Over the ages,humankind has made many discoveries, both internal and external (meaning both from within our bodies and out into the far reaches of the Universe). We have compiled vast amounts of information on the universe within and beyond our bodies through observation, interaction and measurement; we have gained deep personal and social insights through introspection and participation. All of this recorded information eventually accreted into various bodies of knowledge known as the arts and sciences, while spiritualities manifest themselves through existence per se.
Now, after years of expansion, it is time to draw it all together again. This is exactly what I propose we do. The ultimate goal is the creation of the theory of everything (for starters, see stuff like Smolin 2001, Penrose 1997, Crick 1994, Rees 1997, Layzer 1990, Greene 1999, and Goswami 1993). "The theory of everything?!", you ask. Yes. Ideally, it will be the perfect combination and distillation of all the known sciences together with the intrinsic value of all the known arts and spirituality. The gestalt of all human information and knowledge.
Absolutely anyone and everyone is qualified to add to the body of an important precursory theory which I, and others, have recently re-coined humanology. The reason is, that humanology draws upon all of the known arts, psychological-behavioral sciences and spirituality! (Snuggle up to the concept of "inclusivity". Yeah, I know it's not an official word - but it should be!) However, once quantum gravity becomes complete, humanology will probably be consumed by it! And thereafter, the TOE will ultimately consist of a synthesis of quantum gravity and human concerns like consciousness, creativity and spirituality.
If you are human, you can add to humanology, since one very effective way of exploring humanity is through the observation of and participation with, the existent. As I write about humanology, I will be attempting to combine all of the psychological and behavioral theories written to date. Two important ingredients of humanology are the arts and spirituality which our human existence has given rise to. [Author Note: April, 2020 edit: I'm putting humanology on the back burner, so to speak. I'm not very interested in writing about it at the moment. It's like spending a lot of time on old chapter 3, while chapter 17 is ready to start!]
The Mind's Eye
My writing policy ... and other stuff
How is itthat every person has a different take, or perspective, on the same event? Why does one person look at a painting by Picasso and call it garbage, while another is willing to spend millions of dollars just to own it? Part of the answer lies in what behaviorists call "the black box", commonly known as the mind. The mind has been called the black box because it can not be objectively studied; any influence it has on behavior is not (yet) directly observable. A second part of the answer lies in what is known as emotion. Emotions are still another tricky subject. They can not be fully shared between observers, nor is an emotion even able to be completely replicated in the same person. Of course one will feel "happy" again and again, but the absolute phenomenology is different due to changes in the environment, the passage of time and all subsequent additions to the memcons.
As we experience events, we pay attention only to certain aspects, or qualities (Pepper, 1942, pages 151+) of the environment. For instance, that scraggly-looking plant over there completely disappears as you notice a truck jump the curb and come barrelling down your sidewalk! In other words, we filter out what we do not perceive as important, while taking in what we perceive to be more important for our present needs, the anticipations of future functioning and one's general sense of self, contributing in turn to a reinforcing of the person's conceptual continuity. To attack this problem of "attention filters" and illustrate how past memories might effect current human consciousness, we can look to the workings of the vertebrate eye for an analogy.
The image from the human retina is able to be broken down into roughly 126 million data points (Kalat, 1981). In the same way, the human preconscious can be simultaneously aware of lots of information, but consciousness would be swamped if it tried to process it all at the same time. What the human eye does then, is to send the 126 million bits of light information further up into the system where it is perceived (shaped) into more recognizable patterns. Now they can start to be made better sense of. [Author/Subject Note: C'mon now, people. A 1981 source estimates 126 million rods and cones; a 1994 source claims 130 million! I'm waiting for that 2035 source which will report a large and jagged number after the author claims to have actually counted them all using a powerful, computerized microscope!]
"Lateral inhibition" is one of the first steps in helping the brain to summarize the data from the millions of receptor cells located in the retina (Carlson, 1994). This process takes place in the eye and helps us perceive edges. In doing so, we can begin to separate out individual objects for further processing (Kalat, 1981).
To begin with, light stimulates the visual receptor cells (rods and cones) located in the back of the eye. They in turn excite bipolar and horizontal cells (actually, the rods and cones affect the bipolar cells, while the bipolar cells then affect the horizontal cells). The intensity of the energy, in this example light, regulates the firing rates of the energy receiving cells. (All of the "sensory energies" in fact, have this effect on their custom-evolved sensory organ -- environmental intensity increases neuronal firing frequency.) The actions of bipolar and horizontal cells (for simplicity, let's refer to these collectively as "second level" neurons, the first level being the rods and cones), then work to inhibit the firing of the stimulated first level receptor cells! This in turn decreases the first level firing rates, and consequently the intensity of some of the light points as eventually perceived by the brain (Kalat, 1981). Confused?
