Thermodynamics and the Mind

In regards to a discussion on stress as a form of emotional “heat” Lee found a study that seeks to objectively quantify the experience of stress.

“Human Psychophysiological Stress Indices Using Thermodynamics”
(ARPN Journal of Engineering and Applied Sciences Vol. 7, No. 6 June 2012)

My theory is that stress, or Unresolved Emotion, forms when Emotion meets with resistance, and since this is inevitable, the body/mind is constituted as an emotional battery, it stores a physical record of emotional experience. (See last weeks “Sixty Minutes” piece on autobiographical memory, I believe this is physical memory that these rare individuals somehow have access to.) Furthermore, the acquisition and resolution of Unresolved Emotion has a specific direction towards increasing complexity. In other words, the only way an organism can experience Resolved Emotion is by participating in a network of inter-affiliations which thus augments the flow of all these affiliated systems. And in other, other words, the first experience of flow the newborn infant experiences, is recapitulated later by participating in the flow that sustains the complex configuration within which it has become a constituent. It turns out that this theory I arrived at in the 1980‘s, is now being verified by the latest understandings in Thermodynamics, most especially the Constructal Law, and collective animal behavior as well. E–>UE–>RE is a thermodynamic process UE polarizes individuals so that they will configure in a predictable manner, and then the movement towards RE adds new energy by incorporating objects of resistance into that configuration so that it will persist.

In the study mentioned above these particular passages stand out.

“When we look at the human psychophysiological (mind/body) system from a thermodynamic perspective, the dichotomy between mind and body states cease and they become one energy system governed by the law of entropy.”

“At a macroscopic level, the human physiological system behave like a magneto-electro-mechanical system, producing physiological signatures.”

“Cartesian mind-body dualism and modern versions of this viewpoint posit a mind thermodynamical unrelated to the body but informationally interactive. The relation between information and entropy developed by Leon Brillouin demonstrates that any information about the state of a system has entropic consequences. It is therefore impossible to dissociate the mind’s information from the body’s entropy. Knowledge of that state of the system without an energetically significant measurement would lead to a violation of the second law of thermodynamics.”

NDT doesn’t posit a mind thermodynamically unrelated to the body. These were conclusions I arrived in the late seventies/early eighties by learning to see behavior in terms of the immediate-moment and as a function of attraction. An understanding of flow and resistance, embodied by emotion and its counterpart stress, logically follows. It then became clear that the only language that is accurate in explaining behavior are the principles of physics. Thermodynamics and the inverse relationship between emotion and stress is the only model which can smoothly encompass the phenomena of learning, sexuality, personality, memory, neotony, evolution and domestication.
Since processes of the body are far older than processes of the mind, we could expect that not only are body and mind wholly integrated, but that the entropic, informational states of the body are predicates for processes of the mind. Therefore the human intellectual view of causation, i.e. the mind thinks–the body acts–and then effects are caused, is not likely shared by the animal mind which would see a change of events through a thermodynamic lens as in: “I feel—things change–then I act. The action then quickly becomes proactive and so it appears to us as if the dog perceives change and its role in effecting and responding to change in the same way we do. In other words, Pavlov’s dog feels it gets the food because it salivates. It is not salivating in anticipation of the food. Salivation is what tasting food feels like, and the feeling is what a dog weights as causative, not its actions.

Published January 15, 2014 by Kevin Behan
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

2 responses to “Thermodynamics and the Mind”

  1. Hi.

    I’m starting to see what you’re on to here. In an attempt to grasp these principles more completely I rewrote your article for my own benefit, meaning I did it in a way that makes this easier for me to understand.

    Feel free to tell me where I’m wrong.

    In regards to a discussion on stress as a form of emotional “heat.” Lee found a study that seeks to objectively quantify the experience of stress.

    “Human Psychophysiological Stress Indices Using Thermodynamics”
    (ARPN Journal of Engineering and Applied Sciences Vol. 7, No. 6 June 2012)

    My theory is that stress—in the form of Unresolved Emotion—forms when Emotion meets with resistance. And, since this is inevitable, the body/mind is constituted as an emotional battery, in that it stores a physical record of emotional experience that can be tapped into when necessary. (See last week’s Sixty Minutes piece on autobiographical memory; I believe this is physical memory that these rare individuals somehow have long-lasting access to.)

    Furthermore, the a) acquisition and b) resolution of Unresolved Emotion moves this unconscious energy in a specific direction towards increased complexity. That’s because the only way an organism can resolve emotion is through participation in a network of inter-connected affiliations with other beings in or parts of the system. (In canines this is seen in both social relations with pack members and predatory relations to prey animals.) This interconnectedness increases and augments the flow of and through all parts of the system.

