The psychology of value, the transition of drive to desire and its distribution to worth, the relation of desire to conduct, and the conceptual derivation of feeling are the determinants, however complex and elusive, of whether the object one desires is good or bad or whether the conduct that stems from desire is right or wrong.
There are two ways to achieve adaptive success, one by organic sculpting, in which constraints specify acts out of concepts, the other by compulsion or coercion, which is a more emphatic instance of sculpting in which constraints on the specification are imposed. The distinction of inner and outer is fuzzy. Belief, law and custom infiltrate the mind as personal values, reason depends on presuppositions and shared beliefs, and coercion sharpens the focus of the self-preservation drives.
Unconscious conflicts that arise into consciousness may be acknowledged as competing impulses within the individual that tend to be apprehended as contradictory voices. The conflict is portrayed as between an individual and a parent, or between a person and society, a trend that objectifies values as arguments between individuals or with the community, when the conflict is primarily among competing tendencies that are fully intrapsychic. Indeed, an option that is conscious has already become a kind of fact; one could say it is post-cognitive, past the point where it is active in shaping a decision.
Whether or not reason provides an “emphasis upon novelty” or is a novel emphasis, or whether novelty depends on reason rather than its precursors, there is a progression from value to fact, which, like the transition from concept to object, points to the origin of facts in value. Specifically the conceptual antecedents of facts are evoked as values that actualise in choice.
Whether or not a history is ingredient in an action, it provides a ‘folk’ explanation of its causal ancestry. … A microgenetic analysis seeks an account of the action in terms of its immediate conceptual antecedents. In contrast, a moral theory that is a folk theory of everyday life tends to treat conduct and its causes as “face value,” judging them in relation to character on one side, obligation on the other and choice midway between.
… rational thought and propositions are a terminal derivation of lexical and syntactic objects that objectify unconscious presuppositions, conceptual feelings and personal valuations.
The ‘objective’ laws of interaction among objects are internalised by psychology as operations on mental content that are the antecedents of those objects (acts). These operations then become the psychic laws, or the rules that guide discourse, mitigating or competing with emotion to decide the best course of action. But the laws of rational thought applied to facts are not equivalent to the process through which the facts materialise. Rules, laws, customs, are not in-themselves determinants.
The transition from one phase (of language, perception etc.) to the next is a whole-part or context-item shift. This transition entails the individuation of figural elements within background formations. These elements then serve as a background for an ensuing transform.
The formal rule-based theory of syntax that has governed explanation in psychology is not relevant to the process involved in generating a statement, or any cognition.
Reason can justify a failure to act as well as an action, it can weaken the will, divert the passions, dissapate resolve, and often, sadly, turn the heart from its true course. At the least, the more rational a person is, the better his reasons for an action. … reason can justify almost any action.
Reason is a mark of the linguistic coherence of a fully realised concept. The more rational the realisation, the more is articulates the richness of the underlying concept, even if it does not fully satisfy what the concept is aiming at. … A rational statement, a logical argument, is like a perceptual object, in that its goal is its own actualisation.
The agent’s argument may provoke an action in the listener, but didi it cause the agent to act? It may provide a template over which the action unfolds, but there can be a considerable delay subsequent to the rationale before the action occurs. Indeed, though we assume a causal linkage of argument to action, the argument could as well follow that action as precede it.
Reason may delay an ill considered response and allow a more thoughtful one to arise, but it may also derail a course of action that is necessary and desirable, and it may do this not by persuasion, but by exhausting the potential that would lead the concept into action.
Unlike animism, in which subject and object inhabit a common space, rational thought divides the other from the self and, as reason develops and matures, depletes nature of psychic feeling. … A separation of mind and world is essential for intentional feeling. The aim of a statement or a desire must be distinct from the self to convey purpose and direction.
The subject does not require an agentive relation with the objects specified in the intentional state to be a vector of feeling. Even if it is hidden in the statement, the feeling gives intentionality a direction to the aboutness that is the signal property of intentionality.
A covert metamorphosis occurs in which positive and life-enhancing values are , ideally, reinforced at the expense of maladaptive ones.
The perceived strength of an argument merely points to the poverty or insufficiency of alternative concepts in the speaker or the listener or, alternatively, is mitigated by the affective strength of, or emotional commitment to, a contradictory point of view.
