Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Kasimir Malewich's Black Square

Exploring consciousness through anti-representationalism. No, we are not connected to a world of things through our bodies. Our connection is much more fragile: a gossamer network (of nerves, says the best theory we have) that admits a few bits of information at a time is all we have to make do with. Meaning is what we construct in our minds, not what we find in the world.

Ana Zhdanova: Чёрный квадрат

Friday, September 19, 2014

Don't be that Reptile

The parts of our brains that are responsible for the majority of our decisions tie into our most basic desires and impulses predate our history as primates, or even mammals. You may be familiar with the idea of the "triune brain" (McLean 1990), which suggests that we inherit physiological and territorial drives from reptiles, social behavior (along with the limbic system, that implements it) from early mammals, and cognitive strategies from higher mammals. Such a strict division is too simplistic, of course, but makes for a beautiful metaphor.

Indeed, I believe that we are controlled by three classes of drives: physiological ones (hunger, thirst, pain avoidance, libido etc.), social ones (affiliation, internal legitimacy, romantic affection), and cognitive drives (competence, uncertainty reduction, and aesthetics). All goal-directed behavior is directed upon the satisfaction of one (sometimes more) of these drives, or the avoidance of their frustration. Satisfying a drive creates pleasure, frustration a displeasure signal, and these are responsible for learning.
This happens mostly intuitively: the decision function is implemented outside the consciously accessible parts of our minds. It evaluates the relative strength of the urges, combines them with the expectancy of fulfilling them, adds a bonus threshold on the currently active motive, and there we go.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Brief note on today's screening of “Rising Tide of Silence”

Thank you, fellow attendants, for a brief discussion after the movie. I want to hold on to a few reflections.

From today's meditation, at the beginning of an extensive planning session (with my beloved friend, D)

(Fig 1.: mental state at the beginning of the session)

If you want to, open your hands to the sky, to open yourself for reception. Or turn your palms down, to ground yourself.
Since you choose to open one upwards and one downwards, open the left one: that is the receptive side; the right one represents the giving principle.