A Process Model
According to the usual way of thinking, perception is a kind of intake along the lines of photography or radio reception. That approach does not work out very well. Not only has it led to many controversies (See RO and PB). Most importantly, the old way of thinking does not enable us to relate perception clearly to behavior and body process.
Perception is always a part of behavior, and behavior is a special kind of body process. When these connections are missed, then studies of behavior seem to form one field, and physiology another.
In the old model everything is conceptualized as time-space events connected by externally imposed laws. The old model renders body process, behavior, and human symbolic actions along the same lines, the only way it renders anything. This omits many important characteristics (life, motivation, consciousness), leaving what remains within science rather truncated.
In our model derived from explication occurring is into implying. From the start a vast implicit multiplicity functions in the formation of occurring. A process has its own continuity.
We just developed the concept "open cycle," a reiterating ("leafing") sector of body-environment interaction. As more and more of these intervening events -- these leafing interactions -- develop, the en can affect the body in more ways. A change in the body or in the en may change this reiterative sector. It is a second environment. The body can now be affected by the environment not only as body-en, but also in its reiterative open cycle sector (which is one part of body-en).
The leafings are part of the body, but since they reiterate, they also supply a kind of background within which the body-process now occurs. We will take this background up more exactly below.
As we said at the end of V, the increased affectability is not yet perception. We need to devise concepts for how perception is more than merely being affected. Anything, say a stone, can be affected. But we do not say that the stone perceives. It is the observer who perceives the change in the stone. The observer also perceives the type of change in an animal which we do call "perception." Thus far we have not got a hold of the difference. The question is, how can the living process itself perceive (rather than being affected only, so that the observer does the perceiving)?
In V we saw how novel developments might continue indefinitely between two change-avenues. Any body-change might (by interaffecting) make other body-changes, and might (by shared en) change the en of other processes. Any en-change might (by shared en) make for changes in the en of other body-processes which could (by interaffecting) change the body.
All this applies between all body-processes long before a reiterating open cycle has developed. Now that the body has a reiterating sector, the whole body and this sub-section can interaffect each other, as well as change each other via their shared en.
Let us now move a few steps further with these concepts. If the open cycle is highly developed (many reiterating en-interactions), the changes along our two avenues (interaffecting and shared en) would be considerable.
A change in the body might change the open cycle both by interaffecting how the body implies the open cycle from inside, and might also change it via the body's changed en#2 so that the body would engage the reiterating en-interaction somewhat differently.
A change in the open cycle might change the body by interaffecting, and because some shared en-aspects may change the body's en#2.
Any of these changes might bring any of the others in turn.
We recall that we wondered why eveving doesn't include all the changes at once, then realized that eveving (or implying) is always part of en-occurring. Change on both avenues occurs at once, but the further changes which result from these happen only in the further occurring.
Now suppose a stoppage in the body-process makes large changes in the open cycle. If the leafing interactions are very different, this "registry" of the body's change in turn (by interaffecting and shared en#2) affects the whole body, which changes how the body registers in its reiterating cycle, which in turn changes the body.
A new kind of sequence is happening. The change in the body (b-en#2) registers as a change in the open cycle, on either or both avenues and this change changes the body and its en#2, which makes again a change (on both avenues) in how the body interacts in the open cycle.
The body is going through changes in how it is in its en#2, and these changes are changing how the body is in the open cycle sector. Each open-cycle change changes the body further, and this again change how it is in its open-cycle.
The body is pulling itself through a sequence of a new kind of b-en changes brought about between the body and its own reiterative sector by the registry of the change, and the change made by the registry.
The body has two environments: its en#2 and its reiterative sector. The body makes and responds to these changes in a feedback relation between itself as a whole (b-en#2) and the changes in its own home-made environment, the leafing open cycle.
The body changes itself and moves itself through these changes. We have derived behavior!
More exactly we have devised a kind of concept. If we think of behavior along the lines of this concept, we may be able to do behavior more justice than with the old model. It is of course only a scheme, a conceptual structure, but probably a better model for making concepts about behavior than the current one.
What are the advantages, the special characteristics of this new concept, this new kind of sequence?