The promotion of unselfish attitudes occurs through a process of value-enhancement, the efficacy of which depends on the existing value distribution. On has to be reasonable for reason to work. Reason comes to fill the interval that hesitation provides [neoteny]. This is also the ground of choice. The absence of choice entails direct action, whether for good or bad.
The specification of unconscious values into conscious particulars, in which the particulars are then evaluated by certain of the values that were assumed to guide their specification, is a shift from the process through which the particulars are realised to their logical relations in the mind and the world. There is no reason why this shift, which ruptures the continuity of non-moral and moral acts, should occur.
The psyche is disposable if concepts are logical solids verifiable across subjects and decomposable to atomic elements.
The truth of art, or that of a subjective theory of moral conduct lies in its aesthetic value, its authenticity, not its proof or validity.
In microgenetic theory, the sculpting of endogenous forms occurs at all phases in the derivation of the mental state. In a sculpting model, an implicit choice at every phase cancels competing options. The final actuality, the act, the thought, the object, individuates through a veto-like process that inhibits alternative routes of development over its entire trajectory. We are just conscious of the final ones, and those final ones usually involve conscious, rational thought. In deliberation or introspection, implicit selection in the process of sculpting at an early segment of cognition becomes explicit as choice.
No matter how detached an impartial, a rational statement is derived from unconscious, symbolic and magical thinking. Reasons are linked to personal beliefs and valuations.
In microgenetic theory, the initial construct is a combined act-object. This construct diverges into the separate but conjoined paths of act- and object-development, with language an offshoot of both branches. The process from unconscious depth to conscious surface is a qualitative sequence that reiterates like a fountain.
As writing is a literary art, speech is a vocal one. Discourse or conversation can aim at beauty of expression in poetry, persuasion in rhetoric or clarity in logic. These are all manifestations of the language art. To say a statement id rational is comparable to saying an artwork is beautiful. The rational has features of art in harmony, balance and proportion. Reason formalises and refines language in the same way that an artwork may formalise a musical or spatial cognition. A rational argument, like a logical or mathematical proof, is a work of beauty that is to be admired, illustrative but not instigative.
A morality is rational when the reason for an action elicit a judgement of equity according to an external standard or ideal of fairness or law. The standard is a kind of social organism, external yet internalised, normatively, in the form of personal valuations, and enforced by their constraints on self-expression in addition to the strictures of law.
Philosophy reifies, even deifies reason, with emotion the beast within, while psychology and neuroscience reinforce this distinction, assigning reason to the neocortex and emotion to the older limbic system. The notion still persists that limbic emotion discharges upward to cortex for subjective feeling, and downward for emotional display.
In moral philosophy, the emotional grounds of a decision are usually conceived as secondary to its rational grounds. … Some form of reason and emotion inheres in all acts of cognition. Rational or irrational choices are made every moment without a bearing on ethics.
Reason does not tell us that one life is worth the same as another, nor that all people should have equal opportunity, nor that a human life is worth more than that of a sub-human primate or dolphin…
Doing ones best and hoping for the worst is subjectively immoral, hoping for the best and not doing what it takes is objectively immoral. One is hypocrisy, the other cowardice.
Every decision in life is a rationalisation of feeling.
We have disputes over zombies and humans, computers and brains, silicon chips and carbon molecules, which for many are debates over whether consciousness and qualia are to be given privileged status in the description of mental states.
Causal theory saps purpose from behaviour and displaces signification from individuals to actions in the world. Perspectival theory turns the self into an image for others. We are left with a nexus of causal relations or a phantom that eludes description. And we ask, still, what is an individual?
In process theory, the mind/brain state is a single complex object. Representations or symptoms are the fleeting actualities of process, not mental things that interact. Mental contents are finalities that ‘contain’ their momentary histories, not causal objects the project on future effects. The continuum from potential to actual within a single mind/brain state is the direction of its internal relatedness. Change involves relations constituting the object, not its interaction with other objects.
There is no chain of cause and effect, but a continuous wave-like transition. Mental events or contents in the mental state deposit and are replaced, they do not cause other events to occur. Objects are reinstated by change, in a transition from potential to actual that recurs. … The replaced state is the ground (?cause) over which the replacing state is deposited (?effect). Each state unfolds over the immediately preceding one.
… the feeling, meaning and recognition of an object are not attached to things out there in the world after they are perceived, in a second-pass process that follows perception, but are phases ingredient in the same process through which the perception occurs.