However, the first level neurons associated with the darker sides of edges do not increase their firing rates. The second level neurons are thus inhibited only on the side of the stimulated receptor cells - the ones that are receiving more light energy. The second level cells that are not being inhibited on both sides report the surface as being even brighter. Consequently, we perceive the lighter sides of edges as slightly brighter than the rest of the lighted surface (Kalat, 1981). Go ahead, look; it's a cool effect. I'll wait....
Returning to my analogy, in the same sense that some neuronal actions inhibit the actions of other neurons, the anticipation of discomfort (say, by the activation of entropic association neurons in places like the thalamus, neocortex or hippocampus, in response to environmental perceptions), could perhaps inhibit -- or repress -- particular memcons or association bits and branches from reaching conscious awareness. Alternatively, the actions of these cells could inject just enough of an electrochemical bias to actually change the memcon, thereby making the memory or memories less anxiety-provoking, as in re-framing and working through. It follows that, anticipations of pleasure will excite protropic memcons to feed into one's hopes, improve techniques, become more considerate of others and in general, make for a more pleasurable conscious experience for all.
Sidedish: Implications for mental health workers include...
The Flame Analogy
Those of youwho are already familiar with psychological theories of behavior will have more references in your memory constructures (memcons, for brevity), to relate this to:
Since no one has yet succeeded in specifying the specific antecedents of our behavior on the electro-magnetic-biochemical-spiritual level, humanology remains strewn with analogies. The problem with analogies, is that they are based on a similarity to the subject at hand, and not the subject itself. [Author Note: Stephen C. Pepper handles the topic of analogies well in his 1942 publication, World Hypotheses: A study in evidence; a challenging book I highly recommend reading.]
To understand reality, we often start by comparing things to the way other similar things work. Perhaps the Wright brothers spent a lot of time watching birds in flight, getting a sense of air dynamics before beginning their designs. To understand the gestalt of the human body-mind-spirit (bind it), we can consider all four of Pepper's (1942) global analogies (formism, mechanism, contextualism and organicism), to find support for this proposed "flame analogy" of behavior.
More on this topic to come later.
* ABRUPT CHANGE OF DIRECTION *
The Flame Analogy, Continued:
Fire is a chemical reaction; human behavior (a collection of countless, organized chemical reactions) can be seen as "caustic" on the environment as the person succeeds in doing what it wants to do, rearranging things to better suit his or her needs. Our behavior towards our environment is often, like fire, irreversible. Just look at a strip-mined hillside sometime - after the fact.
Looking into a person's eyes as well as observing his or her facial expression(s), can be seen as observing the physical representation of the physical burning of the fire within, privately experienced as mood and emotion. ("The fire within" being a gestalt of all the cells which add up to make you the person; the countless electrochemical reactions occurring together and in tandem.) When facial muscles twitch and move, sending an expression or emotion over the face, it represents the flame burning, varying in intensity and position. A steady expression is like the flame burning at a constant rate and in the same orientation. Then, the internal flame may dim or intensify, select a different fuel mixture to burn, change shape, color, the direction of its orientation - or all, displaying yet another emotion felt.
It's not just the face and eyes which correspond to a burning existence in this flame analogy; the entire body is like some incredibly complex, individual welding furnace walking around! Our skin holds us together in individually-shaped bundles, as the fireous heat inside travels around in a functionally organized network of pathways, ducts, intersections, mergings, etc, much like our veins, tendons, bones, joints and such do - creating and organizing the internal structure. [Author Note: ...and yes, you're right by the way. There is no word, "fireous" ...officially!]
Furthermore, we see the establishing of certain frequent mixture capabilities (ie, to assist living in a particular culture, or preparing to manifest specific emotions a lot, like calmness), or other such functional structures will occur, represented by things like the learning and use of the local language, which slowly forms and firms up during maturation. The experiencing I then directs the application of its energy to the environment.
This also happens over time, signifying the burning up and replenishment of resources in order to do so. Jeans (1929) already states an estimate of the amount of mass the sun "converts" in a day. It is not so far-fetched to consider how many calories a person burns in a day, while heading toward the ultimate burnout! But alas, we are not stars; we must replenish our energy regularly, while a star can burn for billions of years with just its original mass of existance. (That is, assuming it isn't a former binary partner which has completely consumed its companion over time.)
Now let's contemplate the theory of modern plate tectonics, something most geologists believe in today. When Earth was in its infancy, it was just a ball of molten rock exposed to the cold of space. Inside, the new planet was very hot and viscous; massive, radiant convection currents were present, moving molten material from deep inside to the outer surface, allowing it to cool slightly, only to sink back down again. On the surface it was still mostly molten rock moving around in response to the currents below. Over eons of time, though, as the planetary mass cooled off, the very outer layer transformed into a solid crust, encasing and now slightly insulating the planet's hot interior from the cold of space, growing thicker as Earth continues to cool. Earth's cooling off rate may slow a little now, beneath a gradually thickening crust. This crustal material slows its movement little by little as it cools and becomes thicker, due to increasing friction with the still molten material beneath. As the crust is forming, becoming more substantial, it behaves on the surface much like the ice floats do on a near-frozen river. They flow with the current, bumping and gathering together into bigger floats.
