Design In Nature -8-

“Design In Nature”

Zane, J. Peder; Bejan, Adrian (2012-01-24). Design in Nature: How the Constructal Law Governs Evolution in Biology, Physics, Technology, and Social Organization (Kindle Locations 1560-1564). Random House, Inc..

DIN: “One of the most powerful insights born from the constructal law is that social systems are natural designs that emerge and evolve to facilitate the flow of the currents they represent on the landscape.”

“As my Duke University colleague the sociologist Gilbert W. Merkx has written, this constructal perspective differs significantly from dominant approaches in the social sciences, which assume that structure is a given that sets the context for social action or transaction. Structures are seen as static and transactions as dynamic.”

“Constructal theory sees social structures (economies, governments, educational institutions, etc.) as flow systems that are dynamic, not static. Structure is not viewed as stable. Rather than being taken as given, the living flow structure is always in flux, ever evolving to provide better and better flow access. The evolution of flow structures reflects the interaction between time and the environment. The environment is important because it also evolves, altering the parameters within which flow occurs. Thus the environment is an essential dimension of any given flow structure. The environment, in turn, can be defined as a series of overlapping and interwoven flows that interact in space and time.”

“Although it (hierarchy) has received a bad rap as a symbol of inequality, hierarchy is essential to good design. Instead of providing advantages to one entity to the detriment of another, it arises naturally because it benefits the entire flow system, whether it is all the water in a river basin or all the people in a society. Hierarchy evolves  because good flow often involves multiscale architectures—that is, channels of varying sizes.”

KB: In “NDT”  I proposed that the specific roles that wolves perform in the hunt, (active/reactive—direct/indirect) are emotional polarities rather than a directed strategy and that furthermore these correspond to the spectrum of personalities that wolves display in the pack (likewise a function of active/reactive—direct/indirect). How wolves align around the prey is (1) a computation of resistance relative to attraction (active/reactive) and (2) angles of deflection (direct/indirect). Wolves relative to a prey of high resistance radiate across a spectrum and then synchronize with what the prey is doing. The prey moves and the group responds as a whole, a new computation of change, like an electrical input to a battery with an internal ionizing affects that lead to external polarizing effects. Each configuration around the prey represents a social order that evolves in real time and in tune with external circumstances. This is the real source of canine pack structure as well as the behavioral plasticity that allows for the domestic dog’s inexhaustible adaptability. These capacities have historically having been misattributed to a dominance hierarchy and the higher aspects of cognition. However, the highly stressed interactions we see between members of the pack are in reality paralyzed emotional caricatures of the prey-making repertoire we observe in the hunt. Pack instincts are paralyzed prey-making instincts. The wolves in the pack are not learning cooperation, but are being imprinted with a limit on cooperation, i.e. if the resistance is too high it is not safe to go forward. (Note that in the domestic context, everything we want our dog to do is ALWAYS the path of highest resistance.)

Why is the “dominant” individual feeling paralyzed by the “submissive?” Because the subordinate is generating the appearance of a preyful emotionally attractive stimulus, BUT IT IS NOT ACTING LIKE ONE. A “submissive” is indirectly being aggressive, actively confronting and bearing in on the superordinate.

So the hunt comes first, the social comes second. The capacity to cope with the stress of pack life comes by way of the facsimiles of the prey/resistance (direct/reactive) predator state relative to (active/indirect) prey state. Every configuration of the group around the prey is a complex hierarchy of feelings (desire relative to inhibition) which then makes a complex social life possible. The social structure of pack life solidifies around this dynamic system of flux.

This same pattern of prey/predator expressed via Direct/Indirect—Active/Reactive can be found in all animal interactions, the behavioral plasticity varying between individuals and species according to their emotional capacity. Some low capacity individuals can on occasion exhibit a high capacity response and seemingly transcend their genetics when they happen to find themselves in a context that is for any number of reasons highly conductive. So the environment can increase conductivity as for example a concert hall with excellent acoustics can improve a singer’s ability to hit a difficult note. In YDIYM this principle is elaborated into the notion that the group is like a computer with environmental inputs becoming social information, i.e. a change in the environment changes the way an individual feels about other individuals. It also extends to picking up a latent emotional charge in others and then getting it moving either through an expression of this energy into action, or even of a reaction to it that manifests as personality. Hence an owner’s dog becomes their mirror.