… the approach undermines the realism, consensual validation and objectivity of a descriptive science of the mind.
Actualities are the concrete particulars that populate consciousness and the perceptual field. Everything we are aware of is already a particular, even those concepts that are vague and still-forming in our consciousness. A mood, a feeling, an inclination, are perhaps not yet particulars, but once the content is settled, even if it is unresolved, its actualisation is complete.
… actualities are not resultants or ingredients, but segments that objectify a continuum of becoming, which extends form a core of potential to the objects of reality. We describe actualities at the expense of their becoming, even as they perish in our description, and we describe potential as what is left over after what can be specified is exhausted, but potential, because it is devoid of content, is more difficult to grasp. Potential cannot be described in terms of the definiteness that is its aim, nor the indefiniteness that is its warrant, yet because there are limits on what issues from a potential, it is neither homogeneous nor undifferentiated.
Consider the problem of potentiality from the standpoint of the arousal of a word or object in the mind. There is great difficulty in describing the meaning of a word prior to the attainment of a phonological shape, or in describing and object-concept prior t its individuation as an image in the mind or an object in the world.
In my opinion, the final word or object is deposited through a qualitative transformation from depth to surface. In this transform, the anticipatory lexical- or object-concept is not identical to the final word or object. The pre-object fails to achieve the same degree of referential or denotational specificity. In arises out of syncretic, magical and metaphorical thought, and develops towards referential adequacy.
The process of fact-creation from felt-meaning is the source of value, …
The transition from potential to actual is continuous. Every phase except the final one, and perhaps even that, has potential for another transformation.
… imagination is the foundation out of which the perception of ‘reality’ develops. Within every perception there is a buried system of dreamwork, and magical and paralogical modes of thought.
Since the world sets limits on the actualisation process, the self is as much a creation of the world, i.e. the constraints of sensation, as the latter is a creation of the self, i.e. a perceptual realisation. To have a self is to have objects to perceive.
Character is the source of the conscious contents of our mind, but not their cause. The relation of character to action is that of potential to actual, not cause and effect. The action individuates through a qualitative sequence that is constrained by the elimination of maladaptive possibilities. Character does not cause or produce a behaviour, no more than the root of a flower causes the petals, but it is ingredient as an anticipatory phase in a dynamic structure. An action is a sign of character, not its product, as a thought is not the output of a thinker but a kind of signature of his feelings and intelligence.
The strength of the feeling of agency is a symptom of the depth of the thought, not a result of the effort applied by the subject to the thought-content, and should not be taken as psychological evidence for agent-causation.
In process theory, acts and agents are realised and revived. The antecedent does not cause the consequent, but is transformed in to it in a qualitative series of whole-part shifts. The seed becomes the flower, it does not cause it. The child does not cause an adult, but becomes one.
The feeling of “agent causation” that underwrites responsibility is a powerful but necessary deception, explicable in terms of the microstructure of the mind/brain state. The feeling of agency probably develops when a child reaches for something.
Conflict is inevitable since every entity is a contrast.
… conflict is not a matter of energy flow, or the interaction of ideas and feelings; rather, in the form of contrast, dialectic or individuation, it is a pervasive and intrinsic feature at all phases in the cognitive process, whether the evolutionary struggle of pre-human organisms or in the specification of phonological features and object form in language and perception.
However the source of the conflict is not in the actions of the other, but in the self’s own object concepts, the affective tonality of which is below the threshold of consciousness.
The action development is the implementation of will, and generates a feeling of agency that is essential to self-preservation and egoistic action. In sum, perception is linked to the realisation of the other, action is the mode of self-realisation. Of course, these are not sharply demarcated, rather they are biases established early in life and derived from evolutionary trends in animal cognition. Yet they determine the relative locus and emphasis of other and self-directed feeling, as the self-concept is articulated by value.
Ultimately, the unity of the world is binding of objects in consciousness, the coherence of concurrent lines of development, and the growth of the world out of the self in the momentary history of all individualities.
Authenticity is not an extrinsic judgement, as with right and wrong, where there is adherence to some convention, or deviance from a standard or rule. It is, for better or worse, self-realisation in conduct.
Agency is not an output of a self that stands behind an action and urges it forward; rather, the feeling of volition is created as a kind of byproduct of an act- and object-realisation.
Kill thy activities and still thy faculties if thou wouldst realise this birth in thee. ~ Meister Eckart.
