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Free Will and the Choice to Focus

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I said a bit earlier that worms probably wouldn't apply, but the rest of your response is overlooking most of my posts so far, and all my clarifications, including where I distinguish -kinds- of content from the means to pay attention to the content.
Yes, I did. The bottom line is that, as Binswanger pointed out, Reason requires volition. If you can't claim to be in charge of your own beliefs and opinions then you can never say whether they're valid or not; that would itself be an opinion that might also fly in the face of reality, for all you "know".

If what we call "volition" is something that we have in common with dogs (which clearly aren't in charge of themselves) then we can't claim to know anything. DreamWeaver touched on this with Isaac Newton's dog.

What our minds do is like what flatworm minds do, in the sense that both are forms of awareness, and that's about it. Some animals may do a few more things or a few less, but what we do really is different.

See Futuristic Toohey.

This concludes what I have to say about it. Good night, (good grief!) everyone! :P

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold
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If what we call "volition" is something that we have in common with dogs (which clearly aren't in charge of themselves) then we can't claim to know anything. DreamWeaver touched on this with Isaac Newton's dog.

I don't see how you conclude that. Volition isn't sufficient for conceptual awareness, but it's needed. The whole OP is about instinct being a foundation to the choice to focus. So, whether or not volition is something dogs have is begging the question!

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DA,

 
At the risk of sounding like a jerk beating a dead horse, in the other post on AI, Harrison made a point about how we have a complete mathematical understanding of neurons - and provided a link to Artificial Neural Networks which were ABOUT the development of Baysesian formulas for a weighing of the strength of the axon/dendrite bond that is established through repetitive firing.

 

 

Yes, I did read that about the repetitive aspect of forming procedural memory, and yes I'm out of my depth, being primarily more experienced with computer hardware than human wetware.  In researching the various kinds of memory, I was interested that this activity occurs in different parts of the brain, e.g.,

 

"... Learned skills such as riding a bike are stored in the putamen; instinctive actions such as grooming are stored in the caudate nucleus; and the cerebellum is involved with timing and coordination of body skills. Thus, without the medial temporal lobe (the structure that includes the hippocampus), a person is still able to form new procedural memories (such as playing the piano, for example), but cannot remember the events during which they happened or were learned."

 

I also read somewhere that animal behavior that is reflective of human memory abilities might be accounted for by evolutionary progress along other paths than the kind of brain development humans have.  That seems likely to me since they since however similar, their brains are different in size and complexity than ours, so the analogy of walking like and talking like only goes so far.

 

My current conclusion is that the kind of mental activity involved in observing and repeating a demonstration of how to do something must be very different than that of actually figuring out how to do something in the first place.  The former is primarily an ability to mimic, whereas the latter involves innovation, but again, I'm just speculating at this point based on lesser knowledge than you or Harrison may have.

 

One thing I do find significant is the apparent lack of interest in non-humans to ask, "why", as pointed to by Harrison earlier.  Animals can communicate with each other and be taught to communicate symbolically with us, but there doesn't appear to be an expression of interest on their part in asking why anything around them is happening.  The kind of questions that do come forward have more to do with asking permission to do something, which only really points to an awareness of restrained freedom that one would expect from a lab rat or a beta male.

 

So at this point, I think that a true volitional capacity not only requires a sense of self, i.e., a will to express, but is necessarily free from compulsion to avoid tainting whatever observable results may occur.  I think Harrison is on the right track when he observes that while mice and men have a similar capacity to navigate mazes, only man will ask why he's there in the first place.

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So at this point, I think that a true volitional capacity not only requires a sense of self, i.e., a will to express, but is necessarily free from compulsion to avoid tainting whatever observable results may occur.  I think Harrison is on the right track when he observes that while mice and men have a similar capacity to navigate mazes, only man will ask why he's there in the first place.

Are you suggesting there's a such thing as "absolute freedom of will" where you can think of and do anything mentally at any time? I overlooked this question earlier.

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I've mentioned how self-awareness, conceptualization, imagination and introspection are all closely intertwined with "volition". I don't know what essential attribute unites these things. "Introspection" and "self-awareness" are the more fundamental ones but not the root. Having considered it somewhat obsessively, I've concluded that there simply is no word for exactly what it is (and, in fact, no words by which to define it in any clear and meaningful way).

So despite the minor obsession I don't have any grand theorem to share. I have Rand's analogy and a subverbal inkling of what it means, which I can express through a thought experiment.

In reducing a concept back to the perceptual level, it can be helpful to approach it from both ends.

