Guest | Login | New User

  • Psychology 2.0

The different paths to reach happiness

List of articles related to FIPP

Click here to read the short description of FIPP (recommended for better understanding of the below written)

While playing the video press the "HQ" button (in the right bottom corner of the YouTube player) in order to improve playback quality

Fodormik's Integrated Paradigm for Psychology (FIPP)

Miklos Fodor developed a model based on three basic concepts (later highlighted in bold) that can describe human behavior in different fields of life e.g. problem solving, love, religion, sex, co-operation. The essence of the model is that it reinterprets the relationship of the Self and Environment, which to date has been considered as a static relationship. Thus, the model distinguishes

Self-narrowing: when the Self perceives the Environment as bigger than itself e.g. in anxiety, fear, making efforts, close attention.


Self-expanding: when the Self expands into the Environment and perceives it as a part of itself e.g. love, happiness, aha experience, orgasm.


Click to edit the image Click to edit the image Click to edit the image Click to edit the image

The change of the two states can be described with a general pattern, in which the turning point is the emergence of new cognitive schemata, being mental constructions organized on different levels, representing the outside world e.g. concepts, theories, shapes, categories.

The emergence of a new cognitive schema results in a need to communicate, which prompts the Self to associate the new schema with others. The Self-expanding is complete only when such communication occurs.

Example: Problem solving

  • Self-narrowing: as we learn more about a problem, finding a solution to it seems to be increasingly hopeless.
  • Self-expanding: when the person is about to give up, a new cognitive schema establishes itself, which in turn provides a solution to the problem.
  • Communicational pressure: regardless of obtaining a solution to the problem, the person does not experience complete Self-expanding until he can share it with others.

A detailed description of the model and of the basic concepts, with further examples, is provided here.

One virtue of this new model is that it integrates our knowledge of human behavior yet does not contradict psychology’s main discoveries. In addition, it harmonizes with statements of world religions and common sense.

Download in high quality (116 MB - 5:28)

On this page... (hide)

  1. 1. Art psychology and Berlyne's model
    1. 1.1 Introducing Berlyne's reverse U shape model
    2. 1.2 How can we improve Berlyne's model?
    3. 1.3 What happens to cultural embedding?
  2. 2. Understanding the difference between kitsch and art, and between high art and popular art 
    1. 2.1 Detective stories
    2. 2.2 Horror and Anti-catharsis
    3. 2.3 Valuable detective stories, horror and pornography films?
  3. 3. An artist is principally a communicator
  4. 4. What is fashion?
  5. 5. Further examples related to the communication of cognitive schemata
    1. 5.1 The good teacher
    2. 5.2 The good film
    3. 5.3 The good speaker
    4. 5.4 The good figure (illustration)
  6. 6. The definition of beauty
  7. 7. Fodormik's Integrated Paradigm for Psychology (FIPP)
  8. 8. Introduction
  9. 9. Good start - initial self-expansion
  10. 10. Getting harder
    1. 10.1 If we fail...
    2. 10.2 If we succeed at the end...
  11. 11. Brain Gym
    1. 11.1 Instead of Brain Gym
  12. 12. Why do people submit puzzle solutions?
  13. 13. Solving puzzles on a higher level
  14. 14. Fodormik's Integrated Paradigm for Psychology (FIPP)
  15. 15. Why does somebody sing in the rain?
  16. 16. How does altruism have an effect here?
  17. 17. Altruism in the mirror of evolutionary biology and FIPP
  18. 18. We are singing in the rain because we obey the constraint of communication
  19. 19. Altruism and martyrs
  20. 20. The lack of altruism and the Self-Narrowing
  21. 21. Fodormik's Integrated Paradigm for Psychology (FIPP)
  22. 22. Introduction to the phenomena of Enlightenment
  23. 23. What is enlightenment according to the concept of FIPP?
    1. 23.1 The cognitive schemata of enlightened people
    2. 23.2 Self and Environment of Enlighten people
  24. 24. How does enlightenment happen according to the FIPP?
  25. 25. How do we reach enlightenment?
    1. 25.1 Talent and enlightenment
    2. 25.2 What type of method leads to enlightenment?
  26. 26. Summary
  27. 27. Fodormik's Integrated Paradigm for Psychology (FIPP)
  28. 28. Assumption: talent = pre-wired brains
  29. 29. Choosing profession - fitting talents
  30. 30. Easier and harder start - the role of the state
  31. 31. National economy and the intellectual capital of a nation
  32. 32. Feed-back circles in the choice of profession
  33. 33. Fodormik's Integrated Paradigm for Psychology (FIPP)
  34. 34. Introduction: the types of relationships between objects
    1. 34.1 Defining something
    2. 34.2 Relationships between two entities
  35. 35. Perceiving the Environment exclusively by a sole schema that represents it
    1. 35.1 The establishment of the absolute ruler schema by integration
    2. 35.2 Other methods of establishing the absolute ruler schema
  36. 36. The characteristics of separation and compression
    1. 36.1 Mixed type of connections
    2. 36.2 Energetics of connections
  37. 37. Separation and compression as Self-narrowing effects
  38. 38. The aggression concept of FIPP and classic psychology
    1. 38.1 The aggression definition of FIPP
    2. 38.2 Verifying FIPP’s concept of aggression in relation to the results of psychology to date
    3. 38.3 The relationship of aggression and Self-narrowing
    4. 38.4 The effect of the fluctuation of Self-narrowing on the appearance of aggression
  39. 39. Aggression and optimal group decision
  40. 40. The forms of manifestation of aggression
    1. 40.1 Sharing pro-social and anti-social aggression
    2. 40.2 The division of verbal and physical aggression
  41. 41. Fodormik's Integrated Paradigm for Psychology (FIPP)
  42. 42. Types of orgasm
  43. 43. Side-effect of sex
  44. 44. Excesses and shortcomings (lacks) of the male and female bodies
  45. 45. The rhythm of the sex act
  46. 46. Fodormik's Integrated Paradigm for Psychology (FIPP)
  47. 47. Confession
  48. 48. Fodormik's Integrated Paradigm for Psychology (FIPP)
  49. 49. About happiness
  50. 50. FIPP and death
    1. 50.1 Death and the laws of nature
  51. 51. FIPP and happiness
    1. 51.1 Freedom
    2. 51.2 The relationship of freedom and happiness
    3. 51.3 Enlightenment as a goal
  52. 52. Objects of life – which ways lead to enlightenment?
    1. 52.1 Happiness by endless sex
    2. 52.2 Happiness in religions
    3. 52.3 Happiness by performance
    4. 52.4 Goals and personal-narratives
    5. 52.5 Arts (collecting, cultivating)
  53. 53. Summary. FIPP’s contribution to the existence after death
  54. 54. Limitations of the above

Why is an article related to art psychology the first example mentioned in Fodormik's Integrated Paradigm for Psychology (FIPP)? Because the whole model is rooted in art psychology.

1.  Art psychology and Berlyne's model

1.1  Introducing Berlyne's reverse U shape model

Click to edit the image Click to edit the image Click to edit the image Click to edit the image An important phase in the evolution of art psychology began when D.E. Berlyne examined the delights of the visual arts, and identified a reversed U-shape curve that explains the connection between certain parameters of an artwork and the pleasure it provides (Berlyne, D. (1971). Psychobiology and Aesthetics. New York: Appleton-Century Crofts. resp. D.E. Berlyne 1960 Conflict, Arousal, and Curiosity. New York: McGraw-Hill.);see illustration.

In brief, that connection is of a certain parameter – for example, complexity, the number of colors, or density – that elicits an increasing pleasure. Measuring this from zero, that pleasure seems to reach an optimal, positive point, after which it begins to have a negative effect, which can then become disturbing to the observer of the artwork.

The advantage of the Berlyne model is its elegance. However, the model has little or nothing to do with real art. Examining the arts from a practical, measurable viewpoint is a childish simplification, as the basis of art is strongly connected to the period(s) and culture within which it was created. Let us call this cultural embedding. The Berlyne model does not consider these connections.

The elegance of the Berlyne-curve model describing the pleasure effect, despite its disadvantages, seemed to offer an implicit foundation, which I shall later justify and prove.

1.2  How can we improve Berlyne's model?

The key issue is not to examine the intensity of a parameter, but to observe the distance between the cognitive schemata of the artist and the observer. For example, in the case of a photograph of an apple, the photographer who sees the apple illustrates it the way we see it in two dimensions. In this case, we do not have to work too hard to understand the uniformity of the two schemata, as the distance is practically zero. However, if we look at an apple drawn or painted by Picasso, we need to make a serious intellectual effort to 'see' the apple, or to ‘see’ the apple the way Picasso saw it. Those who give up before seeing the apple loathe, or at least dislike, Picasso, saying that he only scribbles. They appear to give up before a new cognitive schema has been created. Catharsis did not happen and they did not achieve a Self-Expanded state. In contrast, retaining their Self-narrowing causes them to become angry. If they do not understand the picture, they would remain neutral about it.

In addition, what happens in an apple? It is not a unique experience, even if we add the effect of solving a puzzle; reconstructing Picasso's ”scribble” to a form. A further experience is obtained in that, by solving the puzzle, we have a better understanding of the apple, and the observer of a painting sees it more plastically than on a photograph. We see it almost in 3D, to the point of believing that we can smell the apple, as the apple's cognitive schema becomes increasingly activated compared with the activation that comes as an effect of a photograph.

1.3  What happens to cultural embedding?

Cognitive schemata themselves are culturally embedded. So, to make a “correct” conclusion on an artist’s cognitive schemata – understanding the artist’s message – requires knowledge of the impulses and information that affected them. For this we need to know the age and culture in which the artist worked, or works. For example, to understand a Renaissance painting one should have a certain knowledge of the Bible, and the visual tools that Bible stories provide. This may communicate a message pertinent to the present, so providing us with a useful cognitive schema in our 21st century life. In addition, establishing these cognitive schemata causes Self-Expansion.

Comparing Berlyne's model – which somewhat charmingly ignores the question of the cultural embedding – with FIPP, we see that FIPP can explain not only classic visual arts but also any kind of works of art. For example, it explains the fun of tasting wine, when after some trials we can recognize the taste of spices and fruits within it. Or in reading a poem, when the unstructured cognitive schemata of the poet enter the reader’s mind and establish new connections and schemata. Or in admiring a building, which connects the scheme of the building to value or values it suggests so establishing a new one; for example, the Eiffel Tower as a flexible, elegant, light but ambitious structure representing the French spirit.

2.  Understanding the difference between kitsch and art, and between high art and popular art 

Using FIPP as a generalized Berlyne model we can understand the difference between kitsch and art. The principal question with high art is that it is more difficult to understand. In contrast, as kitsch or popular art do not need intellectual effort to take them in, we realize that our efforts with higher art obtain a benefit. We can see that solving the mystery in an artwork – for example, where is the apple in the “scribble”? – is not an effort to see l’art pour l’art (art for art’s sake), but enriches us by establishing new cognitive schemata. If we see a half-eaten apple after viewing Picasso’s apple, we might perceive new associations with it. Whereas with kitsch we need make no serious effort, and thus do not create cognitive schemata that can be used otherwise than in viewing a specific item of kitsch. So, kitsch does not enrich our knowledge or personalities.

However, we should understand that popular art can create new cognitive schemata. The difference between popular and high art lies in that level created by the new cognitive schemata. In the case of a comic the new schema is created at a very basic level, usable almost only in the context where it was created. Whereas in a Bergman film, we might establish new cognitive schemata connecting with our whole life, being the highest level of cognitive schemata.

Identifying these differences between levels of our human life raises a question. On what levels do different types of arts elicit their effects? For example, pornography and horror are said to gratify one’s basic instincts. Detective stories are deemed interesting because of their ability to excite. These artistic forms continue to be increasingly popular, as they satisfy specific demands. But how do they satisfy those demands?

To date, most of our knowledge is a hypothesis on a particular genre satisfying particular demands. This has resulted in a process whereby we classify genres considering the general human or ethical value (sex, eating, physical needs on the lowest levels; altruism, social work, self-realization on the highest level; compare with the Maslow pyramid) of the demand they satisfy. Pornography and horror could be on the lowest level, followed by detective fiction, and on up to high art. But even critics admit that true genius can place superior messages – those which are of more use in one’s life than simple, targeted messages – in some of the genres classified as inferior. Edgar Alan Poe's detective stories provide such an example.

