What Is Energy?
Have you ever heard a dog owner observe, usually plaintively, that their dog has a lot of energy? Do they mean their dog is mysteriously plugged into an invisible power grid, or it’s in the beam of an astral projection filling them with some kind of cosmic radiation, are they speaking gibberish? Throughout this site I’ve discussed the concept of energy as it applies to animal behavior but I’d like to address the confusion on the subject of energy by offering here an excerpt from an upcoming treatment.
What is Energy?
Science doesn’t know. And it is through such a lens for example that Western Medicine discredits the Eastern notion of a vital life force coursing through Chakras and Meridians in the body. Sensitive instruments have been trained on the body but no such energy has been detected to everyone’s satisfaction. Does that mean the end of our inquiry? Not at all. The simple truth is that the behavior of animals IS an expression of energy. It’s hidden in plain view. If one were to observe a dog while simultaneously resisting the intellectual reflex to project human reason and rationales onto what it’s doing, and this means adopting an immediate-moment method of analysis, then an energetic logic becomes vivid. To discern this logic all one must do is to employ the same definition of energy that science does when interpreting the behavior of electrons, photons, atoms, molecules and compounds, not to mention the interactions of larger bodies such as cannon balls and planets.
Science understands energy as an “action potential,” as a differential in concentration of “charged” particles between one place, or pole, and another place or pole, as for example when water is held behind a dam or when there is a concentration of electrons at the negative terminal of a battery. The water molecules and electrons are not energy proper themselves, but rather are carriers of the charge; the inequality of force between one place and another. My physics textbook explains the distinction this way: the electric company doesn’t sell electrons, it sells energy, the consumer provides their own electrons in the copper wires of their house and appliances and it is these electrons that carry the energy in and then out of the house so as to energize all its fixtures and appliances. The energy moves virtually at the speed of light however the electrons merely jiggle along through the wire a few inches an hour. A charged particle transmits the action potential, it isn’t the energy itself.
The only meaningful way science can discuss the notion of energy is in regards to how much work this force can do as the action potential goes from a charged to a neutral state. Nonetheless we can content ourselves with this understanding as it will not prove any more limiting to our inquiry than it is to the utility company’s ability to charge us for whatever it is that is running through our meters and exciting the electrons in our lights and toaster ovens. One simple way to ascertain how much energy their dog can give them, which means how much work the dog is willing to do, is to practice the “pushing exercise.” This exercise actually demonstrates how the dog integrates its feelings with its external surroundings. The integration subscribes to principles of energy, not psychological rationales.
One can say there is a universal motive in everything a charged particle might do, whether it’s running a computer, a refrigerator or driving a water wheel set in a stream, or a dog all charged up at the sight of a frisbee. Charged particles “want” to move so as to return the system to a neutral or discharged state. In this manner an action potential creates “like-minded” charged particles, like-is-attracted-to-like in order to return the action potential to neutral. Therefore when charged particles move they create a field of energy, like a standing body of water that pools between an inlet and an outlet, or a magnetic field that surrounds an electrical current, or the gravitational field that envelops our solar system, or----the wave of euphoria that sweeps the crowd when the award winning frisbee dog snags its prize in mid convolution.
This phenomenon of an action potential that results in a current and a field is exactly how I mean the term energy as it applies to emotion, consciousness and animal behavior. In fact a wave, or in other words a feeling, is the form emotion takes in order to move and recapitulate the action potential into greater and greater expressions of complexity. Sociability--a complex organization of individuals--is the phenomenon of emotion generating a field through the wave function of a feeling. The logic of this virtual current and field that the behavior of animals embodies is an energetic one, not a rational one such as animals trying to survive, or defend territory or to control access of resources. Thus any interaction between any two beings is always characterized by the movement of emotion from the predator pole (projection of emotion) to the preyful pole (absorption of emotion.) These two poles and the capacity of an individual to shift from one to the other in sync with another, make the wave possible.
A “current” of emotion courses within an animal (otherwise known as emotional affects, i.e. changes to its physiological and neurological states) so as to bring an internal action potential “to ground” (what Damasio terms a return to homeostasis) and this return to an internal state of neutrality is effected by closing the gap between itself and an external object of desire. This is the source of all animal behavior and is the mechanics of desire. It is how the physical energies that are acting within (physiological and neurological processes) and acting upon (gravity, laws of motion, environmental resistance) an animal’s body are integrated INTO A FEELING and THEN presented to the higher processes of the nervous system as information. The body does more than carry the head around. The body plugs the brain into the MIND.
An internal action potential polarizes the animals’ body so that its posture, movement and even its physical eliminations and secretions exhibit a bipolar signature recognizable to every other animal. Because organisms have evolved in a way that’s wholly consistent with how energies have evolved, i.e. consistent with the laws of motion and principles of thermodynamics, most especially the Constructal Law, therefore every perceived change in the environment becomes an emotionally ionizing event that internally polarizes an animal (emotional affects). Then, its physical secretions (urine, feces, saliva, glands,) and external actions become a physical, external manifestation of its internal chemistry, which is a computation of an overall emotional value, like the electromagnetic value of an atom on the periodic table which then makes its chemical behavior possible. (Intuitively we use the word “juice” to describe both a battery and emotion.)
In this way, an internal action potential, a stimulation that destabilizes one organism and motivates it to want to return to an internal state of neutrality, creates an external action potential between it and another organism, a gap between a subject and the object of its desire. And then by virtue of being the object of another's desire, this will prove destabilizing to that other organism and so we witness a triggering of a cascade of external action potentials as more and more organisms are recruited into the growing action potential.
Being internally polarized, animals are informed by their emotional affects so as to move in prescribed ways of trying to achieve external arrangements of alignment and synchronization just as if they were charged particles of electromagnetism operating according to the principles of thermodynamics and the laws of motion. Thus as a cascade of action potentials they can collectively return each other to a state of neutrality. And because organisms behave in these collectivized ways the physical world is subsequently altered so as to be incorporated into the evolutionary process of organisms. This is a much more parsimonious interpretation of behavior than the current Neo-Darwinian theories of evolutionary psychology which attempts to explain how selfless, cooperative behavior evolved from competitive, adversarial interactions. Modern behaviorism mistakes friction for competition, and social configurations as psychological constructs. (Please consult "Design In Nature" by Adrian Bejan for the most coherent explanation of evolution and how structure emerges as a universal design.)
Energy is motion. Form is motion that repeats itself. Consciousness is a form of energy that repeats itself. Therefore, yes, a dog can have a lot of energy, i.e. manifesting a powerful action potential through a pronounced force of desire, and so if one wants to become positively integrated into their dog’s mind, then one must become the action potential by which their dog's emotional charge returns to neutral.