The sense faculty
Let me now take a term from Scholasticism which refers to what we have been talking about, but which means something a bit different.
An immaterial act is an act which is in itself spiritual, but cannot act unless it also "reduplicates" itself as a form of energy or system of energies.
The difference between this and a spiritual act is that a spiritual act is totally free of quantity, in the sense that, even if it does "reduplicate" itself in this way, it need not do that in order to be able to act. In other words, a spiritual act can act without any quantity at all. For instance, Gabriel--supposing there are such things as angels--could, presumably, limit himself quantitatively (in order to be a real body when he appeared to Mary, for instance); but in general, he would not be doing such a thing and would simply be acting spiritually.
The human soul, as I will try to prove later, performs an act which is spiritual and doesn't have an energy-"dimension" to it at all; and hence it can act without "reduplicating" itself as energy; but it naturally does so anyway. This is a little different from the situation of an angel who would decide to do so. But since the human soul is capable of acting in a spiritual and not immaterial way (even though in other acts which belong to its nature, it acts in an immaterial way), then it deserves the name "spiritual" and not "immaterial." "Immaterial" only applies to those acts which by their nature must "reduplicate" themselves as energy.
The Scholastics, who gave me the term, used it to refer to the "semi-spirituality" of sensation and of the souls of non-intellectual animals: to what I refer to by the same term. But what they meant by it was an act which didn't actually have matter (which, remember, seems in one sense to refer to the quantity of the unifying energy and in another to the material the body is made up of) in that when you see a rock, there isn't a rock in your head--but which are "bound by the conditions of matter," such as individuality and location in space and time. An act for them is spiritual if it is not (a) individual but universal, as "dog" does not refer to any individual dog, and (b) not localizable, as "dog" is not here or now as such; it is the individual which exists at some time or place.
There were, of course individual spiritual acts for the Scholastics, like God and the spirits; but in the case of the spirits, the individual "exhausts the species," so that Gabriel is all there is to "Gabrielness," and is a different form of activity from Raphael or any other angel (something I would agree with, by the way); and so he is a kind of "universal" and is outside time and place (something I would also agree with, since time and place imply bodies). There is also a distinction they make between "individuation within the species" which matter causes and "individuality" which can depend in a spirit on choices.
At any rate, immaterial acts for the Scholastic "partake" of spirituality, because they aren't actually acts organizing or activating any material; but they also "partake" of materiality, because they deal with the individual and are themselves individual and temporal and have spatial dimensions to them.
The difference in my view is that the form of sense consciousness that is aware of space is not itself spatial, any more than those forms of consciousness that report "twice as loud as" are in fact twice as much as the consciousness of what is half as loud. So the fact that I see a spatial object does not mean that my act of consciousness is not spiritual. Nor does my consciousness of an individual object make my consciousness "individuated" as if it had the conditions of "matter"; because I can know God, who is an individual object, but I must do this with a spiritual act of knowing this object because I can't perceive him sensibly. But the Scholastics would certainly not want to admit that all our knowledge of God has to be abstract and universal, or they rule out what they consider the greatest knowledge of all: the Beatific Vision, which even for them is a direct intellectual "intuition" (a "perception" by the intellect itself) of God.
Hence, the immateriality as opposed to the spirituality of sensation must lie elsewhere. I am not trying to "save" the term, but our investigation has revealed that sensation seems definitely to be both a form of energy and spiritual; and so this "semi-spirituality" connected with sensation must be that it is constrained to "add" this energy-"dimension" (or dimensions) to itself in order to be able to act.
And this is consistent with what we said about life in the first chapter of this part, where it is in control of itself and is not controlled by its quantity. There, if you will recall, we predicted that as you go higher in the scale of living things, you will be forced to conclude that the being is freer and freer of its quantity.
Here, then, we have, not a being which rises above its quantity to a quantity greater than it "should" have, but a being which is in itself not quantified at all--but which is not so free of quantity that it can actually express itself in all its spiritual fullness, and must "add" a quantitative "dimension" to itself in order to be itself. This is what you would expect of the next higher stage of embodied life, if life is what we defined it to be. So the theory hangs together so far.
But why not call the animal spiritual, and say that it doesn't really have to "reduplicate" itself as energy when it acts spiritually?
The answer is that you would be asserting then that it is a higher type of being than an immaterial being; and one should not assume that things are greater if lesser explanations will do the job, as Occam's "Razor" says.
In other words, if you are going to say that a being is spiritual and not immaterial, then you had better be ready to give evidence for this. How would you do so? To show that a being can do a certain thing, you would have to show that at some time it does do so; if it never does such an act, then the presumption is that it never does so because it is incapable of it. Hence, only the beings that we can show do in fact perform an act that has no energy-"dimension" to it can be asserted to be spiritual. So far, no one has been able to show this of any animal except the human one.(1)
Hence, we are able to draw the following conclusion:
Conclusion 8: The faculty of a conscious body that never performs more than an immaterial act must be itself organized with an immaterial act.
That is, on the assumption that animals' consciousness has always the energy-"dimension" of the nerves to it (which assumption there is no solid evidence to challenge), then the faculty of consciousness of the animal is immaterial.
It also follows that the faculty of sense consciousness of human beings is organized immaterially. That is, the act organizing the nervous system and the sense-receptors is not simply a form of energy (because it produces as well the act of consciousness), but (also) is a form of energy (since it organizes a definite part of the body and can turn consciousness on and off).
This would seem to imply that any "faculty" of a spiritual act could not organize parts of the body, because that would give it an energy-"dimension," and make it immaterial, not spiritual. This is to some extent true. A spiritual act could also organize body parts, because what can do more can do less, and it can "reduplicate" itself as energy; but it wouldn't have to do this in order to act--and so you wouldn't expect to find an organ or system for spiritual consciousness. And indeed you don't, in the human being, as we will see later; there is only the pseudo-organ of the spiritual "dimension" of sensation that allows for there being a faculty of spiritual activity. But let that ride for now.
Of course, we can also say this:
Conclusion 9: If a body is conscious but never performs an act that is more than immaterial, it has an immaterial soul.
If it is conscious, the body must be organized with at least an immaterial soul, or it performs acts that are infinitely beyond it. But if it never performs more than an immaterial act, this is in all probability due to the fact that it can't, which means that the soul is at most immaterial.
Let me then make the following definition:
An animal is a living body whose soul is immaterial.
This is different from the traditional definition of the term, and closer to what we mean by it in everyday language. We distinguish "animals" from "people," and think that human beings are in a class by themselves. And we are right, as I will try to show in the next section.
For those who don't subscribe to that common view, then obviously human beings are just the most complex animals we know about, and not different from animals in a way analogous to how animals are different from plants. At best, we would be what Aristotle called "thinking animals." Of course, if we are not essentially and radically different from animals, then we too have nothing but immaterial souls.
Hence, I think the definition above is justified, whether or not you hold that "brute animals" (as the Scholastics call them) are different from and essentially inferior to humans. If you think they are, then it makes no more sense to call humans "animals" with a qualification than it does to call animals "sentient plants"; because animals, after all, have all the vegetative acts that plants do, even if the way they perform these functions is distinctive. And, of course, if you don't hold that humans are different essentially from animals, then all there are are animals, and we are one species among many.
Implied in the immateriality of the soul is, of course, the following:
Conclusion 10: An immaterial soul does not survive the death of the body.
The reason for this is the nature of immateriality as opposed to spirituality. If something is immaterial and not spiritual, then it can't even exercise its spiritual act without its energy-"dimension"; and this would also apply to the soul itself. It can't act, presumably, without also being a form of energy organizing a body; and this means that when the body is not being organized as a unit any more, its soul is no longer active at all, any more than when a salt molecule breaks up into sodium and chlorine, the unifying energy of "saltness" "goes somewhere" into "salt heaven"; or when a tree dies, its soul continues existing in "tree heaven." No, all it means is that when these bodies stop being organized in this way they aren't organized in this way any more. The unifying energy is just the interaction of the parts, after all; and when the parts are no longer interacting, they just aren't interacting; the interaction doesn't "go somewhere."