Do these lower level arts cause an effect just by simply satisfying inferior desires? Even persons of high artistic repute might listen to rave music, read comics, watch cartoons. In the following we try to determine the mechanism behind the effect of different art.

2.1  Detective stories

A typical detective story contains the following elements:

  • the description of the crime (or what can be found at the scene of the crime)
  • an investigator, who often reconstructs the crime and identifies the suspect via a clean, logical thought process, paying attention to details which a reader may have thought irrelevant
  • the enigma is solved, the guilty are arrested…

Let us translate these using FIPP terms:

  • the Environment is the crime. To begin with a big Environment, the crime is related to aggression that automatically increases the Environment's size compared to the Self; it is rare that a detective story is concerned with “who was the one who saved somebody's life?” When we accept the story’s framework – perhaps it occurs during the last century, in an upper-class environment &c. – then our Environment is identical to the detective story.
  • from acceptance of the story’s framework the Environment begins to increase and narrow the Self. This process is described in everyday life as excitement. The increase of the Environment is undertaken as we follow the detective's investigations
  • the Environment reaches its maximum when we are close to giving up in attempting to solve the crime
  • then, by receiving required piece of information we can create (re-construct) the cognitive schema of the crime. If this is not possible, we then listen to the detective who re-constructs the crime.
  • when the new cognitive schema was created the Self regains control on the Environment – by retrospectively understanding how the information we had about the crime connect to each other – and this leads to Self-Expanding
  • the Self-Expansion in itself is a joyful state that compensates us for the effort spent during the Self-Narrowing, perhaps when reading the book or watching the film. A further question arises: is this new cognitive schema usable for anything else? Perhaps one does not have to read a book in order to learn the techniques of committing a crime.
  • there is a slight difference between solving the crime by ourselves or needing the detective to provide the solution. Solving it by ourselves creates a new cognitive schema, which leads to greater Self-Expansion. In the second case it is the Self of the detective which is greatly expanded, and we are the first listener with whom he/she shares his/her new schema. The latter also creates a new schema in us, but the effect is usually lower.
  • an important point is that the more complex (but still understandable) the crime, so more logical steps are needed to understand or solve it, and so the greater Self-Narrowing we tolerate, for which the reward is greater Self-Expanding
  • however, I have never read a detective story describing the Self-Expansion of the detective...

It may be seen, from a psychological viewpoint, that this process has many similarities with problem-solving.

Advertisement

This article, and many others, is now available in print.
The book, 'Self-expansion', contains a generalized version of FIPP not available on psy2.org

Buy it on Lulu.Review copies are available for academics upon e-mail requestBuy it on Lulu.

Register and download the e-book for free!

2.2  Horror and Anti-catharsis

Catharsis

Before we attempt an explanation of the “beauty” of horror films, let us briefly familiarize ourselves with catharsis, one of the main concepts of ancient Greek aesthetics (the science of beauty) and one parallel with the aha experience. According to the Greeks, it is the basis of artistic pleasure when a story, (typically a tragedy,) with a negative consequence – the death of the leading character – ends on an optimistic note; the tragic event serves to show a greater good on a more general level. For example, the hero dies, but his city is saved. The Greeks describe catharsis as an overwhelmingly positive event that strengthens people's morality.

How does this work? When a film does not end happily we are sad. Self-expansion is usually described as a positive feeling. Is there a contradiction here? The contradiction can be released if we take into account that a new cognitive schema is created. We realize that sometimes we have to lose something to achieve higher goals. Naturally, we are happier when we win without effort or loss. But that is hardly the usual case.

The other cognitive schema that a sad or tragic ending gives us is the establishment of order amongst our personal values. When watching a drama we feel empathy with the main character, and try to guess how we would have behaved in similar circumstances. As the main character behaves according to his or her own ethics, so we have also to reflect on our own ethics. As he chooses, say, between his child's life and saving his city, or between his reputation and his team's victory, so our priorities are made clear. (A colleague related that when he was playing in a psychodrama he realised that his daughter's life is prior to his. Until that moment he would have been able to answer only in theory that that was the situation. In the psychodrama he also felt in his body that that was the case. That then became an axiom of his life, and so made decision-making easier as the priorities – at least concerning this topic – became clear.)

Pink Flamingos and anti-catharsis

To explain the value of horror films, I shall review the film “Pink Flamingos” , which remarkably uses the technique that I call anti-catharsis. This film is concerned with making disgust limitless. Presented in a rather naturalistic manner, it is rare that all of the audience can watch it through to the end. I do not consider myself inhibited, but I could only watch the first third. The film centers on two disgusting people competing to determine which of them can do something more disgusting than the other.

An example from the film: one of the main characters wants to have a child by kidnapping a woman, keeping her as a hostage, have a homosexual man try to rape her but, having failed, he injects his sperm into the woman with a needle. Later they sell the child "produced" by the woman to buy drugs. Another storyline within the film is of a woman who weighs some 200 kilograms (440 lbs.), living in a mobile home in an incestuous relation with her retarded son. When he goes out shopping, she pleasures herself by walking around with a raw chop between her legs.

I struggled to detach myself from the visual stimuli, while thinking of the twisted mind of the person who had written it. When I could take no more, I left the cinema. There then occurred catharsis. On the street were ordinary people I considered beautiful, and the ordinary weather seemed like the nicest day of spring.

What happened? I escaped from an extremely Self-narrowing state, compared with which even the ordinary outside world brought Self-expansion. The dead point was the moment I decided to leave. Even now, I consider the concept of the film wonderful. However, when I tried to watch it again I could watch even less. This event made me realize that one can reach Self-expanding not only by starting and rising from the average level (by making superior cognitive schemata), but also by forcing oneself to concentrate on the most inferior cognitive schemata, and then the cognitive schemata of our everyday life. We could say that in this way nothing changes: we do not create any new cognitive schemata. That is not true: we restructure our existing cognitive schemata on seeing the beauty in our everyday life. The different perspective on our usual life is the new cognitive schema, which enriches the way we view our ordinary lives.

A similar experience occurred when I asked Scandinavian friends why they had moved to Hungary, leaving behind what would seem to an outsider to be a perfect country, with a functioning and honest society, high standard of living and so forth. The short answer was: the Hungarian weather is heaven itself to us. And yet I want to go to Hawaii and the Seychelles... So, I learned to appreciate our weather. On the other hand, the wife of a good friend had to move to Hungary from Israel. Clad in a coat in the middle of October, she said “Back home I could walk on the beach in a bikini right now...” In addition to my neutral opinion, the two further perspectives enriched my cognitive schema about our Hungarian weather: what can be heaven for a Swede is rather cold for an Israeli.

However, to return to horror. “Pink Flamingos” is an atypical horror film: it is not full of blood and gore, and one is not scared all of the time. But the mechanism is the same: after we are frightened, our Self narrows intensely, we switch off the TV and, when we realize that we are in our warm cosy room, slip into a soft bed and, unless we dream about the film, we can then become Self-expanded.

The same occurs with very spicy food. Eating it might initially be painful and cause discomfort, but when the effect is fully released our Self begins to expand from its narrowed state.

2.3  Valuable detective stories, horror and pornography films?

New cognitive schemata can be established on more than one level: an author can create new schemata close to those instincts of less intellectual people, and higher level schemata for those ready to use their intellect and learn something about more general things.

An example of this is Shakespeare. In his time the theater was visited by people of all classes and rank. Shakespeare was able to satisfy that range of interests and demands in the same play. For instance, Hamlet loved Ophelia (romantic feelings for ladies), it has many duels (aggression for men), but one’s own schema can be enriched with further topics: family affairs, jealousy, politics &c.

As for pornography…the value of the film “Emanuele” is that, apart from the spectacle of naked bodies and sexual intercourse, it attempts to explain the power of feminine beauty and the different roles a woman can have.

An educated person, with experience of classical arts – Shakespeare, Goethe &c. – may try to protect others from kitsch and so called commercial arts, seeing them as being inferior to the classics. I would as well, but for different reasons.

Let us classify the artworks under three art forms:

  • popular art: made for the masses for the purpose of generating profit for its authors (e.g. action films, medical novels, soap operas…)
  • high art: which can satisfy the demands of the well-educated and high-IQ population (e.g. Bergman, Goethe, Picasso)
  • commercial art: which has some of the characteristics of high art, but with only a shallow message (e.g. most of the Oscar winning films like Titanic, Out of Africa etc.).

Popular and high art are fair deals, according to the model of cheat detection (Cosmides, L. (1989) The logic of social exchange: Has natural selection shaped how humans reason? Studies with the Wason selection task Cognition 31, 187-276):

  • popular art: a small investment – one only has to look at it – one reaches virtually no profit (no teaching)
  • high art: a large investment – one must have preliminary knowledge to understand it, and, later, to consider it further – it provides a large profit and answers to major life questions
  • commercial art: promises a big profit for a small investment, yet delivers small profit for large investment. This is perceived as a cheat.

According to FIPP:

  • popular art creates basic (low-level) cognitive schemata. Its pleasure lies in changing Self-narrowed and Self-expanded states quite quickly (compare with thrills, excitement)
  • high art creates high-level cognitive schemata that can be used later for creating lower- or mid-level ones. It provides both a better understanding of the world and greater self-expansion
  • commercial art attempts to establish higher level cognitive schemata but, as it activates only low- and mid-level schemata, so it results only in low- and mid-level schemata. With even the author knowing that there is no new and clear high-level schema to communicate, it is like talking without a clear message; he/she can not communicate a non-existent answer to a question. At the same time, however, it seeks to make these mid-level, rather tendentiously formed, schemata bigger than they actually are, by copying the visual world of high art. They hold out the promise of teaching more valuable high-level ideas, which they themselves may have not have, or only in an unclear form.

3.  An artist is principally a communicator

The point of all art is that a cognitive schema originally created or held by someone – usually the artist – is depicted in either oral or object form which, through its communication, elicits a Self-expanded state in the mind of somebody else by establishing a new cognitive schema. This capability of the artistic work to generate Self-expansion explains why something, apparently without practical use, has existed on Earth since the first men: the earliest art seen in cave drawings, fertility sculptures &c. In addition, the first artworks provided the possibility to spread those newly-born cognitive schemata that verbal communication was not able to.

To illustrate this by an example:

According to the Bible, the first man was created by God shaping the human body from dust and then breathing a soul into his nostrils, which is the divine difference distinguishing objects from the living. By this process the dust body became alive, and the first man, Adam, was born.

To this point it is a story known by almost everybody. If you had been there as an outsider and you could have recorded it on camera, but allowed to show only one frame of that film, which would you choose?

I would choose the moment when something lifeless becomes alive as the most important.

Perhaps Michelangelo was the first artist to realize that if he compressed that universal event – on how human beings were created – into a single image, he would contrast markedly the divine, the live, with mere matter, the lifeless. Breathing, here breathing soul into the body, cannot be rendered accurately in a still image, so Michelangelo sought a solution. Artistic freedom enables the visualization of a cognitive schema without the elements required of such a schema. So Michelangelo portrayed God breathing life into Adam by touching, a far more concise sign.

However, where is the communication in this process? In Michelangelo’s mind, two new cognitive schemata emerged to provide an intellectual solution:

  • the possibility of depicting the contrast between alive and lifeless by a single image of creation; and
  • in connection with that depiction, the priority of touch before breathing.

The following cognitive schemata required to be communicated are united in one image by the artist:

  • the difference between lifeless and alive
  • God’s power to provide life
  • the state in which we did not exist, and that in which we do
  • the visualization of the process of creation

Supposedly, the image itself – as a cognitive schema – came to Michelangelo by an inductive process as he was meditating on creation, about lifeless and live matter &c. But it is possible that Michelangelo came to this image through calculation, design, a process of trial-and-error or by deduction.

I believe that it was by induction, as:

  • induction is more a characteristic of genius than is deduction
  • painters usually think in images rather than within logical exclusion

Whatever type of thinking he used one thing is certain: a new cognitive schema was established. Regarding our model, as the new scheme emerged, Michelangelo felt the urge to communicate. He was motivated to share his new cognitive schema with others, which gave him the energy to physically create the picture.

