The Thermodynamic Basis of the Animal Mind

A great unraveling of Neo-Darwinian logic is underway.

Specifically the concept that the perpetuation of genes is the organizing principle of animal behavior. Neo-Darwinian logic is the basis of both the Dominance model and the model of learning by reinforcement. They are not as different as they may appear. Whereas my premise is that increasing the flow of emotion (emotion being the universal operating system of animal consciousness) is the organizing principle of behavior and social systems. One blogger stated it perfectly:

“If correct, the theory could push biologists to view the various forms of life as different methods to disperse energy, and remove the need to define every adaptation within the lens of natural selection.”

Adrian Bejan in “Design In Nature” repeatedly states that organisms are “machines” or “motors” in the sense that they are a more efficient means of distributing the flows of natural energies. In other words, the movement of a trout helps to mix the water and transfer energies through the affiliated ecosystem. At some point, a new generation of behaviorists are going to apply the “thermodynamic lens” to behavior and realize that this is what organizes complex learning and social behavior as well.

It’s beginning to trickle in that adaptability is not always about gene proliferation. In my reading of animal behavior, genes don’t cause behavior, they lock in efficient behaviors that improve the flow within the configuration. And just as it’s not likely that once in a while the earth goes around the sun, all adaptations are predicated on improvements of flow, rather than the result of random mutations that increase a particular gene’s rate of replication. I would restate the blogger’s comments to be…..

“If correct, the theory could push biologists to view the various forms of life as different methods to disperse energy, and remove the need to define ANY adaptation within the lens of natural selection.”

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Published January 27, 2014 by Kevin Behan
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4 responses to “The Thermodynamic Basis of the Animal Mind”

  1. Sundog Fitz says:

    I am no Darwinian Scholar (or any scholar for that matter), but I have heard that even Darwin did not propose that EVERY adaptation was the result of natural selection. I also recall that one of the big criticisms of Nagel’s book Mind and Cosmos was the subtitle, “Why Neo-Darwinism is almost certainly false”. I wonder if it would be more accurate to say that Neo-Darwinian logic is incomplete?

  2. Kevin Behan says:

    That’s an interesting point, however I’ve always understood that since an adaptation has an attendant cost in the organisms’ investment in said trait, that trait therefore is in competition with less resource intense adaptations. It has to confer a competitive advantage in order to justify the expense, thus all adaptations are filtered through the natural selective grist mill. Would appreciate clarification if I’m in error on this point.

  3. Sundog Fitz says:

    Well, like I said, I really cannot say with any authority, so I pose it as a genuine curiosity. Hopefully someone with more credibility can address this. I do frequently confuse old school Darwinism with neo-Darwinism so I suppose it is possible that Darwinism is incomplete and neo-Darwinism is “almost certainly false” and unraveling. And I realize that you are referring to how neo-Darwinism is used to explain animal (including human) behavior and cognition.

    When I was considering the question about the theory being incomplete I did think of what Bejan said “Where Darwin showed the links between biological creatures, the constructal law connects everything on the planet” and several places where Bejan references Darwin as a sort of waypoint in the evolution of understanding design in nature versus.

    Like I said, just a curiosity, not a claim.

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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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