Newsletters: Volume 1 No. 3
System Within an Information System:
A new millennium is upon us, and yet, if we're honest, the oldest of questions is still dawning at the outer edges of consciousness: Who am I? If form and function are the same, then being human means being self conscious. The single most important differentiator between humanness and the balance of the animal kingdom is in our unique self aware, self conscious, thinking faculties. It is precisely this self awareness that leads to the inevitable question: "Who am I?"
Since the "I" aspect of our question is born from the seemingly circular fact that "I am" self aware, perhaps a fruitful method by which one could begin an answer is most likely to be discovered in rephrasing the question and stating it this way: "What is self awareness?"
Self awareness is much more than what is typically meant by being conscious.. Indeed, the entire discussion with regard to consciousness quickly collapses into various sub-parts, none of which alone represent the whole, nor do any of them meaningfully impart more than the essence of some mysterious "ghost in the machine" underlying what one means by consciousness; but then, for those of you who have followed my work and writing, this is an old discussion. (If you're not one of those, and/or you would like to refresh this discussion, go to http://www.innertalk.com/eldon/article2.html or http://www.innertalk.com/eldon/article1.html.
What then is self awareness, and/or, what is it not to be self aware? We think of self awareness as having certain "properties" such as reflectivity, the capacity to be forward thinking/planning, possessing an idea of self in terms of past, present, future and potential, with contemplative capabilities and some inner self control.
Self aware--we all know what that means, don't we? For fun and information, I have stopped people on the street. I've actually asked, "Are you self aware?" Eliminating the smart remarks, the answer is typically, "I'm aware of myself, I know who I am, is that what you mean?" I don't answer the question, rather I ask for more, "Please explain, elaborate a little for me." The general response can be paraphrased like this, "Well, I know my name, I know where I was born, I know my family, I remember going to school, I know where I work, what kind of car I own, where I live and so forth." Is that what we mean when we talk about self awareness?
What is the role of memory on self awareness? What if tomorrow I awoke and had no memory of myself? A sort of imagined amnesia where I knew everything I now know with the exception of who I am or how I know what I seem to know--who would I be? One could fairly say that even with this imagined amnesia, I would still be self aware for I would be aware that I knew not who I was or where I came from. I suppose that's fair, but isn't it just as fair to note that this response itself is question begging? In other words, if I don't know who I am, but I'm aware that I do not possess this knowledge, then I'm self aware just as I would be if I actually knew who I was.
Multiple personality patients often switch personalities as fast as one can snap their fingers. In one personality, there may be no knowledge of the other(s) while in say a second, there is knowledge of the others. Does this suggest a sort of relative self awareness? Is the personality that knows of any and all other personalities more self aware than the personality blind to all others?
A change in personality can often also produce dramatic differences in physiology. It's not uncommon for one personality to be allergic to something that none of the others have the same allergy for, but it's also not uncommon for things like blood sugar chemistry to change with a personality shift. Indeed, even the so-called impossible can change and has been witnessed to do so--an eye color change between personalities!
There is at least one constant going on with a multiple personality disordered patient, and that is their memory within the confines of each personality. In other words, there is a consistent memory of self, a sort of self awareness, that sets each personality apart.
Is there a difference between memory and belief? If I believe that I know who I am, then that is who I am; is it not? Our beliefs and memories are so intertwined that it is impossible to sort them completely. Indeed, if our beliefs were not so anchored in our self identity, self awareness, self description, then our memories would reveal an inconsistent self. Oh- that's not acceptable! All of us tend to need a sense of consistency with regard to at least feeling comfortable with who we are.
So then, what is self awareness? Is it a commodity? Can it be metered out a little at a time? Is it more than 20-20 hind sight on what we've done, where we've been, what we believe, and so forth? Is it more than a memory?
I think of self awareness, not as a thing, but as a process. In fact, arguably it is more like a state of mind that is dynamically redefining itself as it experiences itself. Near death experiences and other such life changing events would tend to illustrate the "redefining itself as it experiences itself" proposition.
What if self awareness as a process participates in a larger process and all awareness is linked, at least in some small way. After all, we now have some good evidence and new scientific theories that have suggested a sort of morphogenic field (M-field) as well as demonstrated cell memories. That is, we have good empirical data that illustrates how concentrated thought pattern can accumulate in an area creating a sort of mind field. Rupert Sheldrake's work has shown how dedicating a given classroom to teaching Morse Code leads to easier learning and better grades with each successive group that studies Morse Code in that dedicated room.
We also have an entire collection of emerging data that shows a cell consciousness of sorts that at least is responsive to other cells of the body and "remembers" the activity and emotions of the person from which the cell originated. Bruce Lipton's work with "Liquid Crystal Consciousness," as he terms it, clearly demonstrates the cell connectivity. Lipton and his colleagues have removed cells and taken them as far as five miles away from the host organ, traumatized the cells with something like electrical shock, and repeatedly observed the host organ respond as though it had received the shock treatment. Additionally, many organ recipients are sharing their experiences. It's not uncommon for the memories of the donor to accompany the donated organ. The recipient typically begins to have some reverie or dream in which certain information surfaces. On many occasions this information has been verified as valid donor memory and experiences.