For process theory, the dynamic in a mental content lies in its immediate prehistory, not its causal surface. The change from one state of mind or world to the next ia a novel becoming or near-replication of the immediately preceding state. Images, thoughts, feelings, objects in perception, do not cause something to occur; they appear, disappear ans are replaced by a subsequent state. The present state may be conceived as the effect of its antecedent, but it is a novel actualisation constrained by the state it replaces. In human mentation, the contents of awareness are actualities or finalities that perish, not solids with causal force. The process of actualisation, not what actualises, is the focus of change in mind and world.
In the actualisation process, mind and world are not parallel endpoints. The self is an intermediate phase in the object, which is an objectification of subjective phases in the mind/brain state.
Idealist philosophies regard the contents of the mind and the objects of perception as the phenomenal derivatives of a covert underlying reality. Concepts and objects, however, are not veils concealing formative process; they are the process that deposits them. Whether an object is conceived as real or phenomenal, there is still a development, a microgenesis or phase transition concealed within its surface form. The pattern of the phase-transition within an object is its reality, whether the unconscious process of the mind or the microphysical process of non-cognitive nature. Fundamental to this line of thought is that common process underlies the multiplicity of forms in nature and the diversity of contents sin human cognition.
More than consciousness, value brings the objectivity of the physical world into relation with human emotion and conceptuality.
To say that human valuation is continuous with value in simple physical entities is to claim that value is grounded in the cosmology of process metaphysics, even if the precursors of value in rocks or particles are far removed from their final manifestation in the human mind. In other words, there is no “bottom up” continuum from the intrinsic value of physical entities to the subjective valuations of human cognition.
The concept of intrinsic value traces to an ancient debate in metaphysics centring on the opposition of the qualitative and quantitative modes of analysis. The tensions in these modes of thought is expressed in cognition in the distinction of the qualitative feel of the inner experience and the quantitative science of objects. The feeling of a qualitative something in the mind that is lacking in physical objects is the basis of the dialectic between subject and object, or between inner experience and outer reality. … What a state is, is its objective existence. What a state feels like, is the dynamic within the state. This contrast at a more fundamental level is that of change and persistence, or the extremes of annihilation and eternalism that delimit the Buddhist middle way.
(P.131 has an important paragraph that is too long to share and not reducible to summary in a coherent manner )
… the existence of an entity is its intrinsic value.
Intrinsic value as existence transforms to value as feeling, or from existence as a packet of energy to life as a vector of feeling. At the stage of intrinsic value (existence), the dynamic is a non-directional becoming of process within the being of entity. The temporality of the process within the entity, and the spatiality of the category that constitutes the entity, are different perspectives on the becoming and being that are the entity.
… the duration establishes the entity as an existent, while the process over which the duration extends is a kind of vector. In elementary entities, this is an aim to actuality. In the human mind it is, in addition, a direction from self to world.
In brief, value is the being of an entity, or the being (substantiality) of an object, over the becoming of a momentary category of phases. … This way of thinking allows us to unify the temporality of change with the timelessness of category. Quantity arises in the existence of an entity as its duration actualises. Quality arises in the process through which the entity actualises. Similarly, objectivity, as an external perspective on an object, derives from the solidification of its category. Subjectivity , as the internal ‘perspective’ of the object or entity, derives from the change through which the category is laid down. Yet all entities are fundamentally the same, so the distinction turns on the emphasis of either the categorical (substantial) or transitive (processual) aspect of the same entity.
I would locate the subjective at the point where process is no longer isotropic, i.e. when directionality is crucial to a particular existent. At that point, one could say, energy shifts to feeling as the reversibility of intrinsic process becomes untenable.
The presence of feeling imports realness to the phase sequence.
Feeling as realness is the vitality of lower forms that exist in a mode of sensory experience as it makes contact with the environment. Feeling reaches into the sensory organs and promotes movement in a reflex arc. … As feeling transforms to instinct, the circularity of the sensor-motor contact of organism with environment [...] shifts to a unified act-object. The closed circuit of reflex shifts to a simultaneous construct that is the core of a mental representation. For example, when the frog’s tongue captures a fly, perception and action occur as a unit.
