. The correct answer to the first logical question, "Of what are we conscious?" is hidden by the same kind of distorting lens that mislead us about objectivity. Again, our adult "natural attitude" is based on layers of learning that hide a baby's raw conscious experience. Many choices that seem to well-up unbidden from within, depend on the emotional bond formed with parents in our first few months of life. We remain officially blind to the source and impact of these feelings and emotions because we deny that they determine our choices. The brain's editing feature (explained above) and our constant use of language in the place of perceptions, as per Husserl, leave us unaware that we make adult decisions by remembering preverbally learned emotions.

Some women may admit to feelings as their only reason, but many men of science usually improvised rationalizations after being asked: Why? The real source is hidden because we have been taught to replace emotions with verbal rationalizations to justify our decisions - always after-the-emotional choice has been made.

We base the mistaken scientific belief that our decisions are reasoned on Plato’s idealism as adopted by the medieval Church. Idealism holds that while the mind must live in this crude reality, it has access to an ideal (heavenly) world where all knowledge is perfect. German philosopher, Hermann Reimarus (Vernunftlehre, 1756) speaks for the beliefs in his time, “… and that coexisting with him (sic) was Thought, which they also call Grace and Silence. This Depth once bethought him (sic) to put forth from himself (sic) the beginning of all things and to lay that offshoot – which he (sic) had resolved to put forth – like a sperm into the coexisting Silence, as it were into a womb. Now this Silence, being thus impregnated and having conceived, gave birth to Intellect, a being which was like and equal to its Creator, and alone able to comprehend the greatness of its father. This Intellect also they call the Only-begotten and the Beginning of all things.” Such an unlimited and ideal knowledge resource would justify our confidence in, so called, 'rational thought' but in fact we are only conscious of the parts of our world that affect us, and we seldom make decisions based on the facts in front of us. Later, another German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche (Beyond Good and Evil, 1886) tells us that while science and rationality have abandoned the belief in a Deity, they have not yet examined and rejected the premises and natural ramifications of that belief. Those, now anchorless, beliefs have kept us from examining the real source of our decisions.

Our inability to understand the source our decisions and our idealistic conviction that we think rationally (unemotionally) lead us to believe that we have always been conscious of all our personal changing conditions and all our surroundings. It seems natural to believe that we are conscious of all things within our perceptual range. Taking a moment to look around convinces us that while we may miss some minutiae, we can focus on and become conscious of any part of the scene. This appears to confirm the idealistic notion that we can ‘objectively’ observe everything, despite the legal system’s frustration with disagreeing witnesses. In fact, we could see it all, but we only notice what is important to us. How could we know that unnoticed parts were missing? We cannot expect to notice trivial things. We seldom notice an individual rock in a gravel path, but a coin becomes instantly conscious. Unless exceptional, the faces at the airport blur into the background; yet, the face of the relative we are meeting, jumps out at us. Only another person can bring missed sights to our attention. Did you see that? We can only compare our experience with that of others to learn if they see things we do not. The most striking example compares adult with newborn perceptions.

Every parent has learned to become conscious of spouse, children, home, the chair they sit in and the blue sky above, but no newborn is conscious of such things. At birth, our DNA grants us consciousness of perceptions evaluated by reflex feelings limited to specific basic things. Before beings had brains these evaluated perceptions were our minds. Clearly, distress cries indicate that every newborn's conscious stream has identified feelings of hunger, cold and the slap on the rump intended to start breathing. Expressions of contentment indicate that they have identified feelings of support from mother's milk and the comfort of sleep in a warm bed. For the rest, a newborn will stare into space or just close his or her eyes. Adults have learned to become aware of tax returns and the other complexities of life; babies have no such concerns or consciousness. A baby's reflexively identified perceptions and evaluating feelings are, what philosophers call the a priori, basis for learning to identify and evaluate specific things and situations in our world.

Such preset DNA sourced feelings (distress/contentment, pain/pleasure), common to all brained animals, also dictate action responses. The identification of a finger or nipple at the lips starts a hungry baby sucking. Feelings of hunger, cold, heat, illness or injury automatically motivates a cry - for help. Expressions of contentment indicate that their needs have been met. These limited feelings and actions have evolved to help newborn animals survive.

Pre-set conscious feelings are evolutions’ basic survival manual that encourages the avoidance of danger (hunger, cold, injury) and attraction to support (food, warmth). By learning, we extrapolate those pre-set consciousness feelings and actions to other things and situations. Experience gradually expands a baby's conscious world to include the things and situations that affect him or her. Learning extends the comfort of mother's milk to the breast and then to mother. In time, children learn to "make strange" signaling that she or he is now able to differentiate between parent and stranger - by becoming conscious of the differences between people. This changes the reflex feeling of pleasure to the learned emotion of love. Pre-set evaluative feelings are extrapolated to evaluate associated perceptions. On recollection, the basic feelings of pain and pleasure become emotions like love, hope and hate.

Plato’s idealism leads us to believe that our various body parts form a unified being operated by our conscious brains; that our brains can self-servingly reach out and feel and control our body parts. This is called the Homunculus Theory, which posits a decision maker that lives inside our brains and another decision maker inside the first and so on. Such a theory cannot be taken seriously. It appears more feasible to believe that instructions, but not understanding or decisions, come from our brains. Understanding and decisions flow from several specific preset sensory organs that generate the DNA sourced feelings mentioned above. Have you ever felt conflicted? Having several preset feeling generators allows for disagreement and conflict (sexual excitement, cold, hunger, warmth and injury) within the same body.

Now comes the hard part: we must explain how specific feelings motivate tailored actions. Evaluation is the missing factor. Subjective evaluation, the very thing that science has reviled and dismissed, is the missing motive and trigger for action. We eat because it will end hunger feelings. We take a sweater to end the discomfort of coldness. Pleasant feelings affect our bodies in a way that encourages continuation (flavor keeps us eating); painful feelings stop current behavior in favor of change (injury changes method). Evaluative feelings mark things and situations that are worthy of note and action. We only become conscious of what affects us. We can walk down a gravel path without noticing any single stone, yet we immediately become aware of a coin in the mix. Have you ever seen something in a photo that you do not remember from taking the shot? Our consciousness is limited to original DNA identified and evaluated feelings and the feelings extrapolated from them by learning. Adults see and hear so many feelings that they believe that the sense everything when in fact they only identify perceptions linked to pain and pleasure and the emotions extrapolated from them.

We combine identification with evaluation in two ways. Our special evaluating organs can both identify and evaluate within themselves. Sweet taste is identified by the tongue and universally evaluated by pleasure. By comparison, identifying organs, like eyes, are a one trick pony; they can only identify by comparison with memory; they do not automatically evaluate with either pleasure or pain. Decisions depend on evaluation alone - whether directly from an evaluating organ or from subjective memory. Evaluative feelings not only motivate us, they also tell us how hard to step on the gas. The more the pain the faster we run away from it. Again, brains are like books, they only store information.

The previously accepted brain in control of a unified body theory assumes that each of us stops existing the moment our bodies can no longer function as a unified biological unit. Yet, a body in a coma may retain full biological function, but without awareness, lacks the will for so called, voluntary operations, which makes me believe that consciousness does not equate with a full set of operational body parts. Cripples often cannot feel someone touching their legs, which naturally leads us to think that the brain is conscious end of the nerve connection because if the leg could feel independently of the brain, it would feel without the connection. An injured nerve between brain and body part can extinguish conscious feeling in that body part because the nerve damage has isolated cause from effect. The body part still triggers the pain, but it doesn't affect the rest of the body, and so, cannot motivate it.The accidental mutation that included the consciousness of self-interest in our DNA provided a substantial survival advantage. Selfish animal actions counter happenstance conditions that plants can only endure. We can defend ourselves against attack and walk away from drought or cold. For that reason, conscious life forms dominate the planet.

