Posts Tagged ‘Neurohormonal’

HAPPINESS A DUTY, Good & Smart

August 26, 2015

Forget Sisyphus’ Dreary Myth, Embrace The Happiness Strategy:

Far from being a sin, could happiness be not just fun, but a duty? I will propose that happiness is, indeed, a duty. Happiness is both a cerebral and social necessity. Let’s start with its social link.

When an animal suffers, or at least, when an animal is not happy, it is likely that it is either under aggression, and, or, needs to get into some significant action (taking some risk to go somewhere unusual, even if that animal is only an herbivore).

In either case, action, and, a fortiori, suffering put the animal, human or not, into an aggressive neurohormonal state, or cocktail of aggressive states (notice in passing that it is not always a bad thing: action, or even suffering, are often needed for everybody’s good!). Thus, someone’s unhappiness often ends up as somebody’s else suffering. Unhappiness is not just immoral, and asocial, unhappiness starts a chain reaction of unhappiness.

No Laugh, No Love, Nor Mind In Full

No Laugh, No Love, Nor Mind In Full

In human life, suffering is ubiquitous, unavoidable: born in pain, die in pain, with quite a bit of pain, Sturm und Angst, aging and degeneracy in between. So suffering always stands at the ready. Ready to help us not to settle too hopelessly into routine. Suffering, or the threat thereof, is always ready to enrich our minds, be it only with appendicitis, or a broken ankle, we don’t need to encourage it too much.

Happiness, though, precisely because of the ubiquitousness of suffering, is more tricky: it requires more of our enthusiastic cooperation, and encouragement. Happiness calls onto creativity to exist, and overwhelm the pain out there. Not by eschewing the world, as monks and Buddhists propose, but by engaging it enough, to bring up the neurohormones of happiness (Endo cannabinoids, Dopamine, Oxytocin, Endorphin, GABA, Serotonin, Adrenaline, Nitrogen Oxide, “laughing gas“, etc.).

Happiness cannot tolerate too much moderation (consider the Adrenaline above, a chemical known to make a dead heart jump into action, or Dopamine, which cocaine, methamphetamines, boost, to create effect).

Moderation is debilitating, especially in large quantities. Happiness instead embraces immoderately the best aspects that life has to offer, and run away with them. (Creation, in particular necessitates to run away; as our society tries to run away from the encroachment of robots and plutocrats, creation will be needed ever more. Socially good creation is entangled with happiness, while unhappiness is entangled with war hormones and neural patterns and organs.)

But what of the other cerebral consequences of happiness? Happiness is a facilitator of survival. Epidemiological statistics show this.

Wisdom is, first of all, about being as smart in one’s behavior, as one can be, given the circumstances. An example is the six passengers in the Thalys train who just fought the heavily armed terrorist. They acted wisely, and, in this case, it meant that they acted decisively, fiercely, and with maximum violence: first two Frenchmen engaged the fanatic in combat, as it came out of the toilet. A Franco-American professor in his fifties, grabbed the AK 47 automatic machine gun, and ran away with it, and got shot through his entire left side for his trouble. Then the two U.S. servicemen, helped by another American, and a Brit followed, while the terrorist’s two guns jammed. The latter four heroes already got the Legion of Honor. As the 62 year old Brit pointed out, jumping on the terrorist, and hitting his head and choking him until he got unconscious, was the wise thing to do. Sometimes, extreme physical violence is the right activity to bring survival. This is a truism. Yet, in that case, happy meant punchy.

But what does the will to survival in the individual or the society have to do with? Happiness. Who wants to defend a sad life?

Salvador Dali noticed that the Nazis’ will to start a world war had to do with the desire to lose it. I agree. It was not just hatred, cupidity, and the stampeding of the herd, which characterized Nazism. Germans had long been unhappy, and had long built a cultural anthropology of unhappiness (thanks to the fascist and racist political system which ruled them, much of it straight from Eighteenth Century hyper-militaristic dictatorial Prussia and its ingrained hatred against Jews and Poles). German unhappiness brought forth the cultivation of a war-like society (a poisonous, but delicious fruit of which is higher efficiency).