Gradually, the response bias of instinct gives way to the potential of drive. The enhancement of antecedent phases of possibility at the expense of the rigid interlocking sensori-motor dependencies of instinct helps to individuate organism and enlarge its affective repertoire. With the drives – aggression, fear, appetite – there are many routes to satisfaction, the fractionation of drive is the threshold of individuality. The subjectivity of the actualising organism is more emphatic as its objective segment, the perceptual world, is articulated by feelings in objects of interest. Inner and outer worlds are the subjective and objective phases of a single perception. … The next stage transforms this pattern to a mature human cognition.
This occurs through an accentuation at a phase previously bypassed in the immediacy of object actualisation where conceptual primitives invested with drive energy allocate feeling to the merging object-concepts that give rise to perceptual objects. In this phase of conceptual feeling, the affective tonality of object-concepts replaces the object-bound drives with the concept-bound desires. The feeling in a concept replaces the feeling in or for an object.
Feeling is like a river that recurs from a source in the mind to a destination in the world, one moment surging up at a proximal phase, another, cascading downstream, yet all the while, an interior dynamic of a larger object, the mind/brain state, that is constantly pouring out objects.
An account of human perception is critical to the so-called observer error in physics, but is also necessary to bring novel insights to physical theory.
Dividing the length of an electron by the speed of light, Whitrow (1972) defined a chronon as the shortest interval of time, 10 to the minus 24 seconds.
(emphasis mine – interesting factoid ^)
The objective segment of a perception is the world we perceive. The subjective segment is the route through which it gets there and the self that perceives it. The self and experiential memories are laid down in the wake of the object as “deep structures” in its actualisation. The mind/brain state is a wave of process that stretches from the core of the mind to the rim of the world.
The ground of existence is augmented in the feeling of realness, which is then allocated to the proximal or distal polarity of the mind/brain state so as to enhance intrinsic value and realness to desire or worth. Desire is an accentuation of the subjective polarity, worth of the objective polarity. Yet, intrinsic value is the basis on which realness and desire develop as the first stages in the conceptual valuation of the object.
Interest is the qualitative shift in value from realness to worth. The conceptual feeling that is channelled into the object heightens its affective content. The object stands out, signifys something beyond itself. An object of desire that has interest or worth can also be a concept or an idea distinct from the desire for it by the self.
The relative emphasis on a proximal-subjective or distal-objective segment in the mental state determines whether valuation will be felt in the perceiver as desire, or in the object as worth.
To sum up; a perception is a transition over phases leading from self to world. A single transition, an act of cognition, is a mind/brain state. An object includes all of the phases in its development. Basic entities also exist as duration. Intrinsic value is the existence of a physical entity over its phases. The intrinsic value of an entity, or a mind/brain state, is its non-cognitive existence. This is the foundation of its initial subjective valuation as realness. Physical entities exist before they are felt as real. They cannot have the feeling of realness without being existents, even if those existents are hallucinatory or virtual. Realness is the accentuation of existence in organism. The object not only exists, but fells real. As intrinsic value grounds realness, so realness grounds a more developed valuation. … The transition os from intrinsic value (existence) of inorganic entities, as the envelope of their waveform, through the realness of organic life, in which process becomes directional, to the conceptual feeling of human cognition, in which desire and worth precipitate as the affective content of abject-concepts at their subjective and objective polarities.
… the common distinction of emotion and idea, [is] that emotions are the transformation of chemical or physical energy, while thought involves the transformation of information.
If emotion is the antithesis of conceptual thinking, feeling and concept must come together in some way to give context to feelings and impetus to ideas, though just how this might occur is uncertain.
Energetic theory of emotion has survived not only because it appeals to common sense, but because it is grounded on evolution. Energy in inorganic mater is the basis of emotion in higher organisms. My thesis here is that emotion begins as energy, eg. the wave-form of a basic entity, where it is ‘contained’ in basic packets or particles. At this stage, energy has a momentum but not a stable direction, certainly not an aim. The energy and its boundedness are the existence and nature of the entity. Put differently, the entity consist of a packet of temporal extensibility over the duration of its existence, a duration that is, at least conceptually, isotropic or time-reversible. In the evolution of organic life, energy tkes on an aim or direction over its duration and becomes anisotropic or time-irreversible. The phase transition has a before and after. With directionality, energy is transformed to feeling. The shift from bi-directional to uni-directional feeling, as with all natural advances in organic systems, occurs within the duration of the entity, i.e. within the temporal extension of each occurrence.
