In addition to physiological systems, Life has an Information Digestion (ID) system, according to our model. Just our digestive system transforms raw material into food that nourishes the Body, the ID system transforms data streams into Experiences that nourish the Mind. The ID System consists of a Synergy consisting of four components, i.e. Feelings, Attention, Intention, and Mind (FAIM). The time has come to explain the meaning of these components in more detail.
Each of the components is labeled with a familiar term. While useful, these familiar terms have a slightly different meaning to each of us. What do these terms mean in the context of the ID System? What is their technical meaning – stripped of personal context – as much as possible.
The meaning of each component is tied to and limited by a mathematical system, i.e. Data Stream Dynamics (DSD). The meaning of DSD is in turn tied to and limited by empirical data (scientific facts). In simpler terms, the meaning of our terms is tied to and limited by a specific Math-Fact Matrix associated with Attention.
Data Stream Dynamics supplies the mathematics for Life’s ID system. As the name implies, DSD is all about data streams. Due to this integral connection, the meaning of each component is determined by its relationship with data streams.
The prior chapter enumerated some of the prime tenets of our ID model. While these underlying principles lay the foundation for model, they have little, if anything, to do with the components. There is another prime tenet that shapes the meaning of the Info Synergy’s four components. It was an inference we drew when attempting to understand Attention’s Math/Fact Matrix. Since then, an abundance of empirical data has affirmed this inference, thereby transforming it from an inference to a prime tenet.
Prime Tenet: Sustaining Attention upon a data stream for a sufficient duration generates an Experience, the Food of the Mind. As the Food of the Mind, Experience is of crucial importance for our model. What factors are at play in generating an Experience?
According to our model, there is an Experience cycle.
1) Feelings assign relative value to Data Streams based upon their content.
2) Attention attaches to Data Streams based upon the value attributed by Feelings.
3) It takes a Pulse of Data Stream Acceleration to generate an Experience.
4) Attention is attracted to DS Acceleration. However, the acceleration fades before the completion of the Experience Pulse.
5) Intention is required keep Attention on track (focused upon the DS) long enough to complete the Pulse of Experience.
6) Mind chooses the Data Streams in which to invest Attention.
7) Mind makes his choice based upon a combination of DS analysis and the value attributed by Feelings.
8) Mind’s analysis is rooted in the mathematics of Data Stream Dynamics (DSD).
Now that we know a little about the actors – their name and general function, let us form a meaningful relationship with them – by digging a little deeper into their essence.
You may have noticed that we have skirted the topic of definitions regarding our Information Digestion Model, the Synergy and its components. The prior chapter enumerated the prime tenets of the ID model but failed to offer any of the precise definitions required by deductive logic. We have reasons for these omissions. The following sections discuss some of the motivations behind this neglect.
Like any synergy, the ID Synergy belongs to a holistic system. As such, the parts can only be defined in relationship to the whole - contextually.
In contrast, for atomistic systems, such as those associated with inanimate matter, the parts define the whole. Each part, e.g. an atom, can be defined independently of its relationship to the whole. For instance, scientists have reduced the atomistic material world to molecules, electrons and such. The precise definition of these parts facilitates a better understanding of the whole. This understanding is the basis of the ongoing technological miracle.
Despite the inner connectivity of holistic systems, the components of holistic systems (gestalts) are fully separable. Even though they act in concert as a unit, our synergistic digestive system has clearly defined parts, e.g. stomach, esophagus and mouth.
However, each part only has meaning in relationship to the entire system. What is a mouth without a stomach? Further, the whole cannot exist without each part or a functional equivalent. What is a digestive system without a stomach?
Unlike exclusively material systems, every biological system (synergy) serves some kind of purpose with respect to the organism. For instance, the function of our elimination system is to rid our Body of waste. Likewise, each component of these synergies also has a specific function. Rather than content, the ID components are best defined by their function. As the old adage goes: Form follows function.
One more caveat: Theoretical primitives (a.k.a primitive notions) are undefined concepts that lay at the logical foundation of mathematics, logic, and formal systems. In particular, a primitive notion is not defined in terms of previously defined concepts, but is only understood informally. The informal meaning of these words is based upon an appeal to intuition and everyday experience. The philosopher Tarski proved that definitions of these primitive notions are ultimately based upon an infinite regression of words defining words in a type of circular reflexive reasoning. This regression is the basis of the children’s ‘why game’ that can go on forever. Theoretical primitives are at the basis of holistic, atomistic and even mathematical systems.
Energy is a theoretical primitive. There are equations that define how energy operates, i.e. what it does. These equations have enabled us to tap into sources of energy that power our homes and our modern world. Everyone has an intuitive understanding of energy, both physical and mental. However, the scientific community is unable to define what it is. Electromagnetic fields, although ubiquitous, fall into the same category as energy – defined by what they do, rather than by what they are.