 

Inanimate matter and animate matter both exist, and neither contradict one another.

 

Within animate matter, there are plants which do not move from their location, and the animals which possess locomotion. Again, both exist, and neither contradict one another.

 

Spiders spin webs, birds rearrange nature to build nests, ants rearrange nature to build colonies, beavers their dams, and as pointed out, some creatures pass down a delimited set of survival skills to their young repeating this generation after generation.

 

Every entity has an identity or nature. None contradict the others here. Break a spider's web, use a shovel to overturn an ant hill, break apart a beaver's dam, and what follows is the spider spins a web, the ants continue to move the grains of sand, the beavers commence gnawing trees and moving them into position. Each animal acts according to its nature. What then gives rise to the need for a concept such as volition?

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Are you suggesting there's a such thing as "absolute freedom of will" where you can think of and do anything mentally at any time? I overlooked this question earlier.

 

My position on free will has been, and remains, the freedom to do what is possible given the circumstances.  Enacting imagination is delimited by reality, however it is possible to imagine absolute freedom and work towards that goal, as might a prisoner.  It isn't possible to escape reality.

 

In that sense, volition has meaning if the actor recognizes himself as an actor choosing viable options of action.  He would then be enacting his will and choosing what is possible for him to do.  Otherwise the meaning of such a choice is reduced to simply being aware of what was done without knowing why, or what might have been done differently.

 

The man and rat in a maze analogy works for me because regardless of sharing an ability to navigate obsticals towards a predetermined goal (by others or nature), only the man would consider not doing what was expected of him (that's volition).  As much as I'd like to agree with you, the fact that no rat has ever refused to cooperate with the master of the maze diminishes the rat's volitional capacity to following whatever path is available without ever wondering why he's there in the first place.

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I found this two days ago on The Atlas Society website.  It's an essay that specifically addresses Dennets (flawed) understanding of causality which leds him to Determinism (something which is also flawed.

 

Some points that I see as relevant to this topic:

 

"Yet his entire project depends on one assumption that he complacently accepts without argument and never thinks of questioning. Dennett assumes that causality is a relation between events: The motions of atoms or ions at one moment cause their motions at the next moment; the firing of a nerve in the brain causes a muscle to contract. In all his discussions of causality, he discusses it as a relation between events; analyzing causality, to Dennett, means analyzing precisely when one event can be said to be the cause of another. He states that he finds the ordinary concept of causality "informal, vague, often self-contradictory" (p. 71) and hard to analyze precisely, but it never occurs to him that this seeming difficulty is the result of an attempt to treat causality as the wrong kind of relationship.

The alternative view is that causality is a relationship, not between one event and another, but between an entity and its action: the way a thing acts (including the way it reacts to the actions of other entities) is a function of its nature. While it is often convenient to refer to some action as the "cause" of a subsequent action, such usage is derivative; primarily, an action's cause is the nature of the acting entity. For example, the motions of atoms or ions are caused by their mass, electric charge, etc., which determine how the forces operating on them affect their movement. If the nature of these entities were different, then they would act differently in response to the same external forces. In the case of living things, whose actions are self-generated (i.e., the action's direction and energy come from sources internal to the acting entity), entity causation becomes agent causation; the contraction of a muscle is caused by the nature of the animal's muscular and nervous systems. This understanding of causality makes it possible to see how human agents, whose nature includes the ability to weigh alternative courses of action and deliberate about them, and consequently the capacity for genuine choice, act in accordance with causality, not in any way in contradiction to it.
 
The point that is bolded is one that I've tried to make in past with little success.  I tried making it again in this current topic which we are discussing.  Understanding this dispels the notion that Determinism is an "option", it's not.  It's a contradiction.
Edited by New Buddha
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Building on internally driven action from the above post, it needs to be remembered that we are mult-cellular organisms (not single celled, such as bacteria).  And each and every one of our billions of cells are an organism acting in accordance to it's nature.  However...

 

This link is from a book I'm currently reading.  At the bottom of page 59 and onto page 60 is a brief overview of how individual cells (in embryonic development) are eventually "controlled" by the nervous system.  The cells are acting long before the spinal cord is even present and long before there is a brain.

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I found this two days ago on The Atlas Society website.  It's an essay that specifically addresses Dennets (flawed) understanding of causality which leds him to Determinism (something which is also flawed.