Once there is feeling, an ‘idea’ goes to satisfaction. This ‘idea’ is the category (duration) over which the feeling develops. As energy is the seed of emotion, duration is the seed of idea. Energy becomes feeling, duration becomes category. Or, put differently, becoming (process) is feeling, being (state) is idea. The category that encloses a feeling is also its aim, since the category does not exist until an epoch of feeling terminates. A complete cycle of feeling establishes the boundaries of the duration, and thus fulfils the aim or idea of the category that up until them has been virtual but, through the cycle of feeling, becomes actual just as it perishes.
One can say that feeling is felt process in simpler organisms – it is the dynamic of their unreflective lives – while emotion is the experience of process in higher ones. A simple organism is its feeling, but complex (human, but perhaps lower) organisms have emotions. In emotion, we experience the life-animating process that actualises the person that we are.
The inner and outer world that are created in perception are created for those who, themselves, are created by feeling.
When feeling goes immediately in to action, the body receives all the feeling that might otherwise have been allocated to objects, and the self and its body are then more intensely alive.
The impression is strong that ideas are free of affect, and feelings are free of ideational content, with the awareness of an emotion being the result of a judgement. However, nothing could be further from the truth.
Thus we arrive at the conclusion that emotion or feeling is the process-experience of becoming, while the feeling or emotion that is experienced, the designation of that experience, or its fixation in an object or idea, is the object-experience of being. As being gives existence to becoming, so without becoming, being would not exist. Objects are created by feelings as enclosures, but feeling is what makes objects real existents.
Thought expresses feelings, minimally in what a person chooses to think about, so just thinking about something entails an affective (evaluative) quality.
A mood does not seem to have an object, rather, it affects all objects and it poses difficulty to a theory of affect as the inner dynamic of ideation. Yet we occasionally have ideas that are also pervasive, and it may be that what such ideas and moods have in common is their relation to pre-object categories, where neither the concept nor the feeling has individuated with sufficient clarity.
In ongoing perception, feeling intensifies when interest collapses on a single object, for example when we perceive an object with fear or love. It is not surprising that this also occurs in memory, which is attenuated perception. Feeling is heightened with absorption in the memory. In creative writing, one attempts to reclaim a certain mood and recapture the idea or inspiration of the work, not just any mood, but one which is specific to the generative idea. The mood corresponds to the idea even if the idea cannot be articulated. At such moments, one wants to be saturated with the idea, to get into the mood and stay there, to bring its latent content to awareness. … The creative mood with its inchoate idea suggests that ordinary moods like depression are also associated with an unconscious ideation.
Depending on the context, feeling grows or fades. These observations indicate that feeling and idea are part of the same complex, but their unity is fluid not quantal. The apparent liberation of affect from idea that occurs in the derivation of drive to conceptual feeling is equally a liberation of the idea from its affective tone. Affect and idea are not fixed for all subsequent revivals. Even in drive, a given idea (construct, category) is not inextricably woven with a given affect. The shifting relations between feelings and memory, or feeling and idea (object, event), depend on the current mood, the passage of time, depth and context and the momentary focus of attention.
Affect is a part of the process-life of the present. The past-quality of feeling is derived secondarily from reminiscence. Whatever there is of pastness in feeling comes from the memorial-quality of the idea. In contrast, a memory that is experienced as a present event would be an hallucination.
The emotional response to a past event, more than the memory of the event, depends on the current state of mind. This is also true for perception. … The affective tone of the moment colours the feeling of the event. The affective tonality of memory is determined by the current state, which includes the embedded memory.
This union of feeling and object (concept), closer to memory than perception, closer to archaic structures of the limbic formation than to the recency of neocortex, closer to the past than the present, allied to magical and creative thinking, abides just beneath the surface of everyday thought.
In human thought, feeling and idea – the dynamic and static of cognition – are indivisible. Ideas are deposited as categories out of the incessant throb of feeling, both within the organism and in its world. This is not the view of most philosophers, nor of psychoanalysts.
… an object individuates in the course of self-realisation from an intrapersonal phase of dispositions, values and implicit beliefs through one of experiential memory, object-concepts and imagery, to a thing in the world.
The conceptual portion of an external object is its object-category, its affective portion is realness and worth.
Feeling marks a development within the realisation of the object of a dynamic that was not previously noted. This development is attributed to knowledge or experience, which is another way of saying there is a deeper exploration of the infrastructure of the perception, of an inner layer of memory and subjective feeling just beneath the outer rim of objects.