Let us offer a relevant example. Attention can be defined as consciousness, awareness, or the perception of the environment, both internal and external. But when asked to define awareness, consciousness or perception, we must define them with the Attention. And around and around it goes.
The scientific community has not been able to come up with an adequate definition for either Attention or energy. Despite difficulties with a precise definition of these very common and practical words, everyone has an intuitive understanding of these problematic concepts.
Due to this innate reflexivity at the base of the theoretical pyramid, definitions of these theoretical primitives are suggestive, not definitive.
Both Attention and energy are better defined by what they do, rather than by what they are. As an aside, the Tao is the same. We can talk about its effects, not what it is. Function, not Content.
There is one final problem associated with defining the ID Synergy’s components. What are they – animal, mineral or plant? And where are they located – in the brain or elsewhere? There is no firm consensus anywhere.
What is Conscious Awareness? In the West, the educated generally regard this mysterious and ubiquitous phenomenon as an emergent feature of Matter. Indeed there is even a philosophical movement called panpsychism, whose proponents argue (presumably for the sake of logical simplicity) that all Matter, even inanimate electrons and molecules, possess Consciousness, even if it is minute.
Panpsychism: Consciousness = Possession of Matter
How typically Western – thinking in terms of ownership. Matter owns consciousness? I don’t think so.
Rather than a thing to be owned, Consciousness runs free, in the sense that she is an independent process. While material limitations provide the borders of her fast flowing river, she flows separately. She is not an object, a thing – neither akin to a boat on the river, nor the river.
What then is this Awareness that is an essential feature of all living things? Could Consciousness perhaps be the process of Awareness? This is certainly what our Information Digestion Model indicates.
ID Model: Consciousness = Process of Awareness
Music provides a good example. While arising from physical vibrations that interact with our eardrums, the music only exists as an experience that relies upon context. Like Consciousness, Music is not the notes, nor the words of the lyrics, but rather a contextual, holistic experience that relies upon an awareness of beginning, end, and an overlay of past experiences.
How many memories are packed into a favorite song that was played regularly in our youth? The music evokes past times that equally fade and pass away until evoked again by some transitory notes from an aging musician in a fading body. Similarly, Attention is not a possession of the material stream that provides a substrate, but rather an experiential process that relies upon context.
Because Conscious Awareness is a process, not a thing, she must be studied as a contextual process rather than as an object. Instead, significant members of the scientific community have unsuccessfully attempted to objectify her for centuries. No wonder they have failed so miserably. Attempting to possess this free spirit, she slips from their grasp – no matter how hard they hold on.
According to our Information Digestion Model, Attention is not an isolated entity that can be studied separately. Instead Attention belongs to an interactive synergistic process that includes Intention, Feelings, and the Executive function, which we call Mind. The ID Synergy also contains a computational process, a patented image overlay process (the LA) that provides the basis of contextual meaning.
The relationships between the components are far more significant than their content, because they have none. Although they require a material substrate for their existence, the Synergy’s components have no actual content. The ID Synergy provides meaning and value. Without the Synergy to assign meaning, the components vanish into the virtual reality from which they came. Despite their virtual existence, these components continue to exert a tremendous influence upon the imagined reality that they have created – the one in which we live.
As seen, there are 3 limitations upon our ability to define the ID Synergy’s four components. 1) The Information Synergy belongs to a holistic system. Rather than content, the meaning of the parts is determined by their relationship to the whole.
2) The four components, FAIM, are each indefinable ‘primitive notions’ – understood primarily via intuition.
Although definitions are elusive, we all have an intuitive understanding of their meaning. We regularly employ these terms in daily conversation. For instance: she hurt my Feelings; pay Attention; exert some Intention to change course; my Mind is not working that well today.
Some may deny that Feelings, Will, Mind and Conscious Awareness even exist. Plus, the terms might be used and understood in many diverse ways. However, there is a general common understanding that is good enough to facilitate human interaction and communication.
Although indefinable in precise non-regressive terms, this doesn’t mean that we can’t talk about these primitive notions in a meaningful way.
3) There is one more limitation. The four components don’t exist in the same fashion as an electron, atom or object. Rather the components are more similar to electromagnetic waves. How? EM waves are evoked by the movement of electrons. No movement à no force fields to change material reality. Similarly Attention et al are evoked by the movement of information. No info movement à No Attention.
Despite the limitations, i.e. holistic, indefinable and non-existent, we can still discuss these terms in terms of their meaning to the holistic system they belong to – Life. Following chapters investigate the micro-biology of the ID system – how and where Attention connects up with the Body, the physical substrate of Life’s immaterial component. But first a casual discussion of the Information Synergy’s four components.
