Samstag, 22. April 2017

On Exploration:

Maps of Meaning, Jordan B. Peterson (1999):

>The constant and universal presence of the incomprehensible in the world has elicited adaptive response from us and from all other creatures with highly developed nervous systems. We have evolved to operate successfully in a world eternally composed of the predictable, in paradoxical juxtaposition with the unpredictable. The combination of what we have explored and what we have still to evaluate actually comprises our environment, insofar as its nature can be broadly specified—and it is to that environment that our physiological structure has become matched. One set of the systems that comprise our brain and mind governs activity, when we are guided by our plans—when we are in the domain of the known. Another appears to operate when we face something unexpected— when we have entered the realm of the unknown.
The “limbic unit” generates the orienting reflex, among its other tasks. It is the orienting reflex, which manifests itself in emotion, thought and behavior, that is at the core of the fundamental human response to the novel or unknown. This reflex takes a biologically determined course, ancient in nature, primordial as hunger or thirst, basic as sexuality, extant similarly in the animal kingdom, far down the chain of organic being. The orienting reflex is the general instinctual reaction to the category of all occurrences which have not yet been categorized—is response to the unexpected, novel or unknown per se, and not to any discriminated aspect of experience, any specifically definable situation or thing. The orienting reflex is at the core of the process that generates (conditional) knowledge of sensory phenomena and motivational relevance or valence. Such knowledge is most fundamentally how to behave, and what to expect as a consequence, in a particular situation, defined by culturally modified external environmental circumstance and equally modified internal motivational state. It is also information about what is, from the objective perspective—is the record of that sensory experience occurring in the course of ongoing behavior.
The orienting reflex substitutes for particular learned responses when the incomprehensible suddenly makes its appearance. The occurrence of the unpredictable, the unknown, the source of fear and hope, creates a seizure of ongoing specifically goal-directed behavior. Emergence of the unexpected constitutes evidence for the incomplete nature of the story currently guiding such behavior; comprises evidence for error at the level of working description of current state, representation of desired future state or conception of the means to transform the former into the latter. Appearance of the unknown motivates curious, hopeful exploratory behavior, regulated by fear, as means to update the memory-predicated working model of reality (to update the known, so to speak, which is defined or familiar territory). The simultaneous production of two antithetical emotional states, such as hope and fear, means conflict, and the unexpected produces intrapsychic conflict like nothing else. The magnitude and potential intensity of this conflict cannot be appreciated under normal circumstances, because under normal circumstances—in defined territory—things are going according to plan. It is only when our goals have been destroyed that the true significance of the decontextualized object or experience is revealed—and such revelation makes itself known first in the form of fear. We are protected from such conflict—from subjugation to instinctive terror—by the historical compilation of adaptive information generated in the course of previous novelty-driven exploration. We are protected from unpredictability by our culturally determined beliefs, by the stories we share. These stories tell us how to presume and how to act to maintain the determinate, shared and restricted values that compose our familiar worlds.
The orienting reflex—the involuntary gravitation of attention to novelty—lays the groundwork for the emergence of (voluntarily controlled) exploratory behavior. Exploratory behavior allows for classification of the general and (a priori) motivationally significant unexpected into specified and determinate domains of motivational relevance. In the case of something with actual (post-investigation) significance, relevance means context-specific punishment or satisfaction, or their putatively “second-order” equivalents: threat or promise (as something threatening implies punishment, as something promising implies satisfaction). This is categorization, it should be noted, in accordance with implication for motor output, or behavior, rather than with regard to sensory (or, formalized, objective) property. We have generally presumed that the purpose of exploration is production of a picture of the objective qualities of the territory explored. This is evidently—but only partially—true. However, the reasons we produce such pictures (are motivated to produce such pictures) are not usually given sufficient consideration. Every explorable subterritory, so to speak, has its sensory aspect, but it is the emotional or motivational relevance of the new domain that is truly important. We need to know only that something is hard and glowing red as a means of keeping track of the fact that it is hot, and therefore dangerous—that it is punishing, if contacted. We need to know the feel and look of objects so that we can keep track of what can be eaten and what might eat us.