When we gaze at an object of interest, its value grows with an expansion of submerged residues in the underpinnings of the object. One line of expansion leads to growth in object- and lexical-concepts. These develop into objects and propositions that are relatively free of affect. The other line of expansion leads to a growth in experiential memory, which is relatively independent of lexical- and object-concepts. The former is governed by the regularities of rational thought, the latter by feeling and metaphoric thinking.
This new book by Jason Brown, who over the last several decades has woven the somewhat unlikely strands of process metaphysics and clinical neurology into a magnificent theoretical tapestry, represents an attempt to include moral thinking within the framework of the theory. The importance of this move should not be overlooked.
How should our beliefs shape our behaviour?
It is a “unified field theory”, rooted in the abstract metaphysics of process philosophy on the one hand, and the messy reality of the neurology clinic on the other, potentially transforming how we look at phenomena as apparently disparate as the nature of time, the origins of dreams ans hallucinations, the way a speech act unfolds, and (now with the present volume) how we make value judgements.
For whom, then, has this book been written? Clinicians are likely to be baffled by the metaphysics; philosophers, by the clinical material; Psychologists and neuropsychologists, by the lack of empirical tests and statistical analysis. Almost all of us will find our resources of knowledge challenged, if not simply inadequate, at one point or another in the reading of Jason Brown’s work. Many faint hearted readers are likely to say, “Well this book seems to have been written for someone else, not for me!”
Brown cannot be rightly accused of oversimplifying or pandering to the needs of a mass audience looking for simple solutions to complex problems. On the contrary, the theoretical edifice here is enormously complex, indeed incomprehensible for those with intellectual blinders firmly in place. There are no slogans here that can be used to stop arguments, but rather a series of insights that constrain our thinking in a different and more productive way than previously. This is of course sometimes a painful process.
Only when a philosophy is at full bloom do we appreciate the intuition that generated it. The early stages of a philosophy is one of groping, confusion, inarticulateness, and enthusiasm. ~ George Adams, 1930.
The clinical and neurological data are the material of the philosophy, while the philosophy is the ground on which the seeds of the psychology can be planted. In my view, a philosophy not based on phenomenal experience is stranded in speculative argumentation, while a psychology not grounded in philosophy or biology will be mired in trivia or romantic fiction. Yet I would agree with the comment of William James that a scientific understanding of the mind/brain will necessarily be metaphysical.
To each she appears in a unique form. She hides amid a thousand names and terms and is always the same. ~ Goethe, On Nature.
Is speciation in the process of evolution analogous to a specification in an act of cognition? Is the process through which species are formed related in some way to the struggle and adaptation that every entity goes through in order to become what it is at any given moment? The realisation of an organism, or any object, is an intrinsic microtemporal process that is largely imperceptible. Does this process correspond with the putative extrinsic relations involved in the reproduction of organisms viewed from the standpoint of populations and evolutionary time? If so, we could say that the evolutionary process of survival and diversification is the outer, large scale, or macroscopic expression of an inner, small scale microscopic process of self-realisation.
The transformation of potential to actual is like that of a not-yet-existent ground to a developing figure in which the ground is the antecedent whole or potential for realisation and the figure is what is actually being realised out of the whole. Once the whole is realised, the being becomes and existent. This process is uniform in nature. The same pattern that creates a brain, brings a particle into existence. (emphasis mine) We should not be surprised that what is most profound in nature is what is most universal, and thus imperceptible owing to it’s uniformity.
One could say that the complexity fills the duration as it expends. This implies that the increasing complexity that eventuates in the human brain is not an explanation of value or consciousness, but is a product of the process leading to it. This process is a kind of growth. This is also true for the transformation of societies, in which change occurs less by revolution or coercion than by slow assimilation, This is also a form of growth, taking place through an increase in the intrinsic complexity of society, viewed as an organism rather than a collection or compilation of entities.
The relation of a duration to it’s contents is not that of a container to the things it contains, but rather that of a virtual whole to virtual parts. In a particle, the whole and part are envelope and wave form; in the mind, they are the mental state and it’s phase transitions. A self, an idea, an object, are recurring sets of covert, sequential phases that unfold over a cycle of existence.