The planet will continue to have "active geology" for as long as the interior can maintain energetic phenomena such as geo-thermal pools and earthquakes. Eventually, our planet will become "dead"; having cooled off completely, leaving little to no internal heat anymore. At this point, there's little energy left for shifting around large slabs of the planet! That's of course assuming we don't first get obliterated by some massive cosmic projectile (ie, Desonie, 1996) before the human race can run its course; or the sun swells into a red giant, encompassing Earth's orbit!
Now let's consider the earthquakes associated with plate tectonics. The subduction movement of the crustal plates (ie, the Pacific's "ring of fire"), combined with the creation of new crust elsewhere (ie, the mid-Atlantic ridge), represents the burning planet continuing to cool off via convection currents, with the plates riding on their backs, so to speak. As the crust gets thicker, earthquakes might become less frequent but more intense, as geothermal phenomena recede deeper into the planetary mass, until the very core runs out of heat.
On top of all that, the appearance of plants and animals represents yet another level of emergent planetary surface burning - to cool off over time. The ongoing parade of plant genera and animal species we observe today is just the flame continuing to burn on, consuming different fuels as time moves forward. It also replenishes the Earth with energy for after-burning, as in the production of fossil fuels or trees for forest fires. Mass into energy.
Ideas on Cosmology
What is the universeand why is it here? Quite a pondering, isn't it? Perhaps the universe is just another manifestation of everything we already know. Just as the laws of physics work the same everywhere, perhaps bio-systemic functions the universe over are standard, too. That doesn't mean that we all share the same basic form, as in the Star Trek universe, but rather that all animated life forms will develop some system of food intake, coupled with digestive and waste elimination capabiliets. On top of that, some form of lung or gill appears in order to process some gas or liquid to support a respiratory system, etc.
Cosmology is fun; it's one of the last "scientific fields of study" still readily open to the amateur.... It seems that the basis of all existence is the cyclic conversion of matter into energy and back into matter in one way or another. Take the big bang theory, for example. How is this seen as turning matter into energy? To answer that, I would like to propose a silly-sounding analogy to describe what the universe is up to: Just as an inchworm raises up its front half, lurches forward, lands and catches up with itself, so too does the universe. It starts out as a point of infinite energy and explodes "outward", almost immediately creating matter. Matter manifests in reality once the infinite energy dispels enough and falls below a threshold pressure-temperature, becoming matter. This all happens along the continuŁm of solidity. [Subject Note: Such a concentration of energy is considered "infinite" only in the sense that it's way off any measurment scale we humans have come up with yet.] One of two possible outcomes now reveals itself.
Either the blast force reaches the "escape velocity" for that specific amount of matter-energy, and the universe continues to grow ever larger, slower and colder; or the matter acts more alive and purposeful, allowing gravity to eventually re-compress it into what's being called "the big crunch". Far away from where it started out, all known existance recombines into yet another energetic blast for yet another journey of the eons. I personally vote for the big crunch theory. It at least explains why the further galaxies are moving away faster than the closer ones are. Imagine an unimaginably large area. The universe as we know it is inside this huge area and is falling down to a big crunch, in its spacetime. The laws of physics tell us that a falling object picks up speed as it travels toward the source of gravity. So, maybe the universe as we know it, is just some immense Slinky toy traveling down someone's stairs!
Is it not at least conceivable, that an entire galaxy can act as an atom or neuron for something else? It's possible to encode endless information in a galaxy using star number, size, position, wave frequencies (color/spectrum), intensity, and perhaps even other expressions we are as yet unaware of. Consider something like the Ishihara Test for color vision deficiency (that's the current PC term for the condition formerly known as "color blindness"). Maybe if we were able to back up far enough, the stars, galaxies, etc, would fall into more discernable patterns or shapes. That leads right into the observed existance of what's being called structural "filaments" of the universe, consisting of countless galaxies and huge voids. Might these voids not resemble bronchial sacks or some other anatomical structure for some enormous beast??? The more we learn about the Universe, the bigger it gets!
So just how big is our universe? All things considered....well, every macrocosm has its microcosm, and vice-versa - infinitely in both size directions. Every existant Universe fits simultaneously into a macrocosm and supports a microcosm. A galaxy can then indeed act as an atom or neuron for something else that is huge. It's so relatively small that its high temperature turns out to be insignificant to the macrocosm inhabitants.
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