Our hair and fingernails continue to grow after the rest of our parts die. We can lose a finger or arm without feeling diminished. Operating on some donor's kidney or heart does not leave us feeling polluted or shared. Any conscious being can feel that we do not exist as harmonious whole controlled by our brains. Our brains do not feel consciousness; the "I" in each of us transfers between the various parts of ourselves depending on each's strength of evaluation. The strength of directly triggered pains, pleasures and those same feelings remembered as emotions determine our priorities. A broken bone commands consciousness over a sweet candy on the tongue. Consciousness makes parts of us aware that they exist as separate, self-interested entities. An injury to my leg does not hurt in my brain. We feel pain, pleasure and emotions locally. Just as we see in our eyes, we experience consciousness in each organ. Sensory organs and other conscious organs, like muscles, (a definition follows) have their own feedback relationships with the brain. These parts take turns being the real source of our motives. Such separation lets reproductive organs evaluate differently from survival organs. These differences can create conflicting motives - especially in young men. As we will show, consciousness is the effect of the reflex, feedback loops that biologically evaluate specific genetically identified perceptions - sweet, tastes good; injury, feels bad.

Two kinds of meaning are necessary for reacting to things and situations. First, we must identify. Countless dictionaries and encyclopedia help us distinguish one thing or situation from another. We identify by matching the perception to a memory. However, reaction demands that we know another kind of meaning. The ability to distinguish between a car and a bus is not useful until we assign value to each. What do things and situations mean to us - to our wellbeing? No one can be self-interested until this question has been answered. The two kinds of feelings (pain and pleasure) in various strengths evaluate the things and situations we identify. We need to identify things so that we can evaluate their use to us. Only in combination (sweet - good; injury - bad) can these meanings (identity - evaluation) direct actions aimed at survival.

Introspective readers will find that they feel muscles in use and at rest after hard use. You feel your limbs in motion, after exhaustion and when injured. Muscles are one class of body parts with consciousness. Readers are also consciously aware of two other kinds of conscious organs. Sweet taste, some scents or smells, loud sounds, injury, hunger, thirst, sexual arousal and harsh light are examples of conscious perceptions genetically evaluated by accompanying shades of pain or pleasure. Like muscles, these combination sense organs both identify and evaluate. They biologically define a link between both kinds of meaning (sweet - good; injury - bad). These evaluation organs encourage basic survival. As the Chinese saying goes, "Eat, drink, man, woman - these are the basics of life." The basics necessary for life (harm avoidance, food and water, shelter) and reproduction are biologically evaluated. The pains and pleasures triggered by evaluation organs motivate our basic survival and reproductive behavior. They constitute inborn basic knowledge by using reflexes to combine the two kinds of meaning: identity and value. The combination gives us an advantage: evaluation without identity is useless, something is good or bad, but we would not know what. Identity without evaluation is just as useless: you would know what things are without a way of judging their usefulness or harm. Evaluation organs produce both meanings: identifying conditions (sweet taste, injury) and evaluating affect (pleasure, pain). All animals with minds evaluate certain specific conditions using the same pain or pleasure values. DNA reflexively defines mother's milk as good by its sweet taste and injury as bad by the pain it causes. Mammals, birds and fish also seek the pleasure of food and avoid the pain of injury. Given the accumulation of fifty or a hundred thousand years, humans have accidentally extrapolated such basic knowledge into E = mc2. In contrast, color, shape, touch and most sounds are examples of biologically unevaluated, but still capable of consciousness, perceptions. Babies see and hear such unevaluated sights and sounds without notice because they have not yet learned their identity or value. Muscles, evaluating and identifying, and identifying senses make up the entire list of conscious organs. Our brains do not feel.

Identity, evaluation and reaction together form a chain that helps us survive. A flame or coal near the skin is identified as injury evaluated by pain that causes us to jerk away from the source of injury and pain. This chain provides a model for learning. Seeing a flame or coal reminds us of pain and causes avoidance. The reminding comes from the brain, which matches injury, causes fear and avoidance.

Learning also misleads us another way; we "naturally" misunderstand the data route in our behavior control system. We have believed that data from eyes or other sensory organ informs the brain, which understands and directs the muscles to act. This seemingly simple explanation does not even try to account for the brain's indecipherable ability to "understand and direct". A slightly more complex account of the route avoids this puzzle. Using eyes as an example of a sensory organ, we can say that the brain matches afferent (from organ to brain) data from eyes to similar data stored from experience. As anyone can observe, what happens in muscles, and identifying and evaluating sense organs at the same time is linked in memory. Memory components triggered by matching were first linked by coincidental afferent experience. Learning sets identity, evaluation and muscle response together in memory. A match triggers the brain to send linked efferent (from the brain to the organs) data to other sensory organs and muscles. Here comes the bus; I was late yesterday; I had better start running now. We remember the injury together with its cause and our solution to avoid it next time.

Our five externally focused senses are not singularities; they combine several component receptors (skin, nose, tongue, and eyes have hundreds) yet experience teaches us to group these individuals under the general labels of touch, smell, taste and sight. Several kinds of receptors existing all over our bodies make up our sense of touch. Some just tell us we have made contact; others tell us that we have been injured or burnt. Eyes have several preceptor types. We can agree that eyes consciously detect color, shape and movement. Each type of perception points to a different class of receptor. Each perception results from hundreds, if not thousands, of receptors. We unlikely remember the sight of a school bus, more likely each of the light receptors in our eyes records a yes/no-binary position, which then becomes the address of the linked data. It would appear that the information is its own binary address in the brain. If so, it would explain our ability to instantly match a previous experience with a current perception: the new data would be sent to the same address as the old data. Such a system would trigger the linked memory components back to their originating organs, including the match confirming sight of a school bus. Such a system would also explain our hesitation and change of direction at finding that a close match is not a complete match and requires a different response.

If the previously assumed route were valid, we would only need one afferent nerve to carry data from the eye to the brain and one efferent nerve to instruct each muscle. Because the current carried by nerves can only flow in one direction, this newly proposed route needs two separate nerve pathways to connect each muscle and both kinds of sensory organs with the brain. As it turns out, afferent nerves carry data in the form of electrical pulses from the muscle or sense organ to the brain. Efferent nerves carry the same kind of data from the brain to the muscle or sense organ. Useful action only depends on the coincidence of linked identity, evaluation and action. Brains need only act as bookcases for this data.

Recognizing danger sends linked evaluation and action instructions to their respective organs, which play back the instructions - now reading what they once wrote. Efferent data sent to an evaluative organ makes us feel the memory of reflex pain or pleasure for the same reason that eyes see sight memories and muscles move action memories. By matching, remembered, efferent data sent into the back of the eyes, we identify current experience. Matching one component triggers the other linked components. We recognize physical danger by sending data to skin that recreates the feeling of injury pain. Identifying danger also sends instructions to muscles to avoid injury. This route avoids the "understand and direct" puzzle; brains need not understand or direct. Efferent data sent back to the organ recreates the experience that originally created the memory. Movements are re-moved. Remembered pains and pleasures are felt as emotions. As the great psychologist William James famously said, "I do not feel afraid and then run. I feel afraid while running." Recognition, evaluation and action occur in response, just as they were learned - simultaneously.