…a becoming creates time (change) as serial parts individuate out of simultaneous wholes. … The relation of category and process, or whole and part to being and becoming is the “deep structure” of the process of evolution.
An entity becomes what it is and so defines itself as it occurs, whether a society in relation to all humanity, or an atom against the void. Every motion is an orientation, every orientation a discrimination, every discrimination a valuation. Existence is the initial value.
Facts or values arise in a context of self-realisation. (emphasis mine)
States of affairs begin as intuitions, then personal beliefs permeated by values, and grow into experiential or scientific facts. The intense value of a fact to one who experiences or discovers it may be of only mild value to someone else. The fact is still a value though it is shorn of personal feelings. Gradually, the affective tonality of a fact becomes so distilled that it seems value free. Scientific facts are like this. Science ignores value in the pursuit of present fact, but in so doing, it also ignores the past that forms much of present desire. We intuit the affective valance in the personal history of novel facts before they wither in habit and consensus , in the passionate intensity of those who argue for their truth. The ferocity of argumentation over seemingly neutral facts is often surprising in those we assume to be detached and reasonable, such as scientists and philosophers.
… The categorical primes that underlie cognition are infused from the very outset with drive energy. Idea and feeling, concept and process, are dual aspects at each phase.
For some, the self is a social construct. Is value a magnet or an impulse? Are customs and obligations determinants of behaviour, sources of instilled values, or bases for moral judgement? Conduct in accordance with the law can arise as personal value, an obligation that is apprehended as partly external, or one that is fully coercive.
This world enriches the self through experience and learning, not by filling a naïve brain with ‘information’, but by fractionating innate categories into sub-sets of knowledge, belief and value.
If one can set aside the traditional assumption that perception occurs through the passive reception and construction of sensory data that are generated outside the perceiver and become ingredient in the mind, many aspects of the theory expounded here will begin to make sense.
The main point here, and the starting point for almost everything that follows, is that fully objective experiences are also subjective, in that they too emanate from the subject’s own beliefs and values. … Subjectivity applies not only to pains, after-images and other qualia, but to all perceptual experience.
The theory expounded in this book is a blend of idealism and naturalism that attempts to resolve the objectivity of ethical strictures in a monist theory of process.
… the existence of the other is, ultimately, an hypothesis about the origins of a perception, just as a perception or a concept is a hypothesis about the entities it models or represents. It is my belief that the problem of subjectivism, far from being obstacles to a theory of subject-object relations, are the key to understanding the nature of value, compassion, and the ‘place’ of the other in the matrix of the self.
With it’s awareness of a no-longer-existing past and a not-yet-existing future, the mind seems fully distinct from physical nature.
Subjectivism, or the “view from inside”, claims we can only know our own ideas. This is not consistent with the hypothesis that each mind realises a portion of the wholeness of universal mind or, put differently, actualises some portion of natural process. In a monist theory of process, a mind is conceived as a duration within a wider category of feeling. Every entity, including a mind, is a local manifestation of the ground of nature or physical reality.
The outcome of this inquiry has been fro me, and I hope it will be for the reader as well, a deeper appreciation of the place of the other in the ‘structure’ of the self’s own valuations.
From an external or objective standpoint, then, moral conduct tends to be judged in terms of what is reasonable or fair, or what conforms to social norms, not in terms of a paradigm of saintly or altruistic behaviour, or what might be considered perfection. … Even charity and hospitality are values that are usually not obligatory, at least not in the West.
For the state, the ideal requires a willingness to transcend national interests for the sake of a globel or transnational perspective, according to which the state pursues the common good, not just that of it’s own citizens.
The higher morality of the individual is centred in the community, not the self, but it is not the community that engages the ideal, it is the individual, or group of like-minded individuals. We can say that the claims of the other should be prior to the claims of the self, as the claims of humanity as a whole should be prior to those of the state, but it is the subjective character of the individual to which all claims of morality must be submitted for judgement.
Time is a critical dimension in moral decision and judgement. This appears in the opposition between automatic or impulsive action and action that is reasoned and deliberate. One occurs in the immediate present, the other involves future considerations. … The more immediate the action, the more it is judged as a sign of character: for example, spontaneous altruism is a mark of virtue precisely because there was apparently not time to make a rational calculation of future benefit.
… we consider the good person to be someone who acts in a good way instinctively, while we consider a good leader or state to be one that acts with caution and deliberation. … Here, the essential point is the importation of time into moral theory.