In the process of artistic creation (=physical realisation), technical ability (knowing how to paint and how to convey your internal pictures onto a canvas) connect with the quality of communication. So, if he had not thought so much about it, the message obtained by observers would leave them with difficulties in interpreting and understanding the painting. Fortunately, in this instance we have a painting where not only the concept, but also its realization, is exceptional. Note in particular the solution in the structure of the picture: the hand of God barely touches Adam, so accentuating the tension.

Artists can excel in two ways:

  • they can communicate their cognitive schemata intensely; these are the people who we call virtuosi, craftsmen or, simply, professionals. We admire how well these people can touch the substance of something; compare Picasso's apple with a good photograph
  • they have unique thoughts and cognitive schemata about life which is rarely achieved by others. Sometimes, results are a consequence of the artist’s different thought processes: musician think in melodies, poets in words, painters in pictures, and so forth. They can add something that makes our life more understandable, as Ingmar Bergman does in his films

The reaction to an artwork is the process of incorporating the new cognitive schema. In doing so, we (the receivers) establish the same connections and thus the same cognitive schema, and then connect that to our existing cognitive schemata. Essentially, the received cognitive schema becomes part of our thinking, a part of our Self. It also must be noted that the perception is not a unidirectional process. In order to find the proper place of this new schema, we have to consider the schemata around this future schema of ours. This is what we call cultural embedding: the surrounding schemata should be similar to those of the artist. Otherwise the whole process leads to miscommunication.

Click to edit the image Click to edit the image Click to edit the image Click to edit the image

Therefore, with our knowledge of the Bible, (that functions as a common communicational coding/decoding system), we complete the story, understand the picture, and so the new cognitive schema emerges. Those ones who do not know the Bible or differ in their thoughts about the appearance of the first man (e.g. the first monkey who could light a fire, or the kids of the jackal and the sun), will not understand the picture.

Advertisement

This article, and many others, is now available in print.
The book, 'Self-expansion', contains a generalized version of FIPP not available on psy2.org

Buy it on Lulu.Review copies are available for academics upon e-mail requestBuy it on Lulu.

Register and download the e-book for free!

4.  What is fashion?

Whenever we talk about Self-Expanding we emphasize that this is due to a NEW cognitive schema. After this new schema becomes well-known it may begin to bore.

When we talk about spreading new schemata we can also talk about fashion. This rhythmical change of new and boring state provides the following rhythm of fashion:

  • new things appear (e.g. wearing T-shirts without arms) with a newly-created cognitive schema behind it
  • based on the new cognitive schema new, but lower level, schemata are created via deduction (e.g. in the beginning everybody thought that armless T-shirts in black were funny, then somebody tried armless T-shirts in colors)
  • when the new cognitive schemata have become known by the majority of the population, and there are then no possibilities for further deduction, the clothes or behavior based on this cognitive schema disappear and a new one appears and starts to spread (e.g. perhaps armless T-shirts with turtle-necks)

5.  Further examples related to the communication of cognitive schemata

5.1  The good teacher

We know that there are good and bad teachers. Moreover, we realize that a teacher we like may be disliked by others, so that there is no absolute good teacher. How can we conceptualize a good teacher from a psychological point of view?

To discuss this topic, let us ignore a teacher’s personality, and that people prefer others who are similar to them or, in certain instances, diametrically different to them (Newcomb(1961): The acquaintance process. New York, Plt). The examination of the qualities of a good teacher or lecturer are more effective indicators.

As we already have a psychological concept of what people perceive as a good feeling in general – the Self-Expanding – we can simply say that a good teacher is a person who elicits a Self-Expanding in the audience.

But how can a teacher cause – or create – Self-Expanding? He starts by narrowing our Self through presenting the problem (our Environment becomes the problem) and the weight or importance of the problem (the Environment increases in size). He or she then takes us on a journey requiring attention and intellectual effort, showing us the path to the solution. Individually, we shape the new cognitive schema that he or she wanted to teach us.

An alternative to showing us the path is to drive us, so that suddenly, as when driving on a road we round a curve and our whole perspective is filled with the sea. We understand the solution in an instant, and have an aha experience. This alternative method can be called the “dynamic lecture” style: the subject appears to become increasingly complex and then suddenly everything falls into place as the new cognitive schema emerges. Everything we saw before now makes sense. Moreover, we can reach conclusions by ourselves, when we realize a general connection that can be applied both to the present problem under examination and to similar problems. The ne plus ultra of a good lecture is when a high-level cognitive schema emerges which has a general influence on our world view.

Click to edit the image Click to edit the image Click to edit the image Click to edit the image

But what is required for that? One must choose the speed and the level of cognitive schemata carefully. By speed I mean that the Self-narrowing phase has to be well-designed and balanced: if it is too slow (too gently sloping) it is boring, if it is too fast (too steep) most of the audience will not be able to follow it, and will give up.

So, careful selection of the correct level of cognitive schemata is needed to ensure that the lecturer can use, can build on, the well-known, shaped concepts (cognitive schemata) familiar to the audience. For this the lecturer has to understand the limitations of the audience’s knowledge. This requires a one-sender/many-receiver type of empathy. The lecturer can collect information on both the speed and on whether he has chosen right level by using the feed-back coming from the audience. This feed-back information can have different forms, from buzzing, rustling, chatting through to being rapt or completely silent. Or they are listening wide-eyed (the phenomena of being wide-eyed is pupil dilation, a side-effect of Self-Expanding).

Click to edit the image Click to edit the image Click to edit the image Click to edit the image

The lecturer must also have reasonable targets. The lecturer has a chance to establish cognitive schemata within the audience only one or two levels higher than those they had before the lecture. (Note that it is difficult to explain Maxwell equations based on primary school knowledge.) New, but too low cognitive schemata, do not elicit great Self-Expansion, although occasionally it is necessary to broaden our knowledge by learning listed items without any obvious structure; for example, learning by rote the name of U.S. presidents or the names of the states). Even then, it is of greater interest if we first realize the common idea behind the list. There is a difference of learning a row of random numbers, perhaps those in a telephone directory, than by learning the names of different muscles of the human body (anatomy). Although the latter seems also to be random, the names have an internal logic. By learning them, a medicine student creates a cognitive schema of the physical basis of the human body.

If the Self-Narrowing phase is overlong, people may give up, by physically leaving the classroom or by turning their attention elsewhere. Another drawback is when the audience feels that the Self-Expansion is not in balance with the former Self-Narrowing. (For example, when after a long explanation, the lecturer sheds light on a fact that was previously known to almost everybody.)

Occasionally, a lecturer is incapable of empathizing with the audience: their cognitive schemata are on such a different level that they cannot communicate. For example, where a university professor of mathematics explains summation to a primary school pupil. Even if he can do that, it is not good for either of them: whenever a teacher explains and proves a thesis, he rebuilds the cognitive schema in himself and experiences a small Self-expansion, or perhaps realizes some new aspect and so obtains greater Self-expanding. However, in the case of very low cognitive schemata, perhaps the most that the professor facing the primary school pupil can gain is the pleasure of imparting the methodology, the manner of his explanation, his examples and so forth.

To return to the issue of personality: for a seasoned lecturer, choosing the proper level of cognitive schemata is mostly a conscious process. Thus, the selection of the target level may communicate also unconscious motives e.g. political views. So, those who deal impatiently with less talented students demand of the audience that it attempt to leap several levels while understanding that only the most talented students will follow him, so indicating an elitist focus; (those who were unable to follow him might never catch up with the topic). Those who take the less talented into consideration, and want to help their development – notwithstanding that that will affect negatively clever students – are likely to have sympathy with socialist or social democrat philosophy in everyday life. It is logical that the former requirement – of a leap of several levels – will be favoured only by the elite, and that the latter will be favoured by the rest.

This position is the same when calling students to account, or for the form or quantity, or both, of their homework. We may even consider a personality trait: how much does the teacher prefer visual tools, or how visual does he or she think? Those students who have an auditory focus will dislike lecturers who always use charts and figures.

5.2  The good film

In the mid 1980s I learned that, if a director wants to avoid a film becoming boring and losing the audience’s interest in watching it, then every seven minutes something new must happen; a turn, exciting action, a new riddle, a new solution &c.

Intense attention cannot be endless in time. It will eventually weaken and turn to something else. Films which periodically give us new stimuli within this attention weakening period can be called fast-paced; a master this genre is Tarantino, or perhaps a better example is the television series “24”.

According to our theory, what happens in these fast-paced films is that the director changes the Self-narrowed and Self-expanded phases: the tension (Self-Narrowing) and the solution (Self-Expansion) change rhythmically (or at least periodically), and also new story-lines, possibilities, points of view… Anything new can be viewed as mini-paradigms or new mini frameworks, which cause further Self-expanding. Raising new questions (the mini-paradigms) also requires new (lower-level) cognitive schemata. The partial solutions for the partial problems give us small aha experiences, but previously they also unavoidably led to Self-narrowing.

From this point of view, dramatic advisory is the art of mixing these elements optimally, which can only be achieved by careful planning. As, if the elements from different sources and of different intensity are not distributed and placed well enough, then we become disorganized; we either become disturbed by the overflow of stimuli, or become bored because of the lack of sufficient stimuli.

(As an example, a murder in an action film is a typical method for self-narrowing, but when a negative character is killed in a long fight in which the hero almost dies as well, that will lead to Self-expanding. Love scenes cause Self-expanding, partially through empathy (we enter into the spirit of the character, how good it must be for him,kissing, being teased. Also, because, generally, love means the solution of a problem within the film, which anticipates the resolution of the respective conflict.)

To sum up, a good dramatic adviser, together with a good director and cameraman (those who guarantee the technical realization, providing the craftsmanship mentioned in the Michelangelo example) can play with the size of our Selves in a manner that is good for us.

A good wooer does the same with girls' self and their self-confidence when he varies compliments and affects either complete attention or indifference and neglectful behavior. These variances force the other party to be fully engaged and so they turn toward the wooer with greater attention; the chosen person’s Environment is filled with the tactical wooer. She fears that she will miss messages that could increase her confidence and therefore she might remain completely ignored.

In both cases (film and courting) the key is not to let the Self of people rest AND to ensure that the overall process will lead to future Self-expansion. So, creators and wooers have to meet expectations on two levels:

  • inside the process, on different occasions there have to be several small Self-expandings; and
  • the whole process has to lead to Self-Expansion. For example, the film has something to tell, providing a new cognitive schema, or a love comes true which is again a new cognitive schema (the cognitive schema “Us” is formed instead of the cognitive schemata “You” and “Me”.

5.3  The good speaker

A good speech is based on similar principles. Although different in that it is less visual, far more intellectual tools can be used. The usual set-up is that someone stands on the stage and talks. They may use figures for explanations. The good speech has one or more clear messages for the audience. This message is in most cases delivered as evidence, a new cognitive schema. The greater the distance between the connected matters (for example, if it tries to place something in a political, social, or historical context, which is not obviously expected) the greater the Self-Expansion effect of the creation of the new scheme.

There are different techniques to build up a speech. You can start with the speech's general message, and later explain how did you get to that conclusion. An other widespread method used by speakers is to repeat the path by which he reached the new evidence. This is similar why the Passion of Christ (the last hours of Jesus before he was crucified) is repeated by Christians each year at Easter. The advantage of this method is that many sub-problems, and the pleasure of solving them, can be communicated. (Supposing that this does not happen in order to increase the ego of the speaker by listing how clever he or she was in dealing with these problems.) If the sub-problems are interesting as such, and if they mobilize the cognitive schemata surrounding the cognitive schema to be introduced, it may have a greater effect. This solution makes it possible for those cognitive schemata to connect faster with the new evidence – the new cognitive schema – as they trigger the schemata around the future scheme, so causing increasing Self-Expansion.

During a speech we have to pay attention to the harmonic distribution of evidence over time, similar to watching a film, so retaining our attention.

The function of presentation is to help the communicational process by opening a visual channel above the auditory channel to the audience. As we know from the principles of Psychology 2.0, a good figure or diagram helps more the understanding than 10 pages of written material.

5.4  The good figure (illustration)

If we talk about the advantages of visual communication, let us examine with the help of the FIPP what can be said about good diagrams.

The criteria for good diagrams are widely known:

  • it is easy to overview it. It should display only one or two thoughts. In other words we can say that it is focused
  • it is clear. Even the most striking illustration is worthless if we cannot identify the parts of it. (Although it can also be a technique of the lecturer to show too much information if he doesn’t want to reveal the point of the lecture too early and plans to return to an illustration later)
  • and it has to be simple. Congestion (too high information density) intimidates us in attempting to understand a diagram.