So there's no "doggie heaven." Your dog is not a soul that's got into a body and is driving it around as if it were a car. Your dog is a body whose parts are interacting in a way that is in itself spiritual but is also and must be the form of energy of the interaction itself; and when the parts stop acting that way, then what that means is that there is no more interaction, not that the interaction "leaves" the body.(2)
There is another reasonable conclusion one can draw about an immaterial soul:
Conclusion 11: An animal does not consciously control its actions; the consciousness is merely an epiphenomenon of the energy-"dimension" of the act.
The reasons for this conclusion are again theoretical and empirical. First, if the conscious aspect of the act were to control the energy-"dimension," it would have to be free of it, because the energy is already controlled by the energy that is throwing it into instability and making the nerve "fire." Secondly, animals give no evidence of being able to concentrate; their attention seems to be drawn by the strongest stimulus or drive operating at the moment, and there doesn't seem to be any case observed where an animal deliberately blocks out distractions in order to pursue some goal which is not emotionally attractive.
The empirical data is once again very tentative, because it deals with a negative, and animals' behavior is open to several interpretations, especially when drives like the hunger drive or the sex drive are operating. Nevertheless, it seems that since the conscious act is intrinsically tied to the energy in the brain, and since the function of this is to allow the animal to react consciously to the world around it (i.e. to allow consciousness to change in response to energy), then the conclusion is, as I say, the most reasonable one.
But this implies that we should not think of the relation between animals' consciousness and behavior by analogy with our own, as if Walt Disney were right. When we act, we act consciously for a motive, even when that motive may be the emotional attraction or repulsion we have toward whatever it is that we are considering. But an animal cannot do this, if the conclusion above is true.
That is, when the sheep sees the wolf and runs away in terror, the sheep runs and is afraid; it does not run in any sense because it is afraid. The fear is just the conscious "dimension" of the "program" of avoidance of that shape of object, and it provides no motivating force for the animal's "choice" at all. The animal does not run because it is afraid any more than a computer programmed to do the same thing would move away because it is afraid. Of course, the computer cannot feel afraid, as we said above; but the fear in the sheep adds nothing to the energy in the sheep's "avoidance program," in the sense that it does not change the energy-"dimension" of itself in any way from what it would have been if the conscious "dimension" were not there.
This is to some extent confirmed by what we sometimes do under great stress, when we engage in very complicated behavior but are not conscious at all of what we are doing. In us, of course, consciousness has a hand in what the behavior will be; and so under extreme stress, as I mentioned earlier, consciousness just shuts down altogether, and the energy in the "program" in question is allowed to operate without its conscious "dimension." So here we have very complex behavior (I mentioned the example of my brother playing baseball unconsciously) without consciousness--and behavior indistinguishable (except that it is apt to be more efficient) from behavior when there is consciousness.
This of itself does not prove that the animal's consciousness has no role in the acts it performs, but it is suggestive that the behavior doesn't need the consciousness in order to act.
If, then, it is true that the consciousness of the animal does not enter into its behavior, why is the animal conscious? Of course, since the behavior would be the same on this hypothesis whether the animal is conscious or not, we must once again raise the issue of whether the animal is conscious at all. But since we are conscious at the sense level (especially in dreams, for instance), and since our organ of consciousness is basically the same as animals', then presumably they have consciousness also.
But I think that there is no need for animals to be conscious; it is just another of those gratuitous gifts living beings have from their Creator. By it the outside world becomes present to the animal--but not as outside and not to the animal as such. That is, it requires thinking and understanding relationships, as we saw in Chapter 4 of Section 5 of the first part, to be able (a) to make the distinction between subject and object, and (b) to recognize the subject as something beyond the actual act of consciousness. Hence, the animal is not aware that (a) it (b) is reacting (c) to something other than itself; the consciousness just is; it doesn't mean anything to the animal, but only to an outside human observer, who can imagine the animal's consciousness and understand what it deals with.
For instance--and this might be the best way to illustrate my point--an animal cannot suffer pain. An animal can feel pain, but it is just a sensation; it itself has no "good" or "bad" connotation for the animal. The only way the pain could be suffered--recognized as "bad"--would be for the animal to compare this sensation with other sensations in the light of what it thinks it "ought" to be feeling. But to it, the pain just happens.
True, in the animal, pain is the sensation that is connected with various avoidance "programs," so that it does tend to avoid situations that it (in fact) associates with pain. But again, this avoidance is not because it associates the situation with pain; it is that the situation has got programmed in as input to the avoidance "program." Thus, when you train your dog not to defecate in the house by slapping its behind with a rolled up newspaper, it isn't the sensation that motivates the dog to go outside to defecate, it is that you have set up a connection between defecating in the house and one of those inputs to be avoided; and this has a certain conscious aspect connected with it.
But when we feel sorry for animals in pain, we are projecting onto them our own attitude toward pain, which is something they don't have. This is not, of course, to say that we should be cruel to animals, for two reasons: First, because the "programs" that have pain for their consciousness indicate that what you would be doing to the animal is in general contrary to its nature; and even if this doesn't imply that the animal has rights, still to violate a nature without a good reason puts you at odds with the world you live in and is not consistent with being yourself. Secondly, since we do share the animals' feelings, then even if the animal can't recognize the pain as bad, the person who is being cruel can, and is enjoying creating the sensation in another being which he himself would hate if someone did it to him; and so the cruel person is contradicting his ability to sympathize and empathize, which is violating a rather important aspect of himself.
Still, if an animal is in pain for no reason we are responsible for, or even if we have a good reason for causing pain in the animal, we don't need to sympathize with it as if it were a person suffering the pain; we are observing or producing an intense sensation, that is all; the animal is not suffering.
We can see this by something I mentioned in discussing the problem of evil in Chapter 12 of Section 5 of the first part. What a person experiences as pain or pleasure is not necessarily what the automatic, built-in "programs" would lead you to expect. The automatically unpleasant taste of liquor is regarded after "cultivating the taste" as pleasant, as is the sensation of being poisoned, which is the consciousness of getting drunk. Art connoisseurs regard as beautiful paintings which ordinary untrained folk find repugnant, like the "drip" paintings of Jackson Pollock. People riding on a roller coaster or watching horror movies obviously are enjoying the sensation of terror. And so on. The sensation in itself is simply a sensation; whether it is a pleasure or pain depends on whether you regard it as reporting something that is consistent or inconsistent with what you consider yourself to be--and hence as something which you think (not feel) is attractive or repulsive.
So much, then, for the role of sense consciousness in general in the life of the animal. I want now to make a few remarks about aspects of the sense faculty and how they function; and I will group these around what the Scholastics, following Aristotle, call the five "external senses" and the four "internal senses." Since for the Scholastics each of these dealt with a distinct type of act, then each was a distinct faculty. For me, since (a) the act of sense-consciousness is one act, including in its "reduplications" of itself the forms of all these "acts," and (b) one system and one major organ (the brain) is the part of the body that performs the acts, then all of these "senses" are just aspects of the one faculty, the sense faculty.
Hence, for me, there are not nine "senses," but five types of input into the faculty: five ways in which our sense faculty can be affected by energy outside the faculty; and there are four basic processing functions by which this information is organized, stored, and used.
As I said, the major organ in this faculty is the brain, because it is in the brain alone that consciousness occurs, and the brain is where all the incoming information is processed.
