Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Problems of Wisdom -- Notes on judgment, wisdom, and the rest of the brain

This article follows from a previous one, The Diversity of the Mind and the Unifying Force of Identity --Sub-Minds and Self Identity. Also there is a more 'pop' article called Your Mental Diverse is Composed of Many Minds.

Here are notes about the issues and problems in developing wisdom, and how judgment and decision are connected to the whole of the brain, to the many other sub-minds we employ.

This may sound incorrect but bear with me. Your brain has many sub-minds and you can be engaged in the behaviors of these other departments: logic, creativity, emotion etc. You may spend time in your prefrontal region where wisdom and decision making reside, you may then leave this area. When you are focused on creativity, you will not be focused on wisdom.  Wisdom seems transitory.

So if you are circling about through different sub-minds you will leave wisdom behind until you return to its perspective through need or choice or randomness.

Also, if you are employing many minds at once you will find wisdom either demoted in importance or having to compete with other perceptions such as creativity or emotion or the cryptego (your subconscious ego). When you are engaged in projects or "living life" you will often be juggling many sub-minds at once. This would be a state of "resonance", as opposed to a state of focus.

But focus can of course exist in this state because you are focusing on the problem at hand, employing all your faculties to get a job done.

Unfortunately in a state of resonance, some people have no focused activity, no goal, no perspective. In this behavior many of your sub-minds are shooting off fireworks but there is no work involved, the state seems to be one of chaos, lack of aspiration, stimulation for its own sake, and entertainment. This is a kind of cultural ADHD.

Whether we are in a state of resonance or focus, wisdom is something we need to have available. Even while we are engaged in the use of another sub-mind or set of them, we require wisdom at some level in the background so that it can intervene when it sees danger and triggers.

So a wisdom "conscience" is required to make us stop and think about what we are doing and then to act by changing a course. This conscience must be ever present or we will fail at our efforts and find ourselves in grave danger. It is as important as the will to survive in an animal, and in Humans it is a modification of this basic drive, taken to a higher level.

The necessity of a conscience of this sort means that the brain must have degrees and forms of consciousness and thus degrees of sub-consciousness.

A high degree of consciousness might be the focus itself on the prefrontal region to the exclusion of others. When we are in other neurological realms we have a reduced consciousness, it is in the background, we feel it watching, we are aware it is there. In a lesser degree of consciousness, we can forget it is there, but if we search we will find it on the sidelines. In a still reduced mode, the wisdom perception seems fully absent, we have completely forgotten about it, but it will arise through a trigger, like a lifeguard on a beach it will suddenly appear to rescue you in a situation of risk.

When we have no wisdom consciousness, when we get in trouble, no one intervenes to save us.

Related to the issue of consciousness is multitasking and single tasking. We are capable of both modes. When we are just focused on creativity or logic, we can say that is single tasking of a sort. If we are engaged in an activity that demands many of your sub-minds, then we will be engaged in forms of multitasking. The project will have its focus, tasks and demands, and a combination of your sub-minds will be called upon. The many are serving the one, the one general goal.

If you are running a difficult meeting then you many require passion, improvisation, flashes of creativity, logic and analysis, facts, specific emotional memories, messages from your subconscious, intuition and more. Some of it will happen at once, for example being emotional and logical at the same time to be persuasive. Other activity will be more serial, in sequence. But it is hard to say what is really happening because you may express each mind in sequence, but below the level of your immediate focus the various minds are working SIMULTANEOUSLY responding to the situation and to each other.

And please note that even if you are being creative, that the right hemisphere is also working with the left hemisphere to produce a product such as a highly logical and linear argument that has passion and is phrased in a creative way, and perhaps pulls on myths and ideals in the collective unconscious of all of us.