When we explore a new domain, we are mapping the motivational or affective significance of the things or situations that are characteristic of our goal-directed interactions within that domain, and we use the sensory information we encounter to identify what is important. It is the determination of specific meaning, or emotional significance, in previously unexplored territory—not identification of the objective features—that allows us to inhibit the novelty-induced terror and curiosity emergence of that territory otherwise automatically elicits. We feel comfortable somewhere new, once we have discovered that nothing exists there that will threaten or hurt us (more particularly, when we have adjusted our behavior and schemas of representation so that nothing there is likely to or able to threaten or hurt us). The consequence of exploration that allows for emotional regulation (that generates security, essentially) is not objective description, as the scientist might have it, but categorization of the implications of an unexpected occurrence for specification of means and ends. Such categorization is what an object “is,” from the perspective of archaic affect and subjective experience. The orienting reflex, and the exploratory behavior following its manifestation, also allows for the differentiation of the unknown into the familiar categories of objective reality. However, this ability is a late development, emerging only four hundred years ago, and cannot be considered basic to “thinking.” Specification of the collectively apprehensible sensory qualities of something—generally considered, in the modern world, as the essential aspect of the description of reality—merely serves as an aid to the more fundamental process of evaluation, determining the precise nature of relevant or potentially relevant phenomena. 
When things are going according to plan—that is, when our actions fulfill our desires—we feel secure, even happy. When nothing is going wrong, the cortical systems expressly responsible for the organization and implementation of goal-directed behavior remain firmly in control. When cortically generated plans and fantasies go up in smoke, however, this control vanishes. The comparatively ancient “limbic” hippocampal and amygdalic systems leap into action, modifying affect, interpretation and behavior. The hippocampus appears particularly specialized for comparing the (interpreted) reality of the present, as it manifests itself in the subjective sphere, with the fantasies of the ideal future constructed by the motor unit (acting in turn as the higher-order mediator—the king, so to speak—of all the specialized subsystems that compose the more fundamental or primary components of the brain). These desire-driven fantasies might be regarded as motivated hypotheses about the relative likelihood of events produced in the course of ongoing goal-directed activity. What you expect to happen—really, what you want to happen, at least in most situations—is a model you generate, using what you already know, in combination with what you are learning while you act. The hippocampal comparator constantly and “unconsciously” checks what is “actually” happening against what is supposed to happen. This means that the comparator contrasts the “unbearable present,” insofar as it is comprehended (because it is a model, too), against the ideal future, as it is imagined; means that it compares the interpreted outcome of active behavior with an image of the intended consequences of that behavior. Past experience—skill and representation of the outcome of skill (or memory, as it is applied)—governs behavior, until error is committed. When something occurs that is not intended—when the actual outcome, as interpreted, does not match the desired outcome, as posited—the hippocampus shifts mode and prepares to update cortical memory storage. Behavioral control shifts from the cortex to the limbic system—apparently, to the amygdala, which governs the provisional determination of the affective significance of unpredictable events, and has powerful output to centers of motor control. This shift of control allows the activation of structures governing orienting, heightened intensity of sensory processing and exploration.