Something striking about the four Anglo-Saxon heroes of the train above, is that they all seem happy in life. This is reflected by the inner strength they exhibited after the harrowing circumstances they had been through.

Without that inner happiness, the four heroes would have valued their lives less, thus valued life in general less, hence would have been less keen to defend theirs, and other people’s, lives (remember the connection of happiness with Adrenaline).

Happiness is not just a luxury, a reward, it’s a safety, even a security. not just for the individual, but for the community at large.

Socrates said the unexamined life was not worth living. Indeed, it never was, and never will. For a human being, to live is to examine. But with what is life examined? Intelligence. And the better examination is rendered possible only by greater intelligence. And what brings maximum intelligence? Experiencing the world in full.

The Romans knew this well. Even in their baths, they had a frigidarium, an ice-cold bath. And a caldarium, a very hot bath. Life, even at the baths, was not just all about the tepidarium, the tepid bath.

Sadness, unhappiness, or the tepidarium, a tepid life, only brings the input of just part of the world. Thus they make minds which are only partial (for example, only war-like). Such half minds are legions. Hitler was typical: more or less a quasi orphan, failed artist, bum, and then a shell-shocked, gazed soldier, his experience from the world, lots of unhappiness, and war, was all what his mind was made from (Stalin, or Lenin had somewhat similar war-like, dejected, unhappy backgrounds).

Sadness brings up the war-like instincts, hence the fascist reflex (to make one out of the many). Here is the answer Estienne de La Boétie was looking for, when he wondered why people accepted to live in servitude to an oligarchy. In Discours de la servitude volontaire ou le Contr’un (Discourse on Voluntary Servitude, or the Anti-Dictator), La Boétie asserted that tyrants had power because people granted it to them. I have proposed a mechanism to explain why it is so. And lack of happiness is central to it.

Happiness brings other aspects to the interaction with the world, which sadness can never reveal. Happy aspects, unhappiness alone never brings. Happiness allows to learn more form the world, it makes the mind in full.

The happy mind is a mind in full.

In a nuclear chain reaction, each nuclear fission, which is caused by a neutron’s impact, in turn creates, in the average, more than one neutron, which strike other nuclei, etc. Nobel Laureate Irene Curie discovered the chain reaction in the particular case of Uranium 235 in 1937 (although many sexist males preferred to attribute the discovery to Otto Hahn, who got the Nobel for it, it’s clearly Irene who taught Otto, through years of heated epistolary exchanges).

Unhappiness has a much more devastating amplification potential than its equivalent with radionuclides. Indeed an unhappy human being can make many other human beings suffer. Not just a couple. This is all the more true in a representative democracy, that is, an oligarchy. After he was elected Chancellor in January 1933, the pathologically unhappy Adolf Hitler was in good position to make hundreds of millions suffer, and not just his niece (who escaped through suicide, with her uncle’s gun).

If happiness is so important socially and for the blossoming of the individual mind, should not it be viewed as more than a right, but even as a moral duty?

The preceding was inspired by the neurohormonal theory of the mind, according to which neurohormonal states do not just characterize the mind, but are determined, with immense inertia, by exterior and inner circumstances. Given the neurohormonal theory of mind, it’s rather self-obvious that happiness is a duty. Without it, it is not that obvious. It’s probably why the notion, that happiness is a moral duty, not just for kicks, seems to have been ignored by the main philosophical ideologies.

Happiness is right in all ways. It even enables to learn. How? The road to truth is paved with errors, painfully learned. Only happiness makes us willing to embrace errors with an open mind. And wish for more, more errors, as we wish to learn more, learning to happily bounce from pains and disappointments to some new, unexpected, more exciting, freshly instructive errors.

No pain, no gain, yet, no happy, no bouncy. If one wants further gains, one has to accept further pain, and that’s possible only with a sunny, happy disposition. To learn ever more, means to be able to suffer pains gladly, ready to bring some more. Happiness is not just about preferring fun to dread, or about blocking reprisals of hatred against doom and gloom. Happiness is an epistemological need.

Patrice Ayme’

 

Why Insist On The DARK Side?