Experience will helps us generate these skills, these levels of awareness. In fact, many of our sub-minds are ever present in these ways ready to swing into action. And the more you have developed each sub-mind, the more likely they will be in the background and come to your aid when a situation, event or problem requires it. A circumstance may require strong emotions, creativity, logic, accessing a key memory etc. Conversely, if you have not developed your sub-minds and the skill of accessing them, then you are severely disarmed.

If wisdom's toolbox is sparse, your performance will also be sparse and wanting. If your sub-minds cannot give you emotions, memories, logic, ideas, creations, then your prefrontal area will have little material for judgment. Its job is collation of information, deliberation and decision. This not only includes data from the external world but also data from your other sub-minds including products, feelings and points of view.

Wisdom can work with the manager of your brain which also resides in the prefrontal region to develop other sub-minds. Each sub-mind has its own persona and rules, so no general theory is possible, but by entering into the locality of logic or creativity or emotion, we can learn the viewpoint, the behaviors, the rules. Satisfaction will arise with our growing competence. And more, joy will come to us as we savor the richness of our neurology, the wealth of our feelings and skills and insight.

A nascent wisdom can also work on a plan to develop its self in a step by step way passing from the rudimentary and naïve to the more sophisticated. Consciousness and self consciousness are present in many parts of the brain. Our consciousness works on an issue, and our self consciousness watches us work on the issue and offers critique. This double view is our curse and our salvation, our stress and our success.

Wisdom itself offers great rewards: of clarity, grounding, control, fairness, balance, serenity, moral satisfaction, lack of obsession and more.

If wisdom is not developed, this paleo-wisdom will suffer from a host of problems such as:

·         Making decisions from a narrow range of alternatives put forward by the limited ideas of the logical mind rather than making use of the creative mind to open up a range of solutions

·         Making decisions without regard to your emotions or those of other people, these are important factors

·         Making decisions without regard to constant messages from your intuition and subconscious that state something is very wrong

·         Making decisions without regard to your basic memories, that is, embarking on a course that your psyche cannot support and is not prepared to undertake.

·         Making decisions without regard to your philosophic paradigm, reflecting a split in yourself as to what is true and what is not

·         And related, making a decision while having a split view of one's own personality, being at war with one's self

·         Making decisions without having a moral code to guide you or only a partial code

·         And so on.

·         And of course there are the most basic issues about having enough information, the ability to collate data, knowing the difference between short term and long consequences, translating a decision to a plan, thinking in terms of scenarios and stages and transitions, evaluating risk, balancing points of view, creating decisiveness, learning to evaluate and correct errors in decisions, learning planning and execution etc.

Further, too much time spent being "wise" may result in odd behavior. This may sound strange but a kind of disconnected personal can evolve. In this state we can be fully free of the benefits of other minds.

This kind of wisdom could be called an "iso-wisdom", a wisdom that lives in isolation from the rest of the brain. Just as we could speak of "iso-logic, iso-creativity, iso-emotions" and so on, as sub-minds that operate on their own and develop some peculiar activity.

Too much wisdom, if you will, is the state of being free of the benefit of the connections to the rest of one's neurology. The prefrontal cortex is in touch with the rest of the brain, decision making, wisdom and overall management take place in this realm.

Without it there is no sense of a whole, a whole brain. Reason does not see the whole brain, creativity does not, emotions do not. In the prefrontal locale we can get a sense of the global. This however does not mean we can see and feel everything that is going on, that would not be possible, that version of the "global" or the "whole" is not achievable for many reasons. First because, our focus can only be on one thing at a time, and even if the focus is managing the whole then we are seeing a certain global zone. Second there are so many subconscious processes happening that we are not aware of. In a state of "resonance" when all is happening at once, we are managing the connections and aiming for an overall goal, while the sub-minds are on their own. True "whole conscious" is not a reality, the whole is too big for that, too complex and too dynamic. At best we can get a partial picture of a whole but never the whole picture of the whole. And we must understand that the whole is a pattern, loops and sequences; the whole is in motion, evolving. When we get a feeling of the "whole" we are feeling a general mood of connection and cooperation and harmony; we are feeling energy coming from the resonance of working together; we are in awe of the complex serial tasking and multitasking and subconscious tasking. We make an ethereal leap to a spirit of a "whole" and to some extent it exists but we must restrain an impulse to idealize this state. If we keep the notion in check, it can be powerful and motivating; if we get carried away, we enter a land of mysticism and magic where science and technique are ostracized.