Muscles, both kinds of sense organs, nerves and brain are the components of our mental system. All animals with brains have these same mental organs that interact in the same way. (See chapter five for the explanation of our superior mental results from using the same biological organs as other animals. Uncreditable as it appears, somewhere between ten to twenty years of accumulated data allows humans to respond to recognition with ever more sophisticated responses including thought instead of muscle action. Brain size and operation play no role in our superior results.)

 

Learning

Consciousness and control reside in the feedback loop that evaluates the things we identify. Evaluating the things we identify triggers learning. Making a distinction between evaluative and non-evaluative organs allows us to grasp how our minds learn. The punishment of pain and reward of pleasure evaluate all simultaneous perceptions. So, in addition to feeling the pain of a burn on skin, we automatically link that pain to any perceived heat source. Pain also evaluates the flame or light bulb; we have learned to evaluate heat sources with pain. A baby will not understand the danger on first experience, but will remember to associate the flame or light bulb as evaluated with the same pain as a burn. Muscles and other evaluative receptors have DNA produced feelings of pain or pleasure. All other such feelings (emotions) have been generated from memory as they were extrapolated from DNA produced feelings by inference.

Only eyes can see. Getting that right expands our concept of mental organs. Brains cannot do everything. In the model presented here, brains cannot see, understand meaning or make decisions. There is a simpler, better explanation for how we use consciousness to help us survive and reproduce. We will show that our brains mainly function as hard drives. Input/output, they learn and remember. Brains are not in charge, reflexes govern the conduct of all living things. Plants and animals without brains, like earthworms, rely on them for all behavior, but animals with brains can recycle conscious reflexive feelings as rewarding or punishing emotions that allow us to escape our genetic program by learning to recognize and evaluate new threats, opportunities and responses. We can remember the pain of a burn as fear that warns us about fire. That fear can motivate our flight. We can remember the sweetness of an apple as desire. Desire can motivate a climb up the apple tree. Such remembered pains and pleasures are recycled as the evaluations that motivate recognition and action.

Reflexes were the evolutionary innovation that started the progression to consciousness. Consciousness is two, (pain and pleasure) specific reflexive responses. Actions that promoted survival started with reflexes like those of some plants that have light sensitive cells. Reflexes prompt them to turn their leaves towards the sun or other light source. Their light sensitivity has a survival value, in that more sunlight produces more sugar. Are plants conscious of light? While, for the reasons explained above, we cannot easily know what a plant feels, they are unlikely conscious. Consciousness is our trigger to learn and remember responses to new situations and unfamiliar things. The plant need not learn to turn its leaves; DNA controls that move; plants cannot learn. Reflexes also govern the behavior of animals that lack brains. Worms use them to eat, reproduce, and pull back into their holes at the feel of vibration. Again, worms have no need of consciousness. Consciousness has a survival function for animals with brains because some of our senses are general not specific. Our skin can only identify and evaluate a burn; our eyes can see and learn to identify and evaluate an unlimited variety of things and situations. These non-specific organs do not look for one thing or condition, like available food, mates and danger, the way a worm, fire alarm or thermostat does. Our eyes see all light and ears hear all the sound within their ranges. General senses would be useless without the ability to gauge and learn the effect of the different things we sense. Our eyes could see lions and cliffs, our ears could hear thunder and our bodies feel the earth quake, but without a relationship between perception, evaluation and reflex action, we would remain oblivious to danger. No gain could come from general sight or hearing, and mobility would enable a stumble into danger as much as help us survive. We could not learn new behavior from our mistakes. Consciousness triggers the learning of new behavior in response to situations unexpected by evolution. We not only feel pain and pleasure; we learn them as we feel them along with current sensory perceptions and any useful actions. We need instant learning because evolution has not had time to reshape our reflexes for new situations like driving a car. In a chain that takes humans years to produce, learning extrapolates conscious feelings of pain or pleasure produced from basic reflexive, homeostatic, feedback loops like, hunger, thirst, and sexual desire to evaluate general sense data and behavior. Animals with brains remember pleasure and pain as self-interested emotions. We remember pain as fear of its cause. Memories of those extrapolated feelings are the emotions that motivate adaptive actions in response to a rapidly changing and complex world. Finding the role of each mind part leads us to see the obvious - while we remember our emotions from our brains; we first learned them as conscious pain and pleasure produced by reflexes in other body parts. Consciousness allows us to instantly learn and remember new behavior. Our mind system operates by timely communication. Satellite sensors use nerves to store information in the brain. The brain coordinates this information, not by understanding, but by coincidence. It coordinates perception with evaluation and action. Information useful when recognition and evaluation prompts appropriate action. Sense organs reveal the world around us and remembering matches perceptions to memory; remembering self-interested emotions cast from hardwired reflexes make our self-serving decisions; and muscles replay actions from memory. Brains store, produce and match all three: identifying perceptions, evaluating emotions and muscle instructions, but are not conscious of those actions. Sense organs, reflexes and muscles are our minds' conscious organs. We could not cope with an ever-changing reality without general sensory organs and self-conscious reflexes that make us conscious of pleasure and pain and learned instructions to muscles.

Consciousness allows us to experience three kinds of organs. Your brain follows along as you read these words, but it does not understand them. It is not conscious. Only matching similar data triggers remembering. Logic tells us that in order to recognize a word, it must match the currently seen word with a known word in memory. Anyone trying to read words in a language unknown to them will confirm that we cannot parse meaning from sight alone. Recognition adds meaning to words. The data of meaning must be stored somewhere, brain surgeons have been able to stimulate memories by touching brain tissue, and so the brain is the likely candidate. As noted above, brains cannot see, so while the brain matches the data, the sight can only be confirmed in the eye. Matched word memories must be triggered back to your eyes to consciously confirm the match. Now we will have to assume information not even discussed yet because we have to start somewhere. As will be discussed in another chapter, you first linked each word to meaning (learned it) because both coexisted with a positive feeling produced by the approval of a teacher. That last sentence contained three concepts new to the reader without explaining the links between, but most will get the idea. Approval feels as sweet as the taste of mother's milk because memory links those two: mother's milk to her approving smile. When triggered by either pain or pleasure, brains link data experienced coincidentally with each other. The pain of criticism links to and evaluates the speaker. We often dislike critical people. The word read from the page can only be linked with its meaning because memory links them together. However, each word and meaning is also linked to more data. When you recall the memory of the word linked to its meaning, a painful or pleasurable feeling comes with it, but not to the eye. Words and their kind of meaning go back to the eye or other original sense organ; evaluating (pain or pleasure) feeling provides a second kind of meaning that  goes back to the gut, reproductive or other reflex that issued it. What we have been calling emotions are really the learned products of homeostats.

