Chapter 1: Introduction
There is reason to believe that “our great philosophical questions” will always remain speculative — countless people have worked on them throughout history, though each has failed to impart established understandings regarding any such uncertainty. Though it may now be tempting to simply abandon philosophical questions altogether, there is also reason to remain hopeful. Observe that in recent centuries, science has become a very successful institution for illuminating the nature of reality. Perhaps we’ll find that as this relatively new classification of study continues to enlighten us, many of our great philosophical uncertainties will be resolved under this format as well.
This potential might be considered with suspicion however, given that philosophical elements of reality are often believed to naturally be uncertain/anecdotal, or even incompatible with scientific elements of reality. Assuming however that reality is a great puzzle with a perpetual interconnection between each of its elements, then various “philosophic dynamics” should need to be understood in order for associated “scientific dynamics” to also be understood. And just as certain physicists before the founding work of Sir Isaac Newton may have thought that their contributions were more important than they later proved to be, our various “mental/behavioral” sciences should be quite hindered today, given that “philosophical aspects of reality” remain highly speculative.
If such progress were to be made, however, then what would we actually learn? My own work suggests that we’d gain effective definitions for “the self” and “consciousness,” or ideas which currently challenge science, as well as the essential nature of “good and bad,” which is a question that philosophers must have pondered from the dawn of our existence. Perhaps science and philosophy have each failed in these areas, somewhat given the assumption that they aren’t formally connected. But if there is ultimately just one reality, then we might have predicted that problems would occur where science and philosophy must inevitably meet.
The theory here postulates two basic dynamics of reality. The first of them is referred to as “instinct,” and this term is used to represent primary function. The second is referred to as “self,” or something which is theorized to concern both consciousness and the essential nature of good and bad for any given subject.
The goal of this discussion is not simply to present answers which are “useful,” but more importantly to present our various philosophical uncertainties as aspects of reality that the institution of science must not be permitted to ignore. If it is to build effective models describing basic human dynamics, then in these efforts science should be expected to also determine the nature of “personal significance” for subjects like the human which seem to harbor this potential.
((The two auxiliary paragraphs here consider the thought that scientists might be attempting to understand the nature of “personal relevance,” or “good and bad,” at this very moment.
If modern researchers were actively exploring this aspect of reality in the role of “scientist” rather than just traditional “philosopher,” then general philosophers like myself should be quite interested to hear of any associated progress. Which theories are modern scientists proposing to describe the concept of “positive and negative personal existence”? What evidence is being presented to support this work? Has any theory achieved a reasonable degree of acceptance so far?
If scientists were actively attempting to describe how existence functions in this regard today, this would be very positive news from my own perspective! But to the extent that any such theory were to gain acceptance, this work should hardly go unnoticed. Given the dearth of such news however, apparently modern science has not yet come far in this respect — or perhaps as I maintain, scientists in general do not yet view “personal relevance,” or “good and bad,” to be an aspect of existence which is subject to scientific query.
By this point it should be quite clear that I seek nothing less than “a great new revolution.” Therefore my position may be considered from two opposing extremities — or essentially one of disagreement, and conversely one of agreement.
To first consider an opposing position, this might be that there is no potential for this supposed “revolution” to actually occur. Here it might be stated that “mental/behavioral” sciences are already quite healthy, or at least that philosophical elements of reality must inherently be considered outside the realm of science. And though we may acknowledge that great uncertainties do remain in fields like Psychology and Sociology, perhaps these uncertainties are no different from the ones that reside in presumably well founded fields, like Physics and Chemistry.
One minor implication of such a position, however, is that my own ideas should therefore be quite useless. But rather than spend further time pondering my work from this perspective, perhaps it would be more effective to plainly state those founding understandings which underlie “mental/behavioral” fields… and thus potentially refute my presentation before it begins. If it can be established that modern Psychiatry, Psychology, Cognition, Sociology, and so on do indeed have “basic understandings from which to work,” then my own ideas (which are presented to potentially found such fields) may be dismissed. So then who are the perhaps great theorists who’ve founded our perhaps great “mental/behavioral” fields, and what specifically do their theories state? I do enjoy considering such arguments, so all intelligent observation in this regard shall be quite welcome!
Moving now to the opposite position, this is agreement that these fields are still quite primitive. For any and all who find themselves in agreement, I also welcome you! Our remaining task is to develop an effective foundation from which to explore “mental/behavioral” aspects of reality, so that more effective work might then occur. From this perspective you may find ways to improve my own models, or perhaps develop much different theory regarding associated dynamics.
Beyond these two positions of “solid conviction,” however, unfortunately a substantial group should remain that reside in the middle. Perhaps some suspect that they aren’t sufficiently “educated” in these fields to credibly support my premise. Furthermore the opposite may be true for others — here there may be a “professional” understanding of what occurs in these fields that makes it difficult to sacrifice the current system for radical new approaches. Regardless of their source, however, “weak convictions” should also bring a tendancy to ponder my ideas with little potential to be convinced of anything new — and thus make the following exercise somewhat pointless.
So before we get into the specifics of my theory, I do encourage all who reside in the middle… to nevertheless attempt to pick a side. If you believe that you do not have the proper education from which to potentially impute existing “mental/behavioral” fields, I encourage you to educate yourself about what is and what is not understood in them. If your review does suggest that these fields are indeed “post-Newton,” or reasonably well founded, then you may confidently dismiss my own ideas by stating what these founding understandings happen to be.
Furthermore if you do see evidence of basic structural problems in these fields, but perhaps remain “on the fence” somewhat because you’re distinctly aware of the effects that this position would have to your own work in Psychology, Sociology, Cognitive Science, or any other, should you not also view this as a natural bias to be fought? Either way I do hope for as many as possible gather their convictions well enough to first decide whether or not these fields are still in need of “fundamental understandings from which to work.”
((I’m not aware of any standard classification which roughly encompasses the fields which are most associated with my own ideas, so I’ve chosen to call them “mental/behavioral” sciences. The two paragraphs here give a more detailed listing.
Psychology and Psychiatry are prime examples, though the nonhuman subjects found in Zoology require inclusion as well. “Social studies,” like Anthropology, Sociology and Political Science also apply (…as does Economics, though this field does already “formally conform” with my ideas, as mentioned in “The First Author’s Note”). For a discipline that specifically references “the mind,” Cognitive Science seems better represented than Neuroscience, since it has fewer “medical/engineering” attributes. A dearth of engineering details also helps explain why my work has only vague Computer Science implications.
In a general sense the term “life” represents the subject of my work, though “conscious life” is a primary focus, and “the human” is indeed the main subject of consideration. So to be clear, I believe that today’s “mental/behavioral” fields lack basic understandings from which to work, and will therefore remain “primitive,” at least until an accepted understanding of positive and negative personal existence is gained — or that we must figure out that which is most essentially good/bad for a given subject.