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Perception of Reality: wiring
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Posted 14/7/2010 00:26 (#216)
Subject: Perception of Reality: wiring


Posts: 212
Previously in PoR... in the philosopher's stone analogy we view reality through a screen which frames, shapes and limits. What are the origins of our screens?

We humans are biochemical and electrochemical beings; our thinking, feeling, perceiving, believing are a function of that. Whether by design / creation or evolution is immaterial. If how we perceive etc is largely determined by our biochemistry etc, how is that determined?

Mostly by our biology. Each of us is broadly similar to other humans: we have similar physical structure and organs etc; specific chemicals that do things like transmit signals, transport energy, break down and synthesise other chemicals; it seems our perception, thinking etc is somewhat like other humans, perhaps even quite similar to other animals.

But, even within us relatively homogenous humans there are differences, perhaps even big differences, why and how?

We are not uniform machines. Though our mechanics are basically the same there is inbuilt flexibility: within an individual, between individuals, between cultures, societal and racial groups, over generations. Kinda wonderful!

So, there is a template for producing humans which has an element of flexibility which enables us to differ. That is mostly good in evolutionary and other terms but has its bad side: more scope for malfunction.

What acts on this flexibility? Genetics, socialisation, environment, learning, life experiences, and their interactions. These are the things that define who you are: how you, perceive, feel, think, behave. Much of this is not chosen by you, it has been done to you. It is your 'wiring', and it largely determines how you function similarly and differently with respect to other humans.

Why does this wiring exist? Because it has been adaptive, efficient. It reduces the need to think, makes response quicker, hence increases survival chances. It has self-perpetuated: I dislike / fear / suspect you, so I kill you, my genes survive, yours don't. However, especially when circumstances change rapidly that wiring may be even more prone to giving 'wrong' answers. But if you think the near future will be much like the recent past then you've probably no need to read on.

Some of you will be saying now: whoa there! I am free to think, feel, respond, as I choose, I am not a programmed machine. Yes, partly, but probably in smaller part than you currently believe. Perhaps significant aspects of what you perceive as your 'free will' are largely determined by your wiring.

To some degree this is recognised and steps taken to rectify disruptive examples: anger management courses are prescribed for people who react with 'inappropriate' aggression. The basic technique is to give the person tools to interrupt the wired response to a stinulus and then 'choose' to respond in a different way.

Of course this button -> response mechanism is more widespread than inappropriate aggression, it's just that causes obvious problems beyond the individual. Look at your own emotional buttons, I know I have mine: dishonesty, betrayal, unfairness, selfishness. They trigger n emotional response in me, chemicals gush through my systems triggering physical, emotional, behavioral and mental responses. Perhaps they are 'appropriate' but do I choose them? If you become aware of this type of programmed response in yourself and think "perhaps this wiring is not good for me, not how I wish to automatically be" then maybe you can do something about it.

I think this goes far beyond the more obvious emotional triggers and responses, however, I think our wiring affects our thinking and even what we perceive - these are much harder to detect in ourselves. Maybe all we can do to try to correct for that possibility is question everything: our reactions, thinking, feeling, perception.

What I am suggesting comes at some cost. You'll be imposing an additional 'shell' between yourself and 'reality' to question and evaluate everything - especially yourself. It is not easy. It reduces your immediacy with your environment and with people. This is negative, makes 'normal' living a bit more difficult, but is necessary to identify and reduce the effects of the wiring you've been blessed with.

Fortunately that cost reduces with time, as you reduce your wired responses you should increase your accuracy of perceiving and responding to incoming stimuli and information. Ultimately you'll detect when you need to stop, question, think, and when you can just respond intuitively - hopefully without too much of the distorted wiring imposed on you. That extra shell you imposed will dissapate.

I like to think this process is someone becoming more themselves (hmmm, now what is that, I wonder), but involved others can find it a tad annoying! Sometimes it involves destroying who you were before as that was defined by wiring done to you, sometimes by you, that you clinged to as a definition of self. So be warned: it can be traumatic, scary.

The rewards are, I think: greater self freedom; more accuracy in perception, feeling, thinking, behavior; greater understanding and acceptance of self and others' wiring. There are side effects too... lying becomes harder for self and more obvious in others, you'll be more calm, your intuition will probably become more accurate, you'll see and know more clearly - and know more clearly when you don't.

The process is never ending. Perhaps it's impossible to totally accurately perceive and think (and how would we know, LOL?), all we can do is try to keep improving.

Just knowing that our perception, thinking, feeling are probably flawed is a big first step. Take it!
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Posted 18/8/2010 20:32 (#308 - in reply to #216)
Subject: RE: Perception of Reality: wiring

I like this.
- epiphenomenalism and reflexivity are not new to me, but still refreshing to hear others recognise that there is a bit more about what is going on than we normally observe. Thanks!
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