The “higher” cortex controls behavior until the unknown emerges—until it makes a mistake in judgment, until memory no longer serves—until the activity it governs produces a mismatch between what is desired and what actually occurs. When such a mismatch occurs, appropriate affect (fear and curiosity) emerges. But how can situation-relevant emotion attach itself to what has by definition not yet been encountered? Traditionally, significance is attached to previously irrelevant things or situations as a consequence of learning, which is to say that things mean nothing until their meaning is learned. No learning has taken place, however, in the face of the unknown—yet emotion reveals itself, in the presence of error. It appears, therefore, that the kind of emotion that the unpredictable arouses is not learned—which is to say that the novel or unexpected comes preloaded with affect. Things are not irrelevant, as a matter of course. They are rendered irrelevant, as a consequence of (successful) exploratory behavior. When they are first encountered, however, they are meaningful. It is the amygdala, at bottom, that appears responsible for the (disinhibited) generation of this a priori meaning—terror and curiosity.
The amygdala appears to automatically respond to all things or situations, unless told not to. It is told not to—is functionally inhibited—when ongoing goal-directed behaviors produce the desired (intended) results. When an error occurs, however—indicating that current memory-guided motivated plans and goals are insufficient—the amygdala is released from inhibition and labels the unpredictable occurrence with meaning. Anything unknown is dangerous and promising, simultaneously: evokes anxiety, curiosity, excitement and hope automatically and prior to what we would normally regard as exploration or as (more context-specific) classification. The operations of the amygdala are responsible for ensuring that the unknown is regarded with respect, as the default decision. The amygdala says, in effect, “if you don’t know what it signifies, you’d better pay attention to it.” Attention constitutes the initial stage of exploratory behavior, motivated by amygdalic operation—composed of the interplay between anxiety, which impels caution in the face of novelty-threat, and hope, which compels approach to novelty-promise. Caution-regulated approach allows for the update of memory in the form of skill and representation. Exploration-updated memory inhibits the production of a priori affect. On familiar ground—in explored territory—we feel no fear (and comparatively little curiosity). 
The desired output of behavior (what should be) is initially posited; if the current strategy fails, the approach and exploration system is activated,115 although it remains under the governance of anxiety. The approach system (and its equivalent, in abstraction) generates (1) alternative sequences of behavior, whose goal is the production of a solution to the present dilemma; (2) alternative conceptualizations of the desired goal; or (3) re-evaluation of the motivational significance of the current state. This means (1) that a new strategy for attaining the desired goal might be invented, or (2) that a replacement goal, serving the same function, might be chosen; or (3) that the behavioral strategy might be abandoned, due to the cost of its implementation. In the latter case, the whole notion of what constitutes “reality,” at least with regard to the story or frame of reference currently in use, might have to be reconstructed. ...
Exploratory activity culminates normally in restriction, expansion, or transformation of the behavioral repertoire. In exceptional, non-normal circumstances—that is, when a major error has been committed—such activity culminates in revolution, in modification of the entire story guiding affective evaluation and behavioral programming. Such revolutionary modification means update of modeled reality, past, present and future, through incorporation of information generated during exploratory behavior. Successful exploration transforms the unknown into the expected, desired and predictable; establishes appropriate behavioral measures (and expectations of those measures) for next contact. Unsuccessful exploration, by contrast—avoidance or escape—leaves the novel object firmly entrenched in its initial, “natural,” anxiety-provoking category. This observation sets the stage for a fundamental realization: human beings do not learn to fear new objects or situations, or even really “learn” to fear something that previously appeared safe, when it manifests a dangerous property. Fear is the a priori position, the natural response to everything for which no structure of behavioral adaptation has been designed and inculcated. Fear is the innate reaction to everything that has not been rendered predictable, as a consequence of successful, creative exploratory behavior undertaken in its presence, at some time in the past. LeDoux states:

"It is well established that emotionally neutral stimuli can acquire the capacity to evoke striking emotional reaction following temporal pairing with an aversive event. Conditioning does not create new emotional responses but instead simply allows new stimuli to serve as triggers capable of activating existing, often hard-wired, species-specific emotional reactions. In the rat, for example, a pure tone previously paired with footshock evokes a conditioned fear reaction consisting of freezing behavior accompanied by a host of autonomic adjustments, including increases in arterial pressure and heart rate. Similar responses are expressed when laboratory rats are exposed to a cat for the first time, but following amygdala lesions such responses are no longer present, suggesting that the responses are genetically specified (since they appear when the rat sees a cat, a natural predator, for the first time) and involve the amygdala. The fact that electrical stimulation of the amygdala is capable of eliciting the similar response patterns further supports the notion that the responses are hard-wired."

Fear is not conditioned; security is unlearned, in the presence of particular things or contexts, as a consequence of violation of explicit or implicit presupposition. Classical behavioral psychology is wrong in the same manner our folk presumptions are wrong: fear is not secondary, not learned; security is secondary, learned. Everything not explored is tainted, a priori, with apprehension. Any thing or situation that undermines the foundations of the familiar and secure is therefore to be feared.
It is difficult for us to formulate a clear picture of the subjective effects of the systems that dominate our initial response to the truly unpredictable, because we strive with all our might to ensure that everything around us remains normal. Under “normal” conditions, therefore, these primordial systems never operate with their full force. It might be said, with a certain amount of justification, that we devote our entire lives to making sure that we never have to face anything unknown, in the revolutionary sense—at least not accidentally. Our success in doing so deludes us about the true nature, power and intensity of our potential emotional responses. As civilized people, we are secure. We can predict the behaviors of others (that is, if they share our stories); furthermore, we can control our environments well enough to ensure that our subjection to threat and punishment remains at a minimum. It is the cumulative consequences of our adaptive struggle—our cultures—which enable this prediction and control. The existence of our cultures, however, blinds us to the nature of our true (emotional) natures—at least to the range of that nature, and to the consequences of its emergence.
Experimental examinations of the orienting reflex have not shed much light on our true potential for emotional response, in the past, because they generally took place under exceptionally controlled circumstances. Subjects evaluated for their responses to “novelty” are generally presented with stimuli that are novel only in the most “normal” of manners. A tone, for example, which differs unpredictably from another tone (or which appears at a relatively unpredictable time) is still a tone, something experienced a thousand times before and something experienced in a lab, in a hospital or university, under the jurisdiction of trustworthy personnel devoted to minimizing the anxietyprovoking nature of the experimental procedure. The controlled circumstances of the experiment (which are, in fact, the implicit and therefore invisible theoretical presumptions of the experiment) have led us to minimize the importance of the orienting reflex, and to misunderstand the nature of its disappearance.
Orienting signifies “attention,” not terror, in the standard lab situation, and its gradual elimination with repeated stimulus presentation is regarded as “habituation”—as something boring, akin to automatic acclimation, adjustment or desensitization. Habituation is not a passive process, however, at least at higher cortical levels of processing. It just looks passive when observed under relatively trivial circumstances. It is in reality always the consequence of active exploration and subsequent modification of behavior, or interpretive schema. The (relatively) novel target laboratory tone, for example, is investigated for its underlying structure by the cortical systems involved in audition. These systems actively analyze the component elements of every sound. The subject is led to “expect” or predict one sort of sound and gets another. The unexpected other has indeterminate significance, in that particular context, and is therefore regarded as (comparatively) meaningful—threatening and promising. The unexpected tone is presented repeatedly. The exploratory subject notes that the repetitions signify nothing, in the context that defines the experimental situation (nothing punishing, satisfying, threatening or promising), and ceases to react. He has not merely “habituated” to the stimuli. He has mapped its context-dependent significance, which is zero. This process appears trivial because the experimental situation makes it so. In real life, it is anything but boring. 
Classical work conducted on animal “emotion” and motivation has taken place under circumstances reminiscent of the artificially constrained situations that define most work on human orienting. Animals, usually rats, are trained to be afraid—or to inhibit their behavior—in the presence of a neutral stimulus paired repeatedly with an “unconditioned” punishment [a stimulus whose motivational valence is negative, in the supposed absence of learning (or, at least, in the absence of interpretation)]. The rat is placed in the experimental environment and is allowed to familiarize himself with his surroundings. The neutral stimulus might be a light; the unconditioned stimulus, an electric shock. The light goes on; the floor of the rat’s cage is briefly electrified. This sequence occurs repeatedly. Soon the rat “freezes” as soon as the light appears. He has developed a “conditioned response,” manifesting behavioral inhibition (and fear, theoretically) to something that was previously neutral. Procedures of this sort effectively produce fear. The implicit contextual constraints or axioms of these procedures, however, lead researchers to draw odd conclusions about the nature of the “acquisition” of fear. 
Such experiments first imply that fear in a given situation is necessarily something learned. Second, they imply that fear exists as a consequence of exposure to punishment, and only because of that exposure. The problem with this interpretation is that the rat was inevitably afraid as soon as he was placed in the new experimental environment, even though nothing terrible had yet happened there. After he is allowed to explore, he calms down. It is only then that he is regarded as normal. The experimenter then jars the rat out of his acquired normalcy by presenting him with something unexpected and painful—the unconditioned stimulus, in conjunction with the neutral stimulus. He then “learns” to be afraid. Really what has happened is that the unexpected occurrence forces the rat to reattain the state he was in (or that same state, in an exaggerated manner) when he first entered the cage. The fact of the electric shock, in conjunction with the light, indicates to the rat (reminds the rat) that he is, once again, in unexplored territory. His fear, in unexplored territory, is just as normal as his complacency in environments that he has mapped and that hold no danger. We regard the calm rat as the real rat because we project our misinterpretations of our own habitual nature onto our experimental animals. It is as D.O.Hebb states:

"[The urbanity characterizing ourselves,]…the civilized, amiable, and admirable part of mankind, well brought up and not constantly in a state of fear…depends as much on our successfully avoiding disturbing stimulation as on a lowered sensitivity [to fear-producing stimuli]…. [T]he capacity for emotional breakdown may [well] be self-concealing, leading [animals and human beings] to find or create an environment in which the stimuli to excessive emotional response are at a minimum. So effective is our society in this regard that its members—especially the well-to-do and educated ones—may not even guess at some of their own potentialities. One usually thinks of education, in the broad sense, as producing a resourceful, emotionally stable adult, without respect to the environment in which these traits are to appear. To some extent this may be true. But education can be seen as being also the means of establishing a protective social environment in which emotional stability is possible. Perhaps it strengthens the individual against unreasonable fears and rages, but it certainly produces a uniformity of appearance and behavior which reduces the frequency with which the individual member of the society encounters the causes of such emotion. On this view, the susceptibility to emotional disturbance may not be decreased. It may in fact be increased. The protective cocoon of uniformity, in personal appearance, manners, and social activity generally, will make small deviations from custom appear increasingly strange and thus (if the general thesis is sound) increasingly intolerable. The inevitable small deviations from custom will bulk increasingly large, and the members of the society, finding themselves tolerating trivial deviations well, will continue to think of themselves as socially adaptable."

Our emotional regulation depends as much (or more) on the stability and predictability of the social environment (on the maintenance of our cultures) as on “interior” processes, classically related to the strength of the ego or the personality. Social order is a necessary precondition for psychological stability: it is primarily our companions and their actions (or inactions) that stabilize or destabilize our emotions.
A rat (a person) is a complacent creature in explored territory. When in unexplored territory, however, it is anything but calm. A rat moved from its home cage to a new and unknown environment—a new cage, for example—will first freeze (even though it has never been punished, in the new situation). If nothing terrible happens to it (nothing punishing, threatening or additionally unpredictable) it will begin to sniff, to look around, to move its head, to gather new information about the intrinsically frightening place it now inhabits. Gradually, it starts to move about. It will explore the whole cage with increasing confidence. It is mapping the new environment for affective valence. It wants to find out: is there anything here that will kill me? Anything here I can eat? Anyone else here—someone hostile or friendly? A potential mate? The rat is interested in determining whether the new place contains anything of determinate interest to a rat, and it explores, to the best of its capacity, to make that judgment. It is not primarily interested in the “objective” nature of the new circumstances—a rat cannot actually determine what is objective and what is merely “personal opinion.” Nor does it care. It just wants to know what it should do.
What happens if an animal encounters something truly unexpected—something that should just not be, according to its current frame of reference or system of belief? The answer to this question sheds substantial light on the nature of the orienting reflex, in its full manifestation. Modern experimental psychologists have begun to examine the response of animals to natural sources of mystery and threat. They allow the animals to set up their own environments, realistic environments, and then expose them to the kinds of surprising circumstances they might encounter in real life. The appearance of a predator in previously safe space (space previously explored, that is, and mapped as useful or irrelevant) constitutes one type of realistic surprise. Blanchard and colleagues describe the naturalistic behavior of rats, under such conditions:

"When a cat is presented to established mixed-sex groups of laboratory rats living in a visible burrow system, the behaviors of the subjects change dramatically, in many cases for 24 hours or more. The initial active defensive behavior, flight to the tunnel/chamber system, is followed by a period of immobility during which the rats make 22 kHz ultrasonic vocalizations, which apparently serve as alarm cries, at a high rate. As freezing breaks up, proxemic avoidance of the open area gradually gives way to a pattern of “risk assessment” of the area where the cat was encountered. Subjects poke their heads out of the tunnel openings to scan the open area where the cat was presented, for minutes or hours before emerging, and when they do emerge, their locomotory patterns are characterized by [behaviors that theoretically reduce their visibility and vulnerability to predators and by] very short “corner runs” into and out of the open area. These risk assessment activities appear to involve active gathering of information about the possible danger source, providing a basis for a gradual return to non-defensive behaviors. Active risk assessment is not seen during early post-cat exposure, when freezing and avoidance of the open area are the dominant behaviors, but rises to a peak about 7–10 hours later, and then gradually declines. Non-defensive behaviors such as eating, drinking and sexual and aggressive activity tend to be reduced over the same period."

