knowledge is the eternal process of testing theories
II. The demand for certainty is always greater than the supply of evidence.
Homeostatic process is the distributed organizing principal of every individual system. It is the source of biologic value in successive emergent processes and is expressed as emotion physiologically, as instinct sub-consciously, and as feeling consciously.
1. primary consciousness
2. extended consciousness
tool use bi-lateralized cerebral hemisphere functions
syntax of tool use bootstrapped vocalizations into language
“off-loop” oscillation between connotative and denotative functions results in recursive short term memory and the perception of time and self
sub-conscious and conscious expression
3. personal narrative as mediator of epistemic uncertainty
syntax of tool use bootstraps language into politics, religion and social organization
mechanism of social adaptation
A unitary theory of mind/brain has to conform to the whole context in which the mind/brain evolved, developed and functions. The design of consciousness serves the function of the body and the body serves the function of the species. The function of the species is self preservation and reproduction within the parameters of homeostasis possible in the environment. So species adapt to environmental conditions and individuals seek homeostasis with the adaptations acquired by evolutionary selection. Consciousness serves the individual by providing semantic modeling refined by environmental feedback and prioritized by homeostasis to guide and adapt the individual to changing environmental and social conditions. Evolution is the process, homeostasis is the organizing principal, genetic, neural, cognitive and linguistic information is the medium.
Now everyone who chooses to work for a living in the developed world is learning, with the help of IT like Apple, that prolonged high unemployment means that their life is being devalued whether they are lucky to have a job or not. And while that also means that millions of people in undeveloped countries now dream of eating meat and driving a car for the first time, they also realize that in a global economy those benefits can vanish as fast as they appeared if they do not work long hours without benefits.
Workers in a globalized economy are expendable. People who work for a living are being devalued, whether they have a job or not and whether they live in a developed country or not. And the governments who represent those people have been bought off by the 1% and refuse to see the problem. That is what Occupy is about.
A homeostatic system is the biological thermostat that seeks to maintain the equilibrium of hundreds of interacting parameters such as body temperature, blood sugar, blood pressure etc. The collective expression of all of our homeostatic systems, all of those floating set points reacting and adjusting to each other, constitutes emotion. A common zen metaphor for consciousness is a body of water. Emotion is the surface, the collective expression of homeostatic processes in search of equilibrium.
The evolutionary purpose of emotion in this model is to focus our consciousness on those variables in our environment that are vital to our survival. The waves and troughs of homeostatic imbalance trigger the formation of long chain neurological processes that associate body states, sensory stimuli and the memories of previous homeostatic imbalances to initiate engagement in the environment and to form new memories that connect need with action and reward. Emotion helps us separate and memorize adaptive knowledge from the ocean of everyday experience.
So emotion could be seen as a meta-level assessment of our ecological status as an individual and as a species because our individual emotions are also unconsciously informed by the sensory input of others and the homeostatic expressions of social movements.
Reason is the means to socialize that emotional knowledge. We like to think think that rationality is built on the premises of shared facts but individually we base our reason on a foundation of deeply felt memories. Discourse then becomes the mediation of those memories into culture.
So the contentious debate about whether we are broke or competitive or growing or shrinking is the social mediation of our emotional assessment of whether we need to hunker down in hostile protection of what we have or open ourselves to the risk and reward of cooperative endeavors. Is economic growth still possible or do we need to make a conceptual shift about our limits in order to enable cooperation within a zero-sum game?
Global supply chains turn nations into specialized units in the chain so whole sectors of a nations economy are decimated in the interest of global efficiency but the result is that nations become less self-sufficient and more dependent on globally supplied commodities and services.
So nation states have less control over their economies, are less able to generate dependable revenues and less able to provide basic services to their citizens.
But the externalities of doing business - pollution, infrastructure, social disruption and resource depletion - are only externalities within the economies of nation states subject to global arbitrage. In a globalized economy there are no externalities, only delayed costs. And now we are all beginning to pay for those costs.
Markets mediate the uncertainty of survival and governments mediate the uncertainty of markets. The uncertainties of competition in the market motivates individuals to create efficiencies and innovations in order to enjoy the greater certainties of wealth. Government regulates the market to insure competition where it works to create opportunities and replaces the market where it restricts opportunities and exploits inequalities.
So the uncertainty of competition is both the bull that drives the economy and the bear that everyone seeks shelter from. Government has to both enable and disable the uncertainty of competition for the greater good.
Those on the left seek shelter from uncertainty in public sector employment, labor unions and government programs that provide a safety net where markets fail as in education and health care. Those on the right seek shelter from uncertainty in government contracts, government regulations that protect businesses from competition and public funding of the externalities of business which includes the costs of infrastructure, pollution and periodic market failures of the financial system.
Neither side wants to pay for the other side’s protection racket. Both sides have to be kept in check and both are prone to their own particular kind of corruption.
But when multinational corporations cooperate to pit one country against another to create a regulation free global business environment then those corporations have the upper hand and that only creates certainties for a tiny minority at the top and cascading waves of uncertainty and disruption for everybody else.
Those are two interconnected sets of certainties, our physical limitations within our environment and a cultural set of shared symbols and values. Our language and shared beliefs help us mediate the uncertainties of our physical existence. Those beliefs are embedded in a personal narrative.
If you were to closely observed someone throughout one day you would find that they acted in ways that reflected a broad range of beliefs. Survival requires adaptability, sometimes we need to be absolutists (to respond to challenges that threaten our welbeing) and sometimes we need to be relativists (to understand the challenges in order to learn from them). However if you asked that person to explain their actions throughout the day you would probably find that they defined their behavior in a narrow singular sense. We like to have a narrative that we can wrap all of the uncertainties of the world—and perhaps more importantly, the uncertainties of ourselves—into a compelling story.
The emotional context of our experience may determine the narrative of how we mediate the unknown. If we feel our past was chaotic then we seek absolute explanations of problems and solutions. If we feel our past was restricted we resist singular deterministic explanations. We all use absolute and relative judgements but explain those judgements in partisan terms to maintain our consistency.
Our narratives do determine many of our decisions but they do not limit our choices. The danger lies when our narrative overrules our intuition, when absolutists impose their judgements upon everyone else and relativists refuse to judge themselves.