Let me first remark that the brain, in its energy-activity, functions very much like a very complex computer. The nerves are either active and putting out energy (and when they do, they put out all they can), or they are quiescent and not acting, just as the electronic switches in a computer are either open or closed. And, as was seen as early in computer history as Norbert Wiener, there is a very strong analogy between what the computer does and how things are processed in the brain. We will discuss later "artificial intelligence," or whether a computer can be made to think or to mimic what we do in thinking; but for now, it seems to me probably true that it is in principle possible to build a computer that would mimic what an animal does, since as I said above, the animal's consciousness does not have a role to play in what its brain is actually doing, and is only an epiphenomenon of the brain's electrical activity.
I am not going to go into detail on any of the various functions of this faculty, because they belong to the realm of experimental psychology rather than philosophy. I will simply make a few philosophical reflections that I think are relevant.
First, why just five types of input into the brain, when it is now known that we have many different "senses" that are lumped together under touch, for instance? To answer this, I can begin by saying that Aristotle also knew that touch was actually many "senses," but he called it one all the same.
And the reason is that the five inputs are five different sorts of ways one can be affected by another being so as to be able to perceive it. You can be affected by it if you are in contact with it, interact chemically with it, are acted on by the medium between you and it, are affected by an act at a distance, or are affected by the object at a distance. What these mean will be clearer as we enumerate them; but other than these, there is no other sort of conscious contact you can have with anything.
Lumped under touch are the various ways of being affected by something in contact with the faculty--specifically, of course, with the receptor nerves. Under this type of input, we find pressure, pain, heat, cold, balance, the "muscular sense" by which we are aware of the position of the parts of the body, and so on. One of the many reasons I don't like the term "external senses" is that it seems to imply that they react to what it outside the body; but touch also reacts to what is going on within the body, though outside the nervous system, of course. All of the various inputs I have enumerated above have their own receptors, so that heat, for instance, is felt with a different set of nerves from cold or pressure.
Aristotle mentions that all animals have the sense of touch, though not all have other senses, like sight. Presumably, at least the inputs included under touch would be required if you are an animal, because you have to react to the environment somehow, and if you are stuck in one place, like a barnacle or a sponge, seeing or hearing something you can't get away from would be a gratuitous cruelty rather than a benefit.
I would think that all animals would also have the input of taste, which reacts to the chemical composition of bodies being ingested as food. If there weren't any taste, then poison could be taken in as easily as what is beneficial.
Psychologists note that the consciousness we have of the taste of something includes input from the nasal nerves as well as the taste buds (because some of the particles go up the air passage in the back of the throat and reach the olfactory nerves in that way, which is why things taste flat when you have a cold); but the taste of a steak as an act of consciousness is not the combination of sweet, bitter, sour, and salty from the taste buds plus the smell of the steak; it is a distinctive sensation, even though its information comes from these two sources. We also taste the object as in the mouth and not in the mouth and the nose. Note that the input from touch also enters into the experience of tasting (though not the taste itself), as we feel the "texture" of the food on our tongue.
Third, there is the input of smell, which does not react to the object making the odor, but to particles of it in the air that reach the nose. Here, the consciousness is aware of the medium between the smeller and the object. We smell the smell as in the air, and argue to being closer to the object making the odor by the fact that it is stronger. The information of the actual contact of the particles with the nose is suppressed in our consciousness. If the odor is very acrid, of course, there is the sensation of pain in the nose, but this is a touch sense, not smell.
Clearly, this information is useful to an animal that can move about, since smell can detect many differences between bodies. It is also not surprising that smell is closely allied with taste, so that the animal can find food at a distance by following the increasing strength of the odor.
Fourthly, there is the input of hearing, which reacts to what a distant object is doing, by means of the vibrations the action causes in the air or other medium between the act and the hearer. In this input, neither the contact of the vibrating air on the eardrum nor the medium itself is conscious (you don't hear the sound as in the air; you hear it as at a distance from yourself in a certain direction). With sound, the distance from the object is again argued to by the relative loudness of the sound when it reaches your ears; the direction of the sound is known by the difference in the part of the wave that strikes one ear as opposed to the other (i.e. the crest may strike the left ear and the trough the right one). Of course, the direction of a sound originating from directly in front, above, beneath, or behind you can't be known except by tipping your head; which is why dogs tip their heads when they hear a strange sound.
The benefit of this information, of course, is that actions which make the air vibrate can be dangerous; and so the animal can run from whatever is making the noise. And since the direction is also known, you can know which way to run also.
Finally, there is the input of sight, which reacts to an object at a distance. It reacts, of course, by means of the light produced by the object as it either produces light or re-radiates light falling on it; but you neither see the light in the air, nor the activity of the producing of the light; what you see is the cause, not the causality (I refer you to Chapter 8 of Section 2 of the first part for the distinction). Hence, the object (seen as a patch of color) looks static and at a distance. The consciousness of the object as at a distance has three sources: first, binocular vision, in which we see objects close to us from slightly different angles from each eye, giving us what the physicists call "parallax";(3) secondly the size of the image as it impinges on the retina; and thirdly, the blotting out of objects that are behind other ones. These distance-cues have to be interpreted, of course, but they are basically visual, not really aspects of the integrating function (what the Scholastics call the sensus communis).
One interesting thing about sight is that there is a special form of consciousness when the sense is active but is not being acted on by any energy: the sensation of seeing a black patch or black expanse, as when you open your eyes in a perfectly dark room. With the other senses, there is no conscious difference between having the organ operative but not being acted on and having the input turned off. Thus, when you "listen to the silence," you don't hear anything at all; there is no auditory equivalent to "seeing blackness"; and the same goes for smelling, tasting, and feeling. But you can actually see nothingness, as it were.
As I say, any other way of being affected by some object or act would fall under one of these categories. For instance, if evolution developed in us a sense by which we reacted to radio waves, then this would presumably fall either under hearing or sight, depending on whether what was perceived was the act of the transmitter or the transmitter (by means of this act). We would then have two different types of sight (or hearing) the way we now have various types of touch. Those fish which perceive electrical charges in the water either perceive the water as charged (and then this would be a kind of smell) or they perceive the act by which the electrified object is charging the water (in which case it would be a kind of hearing) or they perceive--by means of the electricity it is giving off--the object which is causing the charge (in which case, this is a second kind of sight).
So a "sixth sense," it would seem, would necessarily have to fall under a second version of one of the five. Not that this makes a great deal of difference.
Now then, if we turn to the processing functions of the brain, the first one to note is what I called above the integrating function, as a kind of translation of the Scholastic sensus communis. The "common sense" will not do as a name for this function, for two reasons. First of all, it is not a sense, but an aspect of the sense faculty; its conscious dimension, as we will see, gets involved with and superimposed on the conscious dimensions of the inputs we talked about. Secondly, "common sense" in English means "discretion" or "prudence," not the "sense" that is "common to" the other "senses." Some Scholastics have given this the name "unifying sense," but in my system of terminology, this is apt to be confused with the unifying activity of the body. And so for those reasons I chose the name above.
The energy-"dimension" of this function is in all probability certain of the brain waves (the alpha waves, I would think); these seem to be rhythmic pulses of nerve-firings through the brain, and their function seems to be to integrate all the information into a single pattern.
The conscious aspect of this function as such is subjective space, the kind of thing Kant talked about when he spoke of the "a priori form of external sensibility," that Euclidian space with the three Cartesian dimensions: the X-axis pointing upward through the top of our heads, the Y-axis point forward from our nose, and the Z-axis going through our ears, with the built-in laws of perspective that Leonardo da Vinci made such good use of when he put them on canvas.(4)
This is subjective space, or the appearance of space, and is not space as it is, which, as we saw in Chapter 5 of Section 1 of the second part, is the field-interactions of bodies, and does not follow Euclid's rules; it is, however, by means of this subjective space that we are aware sensibly of real space, because the distance-relations of bodies produce in us locations in the perceived space. In this, Kant was wrong. He assumed that subjective space was simply a way of organizing the sensations, but argued that it had no objective referent at all. It didn't have the objective referent that had been attributed to it by people like Leibniz; but what Kant did not really see is that there can't be any a priori explanation of why a given object must be seen to the left of another object (that is, why you can't organize your visual field so that what is in fact seen on the left is seen on the right--as you can do with imagination). Of course, he also denied that there is any objective referent to the objects we see (thinking of them as purely subjectively organized patches of sensations); but as we saw in Chapter 1 of Section 2 of the second part, this also is untenable, or you could pick up the desk if you wanted to by picking up the book that was lying on it, simply by arranging the sensations into a book-desk instead of a book and a desk.