Sorbonne physiologist, Claude Bernard, first realized in the 1860s that evolutionary mutations that Harvard physiologist, Walter Cannon called homeostats in 1932, help to keep both simple single cells and complex animals like human beings alive by running their chemistry. These feedback loops keep us within viable limits. On the cell level, they control nutrition and division, making the difference between live and dead. They keep what should be stable, like heartbeat and blood pressure, from going to extremes. Each one uses a law of physics to produce biology. For example, the one that adjusts your breath rate uses the acid levels in blood to prompt a breath as needed. Each breath reduces the acid by increasing the blood's oxygen level, and when our bodies use that oxygen, the increased acid level will cue another breath. The more oxygen you use, the more acidic your blood and the faster you breathe. Sit or run: this feedback loop matches your breathing rate to need. Other loops match other needs to demand without producing any feeling like awareness or consciousness. Like plants we have no choice, our unconscious homeostats follow their program, we need a different kind of reflex homeostat to make self-serving choices.

 Taking a breath underwater would drown us. For that reason, we learn to control breathing, but postponement first causes discomfort and then pain. Conscious pain is the effect of the conscious homeostatic feedback in the same way that turning to the source is the effect of light on plant leaves, sound is the effect of feedback from your fire alarm, or heat is the effect from tripping your thermostat. We can breathe all day and night long with no awareness, but controlling the process long enough causes discomfort and will make you conscious of the need to breathe. The pain produced by the blood's acid level cues consciousness. Postponed hunger, thirst, cold, heat, and sexual desire also cause conscious pain. Like the need for oxygen, hunger and other demands prompt pain and desire. That conscious feedback is the basis of motive, and the learned actions to quench it are our behavior. Our brains store all-purpose conscious homeostats that create unlimited numbers of life saving loops by cuing learned acts, like ducking bullets or going to work. The brain's design forces it to identify and store all sources of pain and pleasure, and find and store any useful behavior. Conscious homeostatic reflexes are evolution's answer to ever changing threats in unlimited numbers. The brain matches identifying sensations to memory, the eye confirms the identity by comparing photo to negative and the linked emotion evaluates its meaning to you. You remember feedback feelings as emotions (pain or pleasure linked to some kind of identification) that tell you how matched meanings will affect you. Matching, not only identifies meaning it also evaluates self-interest. Right now, I hope you feel skeptical but curious. Biology must be consistent, and so behavior works the same way. Nerves also connect your muscles to your brain. If a bus had hit you before, you will remember (same rules as above) that injury and pain at matching the sight of a bus. The same match also connects to muscles. Muscle sensations remembered as actions will help you avoid danger. Learning has linked the matching concept, homeostatic value and useful muscle actions. Those are the four organs of our minds: brain, sense organs, conscious homeostats and muscles. Your brain can learn and remember connections between data from any of the other three parts at the speed of nerve impulses.

The emotions you feel come from your brain, because it stores every kind of feeling (pain, pleasure, sight, sound, muscle tension and relaxation). However, saying that your brain weighs content is like saying a DVD player sees a movie. Your brain does not see, feel pain or pleasure or muscle tension, but it will learn all three together when cued by a conscious homeostat. Your homeostats feel self-interest; your brain, sense organs and muscles are their tools.

You have spent all-your-life-so-far filling your brain with a self-focused take on events, along with the useful actions that promote pleasure and keep pain at bay. Like those dinosaurs, that we suppose had a second brain to control their tails, our single brain houses distinct self-interests. Hunger, thirst, and reproduction produce competing self-interests. Hunger prompts much of our learning of both facts and actions, but sexual desire also excites its fair share of desire. Each conscious homeostat starts a learning algorithm upon feeling pain or pleasure. In future, those learned feelings apply history to the current state of affairs. This is a variation of the homunculus theory, (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homunculus_argument) but instead of "a little person or smaller brain that lives inside your regular brain," it holds that conscious homeostats start or stop the energy to act. This avoids the infinite regress problem of other homunculus theories. We need no further back-up decision makers. Conscious homeostats use our brains like data stores, meaning caches, and action notes to promote pleasure and keep pain away. They, not our brains, trigger emotional degrees to value, desire, and prompt action. We pursue the pleasure that rewards survival and reproductive behavior. Each conscious homeostat watches like a fire alarm, and one of them, at this moment, is producing emotions that judge these words. We have thought of our minds as one thinking entity, but these homeostats take turns, sometimes two or three weigh-in at the same time, even arguing with each other. (The strongest emotion will always win.) You should be able to observe each one as they use pleasure and pain to express their own desires, demands, and solutions. Taken together, they are the core of you, me, and every other mind. Some peoples group's agree and act as a smooth team. Yes, we call these people winners, but are they? Some people’s groups conflict in goal and method - often stuck in self-doubt, but sometimes coming up with new and better answers. Conflicting equals compel choices that lead us into an awareness of freewill. Again, the strongest emotion will always win, giving you what you most want and forcing each life history to duly play out, unless self-awareness changes our values. Only understanding your mind and re-evaluation can rob fate of its victim.

These claims can be tested using Pavlov's method of cutting afferent and efferent nerves to prove the necessary connection to evaluate and effect appropriate action. Coming chapters will explain how sensations from our five senses trigger brains to remember learned emotions and muscle actions to promote survival and reproduction. It is a biological theory of psychology.

This idea is not new. Scientists were floating self-preservation as the cause for behavior more than a hundred years ago. They just could not square the like of self-harm, self-sacrifice and celibacy with staying alive and having children. This theory explains such choices as scorn for evolutionary goals in favor of finding short cuts away from pain and towards pleasure. As drug addicts, heroes, and priests prove, the donkey can avoid pulling the survival and reproductive cart, if it can already taste the carrot.

 

3.

Before we go any further, some readers may need a better idea of exactly what we mean by 'emotions'. Eventually, we must explain them, and it might as well be now because they are crucial to this theory.

Emotions start out as homeostatic feelings like hunger and thirst. We experience such feelings at the various locations in our bodies that generate them. For example, we feel hunger as an ache in the stomach. 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 in our mouths and the pleasure of relief from a warm sweater or cool breeze on our skins. Our survival depends on such feedback feelings. As has been said above, "[t]he brain's design forces it to note and store all sources of pain, and find and store any useful behavior." The brain stores feelings. The pain of injury is a feeling. The pleasure that rewards useful actions is a separate kind of feeling. Later, sourcing pleasure and pain feelings from memory makes them emotions like anxiety, pride, and hope. We remember pain as fear, the promise of respite from pain as hope, and great pleasure as joy.

Let me use an example, Biff the bully punches you in the nose. That triggered the injury homeostatic reflex and produced pain. The next time you see Biff, you remember that pain by re-feeling it in your nose. You may raise your hand to protect your nose. Maybe even give it a rub.

Understand, this time Biff is still across the room. You have not been physically hurt yet, but you remember the pain of your last encounter. That remembered pain comes from a memory stored in your brain. Remembering a feedback feeling makes it an emotion. Your original hurt is now an emotion called fear.

Seeing you, Biff comes over, and says he is sorry and gives you a hundred dollars. You use the money to take your current romantic interest to dinner, who is so happy 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 is just the result of two meetings with Biff.

Your emotional take on Biff will develop with each meeting, depending on the result of the last one. The collective result will ordain whether you run and hide or jump up and shake his hand. Over time, emotions develop so much nuance 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.

We know that our experience comes from our brains because a current punch in the nose feels different from a remembered punched nose. To précis Scottish philosopher, David Hume (An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, 1748), "memory feels like a shadow of current events." Memory is a faded version of primary experience. We experience all feelings, either current or remembered, at their original locations. A punched nose (remembered or current) always hurts in the nose. That is how we know the nose was hurt, not the elbow. Nevertheless, while we feel memories at the site of original experience, we are also aware of the brain as their source, which distinguishes current from remembered feelings and dreaming from waking experiences. We source current waking feelings in our five-senses, but feel remembered and dreaming sensations from our brains.

