Copyright © 2011

From KNOW THYSELF: Adventures in Getting to Know My Own Mind by Steve Perrin, available on Lulu.com.

1. From my perspective—which is but one seven-billionth of collective human consciousness—it is only natural for me to believe that my view of things is the way the world really when, in fact, it is simply the way I see the world from my personal point of view. (Preface, vii.)

2. How I see the world is just that, how I see the world, not how the world is. (Preface, vii.)

3. All awareness is partial, selective, and largely shaped by the observer’s situation and point of view. Attribution of reality is subject to the complex mental state of each particular observer in whatever situation she believes herself to be in at the time. (Preface, vii.)

4. Reality is a fable I tell myself in trying to fit into my worldly circumstances and survive safe and sound. (Preface, vii.)

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Copyright © 2011

The book on introspection I’ve been working on since 2008 is now available on Lulu.com. I’ve changed the title to KNOW THYSELF, with the same sub-title: Adventures in Getting to Know My Own Mind, by Steve Perrin.

It’s all there between two covers, Preface, Synopsis, Introduction, 15 chapters, Further Reading, Glossary, and Index—all 328 pages. A bargain at $16.96 (only on Lulu.com), plus shipping. List price is $19.95. Go to Lulu.com, click on Books, then enter KNOW THYSELF; there are several books using that title so scroll down until you see the one with the red cover.

Here I’ll include an updated version of the diagram on the back cover; the whole book serves as the caption. But in brief:

Perrin_KnowThyself_BackCover_diagram

Introspective self-portrait of the author’s mind. This entire book serves as the caption for the diagram. Consciousness is represented by the large circle, located between two hidden substrates, A) the physical world, and B) the author’s brain. Introspection provides access to neither substrate. Sensory processing is represented on the right, planning for action on the left. All understanding is based on three tiers of mental processing: 1) sensory stimulation rendered as concrete phenomena, 2) phenomena rendered in terms of abstract categories, and 3) fields of categorized phenomena interconnected to form a sense of general understanding. Reflexes bypass consciousness altogether, habits and routines become automatized over time, and consciousness juggles a variety of metaphors in creating a sense of coherent understanding. The author’s unique self invests values and feelings in these processes, and works through judgments, goals, and projects to make himself happen in particular world situations via his ongoing loop of engagement.  SP 

Copyright © 2011

Here’s the last installment of the synopsis of my upcoming book, KNOW THYSELF: Adventures in Getting to Know My Own Mind. –Steve Perrin

Chapter 13, Reality. From my perspective, the big picture in my awareness constitutes my sense of the real world. That assumption is the basis of the human condition, or as I see it, predicament. Usually we assume that such an overview captures the essence of the physical, cultural, or economic world—as if it were somehow external to ourselves; but these are highly elaborate constructs or belief systems in our minds. Through introspection, I have learned that reality is a dynamic creation of my mind engaging what I can experience of my situation in the world through a looping engagement of continuous action alternating with paying attention to the results of such action. I create reality in subjective consciousness through a bioenergetic engagement between the unknowable-in-itself substrate provided by my embodied brain in dynamic relation with the unknowable-in-itself substrate of the physical world. In that sense, reality is a virtual figment maintained at considerable expense by my devoting a good portion of my life energy to the mutual interaction between my unknowable brain with its unknowable situation in the world.

Chapter 14, Conflict. Each of us being mentally unique, no two people live in the same world of awareness. Conflict comes with the variety of our outlooks on the world. To get along with one another, we have two options: cooperate, or do it my way. Another source of world conflict is caused by one person (group, corporation, nation) attempting to dominate the minds of others so they come around to a preordained way of thinking (voting, consuming, fighting, believing, buying). Much of America’s stance in the world (e.g., claiming to be the world’s only superpower) is based on convincing others to grant us a larger share of world resources than is warranted by our portion of the global population, allowing us to live higher on the hog than others may find fair or deserved. In daily life, we group ourselves by our common interests, forming subcultures (unions, managers, executives, artists, entertainers, immigrants, men and women, the young and the aged, etc.) that speak different languages and define themselves by their differences with subcultures viewed as standing in opposition to them. At the same time, we are great game players and watchers, pitting ourselves against other people, teams, nations, and so on in rule-governed competition. Rules make the difference between ruthless anarchy and civil society, but they require enforcement to make sure the field is level for all players. As a means of conflict resolution, games are played out in the minds of participants and spectators alike, loss in one game not being the end of the world because there’s always the rematch or next season to aim for, and the one after that. I include a post to my blog on the topic of harvesting rockweed in Maine as an example of dealing with conflict between seaweed harvesters and fishery managers, a topic I got into because of my conflict with one particular harvester.

Chapter 15, Power. The source of personal power is the assumption that I am right and you are wrong about an issue, and I am going to set you straight because it is to my advantage to do so. Each of us is more-or-less determined to dominate the mind of the other to the point of agreement, submission, or surrender. This is predominantly a patriarchal or “father knows best” strategy, in contrast with a matriarchal strategy such as “let’s build a relationship,” thereby spreading networks of mutual support to children, spouses, friends, colleagues, neighbors, and surrounding communities. Exerting power over other minds is a way of dressing personal authority as a virtue, personal ideology as a civic benefit. Wealthy politicians and corporations these days have legal teams, publicists, bank accounts, minions, profit-hunger, and arrogance enough to want to exert control over the reality in which others live their lives. This invites well-funded elites to dominate large sectors of the public mind, even depriving entire classes and generations of the right to be conscious for themselves.

There you have it in summary, a rough outline of my upcoming book, INTROSPECTION: Adventures in Getting to Know My Own Mind. More about its availability in subsequent posts.

 

Copyright © 2011

Here is the next installment of the synopsis of my upcoming book, KNOW THYSELF: Adventures in Getting to Know My Own Mind. –Steve Perrin

Chapter 10, Values. I wrote most of this chapter while waiting for my car to be fixed at my cousin’s garage. Sitting for five-and-a-half hours considering my drives and motivations, I came up with a list of personal values, which I generalize here. Like all animals, we are born with instincts that increase the probability of our personal survival. We don’t have to debate the getting of water or food, we just tend to is as part of our nature. Gerald M. Edelman locates such biological appetites—he calls them values—in the part of the mind we identify with, the self, the center of our animal existence that determines the perspective from which we look upon the fabulous world. In our earliest days, warmth, food, comfort, protection, sleep, companionship, and stimulation are paramount concerns shared by ourselves and our families and caregivers. At some point, work becomes an essential part of meeting our own needs, first as an assigned chore, then as daily employment. After puberty, sex is a given, and later, a growing sense of duty to the common welfare. These seem to be part of the workings of the external world, which in a way they are, but precisely because we make them such as integral parts of the lives we actually lead. Many world problems stem from friction between persons or groups bent on fulfilling their biological values in competition with one another. Obtaining such benefits cooperatively or complementarily are other options.

Chapter 11, Goals. One of the primary characteristics of personal consciousness is the setting of goals to be achieved in the future. I want to pay off my credit card debt, reduce my carbon emissions, lose weight, advance my career, raise a family, take a vacation. The self gives each of us a sense of what needs to be done, then we figure ways to prioritize our several goals and build a future for ourselves and our loved ones accordingly. Setting and then working toward achieving goals is writ large in human culture because it reflects an internal dynamic experienced personally by every member so that we make ourselves happen according to plan. To a large extent, we live by making and executing plans for tomorrow so our future becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, more or less. What do I want to be when I grow up? Where do I want to be five years from now? How am I going to get there? What shall I cook for dinner? Such everyday concerns are the stuff of consciousness, making it possible for us to strive to live out our wants in stages matching our experience and capabilities in a given situation.

Chapter 12, Projects. I see projects advanced in conscious-ness as how we break all that we might be aware of down into manageable units we can deal with effectively. Projects marvelously focus my attention, screening out what is superfluous so I can concentrate on what needs to be done. To work on a project, we consider what materials and tools we need, what skills and assistance, where we are to do the work, at what rate, by what time, at what cost. Whether washing dishes, going to college, getting married, having children, or writing a book, we proceed step-by-step, putting first things first, then moving on to the next stage. A large part of the frontal lobe of the brain is devoted to planning and coordinating actions toward a desired end. The truly amazing thing is we can visualize a future for ourselves, figure out how to achieve it, then schedule our actions in such a way to make it happen. We just take it for granted we can do this, but only because our minds are built to accomplish such feats by building on earlier experience. We are not only reactive to situations but proactive in creating them. A great deal of our human genius is expressed in the situations through which we build a personal reality and a life for ourselves, one project at a time. Human relationships are a particular form of project dealing with how one person connects with another. In my experience, men are typically good at visualizing life in terms of projects to work on, women at establishing relationships within a supportive culture at the core of their separate lives. Working women live in both worlds.

Next post, the last portion of this synopsis of my new book on introspection dealing with chapters 13, Reality; 14, Conflict; 15, Power.