Nevertheless, space as we perceive it is subjective, and its laws are not the same as the laws of the real interactions of bodies that establish real distances and real positions. It is only, to some extent, that it is the effect of these real distances that gives it its objective referent.
The result of the organizing of the inputs by the integrating function is the conscious perception, or what the Gestalt psychologists call a "Gestalt" (a "form").
There are a few things to note here. First of all, as Kant saw, you can't have a sensation that is not also a perception. Any sensation will be located somehow in this Euclidian field of subjective space as it gets integrated with the other sensations active at the time into one polymorphous act. Even if only one input is active at the moment, it is still localized.
Secondly, since the rules of organization are not the same as the laws of interaction of external objects, this sense is subject to certain natural illusions, which the Gestalt psychologists have done a lot of work with. For instance, our visual input is organized in such a way that it is assumed that light is always traveling in straight lines; and so when light is bent, as at the surface of water, we see the oar as bent, not the light; or when the light path curves by being refracted by the heated air of the road ahead of you, you see the sky as on the road surface (and shimmering like water because of the vibration of the air), and you experience a mirage. But we will leave further discussion of this to experimental psychology.
Thirdly, however, there is the interesting point that, though the way we organize our sensations into a single perception is in one sense more subjective than the inputs themselves, nevertheless, this is the function that "projects" the sensations outside us, so that we don't see or feel or hear things as in our heads, but as at a distance from us; so there is an increased "subjective objectivity" that we have due to this function. The "outsideness" of the outside gets inside, and the distance becomes present to us. I hasten to add that this does not mean that the meaning of "to be distant" comes to us from this sense; it is just that this sense gives us the basic data from which we understand distance-relationships. In itself, this form of space is only a form of consciousness; what it reports is discovered from it by understanding relationships. That is, it is the effect of spatial relationships; but we can only get at the cause (the acts outside as outside) by understanding relationships, and so interpreting this form of consciousness.
The second processing function is what corresponds to the "memory" of a computer, but which in animals and humans has traditionally been called imagination. This is the storage and retrieval of perceptions; and there are apparently two types of storage, more or less as there are in computers: the transient type, corresponding to the RAM of the computer, where information being dealt with is stored temporarily and then erased as new information needs to be processed, and a more permanent storage like the disk drive of the computer, where information stays and can be retrieved provided you can get access to it. And just as in the computer, parts of the perception can be retrieved without necessarily pulling back the whole thing into consciousness; and these parts can be combined with parts of other stored perceptions into new wholes which as such were never perceived. We discussed this in its relation to our consciousness and objects in Chapter 3 of Section 4 of the first part.
Just what the energy-"dimension" of this function is it is not easy to say. It seems to involve chemical changes in the nerves, so that at the junction between nerves (where the electrical impulse passes from one to the other), there is a lessening of the resistance to the passage of electricity, so that the nerve-pattern involved in the perception can be reactivated with a lesser input of energy (and so can be reactivated with the energy that is always present in the brain, provided it is channeled into this nerve-pattern). Hence, there is no need of an outside stimulus to bring this pattern into consciousness again.
What this amounts to in consciousness seems to be a lowering of the threshold, so that consciousness occurs, but extremely dimly in comparison with consciousness which involves input from the sense organs. This in general allows us to distinguish between perceptions and images (the name for these reawakened perceptions or combinations of reawakened perceptions).
Hallucinations occur (as I also mentioned in Section 4 of the first part) when either the energy entering the nerve-pattern is so great that the level of conscious vividness matches that of a perception, or when the level of conscious vividness of the perception for some reason drops so low that it matches that of the normal image--in which case we have the experience of the déj vu, as I said in that section.
When a person has perceived something before, then obviously the same nerve-pattern is used over again, with whatever variations occur this second time. And in consciousness, the image is superimposed on the perception, giving us what the psychologists call "mental set" whereby we can see more clearly something we are expecting to see, and by which we recognize someone by seeing the back of the head, and so on, and giving us the feeling of familiarity we have in seeing objects we have seen many times. Once again, then, it is not possible simply to perceive something; imagination is active in perception just as the conscious form of perception (subjective space) is involved in any sensation.
Imagination in humans is clearly sometimes under conscious control, as when we actively try to retrieve a stored perception (this activity is called "remembering" or "recalling"), or when we consciously try to combine parts of images into a new whole (in which case this is called "creative imagination"). Animals can do these acts, but can't consciously control them; in them, instinct performs the function. Animals can obviously combine parts of images, because they too can recognize new views of objects they have seen before.
One brief word about sleeping and dreaming. Sleep changes the brain-wave pattern, and shuts down the consciousness of the sense inputs, and refreshes us so that we can cope with another day's information. At the same time, the body's being relaxed and not having to move about allows the restoration of the muscles and so on that have got tired by exercise during the day.
What I think sleep basically does for sensation is to clear out the transient storage of the brain, so that it will be a more or less blank slate able to handle new input. This seems confirmed by the fact that if a person is deprived of sleep for several days, he begins to hallucinate, indicating that the new input is activating stored images also, at too high an energy-level. This seems to mean that there isn't enough space in the transient storage to handle the new information, and things are being overwritten by what is coming in.
Apparently, running the brain in "reverse," so to speak, clears out these switches and returns them to "off"; and this seems to be the function of the sleep-waves of the brain. While it is doing this, apparently, whatever is done to put important information into permanent storage is also being accomplished. We can, of course, by memorizing while awake, consciously put information into permanent storage; and those who are skilled in memorization seem to report that when they settle down to memorize, something different is going on in them than when they are just experiencing, even experiencing vividly (though vivid perceptions seem to get stored into permanent memory too). What is actually going on here is very mysterious.
The role dreaming plays in sleep is not, I think, what Freud said it was, to tell us little interesting stories when we are disturbed (whose function is to say, "everything's as you want it; stay asleep"). Most dreams seem to be trivial and boring, and rather more unpleasant than pleasant; and of course if Freud's theory is true, nightmares mean that we want some pretty horrible things for ourselves.
I think the explanation of dreaming is simpler, and is connected with the sleep process itself (which is why, by the way, we all dream several times a night). My hypothesis is that the clearing-out function of sleep can do its job of erasing what is in the nerves if the energy it needs to erase is at a fairly low level. If there is more energy in a given nerve-pattern than will allow the nerves to be reset (because input was coming into it during the day but we were paying attention to something else), then energy from the brain restimulates these nerves, and the brain runs "forward" for a while, until the energy in this nerve-pattern gets dissipated enough so that the erasing-function can clear out the nerves. And this reawakened, low-level consciousness is the dream.
The actual contents of the dream, on this hypothesis, starts with the conscious aspect of the nerve-pattern that has too much energy in it (and so generally would start from some experience in the day); but, like all energy that is undirected, as the nerves fire, the energy from them follows the path of least resistance into other nerves--and this path of least resistance obviously would be the pathway most often used out of that nerve-complex (because of repetitions of sequences in the past, or perhaps a very vivid association in the past); and so the "logic" of the dream is the logic of whatever sequence of images is most strongly connected with the preceding one, because of your past experience.