We have failed to notice re-feeling memories at their original location because we feel the source of memories as the brain. That feeling overpowers and feels relatively more noteworthy than our experience of the effect of memories on the body location. It feels like the brain feels memories because the source of memory outshouts the effect of remembering. This outshouting has evolved because our ability to set apart current from remembered threats and opportunities has an obvious survival value, so much so, that it defines sanity. We experience all sensations: current, waking, dreaming, and remembered in the affected organs, only vividness gives us the source. Source tells current from remembered, sorting an immediately actionable threat or opportunity from a dream or memory. (Anyone unable to feel the difference between current and remembered or waking and dreaming sensations should see a doctor before continuing.) Paying close attention will confirm that we experience the source of memories as our brain, but the organ of origin experiences the content. We remember all sensations in the same way, so while remembering mom's face puts an image of her face in your eyes, remembering how to move a muscle moves that muscle according to the memory. This consistency explains how we so effortlessly coordinate muscles to play the violin or execute a basketball jump shot. Memory replays sights in eyes, sounds in ears and muscle movements in patterns recorded in rehearsal or practice.

So the argument runs this far, that we use memory to identify and act on current situations and that we consciously experience that from our brains. The brain matches the sight in eyes triggering our emotions and actions from memory. A tenth of a second glance at Biff prompts the brain to produce several tenths 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 bulk from memory, which gives us the awareness that we feel most of our ongoing feelings from it. We source our decisions from the brain, but we did not make them there. We correctly feel the remembering of most currently felt experience in our brains. We remember, rather than think out, most of our current responses. The emotions felt this time make our decisions about what to do next time. We store them in the brain for that coming occasion. We react to the world by noticing the sensations echoed from memory. Any match to a sight or sound from now will reproduce the past experience with its evaluating emotion and any helpful learned actions. You run and 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 homeostats. This explains the effectiveness of training, the problems inherent in misidentification, and the reason generals always fight the current war with the tactics that would have won the last war. Again, it feels like thinking, but it is just remembering (playback) from the brain, prerecorded experience played back in sense organs, homeostats, and muscles.

These memories need not be from the distant past; the rules remain the same; we constantly check the now with the just before. Remembering echoes of what has just been learned and using those memories to project a likely future gives us the pool of moments surrounding the current point of time as described by Martin Heidegger in, Being and Time (1927). Music would not make sense without the constant comparison of note-to-note and phrase to phrase. We could not "figure out" the process for meeting our goals without remembering the link between current action and future results. We use the past result to improve the next action.

The brain's ability to record and re-record current sensations in a way affected by both past and current experience makes it doubly effective, while giving the illusion of thought. Brains feel in charge because they are the source of most of our current feelings. We know that because we could not recognize Biff without a memory of a past meeting stored in our brains. We also could not feel Biff's threatening or supportive meaning to us or respond without memories of his former painful/nervous/sexual effect on us. We argue hereafter, that reflex homeostatic feelings and emotions derived from them evaluate the sensations from our five-senses and trigger all our muscle responses. The only worthwhile fact is the cause of pleasure or pain and the only reason for knowing it is to intervene. That is a predictive and testable scientific theory; it is also, all of animal psychology in a sentence.

The mind concept sketched above presents such a simple, straightforward account of our behavior that it is hard to imagine that no one else has thought of it before. Yet, it is so foreign that you read it, you cannot find anything wrong with it, but it does not change your mind. At this point just about all readers still believe that, if not their spirits, their brains are reading these words though their eyes. It is hard to give up on an idea believed by everyone since the beginning of time. Our dogged grip on that "natural attitude" has a biological/psychological proof that is hard to deny. In fact, the Church fathers probably based their religious ideas of souls and spirits on our everyday experience of the 3D illusion. Our very survival depends on the belief that we look through our eyes and see the world in three dimensions, but it is still an illusion. We have been tricking ourselves for a long time, and the cause must be exposed and corrected before we can proceed to psychology.

 

4.

Life depends on the hand-to-eye coordination made possible by 3D sight. Animals quickly learn that hunting is easier, if we pretend to see in 3D. Killing a moving target depends on it. Normally, readers believe they see these words where they are, some fourteen to thirty inches (35 to 76 cm.) in front of their eyes. If we really could see things where they exist, we would not need two eyes; one could gauge the distance.

As a matter of course, our all-purpose homeostats (brains) learn all useful behavior. If you find boring math hard to learn, you may only reluctantly accept that the learning of painful or pleasurable things (things that matter to you) are a biological necessity. Every reader can remember what she or he last ate because our brains retain that fact without any effort to learn it. We cannot help ourselves; our brains learn without trying; biology dictates that we learn every fact and action that has proved a benefit.

While still in our cribs, biology teaches us that it helps to decode our 2D sight as if we could see things where they exist. We coordinate sight with hand, arm and lip actions to touch a toy or suck a teat. Anyone, seeing a baby in a crib stare at its hands and fingers or find a nipple, will understand the learning process. Babies learn to coordinate their movements with their sight. The world exists away from us, so cues such as the size and clarity of objects help to judge the gap to distant things. Anyone who has studied art knows the tricks that put an object in the background. At close range having two eyes helps establish the exact remove. All babies who survive learn this illusion within six weeks of birth. By the time they grow into young children their self-deception makes the adjustments so quickly, they are not even aware of doing them. The 3D illusion lets us easily hunt and kill, touch and grasp things. If we, like a drunk with double vision, always saw two scenes, one in each eye, touch would depend on integrating them. Hawks and foxes would starve. Driving a car, even at five miles an hour, would be a nightmare, which is why we never want drunks to drive.

Interpreting our sight in 3D naturally leads us to mistake where we see things. We must trust that we see them where they exist in order to snatch them. That, and the closeness of the eyes to the brain, convinces us that the eyes just connect the seen object to the brain. The verbs look, peek, gaze, leer, ogle, stare and listen suggest voluntary action. Most of us imagine peeping out through our eyes, when in fact; sight is passive. We say and believe that a hand in front of our eyes blocks our sight, when logic tells us that sight is like hearing. A wall blocks noise, just as a hand blocks the light reflected from objects into our eyes. The light reflected from objects enters and affects our eyes; our vision does not travel to the object. Our eyes are cameras, not flashlights. If it were the other way around, we would see in the dark.

We misjudge the sites of hearing and smell for the same reason. We have learned to interpret the loudness of a sound in each ear to find direction and guess our distance from it. Likewise, we can smell scents from elsewhere and automatically look into the breeze for the source.

For these reasons, the 3D illusion is thoroughly convincing. As our most used sensory organs (eyes and ears) pierce our skulls, it seems common sense to view them as the brain's view on the world. As a result, we believe that our brains see, hear, taste, smell, and touch, the world through our senses, in spite of the need for brain cells to have magical or super-computing powers to do that. From the beginning of records, this paradox has lead people to create myths about how our minds work.

 

5.

The earliest recorded guess about our minds comes from Egypt. James Breasted tells us in The Development of Religion and Thought in Ancient Egypt (1912) that, based on his readings of their tombs, they too believed in a central mind. They guessed that the heart made decisions, a mind-is-heart theory, and did not even bother to mummify the brain because it was useless. They also had concept of soul, called the Ka. Their Ka differed from our modern soul idea. While born with the person, it quickly went to wait in the afterlife. Funeral rites made their body recognizable to its Ka. Someone, somewhere, had either (depending on your beliefs) dreamed up or found the afterlife: a nonphysical world, and so, split reality into two dimensions. Egyptian priests could offer real estate in their nonphysical world to believers in this world. Obeying here calmed your fear of death by earning your place in the next world. Accepting blame implies a belief in freewill.