Distinctiveness can be achieved by considering that any new cognitive schema can be built only on those already extant. So, the greater the number of existing and widely-used cognitive schemata we build on, the better the basis for the new cognitive schema. If we want the audience to understand our illustration, we should apply to it as few abstract concepts as possible. We can not count on newly understood concepts, as they have not yet subsided (the new cognitive schema has not made connections with the surrounding ones and so has not yet integrated with the audience's knowledge). Thus, regardless of how it would accelerate the process of building a new higher-level schema based on those existing, it is not advisable to use the newly built schema unless there is the possibility to re-read it, from a publication, notes &c.

Using colour coding is beneficial, especially if it fits the general notation (e.g. the traffic light use of red = not allowed, green = allowed). By using colours we can rely on the use of Self-Expanding colours (vivid, warm) to be used for marking positive things, and Self-Narrowing colours (dark, cold) for details indicating danger or negativity e.g. illnesses, viruses &c.

Advertisement

This article, and many others, is now available in print.
The book, 'Self-expansion', contains a generalized version of FIPP not available on psy2.org

Buy it on Lulu.Review copies are available for academics upon e-mail requestBuy it on Lulu.

Register and download the e-book for free!

6.  The definition of beauty

Different things are “nice” to different people, so making the definition of beauty difficult. We can use the word "beautiful" although we may have problems with its definition. Maybe Kant best defined it when he said: “In general beauty is what we like without interest.” (Immanuel Kant, Kritik der Urteilskraft, hrsg. von H.F. Klemme. Mit Sachanmerkungen von P. Giordanetti, Meiner, Hamburg, 2001 (2006) ). FIPP has an explanation for this phenomenon, and suggests a definition for beauty.

Let us begin by attempting to understand why everybody does not like the same things and why they call different things “nice”. The answer lies in the differences of our cognitive schemata Even if we had the same cognitive schemata, they are connected differently. For example, the word "Madonna": an atheist or agnostic will associate the name with the musician, a Catholic will associate it with the Blessed Virgin, and someone studying for an Italian language exam will associate it with the word Madame.

Similarly, it is also important to determine which cognitive schemata are active and accessible when a person is looking at a piece of art. That is why the surroundings are so important. (For example, when looking at a painting, is the museum quiet, silent, is the lighting good, what are the frames like, are the color of the walls appropriate to the hanging, is the building sympathetic to the piece.) All of these circumstances have a priming effect. In psychology, priming means that the former perception of certain stimuli predisposes us to certain answers and mental states in an ensuing situation.

A good visual example on priming is of two persons' profile, which from another point of view might be seen as a vase (that may depend upon what we have seen immediately before, so that having viewed a cup we then see a vase, or having seen a portrait we then see two profiles). Priming helps an artwork to have an effect, if that is one to be maximized. This is achieved by incorporating the cognitive schema within the same schemata that the artist had when he designed the piece.

To summarize, we can say that beauty is nothing but a cognitive schema – object, event, phenomenon, person, thought – which can be incorporated amongst our existing cognitive schemata, can totally connect with them and, as it is new, so elicits Self-Expansion. The more cognitive schemata it can connect to, and the better its connection, the greater our perception of its beauty.

Principal points covered in this article:

  • The formalized description of:
    • kitsch-art difference;
    • commercial and high art;
    • the mechanism of artistic pleasure;
    • mechanism of beauty's independence from genres;
  • FIPP can also form the basis of a new aesthetics

List of articles related to FIPP

Click here to read the short description of FIPP (recommended for better understanding of the below written)

While playing the video press the "HQ" button (in the right bottom corner of the YouTube player) in order to improve playback quality

7.  Fodormik's Integrated Paradigm for Psychology (FIPP)

Miklos Fodor developed a model based on three basic concepts (later highlighted in bold) that can describe human behavior in different fields of life e.g. problem solving, love, religion, sex, co-operation. The essence of the model is that it reinterprets the relationship of the Self and Environment, which to date has been considered as a static relationship. Thus, the model distinguishes

Self-narrowing: when the Self perceives the Environment as bigger than itself e.g. in anxiety, fear, making efforts, close attention.


Self-expanding: when the Self expands into the Environment and perceives it as a part of itself e.g. love, happiness, aha experience, orgasm.


Click to edit the image Click to edit the image Click to edit the image Click to edit the image

The change of the two states can be described with a general pattern, in which the turning point is the emergence of new cognitive schemata, being mental constructions organized on different levels, representing the outside world e.g. concepts, theories, shapes, categories.

The emergence of a new cognitive schema results in a need to communicate, which prompts the Self to associate the new schema with others. The Self-expanding is complete only when such communication occurs.

Example: Problem solving

  • Self-narrowing: as we learn more about a problem, finding a solution to it seems to be increasingly hopeless.
  • Self-expanding: when the person is about to give up, a new cognitive schema establishes itself, which in turn provides a solution to the problem.
  • Communicational pressure: regardless of obtaining a solution to the problem, the person does not experience complete Self-expanding until he can share it with others.

A detailed description of the model and of the basic concepts, with further examples, is provided here.

One virtue of this new model is that it integrates our knowledge of human behavior yet does not contradict psychology’s main discoveries. In addition, it harmonizes with statements of world religions and common sense.

8.  Introduction

An example of a crossword puzzle
An example of a crossword puzzle.

Every day millions of people invest considerable energy in filling crosswords and solving riddles and jokes. Why do they do so? The punch-lines of the silliest jokes, and the rewards, for finding the solutions, seem laughably small compensation for the intellectual effort and time involved. Apart from the so-called “brain gym” effect, perhaps some internal reward system may be the explanation for this seemingly irrational behaviour.

The process of Self Expansion may be an internal rewarding system following the formation of a new cognitive schema. But when are such new cognitive schemata formed during the solving of riddles &c?

9.  Good start - initial self-expansion

According to the FIPP model, when faced with a blank crossword, our Self meets a small Environment, as the empty grid by definition provides no information and the clues are abstract until answered and placed in their context. Therefore, the state of preparing for a crossword can be characterized as an Expanded Self, similar to that when given a blank sheet of paper and allowed to do anything we want with it: we can write prose, scribble, or draw a design upon it. This can be observed in the excitement of anticipation in crossword puzzlers when receiving as a gift a puzzle book, or they buy the new issue of their favourite crossword weekly. (Such excitement is tempered, or even completely dispersed, when they notice that somebody else has partially completed the puzzle.) This phenomenon is unusual, as receiving a puzzle book means the start of many hours of work for no financial reward.

10.  Getting harder

When somebody begins to fill in the puzzle by writing the first letters can hardly stop doing it. The more letters that are inserted (the greater the energy invested), so the greater the commitment shown towards completing the puzzle. As time passes, it becomes harder to continue as there are no easy tasks left, only the harder clues remain. Existing solutions define the answers to the remaining questions which is a restriction but also help in the same time. We can therefore say that the more time passes, the greater the energy invested, and so it becomes increasingly difficult to leave the puzzle partially unsolved and our investment wasted. The pool of possible solutions and the freedom to do what you know is becoming thinner and thinner. This is the process of Self Narrowing.

10.1  If we fail...

Extremely difficult puzzles can defeat us: in cases when we overestimate our abilities, we give up and admit to failure in a narrow state of Self. The puzzle – the Environment – seems to eat a piece out of our Self: we realize that our Self lacks the ability we believed we had, and this leads us to try to adapt our mental representation of our abilities to reality. This process results in the alteration of our Self, similar to that when we lose weight due to illness and our clothing may need to be taken in. Practically, it means that that battle with reality was won by the Environment. On the other hand extremly difficult puzzles can give us greater success so it can be worthy to risk.

10.2  If we succeed at the end...

As we have seen, our Self narrows during the solving of a puzzle. But what kind of object do we have in mind? Two objects may be taken into consideration, which often do not coincide:

  • finding the solution; and
  • “leaving no empty boxes”.

Advertisement

This article, and many others, is now available in print.
The book, 'Self-expansion', contains a generalized version of FIPP not available on psy2.org

Buy it on Lulu.Review copies are available for academics upon e-mail requestBuy it on Lulu.

Register and download the e-book for free!

Both result in the formation of a new cognitive schema:

  • in tandem with a funny picture or a joke, a solution in words is a cognitive schema itself;
  • the homogeneously filled figure without empty boxes is a visual cognitive schema.

The formation of the new cognitive schema goes with the ease of tension – the expansion of the Self – and with growing awareness that we can control our Environment. Upon these weighs the internal constraint of communication to share the new cognitive schema with others.

Now we can return to the two questions posed previously: the “brain gym” effect, and “sending the solutions in”.

11.  Brain Gym

As an everyday explanation, the expression “brain gym” means the “training” and stimulation of cerebral nerves in order to keep them in good condition, similarly to that of the muscular system. But what does recalling an Assyrian king’s name have to do with understanding a tax return form? That is, does recalling the lexical knowledge from time to time increase intelligence e.g. mathematical, logical? Presumably it does not, but then why did the concept of brain gym spread?

11.1  Instead of Brain Gym

Indeed, there is truth in brain gym but, rather than making the brain do gymnastics, it means the practice of changing Narrow and Expanded states of Self. That is, it allows us to experience it without cost, that there is no need to give up on solving an intellectual problem before the deadlock, as we will be rewarded with the state of Self Expansion. The maintenance of intellectual fighting spirit obtains the additional profit of solving puzzles, instead of the seemingly inconceivable benefits of brain gymnastics. This can be seen in the interpretation of brain gym that says the brain does not become lazy, that it is ready to fight when necessary. This is supported by the observation that those people who usually solve puzzles do not face enough intellectual challenge during their work; (I have a problem in seeing mathematicians racking their brains to solve logical problems after a day of professional problem-solving, or writers completing crosswords).

To return to the relationship of Assyrian king’s name and understanding the tax return form... The common in these is the mental effort that we put in them. Independently which skills do we use it helps us maintaining the fighting spirit. The effort to create structures, the step-by-step analysis, the search for connections and keeping the whole picture in view, are common to both of them, in spite of the fact that one of them requires the application of lexical knowledge, while the other makes use of logical abilities.

12.  Why do people submit puzzle solutions?

An economist would say that they do it for an anticipated profit. Yet how can this explain puzzles that offer no material reward, only a list in the next edition naming those who sent in the correct answers? There cannot be people who can exist purely on solving puzzles.

The explanation is perhaps that the state of Self Expansion incorporates a spur, a motive, to share the solution with others. This constraint can be removed via the newspaper: the solution can be submitted office and in this way the success – the new cognitive schema – can be shared with others. Sometimes people receive feedback as well, as when they see their name in the list of those who solved the puzzle correctly. This feedback causes the Self to expand further by making the belief in the good solution stronger. So, the cognitive schema is well-rounded.

13.  Solving puzzles on a higher level

From a broader perspective, studying sciences, or explaining the Bible and theology (as a series of structural analyses) are similar to the processes described above. By way of distinction, in those matters where the solutions do not end in themselves, they may form new schemata that could be of a higher level in that they deal with the meaning of life, the world, nature &c.

Explaining the Bible is riskier, but offers more profit than does the study of a science. Small perceptions occurring during the process of study can be found in both. In explaining the Bible we need to synthesize, understand and then reconstruct huge amounts of material. Nevertheless, if we succeed, we can form schemata of the highest level: about the meaning of life, the existence of God &c. The risk is that these schemata, for some, can not be used directly in everyday life, as they relate to the relationship of the person and God; on one hand that is up to them alone, on the other it is not a means of payment. In contrast, the cognitive schemata that result from studying a science – for example, a material, or a technological procedure – are of a lower level, and can be used directly in everyday life.

Sciences (excluding philosophy) contribute greatly to everyday life with their smaller and practical results, but will never relate to the questions of the meaning of life: the invention of the n+1 type processor or the theory of relativity itself says nothing about our order in the world, and about the ways to be happy and of value.

Principal points covered in this article:

  • motivation for solving riddles
  • relationship between puzzle-solving, practising science and interpreting the Bible

Advertisement

This article, and many others, is now available in print.
The book, 'Self-expansion', contains a generalized version of FIPP not available on psy2.org

Buy it on Lulu.Review copies are available for academics upon e-mail requestBuy it on Lulu.

