[Fis] The Tao in Personal Experience

Katherine Peil Kauffman ktpeil at outlook.com
Thu May 2 19:48:07 CEST 2024

Dear FIS Community,

This truly has been a wonderful learning experience for me. I feel I’ve been taken by the hand to discover an entire botanical garden of mathematical forms, processes, and logic structures each as splendorous as the nuances to be found in my own greenhouse of emotional literature. So many of which resonate, and some of which claim to be universal theories of everything – Klein Bottle Logos, Neutrosophic Logic.  Then Lou brings it all back to Boole, and something like that which I see happening in the emotional system.

If you will indulge my Tao metaphor a bit longer, I see most of this as relevant to the underlying structure within the causal processes of The Tao, which I’m happy to call “unknown” but claim to be ontologically in-formative, transformative and highly relevant to our personal participation within the Tao. (I should mention my view is quite in keeping with Whitehead’s metaphysics, a point previously ending on the edit floor. In fact, I recently advised a graduate student reworking Whitehead as an emotion theory, a splendid contribution, and she made Whitehead more accessible in the process.)

So, if I may return the focus to our emotional experiences (and interactions between Domain 0 and Domain 1), I’d like to use Lou’s Boolean Algebra (0, 1 and its analog fence of in probabilistic values between), to sketch an intuitive view of the cyclic cybernetic feedback arrangement that lies at the heart of the “self-regulatory” control function within emotional sentience. This informational loop requires ongoing comparisons between self~not-self in our wake-a-day world of Domain 1 (effectively between a whole system in its local here and now environment – each of us looking out upon the world). But there is another simultaneous comparison being made between the Self~not-yet-self drawing upon timeless informational patterns of Domain 0, our internal “unconscious” dreaming world. (This happens when the human brain dips down into the slow Theta and Delta waves during the day). In short, these are the unconscious embodied identity and regulatory processes of Domain 0 with it Both~And logic.)

Step two happens when there are biophysically significant “self-relevant” imbalances between internal needs and external resources, a signal is sent. I described this as a positive feedback amplifying signal (where the change is amplified in the same direction), which carries bivalent yet analog information  depending upon whether the signal is going in a more more more or less less less direction. This matches Lou’s in-between on the fence probabilistic analog information, yet the directional trajectory of the change also adds the binary yes or no, we experience as hedonic pleasure or pain.  Step three, then is the coupled approach~avoidant behavioral response, but deeper at the level of self-organization, are any reinforcing~preventing homeodynamic responses - Tao-like bi-stable switching - wherein the parts restore balance in ways that either preserve or enhance the existing whole. This is the coupled negative feedback self-correcting response that restores either the former equilibrium state (if its negative, to stop or reverse a self-destructive change in progress – to self-preserve), or going to a new equilibrium state at a higher level of organization (if its positive, to actively enhance an adaptive self-developmental change). In short, this is the evaluative either~or logic that we experience in Domain 1.

If this sounds like word salad, it can be exemplified at the cellular level in Mike Levin’s work in terms the opening~closing of ion channel gates and increasing~decreasing voltage membrane potential, with increasing polarity reflecting the “positive” (+++ more more more) trajectory and decreasing polarity reflecting the “negative” (- - - less less less) trajectory of positive feedback amplification - the latter of which has been associated with cancer. Hence, the yes~no value is communicated via the increasing~decreasing membrane polarity (respectively) and perhaps more generally potentially constructive~destructive physical stressors of any kind. (Mike? Precursors to the calcium wave? Need your help here.) Likewise, the not-yet-self comparison is reflected in the bioelectric patterns that offer positional information in embryogenesis – some sort of storehouse of species-specific information in morphospace (my Domain 0).

If this still sounds like word salad, I ask a more general question: Where is semantic “value” to be found in information theory? Does semiotics address the symbolic language of the body? Is the thermodynamic story of information the final word? Might there be an active agent - a subjective self - that can mine entropy to conduct the non-equilibrium business of life? A Maxwellian “daemon” that can play Hot Beans with temperature flows? Perhaps one that mediates the part~whole relationship at every level of scale within a Kantian whole? One that utilizes bioelectric information and resonance~dissonance to to define and compare internal and external states, to regulate and repair the self, and to construct and adapt the not-set-self? This is what the informational content within human emotional feelings implies.

If nothing else comes from this discussion, I hope that each of you can begin to experience the distinction between the “cognitive” stream of information and the deeper stream of self-regulatory emotional information and how they dance within your own waking~dreaming states, your intellects~intuitions, and your being and becoming.

With all best wishes,

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