Then, as the energy level drops in each nerve-pattern, it is erased. This would explain why dreams and that wandering of consciousness just as you fall asleep are so forgettable; if you waken in the middle of a dream, even one that seemed very interesting, it is most often the case that you can't remember what happened in it even a second before. Of course, if the energy in the nerve-pattern is so great that the dream can't lower it enough for erasure to work, then it wakes up the whole brain, and we come out of sleep--often with a nightmare. Frightening things and horrible things are generally experienced very vividly, and so nightmares (dreams vivid enough to awaken the person) are usually terrible experiences. Thus, on this theory, we need no "death wish" to explain nightmares; it is just that when these patterns have energy in them, they tend to have a lot of it.
Note that if a person is emotionally disturbed, this means that there is something wrong with the "program" of the brain (which we will discuss shortly) by which experiences are associated with each other and with behavior. Not surprisingly, then, such disturbances will result in dream-sequences that follow the path of the obsessive associations; and so dreams are sometimes instructive for psychologists.
The third processing function has traditionally been called sense memory, although it does not really correspond to what we normally think of nowadays as memory, which involves storage and recalling of information (that function is what I called "imagination"). This function is the "filing system" of the sense, where information is stored in order of how easy it is to restimulate the nerve-pattern. And since the "insulation" between the nerves at their junction builds up again over time, requiring more and more energy to stimulate the nerve-pattern as time goes on, then this function is a kind of rough-and-ready clock--or better, calendar, by which dates are put on past images.
This function is not the same as our knowledge of time and date, because that involves understanding the relationship between what is represented in the recalled image and the present or other events. This function in itself does not actually result in an awareness of the "date" as such, but is simply that the recalled image takes more or less effort to bring into consciousness. Nevertheless, the "pastness" of the past becomes present to the animal by this function, even if it is not pastness as such that the animal is aware of. That is, in imagination, what is (in fact) past is present (i.e. not absent) to the animal; with this additional function, it has a "tag" on it (the degree of vividness) which distinguishes it from the present, and so the "pastness" of it (its not being at the present time) is also present to the animal.
This, I think, is the basis of Kant's a priori form of internal sensibility: time. That is, the form of consciousness connected with it is subjective time, taking "time" in that very loose sense described above, and not the kind of thing we measure with clocks. Still, we do have a certain awareness by this function of the passage of time; people can often tell when five minutes or a couple of hours have gone by, and some can be quite accurate about it. Apparently this has something to do with awareness of our biological processes as going on within us as events reported by our senses unfold "out there."
But this function is very inaccurate as a clock. When you are bored, minutes seem to take hours, and when you are interested in something, hours seem to take seconds. The reason for this is probably that when you are bored, you have little outside you that interests you, and you are paying attention to your biological processes and events; and so you notice the passage even of seconds. When you are concentrating, however, you are paying little or no attention to your bodily processes (or even to any processes at all), and so you have no awareness of time's passage.
Remember, as we said in Chapter 6 of Section 8 of the second part, time itself is not something real, but only the comparison of the quantities of different processes; and so it is not surprising that this "time-as-perceived" would be even more tenuous in its relation to clocks than "space-as-perceived" (the form of the integrating function) is to field-relations. I refer you back to the mysteriousness in that chapter of the fact that both the past and the future exist, and the contradiction involved in saying "only the present moment exists."
In fact, when concentrating, our consciousness often slips out of time altogether, and is in a timeless condition, analogous to that of God, who knows, but does not know sequentially. And in listening to others or reading, our consciousness is actually operating timelessly. Did the meaning of the sentence you are reading dawn on you gradually as your eyes scanned the words, or did you understand it as you were reading it, in one act which didn't occur either at the beginning, at the middle, or at the end of the process of reading? We have all, probably, met those annoying people who finish our sentences for us, which means that they understood what we were saying before we got through saying it; but all of us do this, actually. Anyone who has studied a foreign language knows how much we don't actually hear of what another person says to us, and which we simply fill in from our knowledge of the language; and so our understanding of what someone is saying is not a process of putting together the words as he says them and finally coming up with the whole when it is all over; it is much less temporal than that.
The same goes for hearing a piece of music; it is a single experience, not a gradual process, even if the piece takes an hour. That is, there isn't any real difference between looking at a painting and hearing a symphony in the respect that one is atemporal and the other is temporal. You don't see the painting "all at once" if it is at all complex; you look at it as a whole and scan the various details, seeing them in themselves and in relation to the whole; and your eyes wander over the painting following a path that the painter has provided by the arrangement of the shapes and lines. This takes time; but you still see the painting as a whole all the time you are looking at it. Similarly, when you listen to music, you are hearing the whole piece as it unfolds before you along the path the composer has provided; and the fact that some of it is "future" is not terribly relevant, because you are by anticipation (awareness of the "structure") aware of the future as well as of the past; you are certainly not aware of just "the present moment."
This is one reason, by the way, why it is easier to hear a complex musical composition after hearing it several times; you are able to hear it as a whole, having heard it before, while you are listening to how the parts fit into it. The same goes for a novel; the unknownness of what is going to happen gets in the way the first time around, and prevents you from seeing the events as a unity. For that matter, this is also true of a work of philosophy such as this one, or any extended intellectual or artistic piece. I can see the whole of what I am writing as I write this (though many details come to me as I write), as is evident from my promises to treat some topic later. But you won't see how it all fits together unless you run through it twice. Sorry about that. But this explains why teachers give final examinations; it isn't that they want another grade, but that this forces students to see the whole course as a whole, which they couldn't do when going through it.
I suspect that this "rereading" is something like the kind of experience we will have after death, when we will no longer be able to change, and our whole lives will be eternally present to us. It will be no more boring then than reading a very good novel or seeing a great motion picture for the second, third, or fourth time is.
At any rate, it seem that consciousness is in itself not something temporal. We have in recent centuries been so brainwashed by science (which has yet to give up on using clocks as the main measuring-instruments, in spite of the fact that they aren't measuring anything) that we think that everything has to be in time--and localizable along some "line" of temporality--and thus we deny our own experience and say, "Well of course it occurred in time, and developed gradually," when we know perfectly well that it didn't.
Finally, the fourth processing function is what is called instinct, and is, as far as its energy-"dimension" is concerned, the basic genetically built-in "program" of the brain, by which the two sorts of information coming into the brain (the state of the body and the condition of the environment) are compared according to set rules, and energy is sent to the appropriate motor-nerves to cope with the environmental situation.
Psychologists make a distinction between reflexes, instincts, drives and--we might add--habits. A reflex is an automatic response of the nervous system to a stimulus without involving processing by the brain, as when the knee jerks on being struck. The impulse goes to the spinal cord and then directly back (while some of it goes up to the brain to make you feel the blow). As Pavlov showed, reflexes can be trained; he made dogs salivate (a reflex) on hearing a bell by ringing the bell whenever he gave them food.(5)
An instinct, for the psychologist, is an automatic pattern of behavior that is unlearned and absolutely stereotyped, so that at the stimulus the proper response is inevitable, as the "dance" of the bee when returning to the hive. Instincts in this sense need no observation or training, and never vary. A bee will dump honey into a comb-shaped opening, even if it sees that the back of the cell is open and the honey is draining out. Human beings, actually, seem to have very few if any "instincts" in this strict sense in which the psychologists use the term; the only one I have heard of is the jerking of limbs of an infant when he is dropped; all other tendencies toward automatic behavior are drives.
Drives are tendencies toward definite behavior, but they are modifiable and partly learned. Much of the instinctive behavior of higher animals like dogs actually involves drives. I trained my dog, for instance, to take a bone gently from my hand instead of snapping at it.
A habit is an automatic behavior in response to a stimulus, when the relation between the behavior and the stimulus is not genetically built in but learned through repetition. Most of our behavior (insofar as it does not depend on choices, but is automatic) and that of the higher animals is a combination of drive and habit, which is why behavior modification therapy can work. Whatever the reason you got into an emotional disturbance, it is still possible to be retrained so that the stimulus produces a different response from the one you have trouble with. That is, this is always possible in principle, though it may in practice be impossible because of the strength of the drive and the habit.