 

Some points that I see as relevant to this topic:

 

"Yet his entire project depends on one assumption that he complacently accepts without argument and never thinks of questioning. Dennett assumes that causality is a relation between events: The motions of atoms or ions at one moment cause their motions at the next moment; the firing of a nerve in the brain causes a muscle to contract. In all his discussions of causality, he discusses it as a relation between events; analyzing causality, to Dennett, means analyzing precisely when one event can be said to be the cause of another. He states that he finds the ordinary concept of causality "informal, vague, often self-contradictory" (p. 71) and hard to analyze precisely, but it never occurs to him that this seeming difficulty is the result of an attempt to treat causality as the wrong kind of relationship.

The alternative view is that causality is a relationship, not between one event and another, but between an entity and its action: the way a thing acts (including the way it reacts to the actions of other entities) is a function of its nature. While it is often convenient to refer to some action as the "cause" of a subsequent action, such usage is derivative; primarily, an action's cause is the nature of the acting entity. For example, the motions of atoms or ions are caused by their mass, electric charge, etc., which determine how the forces operating on them affect their movement. If the nature of these entities were different, then they would act differently in response to the same external forces. In the case of living things, whose actions are self-generated (i.e., the action's direction and energy come from sources internal to the acting entity), entity causation becomes agent causation; the contraction of a muscle is caused by the nature of the animal's muscular and nervous systems. This understanding of causality makes it possible to see how human agents, whose nature includes the ability to weigh alternative courses of action and deliberate about them, and consequently the capacity for genuine choice, act in accordance with causality, not in any way in contradiction to it.

 

The point that is bolded is one that I've tried to make in past with little success.  I tried making it again in this current topic which we are discussing.  Understanding this dispels the notion that Determinism is an "option", it's not.  It's a contradiction.

You bolded a word, and underlined a few passages. Can you clarify this a bit more specifically?

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Wow, I'll need to study the double quote in the last post because this is complex stuff - but, the idea of causality being a relationship rather than a specific "thing" seems like an important way to express this idea.  Isn't causality a relationship between entities, moderated by their identities?  It's like Peikoff's discovery that the silly subjectivism some people find in sense perception is a failure to recognize that an identity like color is a relationship between light, the chemistry of the object, and the biology of the sense organ.

 

Objectivism, at this level where philosophy overlaps with science, is about discovering the amount of truth that is currently available in the hierarchy of knowledge.  Too many scientists and way too many philosophers speculate beyond sense perception, even elevated by technology.  Yes, speculation opens areas for future exploration, but treating speculation (as Kant, Hegel, Russell, Chomsky, etc.) like knowledge is just bad academic form.

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I don't see how you conclude that.

1: One must choose to judge whatever one judges (including truth or falsehood); to suspend all irrelevant trains of thought and pay attention.

2: If we extend "volition" to inapplicable referents then we render it meaningless (just as the extension of "rights" to the "right to food" or the "right to a house" devalues everybody's "rights").

3: If we render "volition" meaningless then "choose" is meaningless and "judge" is meaningless and "know" is ultimately meaningless, which means that any claim which implies such a thing is a self-contradiction.

4: To apply "volition" to animals which have no control over their own consciousnesses, with which to direct their own thoughts, is a self-contradiction.

I could break each point down further, if you'd like.

What then gives rise to the need for a concept such as volition?

Man's ability to rearrange himself?

---

When a bird builds a nest, it does so because it's a bird and birds have the built-in knowledge of how to rearrange nature in order to build a nest. That knowledge itself, however, is beyond the bird's control. When a lion learns (in a primitive sense of 'learning') to eat men, while we would be right to destroy it, we don't blame it because it never could've known about that knowledge (let alone direct it).

All entities cause their actions, but man is an entity which can act on itself; to be the cause of its own nature.

---

That's the way I've been using it.

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold
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You bolded a word, and underlined a few passages. Can you clarify this a bit more specifically?

I definitely will, once I think about it a little more.  What truly opened my eyes yesterday is the connection I made between Post #182 and the link I sourced in Post #183 -- which differentiates between myogenic motricity and neurogenic motricity.

 

It's interesting to contemplate that, of the 200 hundred different types of cells in the human body, each and every one the billions of cells is a causal agent, and an end in itself....

 

All of this ties into my Post #107, but I need to give it some more thought.

Edited by New Buddha
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Harrison, I'm having a hard time following you, or how you're relating the choice to focus to all this.

"To apply "volition" to animals which have no control over their own consciousnesses, with which to direct their own thoughts, is a self-contradiction."
4 is literally untrue, it's nonsense to say animals have no control over their consciousness. We're not talking flatworms - you mentioned dogs. I'm asking you how your statements make sense. Frankly, you seem enamored by radical behaviorism, apply it to dogs, then say that it all of a sudden won't apply it to humans, so of course volition looks plain medieval.  