As with the intervening events in V, this new development might be adaptive. Of course, it might not be. But the organism is moving. What is missing and implied during the stoppage is more likely to be encountered if the animal moves. Or, another way to put this: Now the body and the en are not just one fixed way during a stoppage. Rather, the animal runs through a whole string of changed versions of "the same" stoppage (or "the same" implying). What the body implies is thereby more likely to develop or be encountered. But it might not. We say only that the new sequence is always pertinent (see V, FN 16) to the stoppage.
With our concept we can also understand the well-known fact that body structure develops in accordance with behavior. What was shown in V would still apply: behavioral events are a special case of new intervening events -- new tissue process. They are new bodily developments and interactions with new aspects of the en.
But is the new sequence just a case of the one we had in V, perhaps only speeded up? Or is it different? Both. We can think of the behavior sequence both as intervening events of the same kind we had in V (which they are), and also as a new kind of change that happens against the backdrop of the reiterating cycle which developed as earlier intervening events.
For example, we might think of the reiterating along the lines of a TV screen. The TV tube projects a beam at the screen. This beam very rapidly goes back and forth horizontally, forming very thin regular lines that are always the same. The picture is made by letting the signal from the antenna affect this line-drawing beam so that it registers the picture-signal as a change in those lines. Now we could say quite rightly that the picture consists of the same lines, merely pulled out of their usual course. The picture is only a special form of those very lines. Or we could say that the signal is something quite different, which registers against the backdrop of the reiterating lines.
The TV beam's regular lines do not occur insofar as the picture pulls the beam out of its regular lines. Therein the TV differs from (for instance) graph paper, whose lines remain underneath what we draw over them. Open cycle is like TV in this respect, not graph paper. The open cycle does not occur as usual, but with a new shape on top of it, like the graph paper. Rather, it forms only as changed.
Another example: A motion picture consists of a series of "same" frames, each only a little different from the previous. We see the movements because the differences stand out against the reiterated aspects.
Still another example: Have you noticed that the wind is visible in the grass? And, of course we see it in the leaves and branches of the trees. We could not see the wind except for its registry in some otherwise stable context within which the changes are the wind.
In our new sequence the body pulls itself through the changes made by the registering (via interaffecting and en). That differs from our examples. The wind is not propelled by the grass registry. But we may take the notion that an existing reiterating context can register changes by staying otherwise the same, so that the changes stand out within it.
When a new kind of sequence develops in our model, it is always both a special case of the earlier, and also a new kind of sequence altogether. It forms as the old kind, but finds itself having a new kind of carrying forward within it.
We note that there is a new kind of carrying forward internal to the behavior sequence. In III I had a too early use of the word "recognize." I said that when a missing en-aspect recurs, the whole stopped process resumes. It looks as if the body "recognizes" the missing object. We could now re-use the word in a second (still too early) sense. The body recognizes the next bodily occurring as carrying forward what it implied, but it now also re-recognizes the next occurring as the registry of the body's own move which also constitutes its next move. Now we have a doubled "recognition," since there is a doubled implying. We still have the usual kind of bodily implying and occurring (behavior is always part of a bodily event), but we also have the new relation.
But so far we have not said that the body implies how it will register when it moves. But if it had implied its registry, then the actual registry would occur into that implying and would carry it forward. But the second implying is not there when the sequence first forms. The new sequence forms as intervening events, but then it finds itself carried forward in this doubled way.
Once the body-process finds itself doubly carried forward, and the sequence becomes part of eveving, the registry which is also the next move is part of the single bodily implying (IVAb). The bodily change is also the implying of its registry and the further move that the registry makes. We can say that the body recognizes the open-cycle change as its own change.
Now we have derived why the lamb stops at the edge of a cliff although it has not seen a cliff before. Since the implied registry did not come, the movement sequence stops. At the cliff the registry is not that which the body's move implied as its registry. The lamb does not re-recognize the cliff drop as implied by its own motion, so it stops.
But this use of the word "re-recognize" is still too early. "Cognition" involves something more which we take up in VII.
Behavior is a new, doubled kind of implying and carrying forward. The body comes to imply its open cycle registry.
Let us go further.