Instincts and drives both deal with the function I have called "instinct," because they are the operation of the program built genetically into the brain, whether they are absolutely stereotyped or not. Habits are a bit different from the normal functioning of instinct (in my sense, now), because habits do not of themselves seem to have any special form of consciousness as an epiphenomenon, while each drive has its own form of consciousness, called an emotion. Habits can have emotional overtones when they involve operations of instinct as they are being acquired; but even then, the emotion tends to get less. For instance, as one gets into the habit, say, of eating sweets, the pleasure is there strongly at first; but after the habit is formed, the eating of the sweets becomes a necessity and the pleasure diminishes. The same is true of most vices (bad habits). We will talk much later about drives and habits when we discuss their implications for morality.
The Scholastics called emotions the "sense appetites" and classified them in various ways as versions of a separate faculty. The reason they thought the "appetite" was a separate faculty was that it involved a tendency to get or avoid the object in question, while the other sensations (the "knowing" ones, all that we have talked about so far) involved simply a modification of the subject by the object, and not behavior dealing with it. Emotions as "appetites" were also distinguished from instinct, which for the Scholastics was "sense logic," that by which animals imitated on the purely sense level what we do when we reason.
They called the function (the "faculty"), by the way, the "estimative power" in animals and the "cogitative power" in humans, the difference being that in animals it is itself not controlled by anything else and exercises the basic controlling function, whereas in humans it can be consciously controlled and is not the highest faculty.
I think the distinction between the "estimative" or "cogitative" power and emotions ("appetites") is a mistake, just as I think that the division of the spiritual faculty in humans into "intellect" and "will" on the same grounds as this distinction is a mistake. I think this is making too much of the notion that a faculty is defined by its act and so by its object. It seems to me that the "tendency toward" an object is in fact nothing but the channeling of energy in the brain in a complex pattern, which happens to end in the motor nerves and not anywhere else; it is the same thing the animal is doing when it is doing "sense logic," and in fact what we are doing when we do complicated problems, except that (a) it is automatic and built in, and (b) behavior results.
Hence, I am not going to deal with all the different appetites we have, and how some are pleasures and others are pains, and what the object of each is (e.g. that fear is the reaction to a danger that can be avoided by running away, terror the reaction to a danger that can't be avoided by running--and so you freeze--, anger the reaction to an obstacle that can be overcome, despair the reaction to an obstacle that cannot be overcome, etc., etc.). Part of the reason for my decision is that the emotions themselves as conscious are as much cognitive as "appetitive"-- and in fact, in the appreciation of art, they are used by us as purely cognitive, and the tendency to behavior is stifled. Another part of the reason is that the classifications do not fully express the real differences. For instance, fear is one category of emotion, but the fear of the dark is quite different from the fear of a lion running loose, the fear of a snake or a spider, the fear of heights, the fear of catching a cold, stage fright, and so on. Even the actions the fear deals with are different, though they are all some kind of avoidance. I think that classifications like this are interesting, but they are better left to the experimental psychologist, who might use them in trying to straighten out people with emotional disturbances.
But even here, since our programs are modified by experience and habits, as well as the state of our body at the moment, each person's emotional reaction to something is probably unique, and classifications of what emotions are caused by and what they lead to can only be very general helps. I have seen psychologists who, on the basis of four of five hours of asking a patient what he is feeling and observing his behavior (or what the patient even tells him of his behavior), presume to know what kind of a person he is and what is bugging him. I simply don't believe this sort of thing. This is the equivalent of saying that you know what is in a word processing program of the complexity of WordPerfect because you have seen a lot of word processing programs and read maybe fifty lines of the source code.
But let that be enough for my reasons for dismissing the "sense appetites" altogether, and my claim that they are just the conscious "dimension" of the function I called "instinct." What I am interested in here is what instinct seems to do in the consciousness and the life of the animal. First of all, what generally is going on in this function is the directing of energy in the brain; based on the program, energy gets channeled into definite pathways, calling up various bits of stored information and integrating them, and finally acting on the motor nerves to cause behavior.
One of the things that the function does in this process is pull energy out of areas where there is not any important information, and use the added energy to reinforce what is in the important area. This is attention. We cannot usually see all the information that is coming into our eyes at a given moment, because our instinct is monitoring our bodily state and picking out the information that is most important and enhancing that at the expense of the rest. Of course, "important" here is not what your consciousness considers important (which is something you freely decide for yourself), but what the instinct has built into its programs as a hierarchy of things to be considered before other ones are taken up. It is like those chess programs, which scan eight moves or so ahead, and following rules (that a pawn should be sacrificed for a knight, but not vice versa) pick out the "best" move on that basis. In any case, what instinct is doing is highlighting certain information by borrowing energy from other information, which puts that information below the threshold of consciousness.
Animals can pay attention, but humans have the ability to concentrate, because our spirit exercises some control over instinct. Concentration is, of course, simply deliberately paying attention. We can focus our attention and block out distractions; in an animal, the attention is focused by the particular drive that happens to be operating. Obviously, unless you are very unusual, you know that this ability to concentrate has its limits, and strong drives or stimuli can destroy it. This will actually serve as part of an effect that we will investigate toward the end of this part, when we look at the evidence indicating that human nature is somehow "fallen."
The other thing, of course, that instinct does is provide us with a number of drives, which get modified by repetitive acts and different circumstances. Here again, humans are different from animals. We can deliberately program our brains so that we will have new automatic behavior-patterns when confronted with certain stimuli--we can create habits, in other words. In animals, training comes from outside, and habits are always the result of one drive's overriding the behavior from another, as the drive to avoid punishment from her master made my dog take a bone gently from my hand. The same sort of thing happens in us when we don't deliberately try to get into a habit, but drift into one because some drive frequently overcomes and modifies a weaker one.
B. F. Skinner sees no difference at all between what happens in animals when they are trained and what we do when we create habits, as opposed to drifting into them. His position on this distinction involves an assertion that the apparent "deliberateness" of creating a habit is itself always the result of the dominant drive at the moment; and so instead of consciousness' controlling the instinct, it is controlled by it, just as it is in animals. We will see later that his hypothesis not only can't account for the difference we experience between being overcome by the stronger drive and deliberately overcoming some drive, it can't even make sense out of one of the things clinical psychologists use it to treat: emotional disorders such as compulsive behavior.
Given that I can refute Skinner's position, then an important conclusion follows:
Conclusion 12: The way you feel emotionally does not reveal the "true you"; you are not being honest with your real self if you (a) let your emotions rule you and don't deliberately control them, or (b) take your emotions as your "true attitude" toward something.(6)
An animal's emotions reveal its true nature, because they are the controlling aspect of its nature; and so if a dog snarls at you, it is hostile toward you. But human behavior is basically consciously controlled; and if a man snarls at you, he might actually hate you, or he might be joking, or he might deliberately be pretending to be hostile because of some benefit he wishes to you out of love for you.
The point here is not so much the truism that behavior is consciously controlled, but to counter the tendency from that part of scientism that is clinical psychology that the way you feel about something is your "real attitude" toward it. This is just bunk. The way you feel about something is simply the conscious aspect of a program that is built into our brains, and is there to adapt our species to life as it was when we lost our tails and came down out of the trees. But we wear clothes and live in heated houses instead of caves, and in this we are going against the kind of thing that our instinct directs us toward--and we don't consider this "unnatural." Similarly, if you feel hostile toward someone and you show him respect, you are not being hypocritical at all, if your mind recognizes that the person deserves respect from you and not hostility.