The negative (predatory aspect–resistance to emotion) grants access to the positive (preyful aspect–emotionally conductive). In other words, the eyes grant access to the body, this is an access channel. For example, a cat stalking the mouse becomes emotionally paralyzed when the mouse looks up from foraging; access denied. Then the mouse puts its head down and continues to forage, access granted, the stalk resumes. Due to this inherent structure (force of attraction relative to degree of resistance) the animal perceives the world in terms of paths of resistance of varying intensity, and access channels (negatives) that trigger stress (unresolved emotion) and which can then possibly afford its release and conversion into resolved emotion. Every interaction between any two beings, be it parent/offspring, male/female, prey/predator, peer-to-peer, are all prey/predator dualities on a universal gradient of desire relative to inhibition i.e paths of resistance, according to the main emotional conduit, the prey/making urge. Just as any watershed has but one main channel, the animal mind likewise has but one main channel, i.e. emotion moves from the predator polarity (high pressure) to the prey polarity (low pressure). It’s all one flow circuit that computes a hierarchy of “little wants” as a state of alignment around one “Big Want” —i.e. to resolve unresolved emotion. All species of animals, and all animal interactions are a “multiscale architecture; channels of varying sizes.

DIN: “This finding leads to another insight that debunks conventional wisdom: Hierarchy arises because it is good for every component of the global flow system. The big need the small just as surely as the small need the big. The individual sustains the crowd—and vice versa. The big river sustains the many tiny streams of the river basin, just as those tiny streams feed the river basin. Citizens (the rivulets of politics) sustain the governments that serve them; workers (the rivulets of business) sustain the companies that employ and, in turn, sustain them. The urge to organize is selfish.”

“While the prevailing Darwinian model of evolution makes some room for the idea of cooperation, it is based chiefly on the idea of struggle among individuals—the “good me” against my bad neighbors and society. Organisms compete with one another for scarce resources; we compete with the environment, etc. It is, largely, a tale of winners and losers. The constructal law, however, reveals that the movement toward harmony, toward flowing together and in balance, is the central tendency of design in nature.”

KB: In NDT I wrote that not only is there no drive to compete, but there is also no desire to please, and yet the strongest drive in the canine mind is to be in harmony. The animal mind must work toward harmony because otherwise an individual will end up holding a charge and will sense itself to be incomplete and separate from its surroundings. When an organism is charged we will indeed see friction commensurate with the intensity of the charge, but this is not competition. Even if the friction seems to be over a resource, the resource is merely serving as a trigger in order to move an old charge. Because the animal mind involuntarily projects its “self” (physical center-of-gravity plus physical memory) onto what it is attracted to, an animal feels it IS what it is attracted to. (What-I-Want + How-I-Feel = Who-I-AM) Therefore given the construct of the animal mind we can resolve the seeming paradox of altruism having evolved in a fractious world of friction simply by noting the utter selflessness of abject selfishness. The governing factor is emotional capacity.

DIN: (In a study of language and word usage) “They found that about 135 words account for half of all the words used in English. Think about it: We don’t say “ameliorate” or “egregious” very often. No one would argue that “to” and “of” have outcompeted “ameliorate” and “egregious.” They have not emerged victorious in a Darwinian struggle, a dictionary war. The truth is that a hierarchy of words has emerged naturally. This becomes clear when we recognize that in written and spoken communication, words and sentences are the channels that carry the currents that represent the thoughts and feelings we wish to express. In order to spread this current efficiently, a hierarchy of channels has evolved of large channels (“to,” “of”) and small channels (“egregious,” “ameliorate”), all of which are necessary for the flow of information, and for our own flow (movement) on the globe.”

KB: Exactly, the logic gates in our computers are not competing with other logic gates in our computer for electrons. Electrical energy courses through the network of logic gates in a system wide flow pattern that makes the computer a coherent energy circuit. Likewise, what we misinterpret as competition over resources, is actually friction because emotion isn’t moving smoothly enough, and this friction differentiates organisms into the two prime temperament traits, prey and predator, so that emotion can move again. This intrinsically motivates each individual to synchronize with others because if an animal is unable to move emotion without resistance, they end up with more emotional charge and sense themselves to be more incomplete than before the interaction. This is why it’s more pleasing for a dog to herd sheep in harmony with the sheep and the sheep herder than it is to kill a sheep. In other words, every being is like a singular point of mass (carriers of stress as an emotional charge) and the universal motive is to become a wave (feeling of harmony). Even if one dog were to kill another dog over a bone and attain unassailable supremacy, because the losing dog did not purely conduct the charge as a prey animal would have, the victor will end up with even more of a charge than it began with and it will find itself falling into an addictive cycle of violence that makes it more and more charged and hence incomplete. Furthermore while this will not end well for a dog so afflicted, nevertheless from a larger frame of reference the charge is being faithfully reproduced and continually transmitted until somewhere down the line it will ultimately be resolved and converted into a wave, i.e. two individuals in emotional counterbalance with each other and feeling release around said charge.

The computer and the internet evolved exactly as did consciousness. Information (emotion) is compressed into dense code (stress) so that it can more efficiently radiate in bulk and without error throughout the network and through Time. Animals are charged particles of consciousness and genes merely construct the “radios” so as to pick up the signal and convert it back into legible, coherent information, resolved emotion. Animals and birds synchronize with each other in order to turn stress into a wave, just as an internet browser decompresses packets of dense code and converts it into legible text, sounds and images on a users’ monitor. All thoughts, instincts, sensations and feelings, are subsidiary to this main emotional channel, E–>UE–>RE, the river of life that unites the watershed of consciousness with the ocean of consciousness.