"When a bird builds a nest, it does so because it's a bird and birds have the built-in knowledge of how to rearrange nature in order to build a nest."
No, it's not. This was discussed earlier, bird behavior doesn't work that way, and "how to build a nest" is related to innate mechanisms which aid in adapting to the world. Not to ignore you, but I don't want to go back and repeat my arguments.

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Harrison, I'm having a hard time following you, or how you're relating the choice to focus to all this.

When I mentioned 'control over their consciousnesses', 'suspending all irrelevant trains of thought and paying attention' and being 'in charge of your own beliefs and opinions' (by 'choosing to judge'), those were all references to the thing I tried to concretize with Futuristic Roark; the choice to focus.

"When a bird builds a nest, it does so because it's a bird and birds have the built-in knowledge of how to rearrange nature in order to build a nest."

No, it's not. This was discussed earlier, bird behavior doesn't work that way, and "how to build a nest" is related to innate mechanisms which aid in adapting to the world. Not to ignore you, but I don't want to go back and repeat my arguments.

As you wish.

3a. Mental content with focus has causal efficacy.

How do you know?

3b. Mental content without focus has no causal efficacy.

How do you know?

4. All mental content has causal efficacy.

How do you know?

Your fourth point is completely correct. I have no wish to actually dispute it; only to mention how you're objecting to my use of "built-in knowledge" and yet (to shamelessly plagiarize Jurassic Park) you wield "causal efficacy" like a kid that's found his dad's gun.

2. Attending to mental content requires volition.

This is not the case for lucid nightmares ("I know I'm dreaming but I can't wake up"). This is not the case for "earworms" ("I hate this song but I can't stop thinking about it"). As someone who once thought that masturbation was evil I can testify of other mental contents for which this is not the case. Countless well-documented psychopathologies include some form of uncontrollable preoccupation.

If "volition" implies the capacity to choose what to think about then this proposition (which is the fulcrum of your argument) is not true of countless moments in any individual's life and is never true for a few poor souls.

And that's only for people.

I'm asking you how your statements make sense.

Operant conditioning is one of the most well-studied and well-understood psychological mechanisms.

If a dog consistently experiences a pair of *things* together (like the bell which Pavlov's dogs heard before every meal) the perception of one will prompt an expectation of the other.

This is just as true of humans as of dogs. If you give candy to a child whenever they properly use the potty, they'll make it a consistent habit in no time flat.

We understand the neurological basis for this remarkably well; synapses that fire together, wire together. We actually understand it so well that we could (theoretically) automate it.

One could put a small, computerized mechanism into the brain of a dog, such that any perception of the bell triggers the thought of food; in essence, manually "wiring" them together. We've already done similar things for other purposes (epilepsy treatments and putting robotic arms on monkeys). Or one could manually wire the perceptions of excretion and hardwood floors into unbearable shame. Sophisticated training regiments (such as the ones which spend years and fortunes in order to produce K9 police dogs) could be installed literally overnight.

The question (given that this useful property of dog brains also works the same way in our own) is whether the same could be done to people.

If Futuristic Toohey manually wired Futuristic Roark's conception of "architechture" into a sensation of extreme pain, would this teach him to give up his passion and submit?

At first glance, it would appear so. Roark wouldn't enjoy his pain any more than a dog would, nor would he take any longer in learning to avoid it (on the contrary; he'd do it quantifiably faster).

Unlike a dog, though, Roark would be able to stop and analyze his experiences, themselves. He'd know, from nothing more than cursory introspection, the exact nature of what was happening to him; that something drastic had happened, which was a direct threat to the very core of his ego. He'd know what was at stake; he'd anticipate that to give up architecture would mean something, to him, far worse than the pain; he'd have good reason not to submit, but to take the purest sort of pride in learning to endure it (which would actually change the structure of his brain to potentially filter out Toohey's signals).

He would gain all of that, with which to potentially (depending on his integrity) thwart the whole thing, from looking inward for just a moment or two.

---

Frankly, you seem enamored by radical behaviorism, apply it to dogs, then say that it all of a sudden won't apply it to humans, so of course volition looks plain medieval.

... Really?

I take my thought experiment as indicative of the reason why we are literally beings of self-made souls and if that constitutes behaviorism (as others have suggested before) then I guess I can't help it. ;)

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold
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This could be applied to a rock...