The unexpected appearance of a predator where nothing but defined territory previously existed terrifies the rats—badly enough that they “scream” about it, persistently, for a long period of time. Once this initial terror abates—which occurs only if nothing else horrible or punishing happens—curiosity is disinhibited, and the rats return to the scene of the crime. The space “renovelized” by the fact of the cat has to be transformed once again into explored territory as a consequence of active modification of behavior (and representational schema), not by passive desensitization to the unexpected. The rats run across the territory “contaminated” by the presence of the cat, to find out if anything dangerous (to running rats) still lurks there. If the answer is “no,” then the space is defined, once again, as home territory (which is that place where commonplace behaviors produce desired ends). The rats transform the dangerous unknown into familiar territory as a consequence of voluntary exploration. In the absence of such exploration, terror reigns unchecked.
It is just as illuminating to consider the responses of rats to their kin, who constitute “explored territory,” in contrast to their attitude toward “strangers,” whose behavior is not predictable. Rats are highly social animals, perfectly capable of living with their familiar compatriots in peace. They do not like members of other kin groups, however; they will hunt them down and kill them. Accidental or purposeful intruders are dealt with in the same manner. Rats identify one another by smell. If an experimenter removes a well-loved rat from its familial surroundings, scrubs it down, provides it with a new odor, and returns it to its peers, it will be promptly dispatched by those who once loved it. The “new” rat constitutes “unexplored territory”; his presence is regarded as a threat (not unreasonably) to everything currently secure. Chimpanzees, perfectly capable of killing “foreign devils” (even those who were once familiar), act in much the same manner.<
"On familiar ground—in explored territory—we feel no fear (and comparatively little curiosity). "

Jordan B. Peterson

Interpersonal interactions and relationships can be describes as unfolding along two perpendicular dimensions: verticality (power, dominance, control; Burgoon & Hoobler, 2002; Hall, Coats, & LeBeau, 2005) and horizontality (affiliativeness, warmth, friendliness; Kiesler, 1983; Wiggings, 1979). The vertical dimension refers to how much control or influence people can exert, or believe they can exert, over others, as well as the status relations created by social class, celebrity, respect, or expertise.

The Vertical Dimension of Social Signaling 
Marianne Schmid Mast and Judith A. Hall

Freitag, 21. April 2017

Die Aufgabe des Denkens:

Die Feststellung von räumlich-/zeitlich-/kausalen Verhältnissen zwischen Phänomenen.

Bzw. allgemeiner:

Die Feststellung von Verhältnissen zwischen Phänomenen.

[Also see: Cattell on Intelligence]

Mittwoch, 19. April 2017

"The mistake most people make when they try to develop willpower is that they push too hard. When you go on a weight-lifting program, you don't start by lifting two-hundred-pound weights. If you'll set yourself easy tasks, you'll accomplish them. You wouldn't try to ride a bucking bronco if you didn't know how to ride a horse. Yet, you're making the same mistake if you try to gather enough willpower to lose thirty pounds off the bat. How about starting with three? 
Good teachers know that children learn best when their work is at the proper level so they can make steady growth. Studies show that learning a new skill in industry is greatly facilitated if early efforts meet with success. The Royal Canadian Air Force exercises build gradually from day to day so that the exerciser is hardly aware of the increased effort required to do the next day's exercise; yet the cumulative effect over several months is significant. 
Therefore, I suggest that if you want to increase your willpower you begin by practicing in easy situations before applying the willpower you're building to do more and more difficult tasks."

Alan Lakein
"Planning (also called forethought) is the process of thinking about and organizing the activities required to achieve a desired goal."

Freitag, 14. April 2017

Wie sehr beruht die Begeisterung für ein Objekt

(A) auf der Beschaffenheit des Objekts

(B) auf der Beschaffenheit des sich begeisternden Subjekts?