Register and download the e-book for free!

List of articles related to FIPP

Click here to read the short description of FIPP (recommended for better understanding of the below written)

While playing the video press the "HQ" button (in the right bottom corner of the YouTube player) in order to improve playback quality

14.  Fodormik's Integrated Paradigm for Psychology (FIPP)

Miklos Fodor developed a model based on three basic concepts (later highlighted in bold) that can describe human behavior in different fields of life e.g. problem solving, love, religion, sex, co-operation. The essence of the model is that it reinterprets the relationship of the Self and Environment, which to date has been considered as a static relationship. Thus, the model distinguishes

Self-narrowing: when the Self perceives the Environment as bigger than itself e.g. in anxiety, fear, making efforts, close attention.


Self-expanding: when the Self expands into the Environment and perceives it as a part of itself e.g. love, happiness, aha experience, orgasm.


Click to edit the image Click to edit the image Click to edit the image Click to edit the image

The change of the two states can be described with a general pattern, in which the turning point is the emergence of new cognitive schemata, being mental constructions organized on different levels, representing the outside world e.g. concepts, theories, shapes, categories.

The emergence of a new cognitive schema results in a need to communicate, which prompts the Self to associate the new schema with others. The Self-expanding is complete only when such communication occurs.

Example: Problem solving

  • Self-narrowing: as we learn more about a problem, finding a solution to it seems to be increasingly hopeless.
  • Self-expanding: when the person is about to give up, a new cognitive schema establishes itself, which in turn provides a solution to the problem.
  • Communicational pressure: regardless of obtaining a solution to the problem, the person does not experience complete Self-expanding until he can share it with others.

A detailed description of the model and of the basic concepts, with further examples, is provided here.

One virtue of this new model is that it integrates our knowledge of human behavior yet does not contradict psychology’s main discoveries. In addition, it harmonizes with statements of world religions and common sense.

15.  Why does somebody sing in the rain?

Perhaps I am not the only one who feels that there is something strange happening during the most famous scene in the film “Singing in the Rain”: Gene Kelly sings and dances in a very good mood as if the pouring rain did not exist.

Usually, people try to keep out of the rain; they do not like to become wet and perhaps catch a cold.

So, why does the dancer sing in the rain? Our first guess might be that he is on drugs, or in an extremely good mood. Fodormik's Integrated Paradigm for Psychology (FIPP) explains this phenomenon with the common link between taking drugs and being in a good mood: that the singer’s Self is expanded. (See FIPP for an explanation and understanding of Self-Expansion). The characteristics of Self-Expansion are the strong constraint to share the new experience – the new cognitive schema – with others, and that communication of the new schema can not be hindered by any discomfort in the physical surroundings. The dancer singing in the rain shows us how independent a Self can be from the physical reality it considers to be its Environment: rather than the uncomfortable weather, it is the social Environment (with whom the person wants to share his new schema) that counts.

The visual picture is clear: the singer does not notice, or ignores, the weather, as his message (e.g. that he is very happy or in love) is so important that he wants to convey it and make other people feel as good by using whatever means he has.

16.  How does altruism have an effect here?

The social sciences (economics, sociology, psychology) used to look at the human beings as selfish, rational, hedonistic individuals who are driven to maximize their happiness and pleasure level. There is nothing strange when we assist ourselves automatically (we scratch ourselves when we itch, we eat when we are hungry) and we do not mind inconvenience to become healthier, or to look more beautiful (we take bitter medicine to get well, or endure the pain that goes with cosmetic dentistry such as teeth whitening) or when we are willing to help others because we expect a reward in the future (the waiters who very helpful in order to get bigger tip; we borrow the neighbour some sugar which ensures that, when we are in need of something, they will feel obliged to reciprocate).

Altruistic help, enduring inconvenience or even facing death to save somebody (e.g. giving money to beggars, doctors working in Africa and elsewhere pro bono, policemen, firemen and soldiers risking their lives to save strangers), is exceptional from the point of view mentioned above. This type of action is not based upon economic rationalities or personal interests that could be scientifically or mathematically described. So, not the social sciences, but evolutionary biology was the first to provide a clear explanation for the phenomenon of altruism: that on the genetic level it ensures the survival of species by keeping personal interest in the background.

In contrast with evolutionary biology, psychology has no clear theory about the mechanisms of altruism. In psychology, altruism seems to operate with a background reward system linked with empathy i.e. with the ability to live through another person’s feelings, experiences &c. As the empathy link is also unconvincing, altruism needs a simpler explanation.

Our explanation based on the FIPP is simple: when accepting the fact that we help ourselves without thinking we have the right answer to the phenomena of altruism. We must bear in mind that the Self is defined as a relative entity, so in the foregoing sentence “ourselves” means not only us but also the Environment attached to our Selves. Therefore, to paraphrase that sentence, when we are in a Self-Expanded state – when our Self and its Environment are merged – “we help our Self and the Environment attached/merged to it without thinking”, as we would just help our own physical body when needed.

If the Self merges with its Environment, there is then no difference between itself and those with whom it has merged. If we consider the subjectivity of this experience we can also explain altruistic assistance when the persons) we help are not physically present when that altruistic behavior occurs; it is not the physical reality but the mental processes that count. (For example, the people for whom a soldier is fighting are not present at the actions, they are there only in the thoughts of the soldier).

There is a major weakness in the available psychological descriptions linking altruism with empathy, in that empathy works only in face-to-face situations, where the helper perceives the other person’s feelings. For example, we help a child if it is crying, as we feel the same discomfort he or she is feeling. But what happens when physical contact is not available, and we see a mental representation of a suffering child, as in the case with charity photographs of African children?

When Environment for a soldier means his family and country, he merges with and fights for them, even at the cost of injury or death, as he would do to defend his own body. This explains the importance of soldiers’ morale, the general state of mind, fighting spirit, commitment to victory and solidarity of an army. When morale declines, soldiers begin to desert, refuse to obey orders or become less brave and more frightened.


The soldiers have a common goal (Environment)

Accordingly, morale is related to the level at which the Selves of the individual soldiers are merged with the same Environment. Being merged with the same Environment – e.g. their home country – means higher morale, as they merge with each other through this common Environment, and so act more cohesively as a group.



The soldiers focus on different goals (Environments)

If the soldiers have no common aim, they will not fight with the same intensity that they would for themselves (for their own Self) and so exceptional bravery cannot be expected of them.

The merger of the Self and the Environment is related to Self-Expansion and the dissolution of the Self’s borders. As mentioned above, this merger being a subjective/mental process can take place between the Self and objects, thoughts and, especially, other people (e.g. a soldier and his rifle form a union, as do Einstein and his theory of relativity, a newly-married couple, a mother and child, and so forth.)

The most thoroughly discussed example for the Environment-Self merger is the relationship between a mother and her child. Infants depend almost entirely upon their mother to feed them, keep them warm and so on. Accordingly, we can see that an infant’s Environment is mainly its mother. The same position applies to the mother; the mother worries about and listens out for her child to the exclusion of practically everything else. In psychology, this relationship is termed dual union. The unifying of two human beings has an extreme appearance: in pregnancy, when even the bodies of the mother and her child merge and they feel similar stimuli, for example hunger, at the same time. It can be understood that when something hurts the child, its mother reacts as if it was happening to her.

17.  Altruism in the mirror of evolutionary biology and FIPP

Since Dawkins (1976, The Selfish Gene - Oxford University Press, ISBN 019857519X) we have been aware of the importance of spreading solutions offering comparative advantages to the members of our species. (For example, if as a monkey I discover how to open a coconut and I pass on that information to other monkeys, I increase the chances of my group being able to survive. In addition, my group may reward me, for example by ceding control of the group to me (becoming the alpha male.))

This phenomenon is reflected in FIPP, in that we claim that new cognitive schemata must be shared with others, and the process of Self-Expansion can be fulfilled only in a social environment. We have to emphasize two matters:

  • Our social environment comprises people who are important to our Selves for some reason. (For example, if the key of our identity is that we are mathematicians and we wish to broadcast a newly-created formula, it is more important that we convince a famous academic than any number of schoolchildren. Or when we are in love – which according to FIPP means that our Environment is limited to just one person – we want to relate to that person we love matters affecting us before we tell other people.)
  • The state of Self-Expansion is possible only through sharing. (For example, even if I write the beautiful poetry I will not be happy until I see it published, printed and sold.)

So, why does FIPP fit with the selfish gene model? The selfish gene model claims that it is evolutionarily worthy to pass on our knowledge to those with the same or a similar set of genes; and only those genes survive which live in individuals with these characteristics.

FIPP describes the psychological obligation of this process. That is, why human beings who live today (a species which has not disappeared through evolution) cannot do other than pass their knowledge on to their close environment, and so help that small group of people with similar genes to survive.

There is a particular example to illustrate that the state of Self-Expansion can be experienced in a group; the smoking of a spliff, or joint. As the name implies, enjoying a joint is best when passing it around a group and smoking it together. Smoking a spliff alone can be accompanied by a bad, almost anxious feeling, related to the extreme expansion of the Self. Over-extension of the boundaries of the Self can cause an uncomfortable, frightening experience (compare with the fear of perishing the Self by exploding into the Environment described in the Introduction to FIPP). Social environment has a crucial role in controlling extreme expansion, as communication with others helps to maintain our Self; feedback helps us to perceive (live through) the borders of our body and Self.

Advertisement

This article, and many others, is now available in print.
The book, 'Self-expansion', contains a generalized version of FIPP not available on psy2.org

Buy it on Lulu.Review copies are available for academics upon e-mail requestBuy it on Lulu.

Register and download the e-book for free!

18.  We are singing in the rain because we obey the constraint of communication

But how do we adhere to the constraint of communication?

This is not an external constraint in the everyday sense. It is not a quick punishment following a negative deed. Rather, it is the lack of reward if there is nothing to reward and a punishment if a positive deed is ignored. But what makes us do positive things?

The state of Self-Expansion is rich in energy, which enables external resistance to be overcome when necessary, and to test, realize and spread the new cognitive schema . When this effort is prevented, frustration/aggression arise equal to that of the available energy, similar to high pressure steam becoming trapped and stretching or rupturing a pipe.

This explains on a society level the importance of the freedom of the press: enabling ideas to spread is socially worthy, and preventing people longing to communicate from becoming frustrated.

The constraint of communication is one explanation for the nervousness we feel when communication channels are unsatisfactory. For example, when somebody has important news for others and he wants to relate it on the telephone but the line is noisy, and so he becomes irritated, to then point of this turning into aggression and taking his anger out on the telephone itself.

Scientists and journalists are keen to publicize, that is to share their most valuable cognitive schemata with the reading public. This phenomenon can be understood with the help of the process described above: they invent something and form a new cognitive schema; it makes their Self expand; and they are then eager to share it with their social Environment, that is, to publicize it.

Finally, an example, illustrating the importance of sharing experiences: “What is the biggest success for a basketball fan?” “Obtaining Michael Jordan’s autograph.” “And his biggest failure?” “If he cannot show that autograph to other fans.”

19.  Altruism and martyrs

As we have seen, dissolving into the Environment leads to the state of Self-Expansion: we think in terms of “we are” instead of “I am”. In these cases, we maintain another person’s or group’s interest in view, our Selves dissolve in the Environment, and we enter into the state of Expanded Self.

To better understand the mechanisms of altruism, let us take an extreme example; those religious martyrs who died to unite with the greatest communities possible (mankind, Church, God).

As a child, I considered the behaviour of martyrs, especially their pride and joy, irrational. However, with the help of FIPP we can understand their particular logic. When somebody becomes a martyr he or she encounters the highs and lows of humanity. Let us examine how the terms of FIPP describe this phenomenon:

  • the Environment is a highly valuable aim (e.g. spreading a religion believe to be best for mankind);
  • Self-Narrowing is the fear of death;
  • the deadlock is the acceptance of death for a higher purpose; and
  • deadlock is followed by the greatest possible Self-Expansion: a complete merger with the world, mankind, God, a brighter future and so forth.

As martyrs’ Self-Expansion is so extreme, so their increasing energy is also extreme. This enables them to cope with extremes of resistance and frustration, which may be seen as superhuman to an observer (e.g. the Roman stories of religious martyrs praying after being thrown to the lions).