The body moves further as the effect of the registry of how it just moved. It moved and is then affected by re-recognizing what it just did. Each bit of the sequence includes (is made by) the bodily impact (the registry) of how it just was. We could say that the body feels its own doing! Let us try to call this "feeling."
Currently, like most concepts, "feeling" is internally opaque. There seems to be no good way to think about what feeling is, why focusing on it leads to information about a situation (the environment), and how it could "contain" information at all. It is also puzzling why feeling brings change -- for example in psychotherapy. One speaks as if one could ask: "What good can it do me to feel all that stuff I have avoided? I might find out more about it, but how will it change? Of course the answer is more complex (see Focusing-Oriented Psychotherapy) but feeling is itself a change-process. It should be thought of not as a noun but as a verb -- a sequence.
With our new model we can explicate the implicit environmental information and behavioral origin of feeling. Later we will develop the way a feeling might seem to happen without overt behavior. But it is always part of some kind of behavioral sequence -- it moves the body by the impacts made by the rendition of the body's own moves, the impacts of how the body just was. What we are calling "feeling" has (is) doubled information. It is a bodily change. It also is the rendition of that bodily change in the reiterative environment.
A bodily move now also implies its rendition which makes the next move. Therefore feeling is a series, not one rendition. We have to modify what I seemed to say, that feeling is "the" impact of "the" rendition. Feeling is the series of changes made by the impacts of the renditions of how the body was.
Later we will think about feelings that seem to happen, without overt behavior. Right now feeling exists only in behavior, as the series of bodily re-recognitions. Let us call it "feeling in-behavior" to remind ourselves of this.
What I call "re-recognition" enables us to understand how feeling locates into itself. In feeling the body "feels itself" but not as if it were an object along with other objects. Rather, the body feels its environment by re-recognizing what it just did. Feeling is the series of impacts of what the body just did. With feeling the body not only is, but feels the impact of what it "was." This is sentience.
We have derived consciousness !!
That is the grandiose way of putting it. We don't want to reduce consciousness to any simple scheme. We have derived only a concept with which we can think about one aspect of consciousness, namely its self-registry.
But notice, this is not the concept of "consciousness" in the Western tradition, something like a mere light shining on something given there in advance. With our new concept "feeling" is the behavior; it is the series of bodily impacts of the body's own doing in the environment.
Let us go a little further before we discuss this relation called "of." It will develop further.
So far we have only considered the bodily side of behavior, the series of bodily impacts of the open cycle versions. But those also form a series that is part of the behavior sequence. The series of registries in the open cycle (the home-grown environment) -- what is that?
Aha! The series of open cycle renditions is perception!
Again I must quickly add: When I say this series is perception (or sensation), I mean only that we have developed a kind of conceptual structure with which to speak-from and think-from perception (to think further and better than one can with the current kind of concept).
Again I must point out that this differs greatly from the traditional concept of "perception" or "sensing." In our concept behavior, feeling, and perception are internally related and inherently linked.
Later we will think about a kind of perception that happens without overt behavior. The perception we just derived occurs as part of behavior. Let us call it "perception in-behavior."
Perception is felt. Feeling is of perception carrying the body's implying forward. The single sequence in which they appear is behavior.
A behavior sequence involves two special cases of the present-past relation, two cases of "goes on in" -- our theta. With the rendition the body goes on in what it renders. Or, to put it transitively, the rendition goes the body on further. The body goes on in its sense of what it did.
Perception is not just an in-take, a reception, a still photo. It is the going-on-in the en that is being perceived.
Feeling is not merely a sense of what is. It goes on further. It is the going-on-in how the body just was.
To re-recognize is to change, to go on further. (This will be important when we come to symbols. They too are a going further, not just static copies.) When we see, hear, or say what we did, we explicate further. Only by carrying the body further is there an open cycle rendition of how we just were.
The body now moves by its own doing. It moves in the en because the part of its en#2 which is its doubled reiterative en moves it further and thereby registers how it moved. Now we can say that the body perceives, because it isn't merely being affected but has a doubled re-recognition. The bodily implying (which is always one holistic implying, see IVAb) is doubled. The bodily implying also implies perception and feeling.
