Topic VII: Functional Requisite

Control imperative, yes. But how? What of the Nature of Things helps us to see what we need to develop of our behavioral capability, to become more effective?

The Nature of Things tells us that we must produce ordering, not just discover order. It tells us that we must not confound step and body (III) that we must be able to look at behavior independently of entity if we are to understand the behavioral entity’s potential for effectiveness (see the fallacies of the “mind-body problem”). It further tells us that there are general persisting conditions, the problem of behavior in addition to particulars of the situational problem , to which the behavioral entity must respond. What best expresses these persisting conditions and which still comprehends situational particulars is the fact of collision per se and what is thereby implied for effective behavior.

Collisions avoided, collisions arranged. A typical human day comprises thousands of them — some hard, some soft. From shutting off the alarm, removing the covers and feet on the floor to, eventually, back onto the bed and head on the pillow – and perhaps a good night word and kiss. How do we manage? How can we manage better?

The Behavioral Manifold tells us to look not simply to (and for) producer and product, but to need and process (then product, then product usage as tool), to develop capability beyond whatever behavioral capacities evolution has “gifted” us with. Our problems can not wait on evolution for solution.

Collisions show us about need. Collisions show us about the need to mind, to develop capabilities to mind. (The verb!) Then the need to integrate that minding with capabilities to move, so as to avoid and arrange collisions.

When we able to specify these capabilities, we shall have a theory of behavior that is applicable before the fact, that can afford guidance to future behavior – and assist the survival of the human species. We will not be captive to past and present behaviors and/or evolution’s provisions of capacities.

So what do collisions imply about needed capability? A multi-step capability for starters: Only one-step behavioral entities (e.g., asteroids) may experience but one collision. But let’s start with a single step.

Minding (Og is the notation we use here) requires six capabilities. Minding’s requirements are: exposure, focal attention, cognition (relating one thing to another, for which communication makes an essential contribution, via control entities and control structures, , two kinds of memory (roughly, “short term” and “long term”), and questioning (e.g., imagination, inquiry – especially via pointed questions: see ideational construction).

The behavioral entity needs 360 degree exposure to detect potential collisions, but also must be able to focus attention on a particular collision partner. Arranging collisions also requires the focal attention capability, but in the multi-step mode needs information from previous steps (to look back, so to speak) and must be able to imagine, to produce information for future steps (to look forward).

Memory serves both looking back and looking forward (see grasping in order to involve, below). Communication helps it save impressions as well as images – thus demonstrating the importance of consequentiality. (Note that the five “senses” [capacities] provide some, but only some, of the needed capabilities – even though we have “tooled up” vision, hearing and memory capacities.)

Moving (Mg) requires three basic capabilities: motion, orienting, and the dynamic duo of grasping and involving (which communication and cognizing do for minding*)

Muscles and ancillary structures provide the motion for movement. Motions also include those muscles and structures responsible for oral communicating and gesturing.

Orienting is most evident in facing: the forward pointing of both minding and moving capacities. But focal attention often requires turning one’s head or whole body. Orienting also applies in the old sense of “attitude,” that stance more apparent in a stalking leopard than in a human.

To be most effective in one’s steps, especially to arrange collisions, we must involve something to grasp it and grasp it to involve it. Hence the multi-step taker’s moving capacities and capabilities of jaws, arms, opposing thumbs and fingers, legs, toes and feet.

In the multi-step mode, minding and moving capabilities are interdependent – most obviously in the dependency of moving on minding, given incomplete instruction, less obviously perhaps in a subsequent step in the test of an idea (e.g., a hypothesis) by the outcome of a move based on that idea. Moving also requires singularity of minding (e.g., “one thing at a time”).

Minding’s acts of relating and moving’s acts of relating are, metaphorically, the atoms of the behavioral molecule. For the multi-step animal, the molecule extends to include the outcome, Ot, of the step: Og => Mg => Ot. In the next step, minding’s cognition can usefully relate that outcome to other conditions (e.g., its minding and/or moving sources, or to self [feelings]), as discussed in regard to knowing).

Cognition and communication afford a very useful kind of outcome: an observation, On, where minding’s cognition relates something observed to something else (e.g., an object to a property of that object or, as above, an outcome to another condition) and moving’s communication expresses it. Ergo: “I have an observation” (the product). The observation can provide the minding contribution in a later step. For example, “The way I feel now…”

The molecular structure of behavior can be extended drastically by observations of compound and complex conditions, as minding makes use of previous mindings. But how well have we developed cognition and communication – as arts and sciences of the possible?

Further requisites and imperatives suggest we have a long way to go yet.

* See Communication and Cognition.

(c) 2010 R. F. Carter


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