The Egyptians' soul and mind concepts spread beyond their borders. About three-thousand, five-hundred years ago, around 1450 before current era (BCE), Pharaoh, Thutmose III, conquered and, for two or three hundred years, Egyptians ruled parts of the Mediterranean shore, north over to, what is now, Turkey. That introduced their mind, Ka, freewill, and afterlife concepts to those new subjects. The idea of pleasant afterlife proved popular, and would not quit even after the Egyptians retreated. Trade may also have spread it along the shore.

What is now Israel (Palestine on the map provided below) lay next door, along the same coast. The Jews developed their own soul concept. It inhabited the body until death, and went on to the afterlife leaving the body behind.

 
  

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 coast, Greeks pondered minds and souls. Around 600 BCE, Anaxagoras, teacher of Socrates, noticed our power to think and called it nous. Socrates’s student, Plato, combined soul with nous. He noticed that when asked to think up a thing like a horse or boat, not a specific one but an example of the whole class, we depict them as perfect. Envisioning gives us one without the rough edges that set the real thing apart from the idea. Mental circles are perfect; no perfect circles exist in the real world. While today we might credit that to the ease of idea over the grit of really making it, he concluded that nous or thought must come from the soul. Therefore, thoughts must come from a mental world. Plato had combined the Egyptian mind and soul - a thinking soul. Others continued to use these mind, soul and nonphysical world concepts to explain psychology.

Anaxagoras

Socrates

Plato

Aristotle

Epicurus 

Hippocrates of Cos

 

Friar Copleston's exhaustive research tells us that we have inherited two concepts of mind from Greek times: (1) Plato's mind concept existing in an ideal mental world, and (2) the scientific physical mind ideas of Aristotle and Epicurus. Based on this division, two schools have evolved - idealism and materialism. Two beliefs, two paths, both alive and well in modern times.

On the materialistic path, we find Hippocrates of Cos, the father of western medicine and author of the Hippocratic Oath. He came up with the idea that physical brains were the seat of thought and action - the mind as brain. This, of course, is the modern medical model taught to each generation of healers, but it miscasts the brain as mind, sense organs as spies and muscles as minions. The top down account sounds very normal because it fits with our view of how the leaders of family, work, and government make decisions. It assumes that the brain holds the power and, like a parent, boss or prime minister, makes the decisions.

When you think about that arrangement, you will realize that it made perfect sense according to the facts at hand. Brain injury does affect behavior, which seems to confirm it as the source. The world bombards our eyes and ears with sensations that we remember. The fact that we base our decisions on such data implies the brain's capacity for decisions. We also feel the sequence for voluntarily actions coming from our brains. Hippocrates' explanation seems to fit perfectly! However, he used some shady logic in his reasoning; he deduced too much from the fact that brain injuries impair the mind: strict logic dictates that the premise only proves that brains are a part, not the whole mind. Not the whole pipe, any small blockage will stop the flow.

His model presents another problem: it places a perplexing burden on the brain. His idea that the brain takes charge colored his guess about the role of sense organs and muscles. The difficulty results from how we must process data. 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 inputs to something it can work with, and then translate it again to muscle action. It seems a bit much to expect from brain cells. 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 deal with every kind of sensory input and minutely control every muscle, on top of adapting known facts to each new situation. No ten-story computer could do as much and crediting such powers to flesh and blood makes trying to explain how it works futile. Burdened by demands for objectivity, neuroscience has made progress and asks for time, holding out the promise that the brain’s magic will eventually be dissected, neuron by neuron, but not until we invent better computers and not in the foreseeable future.

On the idealistic path, some seven or eight-hundred years later, we find the Roman, Christian philosopher, Plotinus, Enneads (200 – 270 CE). He joined Plato's mental mind to the Jewish soul. The result put Plato's mind into the soul, and then, like the Jews, placed the soul into the body. Mind, soul, and body were a kind of turducken (a chicken stuffed into a duck and then stuffed into a turkey). In his concept, the mind was a part of the soul, as a thumb is part of a hand. Christian bishop, St. Augustine of Hippo, (354 - 430 CE) (On Marriage and Concupiscence) described the soul and body as a marriage like that between a man and a woman. Death could now naturally divorce the thinking soul from the body. The mind in the soul could jump the line between life and death easily because neither was physical in the first place. That meant the soul had a memory of this life after death. Thinking souls promised believers an endless life but with the threat of everlasting misery. This new Christian dogma (truth from authority) gave Church leaders land and political power.

On the other hand, the Romans were materialistic Epicureans. They built their empire on hard-nosed math and engineering. Idealism was lion food, and not useful nor wise until the Christian conversion of Roman Emperor, Constantine the Great (313 CE current era). His switch to Christian beliefs was enough to insure that the idealistic view of mind ruled western thought until the Renaissance. However, by then budding science had become a threat to the Popes and their Holy Roman Empire.

 

6.

The Greeks had been the first to write the knowledge of pre-history, Babylon, and Egypt, along with their own. Their books fueled European rediscovery two-thousand years later. Excepting for Roman soldiers and builders, the years between had been a dark age for materialists. We can imagine the humbling of medieval monks and priests reading ancient texts plundered from Arab libraries by crusaders. The Romans had exited Europe long ago (410 CE) leaving it to survive an economic and cultural crash. Rude shacks could not compare to Greek and Roman ruins like the Parthenon and the tombs that pilgrims viewed along the Appian Way. Those far finer buildings mocked them with high taste and lost skills. The Bible and surviving Greek and Roman works on math and science inspired wonder. Before moveable type, naive readers would tend to overrate such precious, hand-copied books. Hundreds of years later, Shakespeare and Goethe still portrayed such books as the source of the magical powers wielded by their sorcerers, Prospero and Doctor Faust.

Churchmen were both awed and aghast by what they read. Some of these books held useful secrets; they loved Plato. His belief that all our ideas came from a perfect place sounded very much like heaven to them. He confirmed that view in his dialogue Phaedo. There he tells us that Socrates expected to continue existing on a pleasant isle after his death. Other books by other authors went against basic Christian beliefs. Church fathers buried or banned the works of materialists for denying the freewill and afterlife concepts. They damned the unsafe works to the Index Librorum Prohibitorum (1559 CE) "to prevent the contamination of the faith or corruption of morals". We would be fools to overlook the fact that a physical view of mind was never in the Church's best interest. Minds forced to follow the laws of physics cannot have freewill and that seems to rule out choice. Without freewill we cannot be responsible for our actions, cannot sin, and should not be accountable to God, the Church or anyone. That robs the Church of the hook that made it rich and powerful. Those prone to believe in plots (like Nietzsche, The Antichrist - 1895) might suspect a plan to control the laity, but it could have been a mistake based on faith. No one tests religious beliefs with the peer review process that drives modern sciences.