Many people, imbued with this mistaken notion that the way you feel about things is your real attitude toward them, spend a great deal of wasted effort in refusing to recognize emotions they have toward others when they know the emotions are inappropriate to the really understood situation. For instance, for years I hated my mother, who was an alcoholic, because her alcoholism created all kinds of difficulties for me; but I told myself that I wanted her to quit "for her own good" (which was true) and didn't want to admit that my convenience had something to do with my fervor, let alone admit that I hated my mother for what her handicap was doing to me. Those ideas didn't occur to me for years, because, of course, I thought that I ought to love my mother and interpreted this to mean that I ought to feel affection for her.
What I now realize is that I love her deeply, and while after such a long time I can think of her with affection, the affection has nothing to do with my love for her. I know that what my love means is that I wish her success in all that she wishes for herself, and that I am willing to inconvenience myself to help her achieve that success: my love, in short, means that I want her to be just what she wants herself to be, and that I will help her attain it. As it happens, she now is all that she ever chose to be, and the only thing I can do now is pray for her, in case the total fulfillment has not yet come. And I rejoice in her fulfillment. But I don't feel particularly elated at thinking of her in heaven.
And that I once hated her (in the emotional sense of the term) doesn't bother me; because I also know now that I loved her while I was hating her--though nowhere near as much as I do now--because I did not want to do her any harm, and did, in my misguided way, want her to be free of the obstacle to her own fulfillment that drinking had become. A feeling is a feeling; it has nothing to do with your true attitude unless you include it as part of the attitude you choose to have.
Actually, psychology has done some good in letting us realize that feelings in themselves are neither good nor bad, and so freeing us to face them. The problem is that if you aren't very careful about this, you destroy something else that is vital to human conduct: the notion of right and wrong. That is, if you say to someone that feelings are neither good nor bad and that it's all right to feel a certain way toward his mother, and you don't explain to him that his intellectual attitude is what is his real attitude, then he's apt to think that it doesn't matter what behavioral stance he takes towards his mother (deliberately wishing her dead or in pain, for instance); and the last state is worse than the first. Also, if a person can control his behavior, then, while it might be useful to get his feelings in line with his true relation to another person, there is nothing necessary in this, and in fact it can't be done fully anyway. A person who is not aware that the feelings don't matter, and that his true attitude is the one he chooses to have, is apt either to make his intellectual attitude conform to his feelings on the grounds that it's okay, or to waste enormous amounts of time, energy, and money on getting his feelings into conformity with his intellectual attitude when the feelings aren't in control of behavior.
The attitude most consistent with the way we are now constructed seems to be to recognize feelings and not suppress them (because they can be an obstacle), but having done so, to ignore them.
If only things were that simple, of course. One of the problems that we will raise again in discussing "fallen" nature is that drives, especially when reinforced by habits, can take over control of behavior, making you incapable of directing the energy out of the nerve-pattern in question.
The result of this control over consciousness by some program that has got too strong is either or both of two things, which define the two basic categories of emotional disturbances. First, since instinct controls attention, then a drive which is itself out of control can (a) block out information that is irrelevant to or especially against its successful operation, or (b) create misinformation (using the imagination) that will be helpful to it. This is more or less what psychologists are referring to with psychosis. Secondly, the instinct may leave the conscious awareness of facts intact, but prevent the spirit from making the body do anything but what the drive directs it towards; and when this happens, psychologists used to use the term neurosis to describe it--although that term, with the connotations of a "disease" it acquired, seems to be out of favor at the moment. Generally speaking, neuroses will also involve a greater or lesser amount of psychotic unawareness of obvious facts, and psychoses also lead to behavior that is recognized to some extent by the person as being out of control (else why would he seek treatment?).
There are two things to note here. First of all, what is actually wrong with the drive (or even which drive is involved) can be extremely difficult to discover, because the drives are like user-modified computer programs of horrendous complexity; and this means that two emotionally disturbed people who exhibit identical behavior on presentation of a given stimulus may have wildly different causes for this in the circuitry of their brains. Anyone who has done anything with computer programming knows how very difficult it is to debug a program, because the difficulty can be almost anywhere in the source code. Further, correcting the problem also can be very complex, because the change of a line of the source code that corrects the output problem can affect other lines (because of feedback loops) and cause other output difficulties.
The same goes for psychological treatment. There are horror stories like the one about the patient who was hypnotized into giving up smoking and who then killed his wife, because whatever it was that was making him smoke happened to be his drive's release from a murderous hatred for his wife.
One tinkers with the human mind at great risk; and the motto here should be "If it ain't badly broke, don't even think of trying to fix it" by psychological treatment; the last state can easily be worse than the first. If you want to fix minor problems, then get yourself into new habits, or learn to live with them. And the more you realize that feeling inappropriate emotions is no problem, then the fewer psychological problems you will have. So you are chronically depressed; so what, if it doesn't seriously affect your ability to do what you choose to do? People who aren't depressed, God knows, have enough things that distract them from what they choose to be doing. (As I wrote this, I was taking pills for depression; but I did so to help a pharmaceutical company test them. And I must say, I felt a great deal better than I had for years--and I rejoice in this--but I wouldn't have taken them on my own initiative, because such chemicals can have complex side-effects, some of which I have experienced. And in fact, that is why I was testing the pills: to help the company find out what the side effects are, so that those patients who have something that impedes their behavior can assess whether getting free of the lack of control is worth experiencing the side effect.)(7)
The second thing to note about psychoses and neuroses is important enough, I think, to state as a formal conclusion:
Conclusion 13: The goal of psychological or psychiatric treatment should be to get the patient back into basic control of his information and/or behavior.
What I am saying here is that psychological treatment can't and shouldn't try to make a person "happy" or "well adjusted" or "a productive citizen"; and there is nothing psychologically wrong, necessarily, with a person who isn't happy, or who is eccentric, or who is not "productive" or doesn't "fit in" with other people. Much of this behavior is engaged in by people in control of themselves, who don't care about changing it; in which case, it is not an emotional disturbance at all. Much more of it is engaged in by people who could, if they wanted to, do something else, but who consider that the effort in getting out of their habit is not worth the candle. Only a small amount of it is engaged in by people who are out of control; and with them, the best that can usually be hoped for is to regain basic control back, without making everything hunky-dory for them.
Freud himself recognized this; but his tentative gropings about how to cope with emotional disturbances has been raised to the level of a religion, promising joy and fulfillment to those who put themselves under its ministrations; and this is a promise that can't be fulfilled, but which puts Ferraris in the garages of the practitioners.
Let's face it, there's a great deal of quackery going on in the world of psychological treatment, because of the myth that if you're unhappy, there's something "wrong" with you that some pill or sessions with the secularists' equivalent of the confessor can take care of. But many, many people are unhappy because this is an appropriate response to the situation they are in. For instance, those pills I was taking made it possible for me not to think about things that depressed me, and I am grateful for that, because there was nothing I could do about many of them. But that doesn't mean that my calm outlook on things at that time was appropriate to the situation I was actually in, because I was not considering half of the evidence. There was no reason why I should brood on these negative aspects of my situation; but it doesn't follow that the happy attitude I had toward myself, my world, and my life was the right one. By the same token, it doesn't follow that feeling depressed was the right attitude either. Neither attitude is the right one, because good and bad (which emotionally translated into happiness or depression) are subjective relations of the facts to some ideal you have picked out as the way things "ought" to be.
Whether you "should" feel happy or depressed depends on whether your understanding of the facts about your situation shows that it matches your ideal or not; if it doesn't, then depression is the appropriate emotion. In my case, since my ambition is to change the world's way of thinking for the next thousand or more years, then the fact that I don't realistically expect this book to be read in my lifetime or that I will be able to make any significant dent in others' view of life during my lifetime is, if not counter to the ideal (since I have reason to think that my goal will be achieved after I die), at least not particularly consistent with it. And let me tell you, facing the prospect of writing a book of this size that won't be read until after you die was very depressing to me before the pills came and helped me to pay attention just to what I wanted to get down, not to what I wanted it for.