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Published March 16, 2012 by Kevin Behan
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4 responses to “Design In Nature -8-”

  1. b... says:

    “the subordinate is generating the appearance of a preyful emotionally attractive stimulus, BUT IT IS NOT ACTING LIKE ONE.”

    So the “submissive” modulates P/p aspects so as to exude enough attraction to lure in the “dominant”, but then maintain more resistance than the predator can overcome? Could you expand on what these actions look like to an observer? How does the “submissive” “prey” control the predator to avoid being attacked or “eaten”?

    There was a recent episode of a Nat Geo show that showed seals engaging in “evasive” maneuvers when being chased by a shark. But all that preyful wiggling around seemed like it might just further stimulate the shark. The seal escapes by eventually moving in very close to the shark so the jaws can’t reach it. Wondering how that might be explained by the concepts here. (

  2. Kevin Behan says:

    You’re right that the more the seals move, the more prey energy they exhibit and the more stimulated the shark becomes. The problem for the seals is that they can’t reflect energy back at the shark. There is a 60 minutes feature on a shark guy in South Africa who is able to do exactly this and then swims with the sharks in bloody chummed up waters. A cat for example has enough of a predatory aspect to reflect emotion back at the dog which projects into him, and then can exploit this to paralyze the dog and control how the interaction will unfold. The back and forth regresses the dog back to a puppy like mind and then cat and dog are able to connect at this level, just as if pup was being raised with a cat, and they learn to get along fine, with the prey in control of the predator, the natural order of things. Let’s say for example, four or five seals were to band together and confront the shark with a united and immobile front. This would reflect the sharks’ projection of energy back at the shark and it would probably need to bump them to see if it could cause some preyful aspects to shake loose. And if the seals were in concert to attack the shark, in my opinion it would probably flee. It all boils down to a question of thermodynamics, which direction is energy going to flow (-) predatory —–> (+) prey establishes the direction of flow, FOR ALL INTERACTIONS, no matter the context, no matter the species, no matter the relationship. If the prey can reflect back at the predator, and then absorb in turn, then they can potentially create an oscillating emotional dynamo, what we otherwise call an emotional bond. It’s the back and forth exchange of emotion that elaborates a predatory/prey dynamic between two beings into a complex social relationship. Species of animals vary in their capacity to do this within and beyond their own kind. Otherwise they depend on the emotional conductivity of the circumstances to help them pull it off, as for example when the tortoise bonded with the hippo, or the lioness nurses the gazelle fawn.

  3. b... says:

    So then whether two animals can play together without one becoming actual prey depends on whether the more preyful one is capable of generating enough resistance (predator aspect) in order to reflect the predator’s energy back to them, right?

    And this is the same mechanism that allows healthy prey to survive while less healthy prey collapses under predatory pressure? Then why would seals not have this ability to reflect the shark’s energy back to them in order to survive? It seems like their survival then is dependent on pure physical dexterity to be able to get close enough to the shark to get away from its jaws.

    So then what purpose does further arousing the shark’s drive serve for the seal? I’m trying to understand this relative to the deer example where the deer’s white bushy tail arouses the wolf.

  4. Kevin Behan says:

    Right, the preyful one has to be able to resist and thereby reflect the projected e-cog back at the predatory one who projected it. An unhealthy prey animal even though it may have been able to fend off wolves by standing its ground its entire life, will lack that capacity when sick and so it goes. I suppose that for seals, their collective strategy is to flee in all directions in order to confuse the shark, or because they may be more maneuverable being smaller can best stay out of range when in close, but we also have to recognize that it isn’t strictly speaking seals evolving in competition with sharks. It’s all evolving as one organism and sharks have to eat too.

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Books about Natural Dog Training by Kevin Behan

In Your Dog Is Your Mirror, dog trainer Kevin Behan proposes a radical new model for understanding canine behavior: a dog’s behavior and emotion, indeed its very cognition, are driven by our emotion. The dog doesn’t respond to what the owner thinks, says, or does; it responds to what the owner feels. And in this way, dogs can actually put people back in touch with their own emotions. Behan demonstrates that dogs and humans are connected more profoundly than has ever been imagined — by heart — and that this approach to dog cognition can help us understand many of dogs’ most inscrutable behaviors. This groundbreaking, provocative book opens the door to a whole new understanding between species, and perhaps a whole new understanding of ourselves.
  Natural Dog Training is about how dogs see the world and what this means in regards to training. The first part of this book presents a new theory for the social behavior of canines, featuring the drive to hunt, not the pack instincts, as seminal to canine behavior. The second part reinterprets how dogs actually learn. The third section presents exercises and handling techniques to put this theory into practice with a puppy. The final section sets forth a training program with a special emphasis on coming when called.
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