Fakirs and yogis also strive for a similar extreme of Self-Expansion, but their methods are more conscious. The many ways of reaching the state of Expanded Self are discussed in the chapter on Happiness.

20.  The lack of altruism and the Self-Narrowing

We have seen that the expansion of the Self induces altruism, and altruism makes the Self expand. But what is the relationship between altruism and Self-Narrowing?

It had been thought that there are altruistic and non-altruistic people. The cause of this theory was the assumption that altruism is a personality trait independent of situations. In an experiment (citation needed) students were asked the same favour, some who were late for a lecture, others who had time to listen. According to the results, the situation (the students’ state of mind) predicted better the appearance of an altruistic act than the personality traits of the students. This experiment contradicted the previous assumption, that an altruistic attitude is a stable characteristic of a person.

Everyone can observe this phenomenon: people in a hurry are less likely to help than those who are less busy, even if they have more resources. More surprisingly, we can observe in ourselves that, when we do not want to help (even if we could) for some reason, we pretend to be busy, suggesting that focussing on something else in our society exempts us from helping.

It is worth comparing this observation with the Self-Expansion --> merging with the Environment --> becoming an altruistic process described by FIPP, which is the opposite of this behaviour. Our Environment is a well-defined thing (e.g. Stock Exchange fluctuations, deadlines, homework) which differs from that of the person seeking help. The information from the person in difficulty disturbs us and we cannot – or do not want to – contact/merge with this different Environment. So, we will not become altruistic, because that would request replacing the current with the new Environment. By releasing the current Environment we risk a decrease of our Self. The bigger the current Environment, the bigger Self-Narrowing we risk if we de-attach our Self from it. Meanwhile, the bigger the alternative Environment, we have a chance for a bigger Self-Expansion.

Disturbance means that the Self has first to make an effort to change its narrow state, and so redefine what it considers as the Environment. It would have to change focus, from the Environment that endangers the Self, to another person or situation. The larger we perceive our Environment compared with our Self, the less we can disregard it. For example, an impending deadline, an interesting film, another problem, can distract and attract our attention to the point that we find it hard to break away. The current and the alternative Environment compete with each other to be perceived by the Self as the larger, the more threatening and the one which offers greater Self-Expansion if controlled by the Self. The Self has to choose between the two Environments: that which is not chosen will automatically decrease the Self, or the potential Self-Expansion which would have occurred if it had been taken under control by the self would be lost.


The manager focuses on the $1000 meeting

To understand this better, let us suppose that a businessman has to rush to a meeting, and will forfeit $1000 if he does not arrive on time. En route he sees a lost child. In this position his current Environment is the meeting, and the alternative Environment is helping the child to find its mother or home. The subjective value of the $1000 is the potential decrease of the size of the Self. If he does not help the child, he has to relinquish the expansion of his Self that would have been achieved by taking the child to its parents.


The manager meets the lost child, and prioritizes his meeting against helping

As we have emphasized the importance of subjectivity throughout our presentation of FIPP, so it is of key importance in this case: on a factual basis, $1000 versus the child looking for its mother. The alternative Environment – the child – can only be the larger and selected if it ”attacks” using stronger stimuli than the Self of the manager (e.g. the child is crying; nobody is around; the weather is worsening, it is late at night) If these stimuli are not received by the Self of the manager, then he would not help because the alternative Environment was not strong enough to replace the current Environment. In other words, by failing to help he risks losing a smaller part of his Self compared with losing $1000. The bigger the manager perceives the alternative Environment, the greater chance that he will help. Increasing the size of the Environment can be done by manipulating the picture of it through releasing stronger stimuli. This confirms our everyday experience that it is not enough just to stay and wait for somebody to help you, one has to be pro-active in asking for help. So, also the child has to cry more loudly to call attention to itself.


The decision making of the manager when the kid is really lost


To summarize, it can be stated that in decision-making the subjective profit or loss is what matters most i.e. the amount of the growth or reduction of the Self following the merging with either Environment. It shows that if we need help, we need to rely on more than mere facts. Their appearance as an alternative Environment is required. Examples include the advertisement campaigns of different foundations and non-profit organizations, and advertisements in general: some of them promise Self-Expansion by doing something while others scare us into Self Narrowing by not doing something else.

One main advantage of the process described above is that it explains why people who are in a narrow state of Self are less altruistic. Busy people perceive that they are in a large Environment currently, and an alternative Environment needs to be even larger to attract their attention. Those who are in balance with their (smaller) Environment are likely to help, as merging with a relatively small alternative Environment can grow their Self, and so is of positive value to them.

Finally, the model described above also makes clear our dislike for people who are experiencing stress. Such people’s Self is narrow: they do not appreciate humour, are not playful and do not help; they are bad company. The narrow Self has a close connection with aggression: on one hand aggression makes the Self narrow, and people with a narrow Self are likely to become aggressive. This is a further reason to avoid people who are experiencing stress.

Advertisement

This article, and many others, is now available in print.
The book, 'Self-expansion', contains a generalized version of FIPP not available on psy2.org

Buy it on Lulu.Review copies are available for academics upon e-mail requestBuy it on Lulu.

Register and download the e-book for free!

Principal points covered in this article:

  • understanding altruism
  • restriction of the freedom of the press
  • the joy of publicizing
  • understanding martyrs and fakirs

List of articles related to FIPP

Click here to read the short description of FIPP (recommended for better understanding of the below written)

While playing the video press the "HQ" button (in the right bottom corner of the YouTube player) in order to improve playback quality

21.  Fodormik's Integrated Paradigm for Psychology (FIPP)

Miklos Fodor developed a model based on three basic concepts (later highlighted in bold) that can describe human behavior in different fields of life e.g. problem solving, love, religion, sex, co-operation. The essence of the model is that it reinterprets the relationship of the Self and Environment, which to date has been considered as a static relationship. Thus, the model distinguishes

Self-narrowing: when the Self perceives the Environment as bigger than itself e.g. in anxiety, fear, making efforts, close attention.


Self-expanding: when the Self expands into the Environment and perceives it as a part of itself e.g. love, happiness, aha experience, orgasm.


Click to edit the image Click to edit the image Click to edit the image Click to edit the image

The change of the two states can be described with a general pattern, in which the turning point is the emergence of new cognitive schemata, being mental constructions organized on different levels, representing the outside world e.g. concepts, theories, shapes, categories.

The emergence of a new cognitive schema results in a need to communicate, which prompts the Self to associate the new schema with others. The Self-expanding is complete only when such communication occurs.

Example: Problem solving

  • Self-narrowing: as we learn more about a problem, finding a solution to it seems to be increasingly hopeless.
  • Self-expanding: when the person is about to give up, a new cognitive schema establishes itself, which in turn provides a solution to the problem.
  • Communicational pressure: regardless of obtaining a solution to the problem, the person does not experience complete Self-expanding until he can share it with others.

A detailed description of the model and of the basic concepts, with further examples, is provided here.

One virtue of this new model is that it integrates our knowledge of human behavior yet does not contradict psychology’s main discoveries. In addition, it harmonizes with statements of world religions and common sense.

22.  Introduction to the phenomena of Enlightenment

Spiritual Enlightenment is defined as a religious concept uniting with the world by understanding the principal connections and driving forces of the universe. Although the concept itself primarily originates in Buddhism, similar states of mind are described in other religions and cultures. For example, in Christianity, “saint” is the word that describes someone so close to God, or to the universe, that makes him special. In certain professions there are comparable concepts: those who attain the highest results or abilities in their field are called guru or grand master, a person who is able to answer all questions related to his field.

Throughout history, many people have attained this status, and were treated with great respect in their cultures. According to their own accounts, enlightenment is accompanied by eternal, constant happiness and calmness, while earthly, everyday matters lose their apparent importance.

The similarity between enlightment and maximum Self-expansion which comes after the establishment of a top cognitive schema that integrates all knowledge available to the person, is quite noticeable. We will now examine why these two states are the same.

23.  What is enlightenment according to the concept of FIPP?

23.1  The cognitive schemata of enlightened people


Pyramid and frustum of pyramid

To understand enlightenment from the viewpoint of FIPP, we have to keep the hierarchic construction of cognitive schemata in view. In the following, imagine the cognitive schemata’s hierarchy as a pyramid, where each building block of the pyramid is an individual cognitive schemata. The top of the pyramid indicates the cognitive schema, the so-called top-schema which integrates everything. Not all pyramids are complete: some frustums of pyramids indicate all of the people who did not succeed in integrating their knowledge in a connected system throughout their lives; namely, they did not achieve enlightenment.

Click to edit the image Click to edit the image Click to edit the image Click to edit the image

In the pyramids of cognitive schemata, of interest is that every upper-level cognitive schema contains the lower-level cognitive schemata in an integrated way. In conclusion, the top cognitive schema has to contain the complete cognitive schema hierarchy i.e. everything that the person knows. (This is similar to the CEO of a company who is aware of all the information known collectively by his employees.)


Ignoring for the moment the concept of cognitive schemata, how can we erect a pyramid to be the most stable and the highest in the most efficient way?


A pyramid built on a small base and the enlightenment's level (with red)
  • One possible solution is a tall pyramid having a small base. This would mean reducing our level of aspiration, as a pyramid with a small base requires less material and construction time. However, it is less stable, and precludes the possibility of building a high structure. This pyramid with a small base can be seen in tandem with the enlightenment of those people who live in an environment poorer in information e.g. on the top of a hill or in a hidden little village or in a monastery. Achieving enlightenment is easier for someone who has been partially isolated all his life from the outside world, since he has less cognitive schemata e.g. he has not heard of or seen drug dealers and gang warfare. Therefore, it is easier to integrate those few schemata.



Asymmetrically (thus unstable), but high pyramid
  • Another possible strategy is to build a pyramid asymmetrically. This reminds us of the strategies of specialists in a narrow subject area with no other interests who, although they may have many cognitive schemata, develop in only one field, albeit one in which they achieve outstanding results. Nevertheless, this raises the question whether the pyramid collapses if it is not properly buttressed. Can such a person cope with impulses different from those of his profession? An excellent mathematician may find social relationships extremely difficult to comprehend or cope with. An altruistic social worker may miss out on certain possessions or pursuits as he does not care about money.

An asymmetric pyramid supported by other pyramids making it able to grow
  • The most reliable strategy may be not to build a perfect pyramid, but to shore up and surround our main pyramid with many sub-pyramids. This is the approach adopted by different school systems to promote the improvement of general knowledge. Apart from creating noticeable Self-expansion, general knowledge offers a chance to understand in which field the cognitive schemata establishes quickest, and so identify his particular talent. Another effect of general knowledge is that it forms a bridge with other lower-level cognitive schemata and this bridge supports the main interest, enabling it to development of the Self to a much higher level.

23.2  Self and Environment of Enlighten people

Unification with the universe is a major phenomenon within Enlightenment. Those who reach this state feel themselves as part of the universe, and are unable to divide themselves from the outside world. They experience the world without mental pre-processing, so no new schemata are born, as all stimuli reach those schemata they are intended to.

This phenomenon can be described using the FIPP’s terms, as the boundary between Self and Environment has disappeared. As all schemata that can be have been born, there are no more conflicts within the perceived entities, and there is no need for restructuring anything within these cognitive schemata. Everything has been completed.

Emotionally, this leads to a calm that can be perceived as depression. The calmness/depression arises in that Self-narrowing and Self-extension have no place in the future. The Self is unified with the Environment, so there is no more fear from the possibility that the Environment will destroy the Self, as the two entities no longer differ. Lack of fear and anxiety is also a typical description of an enlighten person’s state, and can be explained by the irrelevance of Self-narrowing as well. Another observation on the enlighten state is that it is indescribable, in that as a top-level schema, it is not necessarily a verbal construct; it can not be translated into words, as words depict far lower-level schemata. So as it can not be translated into schemata that are available for ordinary people, it also can not be communicated.