There's no question about it; it's pleasant to feel pleasant. What I am saying is that this should not blind us to the fact that it might be better for us to feel unpleasant. Part of our drug problem in the United States is precisely this: that people are taking chemicals to feel pleasant, because their objective situation is horrible, instead of getting angry with it and doing something to get themselves out of the situation. You don't get out of the ghetto by smoking crack or taking ice; you get out by letting your horror of your situation make you study and work and lift yourself out. In that sense, unpleasant emotions as the "right" ones are a good part of the solution to the problem of drugs and the wider problem of the ghetto.
Two final remarks before we go on to discuss thinking. First, human drives are different from animal drives, because in animals the programs are all integrated in such a way as to ensure the survival of the individual or at least the species; and so if an animal follows the drive dominant at the moment (which is all it can do, of course), then this in the long run is beneficial for it and/or its progeny.
But humans are obviously not constructed this way. Each of our drives tends toward only the fulfillment of one particular aspect of ourselves, and is only very tenuously related to the fulfillment of the self as a whole. Further, as each drive is followed, it tends to become that much stronger as a habit is built up, and hence will tend to override counter tendencies in the future, and even develop into a neurosis or a psychosis. This makes sense if the human being is constructed in such a way that consciousness on the level of thought is what is in control, and emotions are subordinate to it.
Hence, it is not only not necessarily beneficial to blindly follow your emotions; it is very dangerous and can be disastrous. The stoics had a better idea of consciousness and behavior than modern scientific psychology; they held that you should deliberately practice going against the way you feel, to make sure that your emotions are under your control and your consciousness does not fall under the control of your emotions.
We can draw a conclusion from this:
Conclusion 14: The function of emotions in human beings is to provide information to the person, not to control his behavior.
That is, the emotions indicate what tends to be physically beneficial or harmful to the organism in its pristine state; but since each emotion only deals in humans with its own benefit, and it is up to each person to decide what he wants to do with his life and make his ideals accordingly, then emotions in humans have a cognitive, not a behavioral function. They must be assessed and evaluated in the light of the person's view of what his chosen "real self" is, and not used as automatic indicators of what is good and bad.
The second remark is that, since consciousness is contained within itself, then insofar as consciousness controls, it also controls itself (this is what choosing is, in fact).
This leads us to the following conclusion:
Conclusion 15: All problems involving lack of control are emotional, and are not problems of "will."
That is, the "will," as a spiritual faculty that controls, cannot be out of control of itself. The only thing it can be out of control of is the instinct, either by not being able to access desired information, or by not being able to prevent energy from flowing in a behavior pattern other than what was chosen.
Basically, the fact that behavior problems (insofar as they are personal, not social) are emotional means also that they are basically problems with the circuitry in the brain, which is the energy-"dimension" of the function I called "instinct." This is why chemical treatment and things like electroshock treatment can be helpful.
Spiritually speaking, we are all the same, because the human soul (the humanity of each human being) is the human spirit, as we will see; and it is its energy-"dimension" which distinguishes each of us from everyone else. Hence, levels of "intelligence" or levels of "will power" are not differences in the spirit as such but in the spirit as limited by the energy in the brain.(8) The idiot is not someone who cannot understand well; he is one who who can't raise much information above the conscious level at any one time; any information he can keep in consciousness, he can see relations among, as well as anyone else. Similarly, the psychotic or neurotic doesn't lack any ability to know or control that other human beings have; he either can't get at information that otherwise would be available (because energy is being kept out of it), or the energy in some loop is so great that he can't get all of it out of it, any more than anyone else could with this same amount of energy. That is, his consciousness is not weak in controlling the energy-flow; it is the energy which is so great in this pattern that no human spirit (in our "fallen" condition) could control it. Weak wills, in other words, are in fact strong drive-habits.
But let that be enough about psychology and sensation.Next
1. There have been attempts to do so, notably with chimpanzees; but I will discuss these more at length when I discuss thinking, and we can be clear about why thinking cannot be an immaterial act.
2. I should point out here that in the real world, things may not be as bleak for dogs and such as this argument indicates. Our souls are spiritual, as I will try to prove later, and they also survive the death of the body (which doesn't mean, of course, that they "go somewhere"; as spiritual, they will not be in time or position). But some of the arguments that lead to the conclusion that our souls are in fact immortal also imply that our non-self-contradictory desires can be fulfilled. People do love animals, with a love that is indistinguishable from our love for other humans; and this longing for the existence of the beloved (as Gabriel Marcel talked about) means frustration if it can't be fulfilled. And I think that Catholic teaching implies that, just as we will be embodied forever and will not forever exist as disembodied spirits, so the animals we love (not just their souls, but the whole animal) will be "brought back" to spend eternity with us. Otherwise, the death of a beloved dog would be much more of a tragedy than the death of a wife or a son, because it would imply in the one case non-existence, and in the other, the fulfillment chosen, not extinction at all.
3. Actually, it is more complicated than this. What the eye does is use one of the eyes for seeing the object, and the other image (which is slightly displaced) is suppressed, although it forms the "distance clue" as to how far away the object is. If you hold up your finger and look at the landscape behind it, you will see two fingers. In this case, you are consciously aware of the double image, but in the normal case, your visual mechanism recognizes the overlapping images, but you aren't consciously aware of this except for seeing the "space" between the object in question and other objects behind it. This is complicated by the fact that when you look at something, each eye is aimed at it (giving a slightly different view of it), and thus it is the background image that is doubled. In this way, we see the roundness of a three-dimensional figure as well as how far away it is from us.
4. As I said in the preceding footnote, this "sense of space" has a good deal to do with binocular vision; but it is different, because it integrates into it other inputs as well. When you are looking at someone talking, you consciously hear the sound as coming from him.
5. There is a question here, however. Very few reflexes are "pure," since they always do have a form of consciousness associated with what is happening (the part of the energy that gets diverted to the brain. So the brain, on being presented with the conditions under which an action demanding a reflex occurred, can (and I think does after a number of repetitions) anticipate the situation and it produces the action which at the beginning was a reflex. If your knee gets hit (giving you the knee-jerk reflex) several times, then your knee is going to jerk when you see the hammer coming toward it, even if the hammer never touches you. Thus, what was a reflex gets transformed into a kind of anticipatory habit. In this case, Pavlov's experiment showing that reflexes can be trained (dogs salivate on hearing a bell, when the bell was rung just as food was presented) is not, in my view, a training of the reflex, but something like the following: When the dog hears the bell always associated with food, then the ringing of the bell brings to its imagination the food, and the dog then salivates. It isn't that the reflex got trained, exactly; it's that it got activated by a habit that had been trained. So Pavlov's experiment does not prove of itself that the actual reflex can be trained.
6. I actually learned this from personal experience. When I was a teen-ager, a friend of mine died, and I was at the funeral, feeling no sorrow--nothing (I imagine I was either in shock or blocking out the reality I was seeing). I felt like standing up and saying scornfully, "What is everyone looking so gloomy about?" but out of "cowardice" I acted as expected. Then at the grave, I saw his mother's face, and realized that I had lost someone I really loved--that my "cowardly" response reflected what my true relationship was with the boy.
7. For those who care, as I revise this now in 2003 (I wrote it perhaps 20 years ago), I no longer need medication for depression.
8. This is true, but you must remember that the spirit is not something that "has" a body; the spirit is limited in quantity in its actuality, though not in its spirituality. I noted before that degrees of vividness of the stimulus cause degrees of response of the nerves, and this translates into what for practical purposes amounts to degrees of vividness of the conscious sensation (though, as I said, in actuality, these "degrees" are really forms that report a degree). The point is that there is not a neat separation between spirit and matter, and so a lack of control can in some sense said to be a weakness of will--a weakness in being able to carry out what it would like, together with an unwillingness to try to struggle against the emotional tug.