Church leaders saw science as a real threat to their authority. Early researchers could not fight back. The Church had used its power to burn their own friar, Giordano Bruno at the stake. They had put Galileo Galilei in jail until he promised to conform. Then they threaten Rene Descartes with the same fate. Wanting to pursue his scientific work and avoid jail, Jesuit instructed Rene Descartes (1596 - 1650) came up with the Cartesian compromise. He proposed splitting the subject matters of materialism and idealism, "the res extensa or matter and the res cogitans or spirit." (History and Philosophy of Science and Technology Volume 1, Eolss Pub. Co. Ltd. Oxford, UK. 2010, Pg. 161) Doing so created a line along the skin of every human being. What was inside the line was 'spirit' and the realm of theology; what was outside it was 'matter' and the world of science. Fear enticed the Church to accept his plan. They were safe for as long as no one could question that the mind was spiritual. (Medicine, being a hard science that probes under the skin, has over the years, shrunk the spiritual realm until now only the brain houses our magical minds.) The new science conformed to Church dogma. Authority, beyond that of any King of the time, enabled them to enforce this limit on science. Fear of prison or death obliged acceptance by the scientists. The way the 3D illusion works seems to confirm a central mind. For that reason, the Church plan offered no obvious hardship to science. They had lost the right and power to examine our minds with no prior precepts, but the rest of reality was wide open. Our hero Descartes had saved the Greeks' kind of rational science for Physics, Chemistry, and Biology. However, leaving our minds in a now mental dimension puts psychologists in the impossible position of studying something that 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)

Mental is the word that science has used to replace the religious word spiritual. Both words describe how our minds work. Using "mental" allows us to keep the spiritual mind idea in science by hiding its religious source. Church used words like soul, spiritual, afterlife, and freewill to describe their mind concepts. These words have vague meanings most suitable to religious beliefs. Spiritual ideas correctly rely on faith not evidence. Today the concepts have not changed, but we use scientific sounding proxies for those religious words. Mental means the same as spiritual. Motive includes freewill, and even psychological is the opposite of physical. The concepts represented by modern words like mind, mental, motive, and psychological are no better defined than their old religious counterparts are. They have no valid physical objects. There is nothing to see, hear, or grasp. We cannot use science to test such vague concepts because no one claims they refer to anything in our physical reality. No one trusts modern psychologists. They cannot reliably cure the problems of criminals or addicts, and defense psychologists stump our law courts by strongly denying any testimony by equally qualified prosecution experts. They cannot talk about psychology in concrete terms.

Plato had invented a mind in an ideal, perfect place that supplies this world with its ideas. Plotinus's take on Plato's idea led to a dead-end because you cannot explain how a spirit affects the physical world. Descartes found a way to save the spirit idea by putting it beyond rational probes. His plan suggested that the soul looked out onto the physical world from the spiritual world. He guessed that the pineal gland, housed in the center of the brain, provided the contact point between the two worlds, and no one wondered how the souls of blind people could be blind. The Church founded and owned our first universities at places like Bologna, Oxford, and Paris, and, in laying the groundwork of modern scholarship, would exert power over science far beyond their lifetimes. They carefully organized their universities to stave off any conflict with their beliefs by using the Cartesian compromise to detach Science from the Humanities, the hard from the soft and the social from the physical sciences. Classifying psychology as one of the Humanities lumped it in with Philosophy and Poetry, which cut it off from the more serious Physics and Math studies. Those two streams come to different results; the Humanities provide personal opinions, while the Sciences produce facts. With this division, science could do little to harm the Church, but it was bad news for psychology. Materialism still held and holds the overwhelming endorsement of the hard sciences; it underpins all officially sanctioned medical treatments. No alternative arrangements have gained any serious traction in the two-thousand five-hundred years since Hippocrates.

 

7.

Descartes' work should have been enough to smother psychology, but by 1900, the Church had lost much of its power. Seeing an opening, the first social scientists tried to use hard science methods to study human behavior. However, the compromise had affected the sciences in way that led hard scientists to misunderstand their own method. No one could be sure whether it was the heart, spirit, mind, or brain, but all still believed that something peeped out of their skulls through their eyes. That mistake has had little effect on physics. We can put boots on the moon without fully understanding how we did it. On the other hand, trying to apply their mind view to psychology upset any attempts to study it. It seems silly to assume you already know what you have set out to find out, but with no proof that objectivity was possible, they insisted that science needed it. It is not possible and we do not need it. We will soon show, that we can only observe our own motivation by the subjective method of, Edward B. Titchener, Experimental Psychology, (1902). He called it introspection. I can almost feel any working scientist who has not read this recoil in horror. "Sure," I hear them saying, "we are conscious of our feelings, but they're subjective. No two people feel exactly the same way in response to things and events." Titchener was not peeping out through his eyes; he looked the other way; he paid attention to his sensations. Descartes' model had logically lead most of the other scientists to believe that, "subjective experience is inconsistent and therefore cannot be part of an objective scientific explanation." That is what they said in Titchener's time. His introspective method was "unreliable, limiting, and subjective." The entire scientific community balked. Following Descartes' split, they completely believe that all of our brains look out through our eyes and see the same objective material world, as though we were all watching the same TV program from different houses. While no one claims to fathom how brains grasp the world, we still use the empty-of-meaning word mind to refer to our thinking ability, believe it exists in the brain and looks out onto the world.

 

8.

Although they were not aware of the effect, science still holds that our thoughts and knowledge have escaped the laws of physics. It assumes that we see the material world from the mental world.

Meanwhile, on the Humanities side of the college campus, no less a thinker than Immanuel Kant (Critique of Pure Reason - 1781) said there must be a distinction between nomena and phenomena. The world exists in a pure nomenal form that we cannot know; we can only know the phenomenal form reported by and filtered by our five senses. Here is the difference. Looking through a magnifying glass at the back of your hand looks different from looking without the glass. The magnified view shows a smaller area, but in more detail. Which view is correct? Both sights are phenomenal because they depend on tools. One is eyes plus glass the other is eyes alone. Neither view is correct nor incorrect; each tool shapes its view. No tool can produce the absolute nomenal view. We can only have a subjective view.  We are limited to the data in our sense organs - different viewers, different tools, different appearance. You and your dog get a different sense of the world. For one, the dog is colorblind. For another, dogs place more trust in smell. Our ears can only detect some sounds; dogs can hear higher pitched sounds. The design of our sense organs limits our view of the world. We theorize that radio waves and magnetic lines exist, but we cannot detect them through any of our five senses, and cannot know what else our sense organs are adding or missing. Philosophers after Kant believe that only the perceptions in each conscious stream exist for each of us, and that those feelings can only be internal and private. This truth dates from 1781, but neither the physical nor the social sciences use it. Following the Egyptians, Plato, Plotinus and Descartes, science is still mislead by the 3D illusion, and assumes that we can see things where they exist; that all useful data is external and public. The Church's division of university subjects into science and the humanities left little or no chance for contact or exchange of ideas, and for that reason, scientists like Titchener were and are not aware of progress made by or after Kant.

