Chapter 3: Secondary Operation, or “Self”
The first of these two modes of function has been defined such that personal relevance does not exist. Therefore the entire remaining compliment to “instinct” will indeed encompass personal relevance, or something which I call “self.” Furthermore I define this mode as something that can only exist through a “consciousness,” or “a medium through existence is experienced.” With a potential to experience “punishment” or “reward,” personal motivation exists to essentially “figure out what to do” — here there is incentive to achieve existence which is rewarding, as well as to avoid existence which is punishing.
With subjects which may be punished and/or rewarded, thus distinguishing them from the perfectly irrelevant remainder of reality, it will be necessary for us to establish the fundamental nature of a punishment/reward dynamic. How shall this “self,” or personally relevant feature which is proposed to exist under some kind of “consciousness medium,” specifically be defined?
From the presented model so far, if the human did not harbor “self” then our own existence could not be positive or negative to us — like our computers, humans would have no potential to be punished and/or rewarded. But because we clearly do have a potential for positive and negative personal existence to occur, this does give us opportunities to catalog apparent examples of human punishment and reward. Furthermore when we step back to consider such a list, we might then see various general consistencies between these factors which seem personally relevant to us. Any such consistencies would then serve as “theory of our self,” or a potential essence of human good and bad. And given the highly related nature that seems to exist between “life on Earth,” successful human theory in this respect might also be useful to describe the nature of personal relevance for other conscious subjects as well.
So to begin with factors that are negatively significant to the human, I see pain as the greatest potential source of negative experience, or “punishment,” that we generally endure. Other negative experiences seem to include worry, fear, guilt, embarrassment, frustration, anger, betrayal, disrespect, jealousy, shame, disgust, boredom, remorse, sadness, itchiness, hatred, loneliness, and so on. As I see it, these conscious experiences inherently punish the human.
Moving now to positive experiences, I see examples of this in hope, fun, love, beauty, euphoria, friendship, productivity, pride, self-respect, forgiveness, humor, and so on. As I see it, these conscious experiences inherently reward the human.
I also see positive and negative personal dynamics associated with our standard five senses — certain things look, sound, taste, smell, or feel “bad” to us, while others can be “rewarding.” Furthermore, being deprived of sex, food, water, or air seem to generally bring negative personal experiences, while this sort of access seems positive.
((This two paragraph disclaimer addresses “biased evidence.”
I do realize that the above list may be viewed as a way for me to promote my own biases concerning the essential nature of “human good and bad.” There also seems to be a slightly different (and useful) perspective from which to consider it however. Though I do present the above list somewhat as “evidence of reality,” it is more importantly given as a means from which to help define various terms associated with the following model. Ultimately my work concerns “the construction of theory” rather than “the testing of theory.”
Most anyone could compose a list from which to theorize “significance which defines self” in order to build a model such as mine — and I certainly encourage these efforts! Observe that each such definition will, by definition, be a valid definition. The testing of an associated theory, however, will not come until its implications are compared against observations of how reality seems to function in practice. This is also where the potential “usefulness” of any associated definition may be assessed.
With the above list from which to theorize personal significance for the human… and thus an associated definition of “self,” I see one distinct consistency throughout. Each of these factors seem to concern positive/negative sensations. Thus this second mode of function, which is defined to exist beyond “instinct,” shall be “the conscious experience of feeling good and/or bad.” Furthermore, given the close relationship that should exist between “all life on Earth,” I do assume that all varieties that experience positive and/or negative sensations, effectively possess this second mode of function.
This is my theory addressing the fundamental nature of positive and negative existence — a simple answer to an ancient and quite contentious question. But hopefully the procedure which is shown here illustrates a concept that is possible to effectively explore. Can existence be positive or negative to the human, and perhaps various other types of subject? If so then it should be quite possible for us to build associated lists of apparent positive and negative circumstances. With such a platform from which to work there is a simple procedure from which an associated “personal relevance” idea may be derived, and quite regardless of whether “evolution,” “a god,” or some other dynamic was responsible for creating what we happen to be. With a list that denotes positive and negative circumstances to a given subject, the element which is ultimately common to each of them should exist as the essential nature of personal significance for it. This element may then be defined as its “personal entity” or “self” — and done so in the scientific exploration of what this subject happens to be.
((This paragraph observes that the presented “sensations” is somewhat different from one common way of defining this term.
Here “sensations” encompass dynamics like hunger, fear, jealousy, anger, pain, hope, fun, beauty, and so on — which is all quite standard. But as the following Wikipedia link demonstrates, Psychologists often use a “sensations” definition which also includes a “sense” element to it. Thus a visual image may commonly be referred to as “sensation” in their work, though this is classified quite seperately as “sense” in my own. Though senses of sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell may be interpreted such that sensations do also result, from my own definitions senses and sensations reside under distinctly separate varieties of input to the conscious mind.
As previously mentioned, the premise here is essentially “Epicurean,” or “Hedonistic,” or “Utilitarian.” It states that positive and negative sensations define significance for, or relevance for, or what matters for, or what can be positive or negative for, or what can be good or bad for… conscious varieties of life. Furthermore, for all forms of reality which have no sensations element of consciousness, existence occurs without any personal relevance.
“A plant” is presumably not conscious, and thus lacks sensations, and therefore all events would indeed be perfectly irrelevant to it from my definitions. For a given “fly,” however, perhaps a consciousness from which to experience sensations does indeed exist. Thus existence would be personally positive or negative to it, based upon the positive to negative sensations which it experiences. So perhaps its pain, frustration, and hunger have a negative personal effect, though presumably positive sensations like sexual fulfillment, the alleviation of hunger, and perhaps even fun can occur as well. From this model, positive to negative existence occurs through a “sensation element of the conscious mind,” or something that effectively creates a subject from personally irrelevant matter. Thus sensations have been defined here to exist as “the manifestation of self.”
To help practically demonstrate this perspective, consider an event that would generally be perceived as “horrible.” Consider being captured and forced to watch, helplessly, while a loved one is beaten. From the presented theory this event will be negative to you (though conceivably positive), given the specific sensations which you experience. Furthermore the same would be true for the person who is actually beaten — associated sensations would define exactly how personally negative (or positive) this event would be. This seems to explain, for example, why surgeons either remove our consciousness before they work on us, or at least reduce our potential to experience the sensation of “pain.”
“Personal observations” are all that have been used to demonstrate the validity of this model so far… and this will continue throughout. But might useful adjustments be made to this model? Is a “sensations premise” entirely off? It’s the observations of the scientific community in general that will decide extent to which this theory does or does not coincide with reality. My role, however, is a different one. Here various specific elements of existence shall be addressed in respect to this theory, in order to present a model which is more “complete.” So our question for the remainder shall be: With the presented model taken as a given aspect of existence, how might a subject indeed function in a practical sense?