    In human terms, the first occurrence of flow that a newborn infant experiences—as in suckling from its mother’s breast—is recapitulated later on by concomitant feelings of flow that sustain complex social relationships within which the toddler or adult has become a participant. That same first feeling of flow is experienced by puppies as well, and is thus recapitulated, or sought out, in the social experiences of the adult dog. Dogs, like humans, want to re-experience flow.

    It turns out that this theory, one I arrived at in the 1980s, is now being verified by the latest understandings in thermodynamics, most especially the Constructal law, and in our understanding of collective animal behavior as well. This equation: E–>UE–>RE (emotion>unresolved emotion>resolved emotion) can be described as a thermodynamic process. Unresolved Emotion polarizes individuals, motivating them to configure their feelings, desires, and behaviors, in a predictable manner. Once they do, then the movement towards Resolved Emotion adds new energy by incorporating objects of resistance into that configuration so that it will persist.

    In the study mentioned above these particular passages stand out.

    “When we look at the human psychophysiological (mind/body) system from a thermodynamic perspective, the dichotomy between mind and body states cease and they become one energy system governed by the law of entropy.”

    “At a macroscopic level, the human physiological system behaves like a magneto-electro-mechanical system, producing physiological signatures.”

    “Cartesian mind-body dualism and modern versions of this viewpoint posit a mind thermodynamical unrelated to the body but informationally interactive. The relation between information and entropy developed by Leon Brillouin demonstrates that any information about the state of a system has entropic consequences. It is therefore impossible to dissociate the mind’s information from the body’s entropy. Knowledge of that state of the system without an energetically significant measurement would lead to a violation of the second law of thermodynamics.”

    Natural Dog Training posits that the mind is thermodynamically related to the body. These were conclusions I arrived in the late seventies/early eighties by learning to see behavior in terms of the immediate-moment, and as a function of feelings of attraction that dogs exhibit in training and in everyday behaviors. And an understanding of flow plus resistance—embodied by emotion and its counterpart, stress—, is what logically followed. Knowing this, it became clear to me that the only language accurate enough to explain animal behavior without projecting or overlaying humanlike thought processes onto it, is via the principles of physics. Thus thermodynamics, and the inverse relationship between emotion and stress, becomes the only model that can smoothly encompass learning, sexuality, personality, memory, neotony, evolution and domestication.

    Since somatic processes (i.e., bodily processes) are far older than mental ones, we could expect that not only are the mind-and-body wholly integrated, but that the entropic, informational states of the body are predicates for the subsequent processes of the mind. It then follows that the human intellectual view of causation: “the mind thinks>the body acts>and effects are caused,” is not a view likely to be shared by the animal mind, which would instead see a change of events through a thermodynamic lens: “I feel something>things change>then I act.” (This could also be described as: “Something happens>I feel heat and pressure>I act and release the pressure and cool down.”) The dynamic quickly becomes proactive, so it appears to us as if the dog perceives change and its role in effecting and responding to change in the same way that we do.

    In other words, Pavlov’s dog feels it gets the food when the bell rings because it salivates rather than the other way around. It’s not salivating in anticipation. Salivation is what tasting food feels like. And that feeling is what a dog weights as causative factor, not its own actions or behaviors.

  2. Kevin Behan says:

    Yes, that’s exactly right. The dog isn’t anticipating, it’s already feeling the taste of meat in its mouth (physical memory) and because these affects are so powerful in its mind, the feeling is the most prominent aspect of its perception of reality and how things change before it. And even the wave of propulsion that its own muscles generate were it free to run toward the food, is causative in its mind. The dog feels carried by a wave, without the idea that it ran from point A to point B, it runs to keep up with that feeling of a wave. (This is why dogs when in drive will run on a broken leg, in their mind they’re just trying to ride the wave, it doesn’t occur to them they will hurt their leg because they associate the wave with getting there, not the actual feat of running. We have a little trace of this as well if we pay close attention to our actions.) This is the “thermodynamic lens” (good term) by which the animal mind constructs a view of reality. The E–>UE–>RE flow dynamic is also responsible not only for the phenomena of learning in the particular way that animals do (by way of states of alignment and synchronization so as to generate waves—which is what they’re seeing when they watch other animals move by way of emotional projection of p-cog), and also the phenomena of personality, sexuality, neotony as well (these enable alignment and synchronization) around common objects of resistance.

    I should add that the Constructal law would be the basis of intelligence, i.e. adaptiveness, in that the group, or the network of affiliations, by subscribing to thermodynamic principles becomes a computer. Environmental changes are inputs, these are translated into temperamental values (how one living being feels for another living being) and then how constituents of the network resolve this resistance, computes a solution, a prediction of where potential energy is going to be. This would prove to be why emotion as the embodiment of the laws of nature (especially laws of motion and thermodynamics) would prove to be adaptive, and the basis of all forms of intelligence that subsequently evolve.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: