Evolution of Sensations and Consciousness Transformation.
Comments on Michel Cabanac's The Origin of Consciousness and Sensation papers.
Yuri Demchenko, September 1999
The intention of comments is to attract attention to the new prospects of researches in Psychology and Physiology that are currently limited by their biologic origin and foundations. On other side, in the situation when researches and world seers begin to perceive new emerging reality with forming Information Society there is a need to make retrospective view into human consciousness evolution and its connection to the evolution of sensations.
The same situation happened in the past with classic physics in explanation new observed and experienced phenomenon/reality before creation Relativistic and Quantum Physics.
It's worth to mention about another interesting process in current opening and integration of many classical and traditional philosophical teachings including Western and Eastern philosophies and Esoteric teaching that demonstrate surprising similarities and fusion of past and new vision of world and human/man acting in it. For more information see Philosophy and Religion (Philosophy Integration) and Esoteric Energetic systems.
Related researches are conducted by Valery Kourinsky, the founder of
Post-Psychology (Psychospiritology/Psychoculturology). One of foundation
of his conception is hypotesis about forming new aspect of human behaviour/being
More information Valery Kourinsky's concepts can be found in his work "Global Transformation of Human Behaviour" and from his reference page at this site.
This very short comments to the extraction from available online works of Michel Cabanac may be or may not be developed into some special investigation but at present moment they demonstrate that classical psychology and physiology have (past) experience in investigation of evolving human being and ready to enter into new area of investigation human consciousness.
<From The Origin of Consciousness - Michel Cabanac (1997)
A hypothesis is presented according to which structure of consciousness is quadri-dimensional. The four dimensions are duration, quality, intensity, and affectivity. One may reach this conclusion by introspection alone, or by deduction along the following steps:
1) Consciousness should be examined from the point of view of evolutionary psychology.
2) This leads to the following postulate: consciousness evolved from sensation.
3) The postulate entails a corollary: consciousness has kept the quadri-dimensional structure of sensation.
The above postulate could explain the phylogenetic origin of pleasure as the common currency, and in turn the trade-offs for access to the behavioral final common path. It would also entail that joy is the transient sign of a useful conscious event, whereas happiness is the indifferent experience of a satisfied mind. Implicit cognition is likely to be described by low magnitude on the intensity axis of consciousnes, and prerational decision making by the affective axis of consciousness.One of the constructive directions of Cabanac's investigation is search for integral criteria/variable in human behaviour - both conscious and subconscious.
One of strongest assumption is respecting pleasure as a way to form integral criteria and/or sensory in sensation/perception of external world. See last quotation for this.
<What is Sensation? by Michel Cabanac (1992) - Read Abstracts
"All science, whatever the realm of application, has a common origin: the immediate experience of the observing person of the scientist himself" (Spence, 1948). The scientific process then proceeds in the sharing of evidence by two or more persons. <...
The concept of the senses as portals of the mind has therefore turned to a commonplace statement among modern psychologists (Marks 1981). However Plato's image of sensation as a screen masking truth can be recognized as arising again from two problems: the difference between sensation and perception, and the complexity of attributes.
Sensation and Perception
Psychologists of the eighteenth century started to distinguish sensation from perception. For Reid (1785) a sensation occurs when an organ of sense is stimulated, and perception depends upon sensation but also includes a conception of the object perceived and an immediate and irresistible conviction of the object's actual existence. These definitions are still accepted nowadays: Levine and Shefner (1981) define clearly sensation as "the process of detecting a stimulus (or some aspect of it) in the environment", and perception as "the way in which we interpret the information gathered (and processed) by the senses". "In a word, we sense the presence of a stimulus, but we perceive what it is".
However, Schiffman (1982) considers as somewhat obsolete the differentiation between sensation and perception, yet brings a useful light to it: sensation is equated to physiology, and perception to psychology. This explains how two attitudes have developed until now.
"An attribute of sensation,... , is any aspect or moment or dimension of sensation which fulfills the two conditions of inseparability and independent variability" (Titchener, 1908). It follows from this definition that the attributes are always given when a sensation is given and that the nullifying of any attribute annihilates the sensation.
As is the case with pleasure, the other attributes also possess attributes of their own: vision has light and color (color has three attributes of its own: hue, brightness, and saturation); audition has pitch, and volumeness as proposed by Titchener (1908). <...
QUALITY OF SENSATION
The other trend is the perceptual way to look at sensation with less concern for the sensory organs. This trend qualifies as psychological because it starts with an introspective step. Pain, on top of this approach, can be elicited from all parts of the body without a clearly identified receptor organ. Time (Boring, 1942; Schiffman, 1982), orientation (Schiffman 1982), kinesthesia (Corso, 1967; Schiffman, 1982; Geldard, 1972; Ludel, 1978), perception of space (Schiffman, 1982), organic sensation (visceral, hunger, thirst) (Geldard, 1972) have thus been proposed as sensations in addition to the five senses. However, the common feature of these perceptions is precisely to be vague and to pertain to perception as defined above rather than to sensation sensu stricto.This is obviously constructive statement that evolving now into perception of virtual reality that is developing with extension and globalisation of Internet and Networking Technologies. Current and next step in virtual reality developing is virtual presence including remote control/action and virtual sensory.
An important inference to be drawn from this definition is that sensation is not limited to the five senses. We know, from clinical evidence that pain can be felt from any locus in the body with a small number of exceptions: skin on the center of the cheek and on the olecranon, and the nervous tissue of the brain. Pain is not the sole sensation aroused from inside the body. Mere introspection tells me that, if I close my attention to the outside world and concentrate on my own body, I can feel slight visceral sensation from my limbs, trunk, chest, neck, and head.
The above hypothesis regarding the origin of sensations calls for four remarks.
1) The sensory window open to the outside world is limited to less than the short list <...
2) In addition to information on the outside world, the brain receives also a vast amount of information about the physiological state of the milieu interieur. <...
3) The quality of a sensation is determined by anatomy, but the pattern of action potentials within an afferent pathway might also account for this dimension.
4) The identification of a sensation is likely to depend on the existence of a semantic support as a conceptual medium. The short list of tastes, sweet, salt, bitter, and sour has been extended recently by adding one sensation: umami (Yamaguchi, 1987). When no word is available to describe a sensation probably we tend to ignore this sensation.
INTENSITY OF SENSATION
Another advantage of defining sensation as the emergence of a sensitivity into consciousness is to relate sensation to the stimulus in two steps, via physiology: From stimulus to action potential, from action potential to sensation.
AFFECTIVITY OF SENSATION
Pleasure is the state of mind aroused by a pleasant cause. Titchener (1908) took great efforts to refute the hypothesis that pleasure is a peripheral sensation. This refutation entails that pleasure may reside in any kind of mental experience.
Sensory Pleasure and Behavior
Experimental evidence in the narrow field of sensory pleasure thus confirms the Epicurean general principle which states that pleasure and displeasure are linked to the well-being of the organism (Lehman, 1914) and according to which: "when it helps and encourages (the vital movement) it is called pleasure, satisfaction, well-being, which is nothing real but a movement in the heart" (Hobbes,1651).
Once accepted the cogito ergo sum, the whole scientific knowledge bears on two postulates:
a) a world exists around me, and
b) I can exchange evidence with others.
Both of these postulales need the channel of sensation. Therefore our knowledge of the world, including ourselves is filtered twice. Once by the narrow chemico-physical window of the senses, and once by the biological and cultural format of our brain. The way we see sensation might have, therefore, some repercussion on the way we think.
The first hypothesis proposed here, according to which any afferent fiber is susceptible to arousing a sensation, presents several advantages. First the theory is simple. Then all the various categories of sensations are lumped into one single class whereas classical categorization listed many different sorts of sensations with different attributes. Thus is suggested a fundamental unity of the sensory input to the central nervous system.
The second hypothesis presented here regarding the structure of sensation can be examined from the points of view of both phylogeny and ontogeny. This chapter was devoted to human sensation but we may step back a little in phylogeny and try to guess about the origin of sensation. Medicus (1987) has reflected on the process from a behavioral point of view. Sensation emerged from a purely reflective behavior. A Darwinian approach tells us that sensory messages became conscious when this emergence proved useful to the organisms that first acquired it. To be useful, sensations needed to describe the quality, the intensity, and above all the usefulness of environmental stimuli; therefore, it is likely that sensation was immediately multidimensional, as defined above. Thus sensation gave decisional advantages to the first animals which possessed it, by freeing them from the need for an infinitely complex hardware reflex network in their nervous system.This is the foundation for the forming new sensations with emerging new reality of Information Age extended beyond physical and physiological reality.
Finally, if, as we saw in Introduction above, sensation as the gate to the soul is commonplace for psychologists and philosophers, it remains that the structure of sensation has an important consequence. If sensation is the phylogenic and ontogenic origin of the conscious experience, then any conscious event is likely to bear fundamentally the same structure. Indeed, introspection tells me that this is the case, and that any conscious feeling has quality, intensity, affectivity, and duration.<Pleasure: The common currency by Michel Cabanac (1991). Read Abstracts
The common currency
As a general conclusion, it is proposed that animals and humans rank priorities in choice situations and thus optimize their behavior by the amount of pleasure aroused by this behavior.
<... At the same time pleasure renders unnecessary high levels of rationality in the process of decision making. Indeed it has been recognized that rationality plays only a modest part in the determination of behavior (Cooper, 1987). In situations of conflicting motivations, pleasure would serve as a common currency, with additive properties, for the ranking of priorities and the resulting tradeoffs. The great advantage of pleasure both as a motivation and as a key to optimization lies in its versatility. Pleasure renders unnecessary the multiplication of instinctual rigid stimulus-response programs and stimulus-bound reflexes (see Epstein, 1982) whose number would have to increase ad infinitum with the complexity of living organisms2. S-R programs could not provide the flexibility which characterizes most of the purposive, goal-directed behavior of more advanced animals. Pleasure opens an infinite register of new responses. Indeed it is far more simple to maximize pleasure than to accumulate within the CNS an infinite number of instinctual responses. Pleasure in this case is analogous to the multiplicative function programmed in a calculator. It is far more simple to have access to that function than to store the infinite number of possible multiplications of rational numbers.This statement really gives foundation for further proceeding thesis about forming new sensations in IT and Network enabled environment with virtual reality which is leading to transformation of consciousness enabled global interactivity and coherence of Earth humanity behaviour/doings.
1999, Yuri Demchenko