Is it a far stretch to think of atoms as possessing some memory? If cells have memory, than why not their atomic structure? Now, is the so-called memory in the thing (atom or cell nucleus, etc.) or a field somehow encoded in the spin or charge or something yet unknown?
Is it really a far stretch now to think of mind as a participant in a larger field of mind and awareness as a process exchanging information with and from the larger information field? Personally, I think not. Indeed, I believe that the time will come when we learn how encoded information is stored and transmitted in the universe. Therefore, I don't think this article is either science fiction or a departure to abstract philosophies.
One of the exciting adventures in science is the discovery of coherent theories. The idea of mind within mind is not new, but the legitimate exploration of the idea within modern science is recent. The grandest theories of science are not those built axiom to axiom, like bricks in a house, but rather those which are coherent. A coherent theory is one which provides universal explanations for matters not otherwise explained while giving rise to predictive power that bears witness, if you will, to the validity of the theory. One could argue that all first principles are coherent theories. It has already been well established by philosophers and scientists that first principles are inherently unprovable. So, we have a first principle, say the big bang theory, and we cannot prove the theory to be true. Still, we could prove it to be untrue, at least theoretically. What makes the big bang so grand is both its coherence and predictability. It suggests, for example, an expanding universe. When we test this prediction, that's what we find.
Okay, let's take a coherent theory that I'll call "Information Transceivers within an Information Field hypothesis," or IT/IF for short. IT/IF suggests that our minds are transceivers within a larger information field. Thus, one could predict that minds would exchange information, communicate at a distance, without direct connection (phone, modem, etc.). Further, we could explain many so-called anomalies that go conventionally either ignored or discredited, such as, pre-cognition, remote viewing, and a host of other common experiences.
It's not uncommon for me to sense my plants talking to me. They need water or--. Many people report this type of event (feeling). It's not uncommon for people to have an intuition, or experience a synchronistic event, or to be visited by serendipity. Indeed, there are so many regular experiences that most humans have that are adequately explained by our IT/IF hypothesis, that it's a wonder in many ways that we live ignorant to ourselves, blindfolded by some refusal to accept such a grander theory of life.
IT/IF would predict that the human condition was hardwired in such a way to be sensitive to the information field. In other words, most people would experience something in their lives that could only be explained by positing an outside the self information base, be it field, intelligence or what have you. Further, the information processing system in the human would include at least a sensory gathering mechanism and nervous system organization capable of processing information that generally goes unattended by the conscious mind (e.g. We know something but we don't know how we know it, or we're predisposed without awareness to the predisposition, etc.). Much of the new neurological research would support this. For example, in a recently reported study, Phillip S. Wong demonstrated that our minds track danger unconsciously. By pairing subliminal information cues with mild electric shock, Wong demonstrated not only classical conditioning effects, but the presence of the "expectancy wave." Traditionally the expectancy wave, a brain wave pattern also referred to as slow-wave brain activity, was thought to arise only when conscious anticipation or expectancy was present.. Wong's work demonstrates the unconscious elicitation of the expectancy wave, suggesting that not only is the nervous system wired to handle information unconsciously registered, but to use Wong's words, "Some kind of unconscious signal function in the brain for anticipating situations must be a central feature of any comprehensive model of mind." (Science News, Vol. 156, page 372).
Well, to whet an appetite is about all that can be accomplished in a newsletter of this sort. (At the end of this newsletter many links leading to further exploration with this subject are included). If our self awareness is subject to some transceiver metaphor, doesn't it make sense to watch the channel selection? Perhaps I'm just an optimist, but I'd like to think that we have some choice over the stations we receive. I would like to think that my own personal IT is selective about the IF. What do you think?
For me, who I am continues to be dynamic. I choose every day to improve in some way. I choose to continue to learn and experience. I choose to believe in myself and my abilities and not to let age, background, inexperience, or any other factor disable my best efforts at living in a process of being all that I can be.
My business is about helping you believe in yourself. We all at InnerTalk wish you the very best of everything in the New Millennium! Thank you and enjoy!
For further information, try these links:
Interdisciplinary journal on consciousness research: http://psyche.cs.monash.edu.au/
Association for the Scientific
Study of Consciousness:
David Chalmers on mind and
metaphysics and more--highly recommended:
Consciousness and Neuroscience:
Paranormal research: http://www.rhine.org/
Interactions between organisms and their environment: http://moebius.psy.ed.ac.uk/
Cognitive Sciences Laboratory
Parapsychology Foundation: http://www.parapsychology.org/
The Institute of Noetic Sciences: http://www.noetic.org/
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