May 23, 2015

The First Thing That Studying The Dark Side Reveals, Is That:

Individuals, Operate According To Different Neurological “LAWS”, So, Instead Of being One, As One Naively Expects, The INDIVIDUAL IS MANY. Ex Uno Plures.

We have met the Multiverse, and it’s us…

So why to study the Dark Side, besides generating confusion? Well, precisely because it is dark. And when we throw a light on it, we see all what our simplified lives have hidden. Instead, if one wants to understand what we are capable of, we have to bring the Dark Side to the light. How does one do that? One tries to understand one’s own reasons and motivations.

Some will sneer that this insight is not knew. Some will point out at Socrates’ “Know Thyself”. However, Socrates picked up what was the Delphi Oracle’s motto. Delphi was an interesting consortium managed by women. Nor was Delphi first. The Greeks apparently traded silk with China as early as the Sixth Century BCE. And they certainly traded philosophical and mathematical ideas with India. They may have heard of Lao Tzu. As traditionally related, custom officials prevented Lao Tzu to leave China, heading West, before he wrote down some of his ideas. Many of those were strikingly modern:

Lao Tze 600 BCE, Deep. But We Don't Want To Eliminate Ourselves. Sympathy For The Devil

Lao Tze 600 BCE, Deep. But We Don’t Want To Eliminate Ourselves. Sympathy For The Devil

Dark and negative? Sometimes circumstances call for dark negativism. When Sparta marched an army into Athens to eject tyrants who had succeeded to the enlightened democracy shepherded by Solon, it was dark, and negative, but necessary. From that promptly rose Athens’ Direct Democracy, a beacon to this day. World War Two was another famous example of diabolical negativism unleashed for the best reasons.

Is man rational? Some say yes, some say no. Pascal uttered that there were two sorts of reasons: one of them from “the heart, which has its reasons which reason does not have”.

So what’s reason? Generally that question is interpreted as: is man logical? The Logos, one of three deities or avatar of the deity, of Christianism (!) is about simple “logical” rules. Say:

(A-> B & B->C) -> (A->C). More generally, the old fashion logos can be generalized as diagram chasing as in Category Theory.

Logic, as traditionally envisioned, and Category Theory are all describable point to point and digitally. As both Quantum Mechanics and Non-DNA genetics point out, this is not how the world works, in full.

(Digitally is how the Abacus, and our Twentieth Century computers work; but that’s not saying much: that’s precisely their shortcoming; the Quantum Computers use Quantum mechanics, hence the continuously differentiable nature of the world.)

So it’s not surprising our brains act continuous differential. Just the opposite of neurons’ most spectacular antics. That consist in firing long range electric potential impulses down axons.

Continuously differential brainy means the EMOTIONAL, NEUROHORMONAL system.

How do we control that?

Well, that’s straining a bit out of the traditional approach to wisdom. Kama Sutra (truly a good life and family manual) and Tantric Texts come to mind (digging in the Tantra reveals a lot of analogy with what I preach, or what De Sade observed, namely that embracing nature is often the best teaching).

But one is better off observing how famous leaders of humanity, those who imparted momentum to civilization, lived. Well, they lived, mostly dangerously, and more strikingly, in various behavioral modes. Most monarchs were hard lovers and warriors, while appreciating the arts, and even science (contemplate the Duke of Normandy and Conqueror of England, asking pointed question about the state of motion of the Earth, of Ptolemy, the Marshall of Alexander (“the Great”) establishing Alexandria as a capital of knowledge, or Francois I, Louis XIV, and Napoleon pushing the sciences; contemplate Muhammad, warrior and philosopher).

And don’t forget Socrates’ military exploits, including, among other things killing four hoplites in hand to hand combat, and helping a wounded comrade survive in an harrowing retreat after a heavy defeat of the Athenian army.

What is going on here? What has hunting all day long, and skirt chasing to do with governance? Just as Catherine The Great, after she got her husband killed, and took as lovers many of the alpha males she detected. As Vlad The Putin would point out, that manly, adventurous attitude got her army a few miles from Berlin, and all over Ukraine.