*Kant's insight inspired Edmund Husserl. He said that if Kant was correct, we can only study the world of things in our own conscious streams because it is all the evidence open to anyone. Reflex sensations, like sight and hearing, are our conscious streams. Edmund Husserl's example is about the reality of coffee. He says our view is less about the learned concept of hot water in a cup and more about what we experience - the raw color, aroma, and taste. We see the color and shape of a cup filled with something dark. Picking it up moves, what clearly now acts as a liquid, and we remember that we are holding a cup of coffee. We remember the coffee and cup by matching the raw sight, taste and smell of color, shape, movement, flavor and aroma to memories. It is the same learned process guides our hand-to-eye coordination. We have not noticed the substitution of the learned label 'cup of coffee' for the raw 'phenomenal sights and aroma' because the way our brains work edits that leap. Our brains just connect the two. In our brains, we identify the subjective sight, taste and aroma as an objective 'cup of coffee'. The quick version misleads us by projecting our sense of things directly to our identifying memories. The projection confirms the 3D illusion by triggering the same learned label in all of us. It cuts the in-between thinking steps from between the subjective experience of a cup-shaped profile of color and coffee smell clues to a supposedly objective 'cup of coffee' conclusion. We do not talk to each of our personal experience, but jump to the common label, which misleads us into believing that we share the same experience. Husserl recommends an epoché or halt to stop us from jumping past our first raw sensations to what they represent. He has not grasped how much he asks of us. Such an epoché would reduce us to helpless babies. The almost instant leap between sight and smell and 'cup of coffee' is same leap our hands make guided by our eyes. We would not live long without the thought skills learned as babies. Accumulated knowledge makes the biggest difference between competent adult and helpless baby.

 

9.

Looking over these opening remarks, we might now expect to study the mind like any other biological system, but we cannot, while still believing our minds look out onto the world through our eyes. We need another way to observe. However, what are we to look with? What are we to look at?

For all history, humans have assumed that the operations of their minds were hidden operations. This assumption leads us to believe that our mental state could objectively observe the world. Using that mistake, a high-school lab class asked to find the boiling point of water would report that they had all seen bubbles in the beaker at a reading of around one-hundred degrees Celsius. Because we have believed that we were seeing things where they exist, we naturally assume others see exactly what we see. They really saw the bubbles in their own eyes, not the beaker, but that would not stop them from answering correctly. Their minds have learned to jump past their perceptions and onto the remembered symbol. It does not matter where they see the bubbles; all evidence suggests that sea-level water boils at one-hundred degrees. Getting the sight concept right is not necessary for physics in the same way that grasping space travel is not necessary for driving to Toronto. However, if the class knew how and where they really saw water boil, they could observe their own thoughts.

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. They would realize that no feeling can be objective, and therefore, all science can only be subjective. None of us is privy to another’s experience and 'shared observation' is an oxymoron.

We have always based our knowledge on nothing more dependable than private observations. Nevertheless, that was enough to put feet on the moon. It does not matter where you see things, it only matters that you observe correctly. Our success at using material wrongly convinces us that we see things where they exist. Science only works because the overwhelming majority of scientists make good faith efforts to give true reports, and others catch any mistakes. Realizing that our feelings are subjective and, therefore, could be misunderstood does not call the method of science into question. It, rather, expands observation to include shared accounts of any kind of sensation as evidence. We still need to confirm; we just have to know our agreement is subjective. Observations can only be subjective, and any repeated by others deserve note because they might well be true and valuable.

The only way forward adopts a completely physical worldview, but our eyes can only look outward. The reader should by now believe that thoughts and emotions are subject to the laws of physics, but how do we observe them? Titchener and Husserl led the way. Realizing that sight is a feeling, they reduced all sensory perceptions to their basic form. That basic form is the energy feelings we can use to observe both our minds and the world. Our minds burn feelings as fuel and yield them as products; the rest are just cells. To understand how our minds work we need to acknowledge that sight is a feeling in our eyes. Kant and Husserl were correct; all observations can only be subjective feelings. I may report seeing water boil at one hundred degrees and others might confirm my observation, but while we report the same thing, we cannot share the feeling.

 

10.

The mind theory presented hereafter is not at all like Plato's idea. It comes to us mostly second-hand by way of a single copy of a Roman poem (The Nature of Things by Lucretius) found (1416) in a backwater German monastery. Harvard's, Stephen Greenblatt (The Swerve, 2011) tells us that the poem's discovery and sharing by Papal translator, Poggio Bracciolini sparked the seventeenth century science of Galileo and Newton. The poem's subject is the philosophy of Greek materialist, Epicurus. He mainly studied under the atomist, Democritus, but the idea of the Stoic, Zeno that we must give-in to the laws of nature, also greatly influenced him. We learn from the poem, that thought needs more than a brain. Epicurus understood the 3D illusion and so, unlike the Plato, believed that the soul could not look out through the eye like a window (“if that were the case it would see better without the eye”). He taught that 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 we experience the world in our various sense organs - like eyes. If Epicurus is correct in saying that eyes see for themselves, then ears must hear for themselves and so on.

The Epicurean model poses the brain as a library for the five externally focused sense organs, muscles, and homeostats 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 homeostats for self-interest. 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 that data, as we will see, it has no awareness of their content or effects. The brain, like a library building, has no means to access or understand its knowledge. The three different kinds of sensitive organs create and borrow the feelings brought in and lent out. Only the organs are conscious of each's sensations. Brain injury would be like a fire at one end of the building that burns some books and that would change behavior because data or access was missing, not because of damage to some supposed decision-making faculty. No, 'I' exists to look out through our eyes; the sense organs themselves are our 'I'. The good news, from the scientific point-of-view, is that his concept excuses the brain from the need to understand, and so we can ditch the super-computer brain. We can now simplify brain operations to a level that our current theories of biology can support.

If the readers would be kind enough to entertain the idea that we experience light energy in our eyes and record that feeling in our brains, then they would also have to grant that sight energy remembered from the brain goes back to the same eyes. We feel memories of light energy in our eyes. As we will see, Ivan Pavlov, Lectures on Conditioned Reflexes, 1928, discovered that all our sense organs have double-wired (afferent and efferent) nerve connections to the brain. If the brain were the organ conscious of sight and memories of sight, we would only need a single, one-way nerve connection. We would only need to wire the senses one-way to the brain and one-way from the brain to the muscles. We can only need two nerves, if the traffic is two-way; evolution hates waste. That confirms that the eye and other sense organs get information back from the brain. The sense organs re-feel memories. If we see in our eyes and hear in our ears then our conscious stream is a series of feelings occurring at sites all over our bodies. You still have to operate your day-to-day life as if the stereoscopic illusion were a real picture of the world, but this is science, no one can see atoms either. This 'whole body' mind concept lends itself to a far simpler explanation of psychology. Nevertheless, we still face the same problem. How do we sense it?

 

11.

As has already been said, we experience the effects of our minds, bodies, and the world as feelings in our conscious stream. Therefore, we could just pay attention to our feeling streams and share what we feel with others looking for patterns. That would work in time, but there is a problem. As adults we translate raw feelings with subroutines, like hand/eye coordination and cups of coffee. Husserl noticed that we react without thinking and without noticing the process. He said that we can only see the front profile of a cup of coffee, but we act as if we could see from all sides when picking it up. Our sight is limited so we must fill in the rest from memory. He wanted to feel life as a baby before learning all the memories that interpret our experience, and we can. If you have ever drunk enough alcohol almost to poison yourself (this is not recommended, even under medical supervision), you have found that your hand/eye coordination was lost. You could not even put a key in a door lock. You were not be able to walk strait or even stand. However as you lay on the ground, drooling and puking, soiled by your own feces and urine, you might have noticed that you had impaired your access to a lifetime of learning, and, having induced Husserl's epoché, were at that moment as helpless as a newborn.

I have purposely induced just such a state, with notebook and pencil, to follow my basic though process. The results follow.

 

This is the end of the first chapter.

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 
 

MindExamined.com