Biocentrism, Light Eating Sea Slugs, and Emotion

Two items in the news from science are of special interest. One is about Biocentrism:

From Wikipedia:

"Biocentric universe (from Greek: βίοςbios, "life"; and κέντρονkentron, "center") — also known as biocentrism — is a concept proposed in 2007 by American doctor of medicine Robert Lanza, a scientist in the fields of regenerative medicine and biology,[1][2][3] which sees biology as the central driving science in the universe, and an understanding of the other sciences as reliant on a deeper understanding of biology. Biocentrism states that lifeand biology are central to beingreality, and the cosmos — life creates the universe rather than the other way around. It asserts that current theories of the physical world do not work, and can never be made to work, until they fully account for life and consciousness. While physics is considered fundamental to the study of the universe, and chemistry fundamental to the study of life, biocentrism claims that scientists will need to place biologybefore the other sciences to produce a theory of everything.[4]"

......... the second article is about a sea slug incorporating the genes of another organism into its own makeup after ingesting it. It's a naturally occurring process of gene transfer via the predator/prey dynamic. We might say you eat what you are, or you eat what you are about to be.

In the seventies I began my study of emotion as the lynchpin to animal behavior. In those days emotion wasn't part of the discussion when it came to how dogs learn or socialize. Behavior was all about reinforcements, instincts and genes and the overwhelming role human beings were said to play in the creation of the domesticated dog. As products of the hand of man, dogs were not considered worthy of serious investigation when it came to exploring the animal mind. Nevertheless I was seeing emotion as an immediate-moment "force" of attraction that was at the substrate of all animal behavior with dogs being the best subject for its study since the domestication process inadvertently amplified this universal code. In fact, the domestication of the dog I viewed as an inevitable consequence of evolution, not something intended by human beings. Furthermore emotion works via a predator/prey dynamic (both in predator and prey species which becomes most obvious when animals of any species play), and that another way of saying this is that consciousness and emotion work according to principles of energy. Given the universality of emotion across the entire bandwidth of animal consciousness, this therefore means that it takes a network to make information, not genes. Genes encode information but they don't create it. Information comes before genes, the software of life precedes the hardware of life, a notion of course which goes against the grain of how the human intellect processes reality as it's reflexively assumed that the material causes the immaterial. But in my understanding of emotion; the most basic unit of information is not how to survive or how to replicate, but how to make a network. This affiliative urge reveals the purposiveness of behavior, i.e. to construct a network; a collective tendency that has historically been misconstrued as intention and/or instinct when it's part of the very nature of emotion itself. It's not an instinct because it works according to principles of energy rather than by reflex and is thereby adaptive to change as opposed to being stymied by change. The long term purpose of a network is embedded in the immediate moment by way of a principle of emotional conductivity. In this way stress is acquired and it can only be resolved by aligning and synchronizing with sources of stress. This factors out into a social orientation (consistent with the Constructal Law so that objects of resistance are imported into the configuration in order to improve the flow of an underlying current, i.e. emotion) evolving out of a state of emotional attraction which we could articulate as: "I can't feel good unless you feel good."

Now I believe in science, in fact I feel NDT is the only logically rigorous interpretation of canine behavior and is therefore the most scientific approach to the canine mind; however, science can be like a rising sun that for a period of time can only faintly illuminate what's going on as its light advances. For example, it wasn't until relatively recently that the research of Panksepp elevated emotion to a respectable plane so that mainstream behaviorism was willing to take up the discussion. Meanwhile an immediate-moment analysis (emotion as attraction) is like an infrared lens that can pick out great detail from the dimmest light. Therefore it's always gratifying when the sun rises high enough to verify or begin to suggest what logical thinking in the immediate-moment manner of analysis has already discerned.

How is the prey/predator dynamic relevant to evolution? Not by survival of the fittest but by creating a more and more complex network:

"This biological adaptation (in sea slugs) is also a mechanism of rapid evolution, Pierce says. 'When a successful transfer of genes between species occurs, evolution can basically happen from one generation to the next,' he notes, rather than over an evolutionary timescale of thousands of years."

