Energy Theory vs. Modern Behaviorism

Any theory that attempts to account for the animal mind and which doesn’t incorporate an energy dynamic as its organizing principle, will always contradict itself after it inevitably ascribes thoughts (as in comparing one moment or point of view to another) to the mind of the animal in order to hold their theory together. As Loretta Bruening states in “I, Mammal” (even though for purposes outlined herein I remain unpersuaded, I believe this book makes the most intelligent and compelling case for a dominance hierarchy and I recommend it heartily for those who want to understand the mammalian mind.):

                                                  “A mammal draws on its past experience when it compares itself to others.”

Breuning, Loretta Graziano (2011-02-17). I, Mammal: Why Your Brain Links Status and Happiness (p. 37). System Integrity Press. Kindle Edition.

This requires a Theory of Mind and I don’t believe this is going on inside the mind of a dog, the most social animal on earth. Consider this exchange with the Unknown Scientist who quotes me below as I ask for the step-by-step progression in the evolution of a capacity for a Theory of Mind which is ultimately required if there is such a thing as a dominance hierarchy. In other words, the Resource Holding Potential definition does not adequately define the necessary dynamic and those who rely on it will still drag in ToM in order to hold things together.

(KB: Bear in mind that this RHP “definition” is an amazingly complex bit of behavioral script in social-system making, one which invariably invokes a ToM.)

US: “Looks like the poor boy didn’t read the provided definitions. At no point does the definition necessitate Theory of Mind. A perching – sunning – butterfly has greater RPH than one looking for a place to perch. That’s the description. The explanation is that a perching butterfly is sunning itself and the boost in body temperature gives it better performance in defending the perching spot. It’s Behan’s wanton ignorance that is once again the issue.”

KB: In other words, the butterfly on the perch HAS MORE ENERGY than the butterfly looking for a perch. Because it has more energy, it holds the resource. The US invokes an energy theory in order to deny an energy theory and to expediently bypass the larger question, where is the step-by-step progression leading to ToM that we will inevitably arrive at when discussing group behavior in the higher social systems?

( KB: The signal of the signaler has to find a ready audience in the individual receiving the signal in order for this capacity [to communicate] to evolve. One half of the communication equation can’t evolve without the other half evolving at the same time and at the same stage of development.)

US: “Another error caused by his misunderstanding of evolution. Levin shows “that a significant though imperfect level of understanding can be achieved by organisms through evolution alone. “(Levin 1995).”

“Another example violating Behan’s arbitrary restrictions on communication is illustrated by Blumberg. Cold neonate rats emit ultrasonic cries but they are not communicating and their ‘cries’ are a physiological by-product of abdominal compressions; a reflexive attempt to regulate venous return (Blumberg 2001). These cries elicit retrieval behavior from the mothers without communication.”

The US thinks she/he knows what he’s saying, because she thinks he knows what I’m saying. I don’t mean communication as in an intentional signaling and then an intentional reply to said signaler with an intellectual-like mental cogitation going on within the minds of the interactants. That’s what the US presumes I mean it because that’s what they are always thinking and therefore requiring animals to be thinking in their current formulations of a dominance hierarchy as well as the notion of communication. In reality, at rock bottom, communication is a transfer of energy, sometimes it’s an actual energy as when you throw someone a ball, sometimes it’s energy in the form of emotion, as for example when you tell someone what you’re feeling. The cry of a neonate rate impacts the physiology of an adult rat (transfer of energy) and this weaves the parent and offspring into one energy system. Even high level intellectual discourse between people is predicated on the same template by which energy moves from one party to another. When we press a behaviorist for a deeper explanation, they either outright contradict themselves, or they turn to an energy dynamic in order to sustain their theory. My suggestion is that we should first exhaust an energy dynamic before we arbitrarily insert thoughts into the minds of animals.


Published June 2, 2014 by Kevin Behan
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One response to “Energy Theory vs. Modern Behaviorism”

  1. By phrasing the butterfly’s behavior as “sunning itself” the US has unconsciously and unintentionally given it an a priori sense of self as well as a “reason” for its behavior, violating the laws of parsimony. The more parsimonious version (the one that Kevin gives) would be that the butterfly is absorbing energy.

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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.
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