24.  How does enlightenment happen according to the FIPP?


Different levels of complexity within the pyramid

On the lowest level of the pyramid of cognitive schemata, the most basic elements of stimuli from the outside world can be found; colors, shapes etc. It is upon these that the categories and concepts that represent objects and people are built. Upon these categories we find the similarities that describe connections between objects and people, which become increasingly complex as we proceed to higher levels. Attaining a higher-level cognitive schema happens through induction; downward conclusions take place through deduction. Induction is the process where the Self finds a connection between two or more discrete cognitive schemata, and establishes a new, higher-level, cognitive schema. The process of deduction is where a higher-level schema combines with another schema yet a new – but lower-level – schema emerges. An example of induction: a basketball is spherical, a table-tennis ball is spherical, a football is spherical. The conclusion: that all balls are spherical (of course you can always find exceptions like the rugby ball). An example of deduction: what shape can a baseball have? Since it is a ball it must be spherical. In this case the baseball as another schema connects with the higher-level schema (ball).

The stimuli and concepts that reach people form groups due to their nature: visual cognitive schemata, such as colors, are different from musical schemata, for instance a tune. These groups can be found at different places in the base of the big pyramid, and they themselves form smaller pyramids. For example, Mozart had an extremely high musical pyramid with a wide base, while Einstein, although also having a high musical pyramid – he played the violin well – had a higher and wider physics pyramid. This did not mean that either of them had to have a large pyramid connected to, for example, swimming.


If its neighbors are also high, a pyramid can grow really high

Schemata are interesting in that these pyramids can become mixed after awhile. A mathematician might find mathematical connections – rhythms, beats per minute, wavelengths, harmonic theory, note ratio et al – in music. Or the manner in which the results of biology influence our vision of society, as happened with the adoption of Darwinism.



It is hard to understand a guru

We have previously mentioned one characteristic of enlightenment…that in the enlighten person’s mind, everything becomes connected with everything else and a simple pattern, the highest level cognitive schema, explains everything that he knows. Since the top cognitive schema is built on cognitive schemata immediately below it, which are equally unknown to – or identified differently by – other people, he is not capable of communicating his top-level cognitive schema, as in the minds of others there are no adequate/relevant cognitive schemata that they can build upon. Moreover, it is not at all sure that this top-level cognitive schema can be expressed in words. For example, it is possible that a top-level “general” tune explained everything about life to Mozart, and tunes can not be translated into words). It is said “it’s easy if you know how” of people who find “it” easy, as he has a higher-level cognitive schema, as well as all those beneath it, and so everything is self-evident to him.



Top-level schemata can connect only to one or two lower-level schemata

According to the FIPP, the way to enlighten is to establish extremely high-level cognitive schemata in a certain field (sport, science, art &c.), which can later connect with the top-schemata of other pyramids through deduction. Thus, all the schemata of the person will be integrated in one schema, the top-schema.

In order to make this possible, the favored schema cannot be many levels higher than the surrounding e.g. second highest schema. The reason: that is although through deduction we can also make schemata at several lower levels, very large gaps cannot be bridged through deduction. As an instance, let us assume that Boris Becker knows http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boris_Becker everything about tennis, and within tennis he has a schema, which would explain all the connections. But if he is only on the level of addition and cannot understand a multiplication, then he will have difficulties in connecting his tennis schema with his incomplete knowledge of mathematics.

Advertisement

This article, and many others, is now available in print.
The book, 'Self-expansion', contains a generalized version of FIPP not available on psy2.org

Buy it on Lulu.Review copies are available for academics upon e-mail requestBuy it on Lulu.

Register and download the e-book for free!

25.  How do we reach enlightenment?

From the a general viewpoint, the way to enlightenment does not differ from normal life in that schemata are also established one after another, and so increase the height of our pyramids. The difference lies not in the nature of the process, but in its intensity, which depends upon:

  • a question of talent
  • the choice of the method

25.1  Talent and enlightenment

Perhaps it is not surprising, though rather undemocratic, that enlightenment can not be attained by everyone. To be able to establish a top-level schema, many schemata must be established beneath it. How many, it depends, how much information is found on the basic level and has to be integrated (cf. a hidden village, or a city’s wealth of information, or a caveman’s and a 20th century man’s knowledge).

The question is at what speed these various schemata can be established. It seems obvious to assume that, if someone is talented in a particular field, he can build the pyramid of that field more quickly. This matches the observation that talented children learn the basic-level schemata of the field they later become extremely talented at, much more quickly; Mozart leared the piano and began to compose at a much younger age than did his contemporaries with only general musical talent. Moreover, the greater the frequency of establishing new schemata, so the increasing frequency of Self-expansion. Engaging in a particular field enriches a child with positive feedback. In the meantime, this phenomenon also serves as a selective function, both in the choice of profession and of talented children. Those who do not have a genuine sense of achievement (Self-expansion) in certain fields will, sooner or later, give these up to benefit from what he is good at. Perhaps it sounds unscientific to base this on the presumption that we are born with different brains. However, we shall expand upon this later.


Some progress fast in a field, others double-check everything

Within a personality, the degree of risk-taking and motivation for success or, indeed, sensation seeking, affect the speed of acceptance of newly-born schemata. Some people are satisfied with a mere intuition of setting out on the right way, and take one step forward. Others (using deduction) check two or three times if the new schema covers the reality well enough. Checking is time-consuming, although it provides greater safety. The more schema there are, the safer the basis to be able to step up onto a higher level.

The pace of acceptance can be compensated with work, and talent with diligence. So, it is possible that someone establishes the new schemata at a slower pace, but if more time is spent upon it, then there is a chance to improve his performance.

25.2  What type of method leads to enlightenment?

This question sounds easy, but it would be pretentious to answer it in just a few words. A simple recipe can not be described, as each and every person has their own way of shaping their top-level schema. As by now mostly those became enlightened who reached a very high level in a special field it seems to be kind of criteria to reach enlightenment by becoming one of the bests of a particular field. However, it is also certain that it is not enough to be good in just one field, as we cannot then integrate everything. To achieve enlightenment, sooner or later, we have to connect the field we have mastered with the other fields of life, as the definition of enlightenment is that nothing can remain unintegrated.

It is also characteristic of the search method that:

  • it has to cope with the frequent Self-narrowing – occasionally of a severe nature – that is a natural pre-requisite of often restructuring of the schemata and
  • it has to deal with nobody being able to assure you that your efforts will lead to success (enlightenment), so continual uncertainty will accompany that effort. In sport, this appears in a spectacular and concentrated form: there are many professional cyclists in each country, but only a few from a country will participate at the Olimpic Games ( meaning that entered the club of the very bests of its field). The uncertainty of whether there is a chance of becoming one of the bests, and whether it is worth putting so much efforts into training, can only be overcome with serious coping strategies. Here, the rôle of the personality again arises: not only in choosing the tempo, but also in providing diligence, persistence, bearing and Self-narrowing. All these are matters in which the personality has an important rôle in connection with attaining enlightenment. That is why it is not incidental that people who want enlightenment do not care only about creating schemata, but previously – or concurrently – they prepare their personalities for resisting difficulties until reaching enlightenment, no matter how long that might take.

It is important to raise the following in connection with enlightenment: that an enlightened person will not know the answer to everything. His knowledge will not be immense and limitless. Rather, he will be aware of life, human motivation and behavior, and his own principal connections. He will have a deep understanding of the regulation of the universe. It is similar when, in understanding the concept of gravity, we do not only understand why the apple falls on our head, or why the planets move as they do, but perhaps also why there is attraction between people. That he realizes that two people can look for each others proximity, that there are certain persons – Royalty, “celebrities” – around whom others circle.

Advertisement

This article, and many others, is now available in print.
The book, 'Self-expansion', contains a generalized version of FIPP not available on psy2.org

Buy it on Lulu.Review copies are available for academics upon e-mail requestBuy it on Lulu.

Register and download the e-book for free!

List of articles related to FIPP

26.  Summary

We suppose that everyone has slightly different brain structure. Independently from the origin of these differences these modifications result that everyone has different abilities in various areas. Certain areas are easier to develop, certain areas are harder. The expertise leads to the ease of reaching self-expansion on certain areas, which leads to an autocatalytic mechanism because self-expansion motivates for further learning.

This autocatalytic dynamics has some interesting psychologic and economic consequences.

Click here to read the short description of FIPP (recommended for better understanding of the below written)

While playing the video press the "HQ" button (in the right bottom corner of the YouTube player) in order to improve playback quality

27.  Fodormik's Integrated Paradigm for Psychology (FIPP)

Miklos Fodor developed a model based on three basic concepts (later highlighted in bold) that can describe human behavior in different fields of life e.g. problem solving, love, religion, sex, co-operation. The essence of the model is that it reinterprets the relationship of the Self and Environment, which to date has been considered as a static relationship. Thus, the model distinguishes

Self-narrowing: when the Self perceives the Environment as bigger than itself e.g. in anxiety, fear, making efforts, close attention.


Self-expanding: when the Self expands into the Environment and perceives it as a part of itself e.g. love, happiness, aha experience, orgasm.


Click to edit the image Click to edit the image Click to edit the image Click to edit the image

The change of the two states can be described with a general pattern, in which the turning point is the emergence of new cognitive schemata, being mental constructions organized on different levels, representing the outside world e.g. concepts, theories, shapes, categories.

The emergence of a new cognitive schema results in a need to communicate, which prompts the Self to associate the new schema with others. The Self-expanding is complete only when such communication occurs.

Example: Problem solving

  • Self-narrowing: as we learn more about a problem, finding a solution to it seems to be increasingly hopeless.
  • Self-expanding: when the person is about to give up, a new cognitive schema establishes itself, which in turn provides a solution to the problem.
  • Communicational pressure: regardless of obtaining a solution to the problem, the person does not experience complete Self-expanding until he can share it with others.

A detailed description of the model and of the basic concepts, with further examples, is provided here.

One virtue of this new model is that it integrates our knowledge of human behavior yet does not contradict psychology’s main discoveries. In addition, it harmonizes with statements of world religions and common sense.

28.  Assumption: talent = pre-wired brains

Becoming familiar with the concept of cognitive schemata is not only helpful in understanding FIPP, but has other advantages as well. Using the concepts of cognitive schemata, we can obtain a better understanding of the concept of talent. In the following I will use the word brain loosely; I would apologize in advance to any neurologist who reads this. I hope that what I say properly uses the correct terms employed by those more familiar with neurology than myself.

I believe that individual brains have different deep structures. What is meant by deep structure? That the brain has a genetically coded, pre-wired neural system which enables greater receptivity of a certain science, religion, art &c. For example, those with a “chess” or “mechanical” brain, regardless of their results in other fields of life, employ the strategies, steps, beginnings and end games of chess, or the gamut of mechanical applications, from toy-cars to combustion engines, from medical hardware to wind-power generation, in dealing with everyday life. The pre-wired connections have to become active so that the building of the hierarchy of the cognitive schemata in the respective fields proceeds at a significantly faster pace than those without such talent.


Illustration for the visual metaphor

29.  Choosing profession - fitting talents

This hypothesis is based on observing the processes involved in choosing a profession. To clarify, a visual metaphor may assist. Imagine a children’s game in which, on a plain surface, there are holes of different shapes, and separate shapes which fit these holes; the figure above shows a three-dimensional version of this game. Every shape fits only one place. Let us imagine that all of the shapes are placed on the surface randomly, and that they are then shaken over this plain surface. After a while most of the shapes find their places. However, some become stuck in an incorrect hole from which it cannot be shifted.

That is how I imagine the selection of a profession: life (school, parents, films &c.) provide us with different inputs, which equates with the shaking. Those who find their correct places do not leave it easily because it provides them with greater pleasure than any other occupation. Many people find the wrong place, but become stuck. Man feels that, when he finds his place, his abilities are best used compared with other situations, as in matching abilities with the situation so cognitive schemata are established more quickly. So many new cognitive schemata cause Self-expansion and release energy with which new cognitive schemata can be established. This illustration also applies in that, if one is originally placed far from the appropriate hole, then he has a much-decreased chance of reaching it, if at all.

30.  Easier and harder start - the role of the state

Someone born to an engineering family, but with a painter’s brain, will not so easily become an artist. The same situation applies to the gifted children of uneducated parents. The illustration also sheds light on one of the important tasks of the state: to maximize economic marginal utility (everyone doing what he can, relatively, do best). In order to assure people’s happiness in life in the long run, the state:

  • has to shake the surface more and more (it has to increase social mobility);
  • not wholly by accident, but with care, shake the surface in the right direction (it has to guide and inform people who are selecting a profession);
  • there have to be the right number of holes on the surface (there have to be sufficient training courses which mirror the composition of the brains and intellect of the young).

This should happen in tandem with consideration of the needs of the economy.