 

A rock cannot initiate self sustaining action.  But if it could it might respond to the current discussion with a line from Nilsson's, The Point:

 

"Well, that's it.  You see what you want to see and you hear what you want to hear."

 

Welcome to this forum, Tiff.

 

EDIT:  The Rock Man knew a thing or two about free will and the choice to focus  :devil:

Edited by Devil's Advocate
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4 is literally untrue, it's nonsense to say animals have no control over their consciousness. We're not talking flatworms - you mentioned dogs.

 

I'm still trying to make better sense of your position, Eiuol.

 

What -- in terms of specifics, in terms of observed/observable behaviors -- do you mean by this?  ("This" meaning the implication that dogs have "control over their consciousness.")

 

And in terms of volition, I believe you responded to me earlier that only humans can "evade."  Well, with respect to the Objectivist position on "focus" and "volition," isn't that the crux?  That human beings are free (as in "free will") to focus or to evade?

 

Here's from the Objectivist Ethics:

 

In any hour and issue of his life, man is free to think or to evade that effort. Thinking requires a state of full, focused awareness. The act of focusing one’s consciousness is volitional. Man can focus his mind to a full, active, purposefully directed awareness of reality—or he can unfocus it and let himself drift in a semiconscious daze, merely reacting to any chance stimulus of the immediate moment, at the mercy of his undirected sensory-perceptual mechanism and of any random, associational connections it might happen to make.

 

It would seem to me that if evasion -- which means to evade the effort of thinking, to unfocus -- is unavailable to some entity, then it no longer makes sense to talk about "volition" where that entity is concerned (in the Objectivist sense).

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Evasion is a matter of denying evidence or explicit knowledge, which is conceptual in nature. To do that requires minimizing focus or not focusing at all. That doesn't mean only humans are able to choose to focus, it only means evasion is about denying conceptual content.

Consider a mental state that isn't conceptual at all. I can focus on the flavor of ice cream as I eat it, the experience of it, without focusing on the knowledge that it's ice cream, that it will melt, that it was $2, etc. There's nothing to exactly evade about an experience, but the richness of my taste experience is impacted by my degree of focus onto the experience. Having the experience is not volitional, but it does take volition to gain information from the experience. That degree of focus takes volition, and I'm saying most animals possess that ability because they have mental states which receive attention.

From there, it's a special science question about which animals demonstrate having mental states. The fact is that most animals do, in fact, demonstrate having and using mental states. Watching any well-trained dog should be able to show that dogs do more than respond to noises or stimuli. If not, there are studies on dog cognition.

To be clear, I am disputing the last sentence in the quote that seems to say other animals are guided by undirected sensory-perceptual mechanisms or associations. At the same time, I accept that any entity that lacks the ability to focus operates by associations and undirectedness at best (as in modern day computers).

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Man's ability to rearrange himself?

---

When a bird builds a nest, it does so because it's a bird and birds have the built-in knowledge of how to rearrange nature in order to build a nest. That knowledge itself, however, is beyond the bird's control. When a lion learns (in a primitive sense of 'learning') to eat men, while we would be right to destroy it, we don't blame it because it never could've known about that knowledge (let alone direct it).

All entities cause their actions, but man is an entity which can act on itself; to be the cause of its own nature.

---

That's the way I've been using it.

Many animals have the ability to rearrange aspects of nature. Man has the ability to rearrange aspects of nature. This doesn't give rise to the need for the concept of volition.

 

Man can act on himself to be the cause of his own nature. - this is lacking precision. If you are trying to identify man's nature as standing out as a volitional being, this reads: The nature of man is that he is the cause of his own nature. "Nature is the metaphysically given—i.e., the nature of nature is outside the power of any volition."

 

The Ayn Rand Letter

Vol. II, No. 12  March 12, 1973

The Metaphysical Versus The Man-Made

 

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Eiuol,

I agree with you that volition is not the demarcation between Man and other animals.  My position, briefly restated, is that Man evolved to carry heavy objects over long distances -- and developed a mind that would allow him to figure out how to do so.  In doing so, he developed two (2) self-images (loaded down and hands-free).  His ability to volitionally switch between self-images, not only greatly increased options available to him in solving problems, but is also the source of self-awareness, which is uniquely human.  For lack of a better term, this could be called imagination.

 

What is it that you think sets Man apart from other animals?  Is it a degree of difference?  Or is it some other mechanism unique to Man's mind?