What is going on is that varied behaviors lead to varied neurohormonal regimes, various moods, thus varied sets of mental laws. In the same “individual”.

This, in turn, leads to operating the brain under different “LAWS”. I borrowed the expression from Airbus, an airline company based in Toulouse, France. Airbus and its ancestors invented Fly By Wire (FBW), inaugurated with Concorde, (adopted for the Space Shutle,) and exclusively used in the Airbus 320 (now all serious aircraft makers have followed). When a plane flies normally it is in “normal law”. When things get abnormal, the computerized brain of the plane change “laws”, with the idea to put the pilots in charge. (The system has worked very well, for decades, up to two weeks ago when a brand new A400 M transport plane crashed because of a computer bug.)

The situation with human brains is that neurohormonal regimes put brains in different laws, that is, in different logics. This cannot be denied. It was intuitively understood, for a long time: hence the avice to not get angry, and that anger, or fear, are bad advisers, etc.

Well, maybe that’s the wrong approach. Maybe anger, fear, love, instead of being eschewed, have to be embraced, to explore the world under a different law.

Let’s go back to the aeronautical analogy. That A400M which crash was flown in a TEST, as a TEST aircraft (it was its first flight), by TEST pilots and engineers. As it turned out that was also the TEST of a new software to enable some specific military operations (acting on fuel and what is called “trimming”, a displacement of center of mass related to fuel, inaugurated on Concorde, nearly fifty years ago).

Well, the tests ended catastrophically: three engines cut-off, and the plane, badly trimmed, banked abnormally, and crashed.

It would have been better to run the whole thing as a thought, rather than test experiment. But for aircraft, there is no choice. Just as, for the Earth, there is no choice: we cannot run the Earth as a TEST SPACESHIP, doing whatever, and see what happens.

Because, whereas one crashed plane can be replaced, the Earth cannot.

So we have to make the most thorough thought experiments, much more thorough than we ever did before.

Why?

Because we want to understand our minds, or, more exactly, the minds of the oligarchy of a few thousands, dominated by Xi, Putin, Obama, Merkel, Hollande, and a few hundreds associated top plutocrats of, fully equipped with herds of minions, all the way down to academic critters producing the requested logic (plutocratic law).

Look back down at history. Consider FDR, a president of the USA at a time when, to avoid a holocaust, he had to make a united front with the French Republic. Instead, FDR did the opposite, pronouncing, ten years later, when they holocaust had been already unleashed, and millions were already dead, that the USA was the “Arsenal of Democracy”.

What motivated FDR in weakening and opposing France, while arguing with Hitler, when at the same time replacing his ambassador (Dodd) precisely because he was antagonistic to the Nazis, and tolerating a massive policy of investment with the Nazis that violated neutrality, and so on? One has to go to psychoanalysis.

My explanation? FDR was actually a plutocrat. His family had a (self-created) coat of arms (mine too, but it’s the fault of the king of Aragon, 12 centuries ago).

However, a half paralyzed Roosevelt had to impose an anti-plutocratic policy as candidate and president. And then FDR got the French government in his face, telling him he was all wrong. Indeed, then wrong FDR did, by being all too friendly to Hitler, and refusing Jewish refugees. In the end, FDR lived in denial.

The ultimate was when, although from an institutionally racist USA, FDR had to fight to death the racist-in-chief, Adolf Hitler, and make in a sense its bed for the Liberty-Equality-Fraternity Republic (never mind that France was not really that; FDR was furious he was pulled in the wrong direction; indeed, soon, under the pressure of the war, the U.S. army pushed for desegregation.

Notice that then one has to interpret emotions, such as FDR’s rage against the French, or his de facto friendliness to enemies of France such as Stalin. Texts, the digital thing, are insufficient.

To get to know ourselves, we have to know, not just our logic (roll over Socrates), or what we know (as a library of facts and demonstrations). We also have to know our emotions, and where they came from. More than that, we have to know what they are, or could be, capable of.

Thus we have not just to cultivate our garden (Voltaire), but also cultivate our emotional system, and especially its potential character. Don’t just imagine the Light. Imagine also the Dark.

Patrice Ayme’