Let us move to some functional definitions.
Attention engages with data streams. Attention could be considered the mouth of the ID system. It allows information in the form of data streams to enter the system. It is the sensor behind the sensory input – that which attends to data streams. Indeed, Data streams and Attention have symbiotic relationship. Neither can exist without the other.
Yet in our ID system, Attention is more than just a Gatekeeper - a door of perception. It plays a more active role. Rather than merely allowing info in, Attention invests each new piece of info with mental energy (a menton). This investment occurs with each iteration of the image overlay process. Rather than free-floating, the mental energy is attached to the incoming info (an infoton). The data can be one dimensional, a bit, or multi-dimensional, an image.
If Attention remains on the data stream long enough, i.e. for sufficient duration, it generates an Experience, a memorable event that provides nourishment for the ID system. An Experience is required to spark the gap between the Attention Realm and the Molecular Realm – between time’s horizontal and vertical dimension.
Intention is akin to Will. Intention executes Mind’s decisions. It has two functions: 1) restraint and 2) directive. These are 2 sides of the same coin. Yet like cause and effect, it proves useful to break intention into these parts. We can both restrain habitual patterns of behavior, e.g. resist over-eating, and initiate new behavior patterns, e.g. taking up an instrument. In terms of the mathematics, Intention is required to both sustain Attention upon a data stream long enough to have an Experience (restraint) and to focus Attention on appropriate data streams chosen by Mind (directive).
Feelings are akin to emotions, drives – the urge to action. Feelings assign relative value to data streams. Attention is attracted to data streams that have been assigned value by Feelings. Without Feelings, there is no value. With no value, Attention has no motivation. Feelings motivate Attention to focus upon a data stream. Innate Feelings motivate living systems to maintain homeostasis – even aliostasis (the improvement of the system’s state.)
Feelings are unique to living systems. Inanimate systems do not have Feelings.
Mind the Executive analyzes data in order to decide between alternatives. Mind is the Decision maker, the component in charge of choice. He chooses between competing Feelings/urges. When there are competing urges, feelings, with competing values, Mind chooses which data stream to focus Attention upon.
Mind does not initiate the action. Feelings drive the system to action. Mind is just a facilitator. Mind decides which action to take.
Mind serves a dual function. In the info system, Mind chooses where to focus Attention, i.e. which data streams that have Feelings-assigned value. In this capacity, he decides whether to jump ship to a new, presumably more promising data stream or to hold Attention on course long enough to have an Experience. In the physiological system, Mind chooses between behaviors. Intention is Mind’s tool – Mind Intent.
Let us take a simple example to illustrate the connection between the components. Cells are attracted to potential sources of nutrition – food, then move towards the source and then consume it. The attraction is supplied by Feelings. The Will to move is supplied by Intention. The decision to move is made by Mind. And of course, Attention is required to both notice and attend to the data streams associated with food.
The Information Digestion System consists of these vital functions. We have identified and given names to certain interlocking components of these functions. There could definitely be other names, definitions and even interpretations of these components. However, the functions remain the same. We have chosen these names for the components because they fit with popular parlance. They are familiar terms.
A brief recapitulation to avoid confusion: Rather than operating independently, Attention belongs to a synergy that includes Intention, Mind and Feelings. Following is a concise summary of the relationships between these components.
1. Life has an ID system that is on a par with the Body’s physiological systems. Due to its absolute necessity, I am even tempted to claim that it surpasses the others in importance. Yet they are all essential. Else why do they exist – even in the single cell?
2. Feelings assign value to data streams, the food of the ID system. Feelings provide the urges/appetites that motivate Mind’s choices. Mind assigns relative value to these Feelings in order to prioritize decision-making.
3. Attention focuses upon data streams to generate Experiences, the Food of the Mind.
4. Intention is required to keep Attention focused upon a data stream long enough to generate an Experience – prevent Attention from wandering or getting distracted.
5. Mind analyzes data streams and makes Choices as to where to exert Intention. For instance, he decides whether to keep Attention focused upon a particular data/image stream or shift Attention to another DS. Intention can be thought of as a mental muscle – Mind’s tool.
6. Mind employs the mathematics of Data Stream Dynamics to analyze data streams.
All this verbiage conveys an impression of substantiality. However, words are frequently deceptive – resulting in faulty conclusions. To ground these sentences, let us reiterate the three insights from the beginning of the chapter.
1) Each of the components is defined solely by its function in Life’s holistic system. They have no meaning independent of the system. 2) While familiar terms, each of the components is an indefinable ‘primitive notion’ only apprehended by intuition and experience. 3) The entire ID system with its components is a figment of our imagination. The only reality is that which we attribute to it. While imaginary, the ID system is the source of meaning in our lives. Without this imagined reality, we are nothing.