Edited by New Buddha
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Aside from reason being the means of survival or having the capacity for conceptual awareness, I'd say the key difference is creative ability. The ability to create something genuinely new. A beaver making a dam, a bird building a nest, or a dog guiding the blind is only able to rearrange and manipulate what's in front of them. Compare building a skyscraper to building a beaver dam - the skyscraper requires moving beyond the domain of rearranging sticks. A beaver has enough representational capacity to make shelters, but it will never be able to expand its representational capacity to new domains of thought. That's similar to how many animals have a capacity to represent quantities and enumeration, but is unable to reach a new domain of thought like rational number. Imagination might work as the term, but I prefer creativity.

 

This is a difference of kind, especially since it's a sharp distinction. Some mechanism is responsible for it, but I think it's some representational or memory capacity difference that leads to the capacity to represent concepts that aren't picture-like. I don't attribute it to the need to carry heavy loads - I think it's due to the need to communicate complex actions to do things like carry heavy loads, avoid predators, etc. That would require expanding domains of thought.

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That's similar to how many animals have a capacity to represent quantities and enumeration, but is unable to reach a new domain of thought....

In my post, I would say that the "new domain" is the equivalent of  switching from carrying a heavy load to putting it down.

 

As a thought experiment:  Imagine that you and a friend are hiking to a camp site - each with a backpack weighing around 35 pounds.  The two of you stumble down a ravine, cross a stream, and then approach a 6 foot incline.  You both put down your backpacks.  Your friend boosts you up the 6 foot impediment, then he hands up to you the backpacks, then you reach down your hand and pull him up.

 

Behavior as utterly basic as this is what we would expect of 12 year old Boy Scouts, but, as far as I know, no other animal is capable of solving this problem.  It requires a switching of domains - that is, accessing an available set of Fixed Action Patterns available to you both, once you put your heavy loads down.

 

Edit:  Each Domain (burdened, unburdened) has different FAP's stored in the Basal Ganglia.  If you are unburdened, you could imagine, and thus, mimic the behavior of what it would be like to carry a 35 pound backpack.  Think pantomime.  No other animal mammal  vertibrate can do this.  It requires imagination.

Edited by New Buddha
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To be a little clearer I don't mean just the ability to alternate between domains, but also creating the domains to alternate between. I'd categorize burdened and unburdened as the same domain, because they make use of the same types of concepts or representations. A new domain is more significant, and would be something like being able to think of mechanics abstractly. It might involve thinking about weight in new ways. Boosting people up is not a huge shift itself, but a big shift would be recognizing how weight impacts carrying, and recognizing that felt-weight can be easily altered.  

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..... but a big shift would be recognizing how weight impacts carrying, and recognizing that felt-weight can be easily altered.  

Completely agree.

 

Imagine that you are on a hunting trip with another adult and two 12 year olds.  You kill an Elk.  To carry it back to your car cave, you need to divide the weight of the meat -- but you don't divide it equally.  You need to understand that you and the other adult can carry more than the two 12 year olds, so you divide the weight in un-equal amounts, relative to what each person can manage.  If you divided it equally, the two children would slow you all down and you would not arrive until after dark.   This would increase the time it takes to get back to your car.  Also, you might need to make detours around hills and streams, due to your burdens which requires you to evaluate Work Expended vs. Time relative to Value.  Are the amount of calories worth the expended effort, especially if it means that you won't get back to your car until after the sun has set?

 

Evolving to exploit the niche of carrying heavy loads over long distances entails concepts such as Work, time, division (arithmetic), cooperative behavior, value, property, ownership, etc.

 

This is economics, math, physics, ethics, etc.

 

Regarding the backback problem.  One person is 6'-4" and the other is 5'-2".  Who should be boosted up?

Edited by New Buddha
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You bolded a word, and underlined a few passages. Can you clarify this a bit more specifically?

I plan on following up on this with a more technical, neuroscientific, response, but here is a more analogical/metaphorical/poetical one.

 

Here are 18 Causal Agents ,each an end-within-himself, following ridiculously simple lines of music.  But, because of the utter tonality and vertical harmony - and your mind's constant search for meaningful patterns in the environment - you constantly switch from one line to another.

 

The call of one line is answered by another.  Which line is the "answer", is dependent on your attentive involvement.  You can never listen to this composition the same way twice.  Each time that you listen is different, because of the complexity of the patterns and the interplay of your thalamcortical and neocortical systems.

 

Edit: I've owned a copy of this since 1987, and it never gets old unlike (cough) Rach's 2nd.

Edited by New Buddha
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