In other words, evolution by way of the prey/predator emotional dynamic is a heretofore unrecognized agency of evolution.

Again from Wikipedia on Biocentrism:

"Seven principles form the core of biocentrism.[9] The first principle of biocentrism is based on the premise that what we observe is dependent on the observer, and says that what we perceive as reality is “a process that involves our consciousness.[11]” The second and third principles state that “our external and internal perceptions are intertwined” and that the behavior of particles “is inextricably linked to the presence of an observer,” respectively.[12] The fourth principle suggests that consciousness must exist and that without it “matter dwells in an undetermined state of probability.[13]” The fifth principle points to the structure of the universe itself, and that the laws, forces, and constants of the universe appear to be fine-tuned for life.[14] Finally, the sixth and seventh principles state that space and time are not objects or things, but rather tools of our animal understanding.[15] Lanza says that we carry space and time around with us “like turtles with shells.[16]

If one believes in dominance, then they see dominance. If they believe in learning by reinforcement, then they observe learning by reinforcement. This is because we reflexively project this "shell" of time and space (most particularly time) into the minds of the animals we study. In contrast an immediate-moment manner of analysis is not prone to this error because it's not fixated on time or form and because it considers behavior as a flow of energy.

The network comes first, and then the individual mind crystallizes around its slice or access to the network. There cannot be information (the source of life) without a network. For example, the network that comprises the information to which life on earth must attune, is composed of the synchronized movements of the earth, the moon and the sun. This network constitutes the information on which life on earth must evolve since all life is predicated on these cycles. The operating system, how the earth, moon and sun move in concert, comes before the hardware, biological life forms. And the information by which this most basic of networks operates is gravity (i.e. a field of mutual attraction) and the laws of motion. An immediate-moment manner of analysis reveals that attraction and the laws of motion are the same principles by which animals construct a sense-of-self and then self-organize into their respective networks so as to construct an overarching network, an ecosystem.

Animals don't see the world as does the human intellect which focuses on space and time. This causes the human rational mind to adopt an outside-in perspective: as in, what happens out there (sequence of events) causes what happens in here (feelings and mind). We are thereby prone to think that if we get more money, more love, more of one thing or another, then that will change what we experience on the inside. The human mind constructs a narrative to tie moments together and as an explanation for how things are changing "out there." This causes us to focus on the form of things and thus we see different forms as being fundamentally different from each other. We look at nature as the sum of disconnected parts with ecosystems emerging from their random collisions and the most fit genes go on to predominate.

Animals on the other hand have an inside-out perspective, as in: What happens in here (feelings and mind) causes what happens out there. And what ties moments together in an animal mind is not conceptual, but rather feelings. This is why animals are so nose-oriented since it maps more succinctly to feelings. If two things feel the same, no matter how different they may appear to us, then in the animal mind they are the same. Animals seek no explanation for change since if the inside "causes" the outside, there is no need. Rather they seek to turn it into information since this captures and harnesses new energy for the network. If a species captures energy and harnesses it for the network, it survives and flourishes. If it does not, then it goes extinct, its information however preserved in the new configuration of the network. Science has recently acknowledged that dogs have something to teach us about the animal mind. But it has yet to see that the greatest example of the most basic urge in nature to turn change into information, i.e. a network-consciousness, is the domesticated dog.

Published February 7, 2015 by Kevin Behan
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One response to “Biocentrism, Light Eating Sea Slugs, and Emotion”

  1. b... says:

    We are fixated on individuation and the notion that one entity must conquer another to succeed, as the prevailing competition theories you mention demonstrate. Presumably this follows from our sense of self separate from our environment, which is apparently a prefrontal cortex function. Yet there have been human cultures in recent history that did not have this distinct sense of separation. Schizophrenia and flow states are marked by hypofrontality, where this attribute is physiologically diminished. This “evolution” of the human brain towards a disassociated (from nature) state seems peculiar.

    It makes you wonder if it isn’t itself a product of a predator/prey genome intrusion by a parasite of some sort, kind of like the one described here that takes control of the host human brain’s motivations:

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