The fact that we cannot know the whole of the whole is testament to the diversity and complexity of the mind. Diversity constantly trumps universality. Once you think you know everything, the Diverse sinks your paradigm.

In any case, back to the original point: too much wisdom may be exhibited as certain behaviors. When wisdom is disconnected, it operates in some of these modes:

·         Free of logic, analysis, theory. It substitutes a peculiar kind of philosophy that substitutes for science and detail

·         Free of creativity. Wisdom cannot create creativity, so it exists without new ideas, it thus becomes "eternal"

·         Lacking emotions. It operates in a mode of pure "objectivity" and distance and beyond emotion itself.

·         Disconnected from others and the world, it is free floating, alienated.

·         Lacking an action orientation, it becomes passive, it feels a philosophic despair. And it knows nothing of the mind of action, the abrupt mind of pure doing. It cannot plan.

·         Lacking ego and drive. There is no ambition, destiny, striving.

·         Lacking personality. It is detached even from one's own basic persona and identity for there is no such thing it concludes. All souls are one in a sort of fused and ghostly plane

·         Diminished senses. The senses are cut off, this data is not important anymore.

·         Memory does not exist. It is misinformation, ignore it. Thus we are cut off from ourselves, our own evolution, the ground of who we are.

·         The subconscious poses a problem because it cannot be shut off, it appears in dreams and waking states. The wisdom mind does not know what to do with it. And it may become a substitute for living and the lives of the other sub-minds.

·         Lastly, the manager mind does nothing. This mind in the prefrontal area works with decision making and wisdom to plan out and administer the whole show. When wisdom comes to dominate and shut off the brain, then the manager mind has nothing to do and it will sleep.

So these are problems that wisdom has with itself.

Wisdom can also have problems with other sub-minds. And they come in at least two forms.

The first is simply the lack of development of a sub-mind's skill. For example, poor analytic abilities, poor detail and linear abilities for the left hemisphere. The same for creativity. Emotions can be poorly developed and tending to the negative. These issues result from an improper evolution and growth of a mental department. They are errors of lack of elaboration or "elaboratia".

A second set of malfunction has to do with extremes of behavior, iso-behavior. In this case the sub-mind has no boundaries or limitations.

The creative mind could be operating without any regard to science, technique or facts. Randomness, a key creative behavior could be so universal that basic life issues are not attended too. Creativity works without any regard for ethics, simply for the pure joy of it etc.

The extremes of logic, sensation, emotions, negative memories, and the subconscious are well known so we don't have to expound on them. In fact it seems that the history of art, culture and philosophy is the story of these behaviors. We may see history as NEUROLOGY.

There is another theme of wisdom to address and that is diverse thinking. This thought method compels the prefrontal cortex to think in new modes: to look at all information, all points of view, all neuro perceptions. Diverse thinking would work for an integrated, balanced point of view. At the same time it would recognize priorities and stresses on certain localities of the mind. Thus the whole would be stretched out over time as a sequence of parts – we have now a distinction between a temporal whole and a spatial whole, the whole over time vs. the whole in a snapshot, the whole in evolution vs. the whole as a complicated map.

Diverse thinking can help the operation of judgment and wisdom because it shares some similar general principles. Of course, philosophy does not create the neurology, and philosophy cannot substitute for the science of neurology, but it can offer some help.

As life becomes more complex, and as we have more time to focus on self growth in this age of affluence, diverse thinking will become more and more useful.

Cage Innoye

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