A better word for "re-recognition" might be "expression." Expression is an external rendition of what one just did or was, such that the external rendition has a special impact, namely the sensing oneself as one just was, sensing this in terms of the external rendition. But the word "expression" needs to belong to VII. Let us save it for VII although its grounds are derived here. The bodily carrying forward first creates what is then the doubly-implied sequence in which the body re-recognizes its expression as its own. The doubled "self-locating" is already inherent in the most primitive kind of sentience.
Behavior (feeling and perception) is always a body-process, albeit doubled. We built a concept of behavior as a body-process that has a doubled implying. Now we have derived feeling and perception within this doubled self-locating
In the Latin medieval tradition Aristotle's theory of sensation was said to be "reflexive" of itself, which seemed to mean that sensing has itself as an object. But in that version one could not think a few steps further into this. One was supposed to accept as obvious that something affects the sense organs and makes a sensation, but that sensing senses itself seemed a puzzling addition. That whole tradition assumes that experience begins with sensation, as if it were our only relation to the environment. It omits the fact that the whole body is an ongoing interaction with its environment. A plant's body physically consists of environmental interactions quite without the five sense organs, and we are at least plants.
Without the bodily process that constitutes conscious (aware) sensing, it seemed that consciousness is a floating additional "reflection" like a ray of light shining on what would be there in the same way also in the dark. This has given the very word "consciousness" a bad reputation in philosophy.
In our model the body's movement and its self-sensing develop as one sequence. Just sensing, without overt behavior, is a later derivative which we have not yet developed.
In recent research it was found that sensing does not develop normally without movement. When a newborn animal is blind-folded from birth but permitted to move, it perceives normally later on, when the blindfold is removed. But if the newborn is restrained for some time it does not later perceive normally, even though it was permitted to see everything including the motions of other animals. This is a puzzle In terms of current theories.
Feelings similarly develop only in-behavior. In current psychology feelings are still considered merely "internal." Then one ignores or puzzles about why feelings contain implicit information about what is going on. It seems only a superstition that the body is "wise" about one's life and situations.
In the history of Western thought, perception was thought to be our only connection with the world. Feelings were not taken to contain valid information. They were considered mere "accompaniments" of perception or worse, as misleading distortions. One finds them discussed only in back sections of philosophy books. The important questions were considered without them. We were assumed to feel only emotions, as if our bodies did not thickly feel our situations and what we do and say.
We need to change the "basic" model along the lines of our concepts. One can certainly question and reject these concepts, and better ones will surely be devised. We need not feel sure of our new concepts, but we can be sure that some concepts are needed to perform the functions which our concepts perform. We see some of these functions here: the concepts must enable us to think how perception is felt, and how feeling is of the environment.
Notice that there is as yet no distinction between the five senses.17 Thus perception is not visual, nor is it the combination of five separate senses distinguished from other bodily sentience (currently one calls the latter "visceral"). The whole bodily change series is the feeling of what we term "perception."
We do not split the bodily changes away from what they are the sensations "of." What perception is "of," is sensed by (with, via) the bodily changes that are the feeling of that. They are feeling and perception only because they make up one self-locating behavior sequence. This single sequence is feeling and it is also perception.
The feedback to itself is the moving and the sensing and feeling of moving. Linear time is violated again. The open cycle is (a versioning of) how the body just was. Its impact is also the body's move. Continuity, as we saw in IV, is not just bits pressed close or contiguous, but the functioning of each in the last and the next. The open cycle both carries the body forward and just thereby, not earlier, feeds back to the body what it was. In linear time the point on our theta seems like one point going both backwards and forwards (see the end of IVB).
Is it the open cycle that registers the last move, or the one that is the change and registers this move? The feedback to this move has the next move as its impact. In linear time the open cycle seems staggered, and both ahead and lagging behind. But linear time is too simple. We saw that if our thetas can be reduced to a stripe, one point moving along a line.
Instead of cutting between past, present, and future, our time model leads us to cut between interaffecting and the shared en effects. If there were not that difference, everything would happen at once, or nothing would ever happen. There would be no differences between implying and occurring.
Modified 10/2001 (c) 1998 by Eugene T. Gendlin. All Rights Reserved. webmaster