31.  National economy and the intellectual capital of a nation

Let us examine briefly the relationship of a national economy and the intellectual capital of a nation. It is optimal when supply and demand balance: the school system of a nation develops those brains that its businesses need, so it develops its economy to best use the available specialities within the country. In this context, intellectual capital refers not just to the genetic brain, but also the effects of the educational system and language, as parts of the national culture.

As every nation’s genetic composition differs from that of others, the intellect of individuals within a nation are similar to each other but differ from the intellect of other nation’s individuals. Here, a nation is a group of people, including all minorities, living in the same geographical location and speaking the same language. (If nations are diversified through minorities, there will then be a particular inner division of labor).

Parent’s views on children, the principal nurturing principles, and the basic values taught in schools, follow the identity of the national culture and school system, and develop the members of a nation in one general direction. That is why we can find national characteristics e.g. Swedes are generally viewed as creative, Germans as precise &c. This goes further: in the world economy there is a division of labor – influenced by, inter alia, natural resources, geographical location, territory, climate &c. – based on the rôle which suits it best: namely, what the collective/average intellect allows. A country with an agricultural bent may not have much heavy industry. A country that is outstandingly creative should not specialize in mass production.

This view is not black-and-white: do not be alarmed that we must immediately close all assembly lines because we are too creative! As in the optimal mixed strategy of game theory, there are weights here too, which show the value of mixing different abilities. These different abilities provide a profile of a country, and these profiles differ. The state should work on fitting the country’s intellectual profile to its economy and vice versa, the same way a person should find that job which best suits his skills and produces for him a maximum of Self-expansion. The state has to provide everybody the possibility and the chance to develop certain areas.

32.  Feed-back circles in the choice of profession

The structure of unique brains, or brains with certain talents, helps in choosing a life course and profession which best utilizes their comparative advantages. This assistance (the brain itself chooses a suitable profession) occurs when someone commences an occupation in which his talent can be used. Two indicators show that he is on a suitable track:

  • his learning curve is greater than in other fields. His cognitive schemata are established more quickly. Consequently, his incidence of Self-expansion succeed each other more quickly, as new cognitive schemata are established increasingly quickly; and
  • the outside world perceives both the successes and the above-average speed of his development, and this encourages the person to remain in the field where he attains success.

To fulfil the latter condition, two additional factors are required:

  • the outside world should not oppose the development of a certain talent (cf. in a conservative family the emergence of an artistic talent which does not fit with its moral values, or a liberal family having a son with a military disposition;)
  • the environment (parents, teachers &c.) should be able to notice a child’s quicker rate of development in a specific field. For example, if the next Placido Domingo were to be born to a musically ungifted family, he will never become a singer as his talent will, if unrecognized, fade without nurturing and support.

The phenomenon of certain abilities coinciding with other abilities supports my view of extant unique brains. Further evidence is provided by skills being built up by units – we could call them sub-skills – that are nameless as they are smaller than those previously recognized or described in psychology. A fair illustration of these sub-skills arises with athletes, whose speed is explained by nerves that conduct stimuli more quickly, and musculature with unique or more intense features. In summary, we know that some athletes are quicker, but being quick requires those different sub-skills described above. The brain can also have structural differences based on the existence and combination of these sub-skills; for example, different connections of the neurons, or areas of the brain that are overdeveloped.

These structural differences are easily recognized by people who know what to look for: the best examples being teachers and career advisors who observe those indications that inform them of a person’s brain structure. By way of illustration, the layman would have to consider whether a house in the Alps is built of brick or wood. To an architect, the answer is obvious as he sees not only the surface but also the structure within. Teachers reach their conclusions from the speed of learning – the speed of establishment of cognitive schemata – while career advisors listen to the structure of communication. Examples of the latter include:

  • when we expect a precise, mannered way of speaking, including much numerical content, from a technical person;
  • attributes reflecting subjective processes and emotions from a poet; and
  • communication with visual images from a painter.

Choosing a profession is based on the experience coming from childhood and school on identifying those areas where the creation of new cognitive schemata happens on high speed plus requires less investment and gives more profit due to the pre-wired brain, respectively the environment’s confirmatory feedback (considering that the profession in discussion fits the aims of the environment). The fast pace of creation of the schemata and the extra-profit coming from dealing with the preferred area predict future success in a the profession linked to this area.

Principal points covered in this article:

  • The relationship of the national economy and national characteristic(s)
  • Talent can be seen in the structure of the brain

List of articles related to FIPP

Click here to read the short description of FIPP (recommended for better understanding of the below written)

While playing the video press the "HQ" button (in the right bottom corner of the YouTube player) in order to improve playback quality

33.  Fodormik's Integrated Paradigm for Psychology (FIPP)

Miklos Fodor developed a model based on three basic concepts (later highlighted in bold) that can describe human behavior in different fields of life e.g. problem solving, love, religion, sex, co-operation. The essence of the model is that it reinterprets the relationship of the Self and Environment, which to date has been considered as a static relationship. Thus, the model distinguishes

Self-narrowing: when the Self perceives the Environment as bigger than itself e.g. in anxiety, fear, making efforts, close attention.


Self-expanding: when the Self expands into the Environment and perceives it as a part of itself e.g. love, happiness, aha experience, orgasm.


Click to edit the image Click to edit the image Click to edit the image Click to edit the image

The change of the two states can be described with a general pattern, in which the turning point is the emergence of new cognitive schemata, being mental constructions organized on different levels, representing the outside world e.g. concepts, theories, shapes, categories.

The emergence of a new cognitive schema results in a need to communicate, which prompts the Self to associate the new schema with others. The Self-expanding is complete only when such communication occurs.

Example: Problem solving

  • Self-narrowing: as we learn more about a problem, finding a solution to it seems to be increasingly hopeless.
  • Self-expanding: when the person is about to give up, a new cognitive schema establishes itself, which in turn provides a solution to the problem.
  • Communicational pressure: regardless of obtaining a solution to the problem, the person does not experience complete Self-expanding until he can share it with others.

A detailed description of the model and of the basic concepts, with further examples, is provided here.

One virtue of this new model is that it integrates our knowledge of human behavior yet does not contradict psychology’s main discoveries. In addition, it harmonizes with statements of world religions and common sense.

34.  Introduction: the types of relationships between objects

Before examining the concept of aggression, let us take a closer look how we define something and which possible relationships two cognitive schemata can have.

34.1  Defining something


Defining 'Man' in two ways

When we would like to define something (e.g. what is a man) there are two ways to do that:

  • in a positive way: we specify what it is (a man is a human being with masculine sexual organs etc.) OR
  • in a negative way: we specify what is not (a human being that is not a woman)

Please note three things:

  • when we define in positive way, we do not get further information on other things that might belong to the same group (in our case there are no information on women)
  • when we define in a negative way, we have to know exactly the definition of those entities that we excluded
  • the negative way is not that precise, as there might be other member of the set, that are not taken into consideration (e.g. the hermaphrodites in our case are taken also as men)

34.2  Relationships between two entities

As numbers and logic fundamentally determine both our thinking and our view of the world, the truth of mathematics also affects how we look at – amongst other things – relationships. A simple form of this is to describe the relationship between different entities (e.g. GDP and employment rate; sunny days per year and money spent on ice creams, etc.) as positive (e.g. 3 or 251.92), neutral (nil) or negative (e.g. –2 or –659.34). This describes the implicit way in which two entities affect each other during their relationship. However, until we define and measure the effect precisely – not only its direction – we are satisfied with knowing that

  • they help each other’s activity (e.g. when neurons stimulate each other); or
  • they hold each other up (e.g. when neurons inhibit each other); and
  • the condition in which they have nothing to do with each other, maintains, so the entities are independent.

(According to mathematical logic, helping is addition, holding up is negated addition.)


Basic relationship types

Let me define the relationship between cognitive schemata along analogous lines but with a small difference, by dividing the three connections into two differing subtypes:

  • where there is a connection between them (as when there is a road between two cities); and
  • where there is no connection between them (as when there is no road between two cities).


When there is a connection between them, then:


Supportive relationship (illustration)
  • either information streams through it (as when we are free to travel between cities). Let us call this a supportive relationship;



Repulsive relationship (illustration)
  • or the streaming of information is forbidden (when in the middle of the road between two cities/countries armed guards make sure nobody passes through e.g. Iron Curtain; Great Wall; The Wall in Berlin). Let us call this a repulsive relationship. A good way of imagining a repulsive relationship is when we try to define something not by what it is, but by what it is not. (For example, we do not say John is a man, rather that John is not a woman).



Seesaw (illustration)

To illustrate the repulsive relationship using visual analogy let’s take the seesaw (teeter-totter). The two children sitting on a seesaw are connected to each other, but always in an opposite position. One’s position is fully determining the other’s. With mathematical terms the relationship is A=not(B), that leads that if A changes B has to change as well and vice versa.

What is the consequence of the above defined relationships? In the case of supporting connections, the information streams between the connected schemata so freely, and quickly, that it is virtually impossible from an external viewpoint to distinguish the individual elements from either each other or the whole. On the contrary, repulsive connections actively separate whole schemata from each other, thus limiting what is a part of one and what is not.


Different ways of illustrating a schema and its children schemata

Such divisions of relationships, especially the “merging” effect of supportive connections, explain how it is possible that lower-level schemata and their integrations (the higher-level schemata) are at once different and yet the same.

Why are these connections interesting in the case of aggression? That is what we shall now shed light upon.



35.  Perceiving the Environment exclusively by a sole schema that represents it

35.1  The establishment of the absolute ruler schema by integration

As we have seen in the descriptions of FIPP and Function Practice, the relationship of the Environment and the Self is fundamentally determined by how successfully we can represent the surrounding world with models called cognitive schemata. A person dominates his Environment when the schemata used at a particular moment is alone capable of gathering and processing, without contradiction, information in connection with the relevant events, objects and phenomena of the world.

We can define the final goal of all problem solving as the Self representing the Environment with a single unambiguous schema (to have only supportive connections within it). A way of achieving this goal was described in Problem Solving: the mismatched schemata (at least two) represent different parts and aspects of the Environment, out of which a new schema emerges that then represents the former two (or more) schemata in an unambiguous way. The Environment is then modeled as an absolute ruler schema.

35.2  Other methods of establishing the absolute ruler schema

That two (or more) schemata do not match is caused by repulsive connections between them. To dissolve such connections there can be integration with restructuring. In addition, there are two other procedures that lead to a representation in the form of a schema. It is characteristic of both that they reverse the connections which play a rôle in the non-matching, in order to get rid of contradictions. The two solutions are

  • separation; and
  • compression.

Separation occurs when a supporting connection ends as it connects to a part that makes the schema contradictory. Although gruesome, this is well illustrated in countries where the hands of thieves are cut off as punishment. Another example is where a region of a country separates, declares independence from, its motherland.

In compression, repulsive connections are turned into supporting ones. So, those parts originally separated become connected; for example, when we try to put two non-matching puzzle pieces together by force. However, to add another grisly example, a knife – something which does not fit with a body naturally – is pushed into somebody. Alternatively, where a country is invaded and forcibly subsumed into the territory of the invading country against the will of its residents.

36.  The characteristics of separation and compression

Considering the above mentioned examples and descriptions, reversing the connections (making a supporting one out of a repulsive one and vice versa), mostly leads to a socially less valuable output than the initial state. However, separation and compression as such are cognitive processes that of themselves do not have value: they simply improve or weaken the model of their Environment. The common name for the two processes (supporting and repulsive) is aggression. It does not contradict the known psychological fact that there are socially valuable forms of aggression (for example, the military).

That aggression – and within it separation – is a useful process, is easy to observe in the manipulation of schemata. We have seen in Problem Solving that, before establishing a new schema, we must first manipulate the pieces of certain schemata: we attempt systematically to put them together in order to find a new, better fit. The separation of the partial schemata from each other plays a key rôle in this process. Note that, although it would seem logical to attribute the leading rôle to the process of separation, when the new schema is suddenly established from the many parts, it probably does not happen like this. The connections temporarily cease to be (as if there were never any connections) and the completely new schema is formed on the basis of its independence from each other. This also displays to me a difference between the technique of establishing a schema by complete reconstruction, and the technique of dividing them into parts and trying to fit them to each other randomly.

Advertisement

This article, and many others, is now available in print.
The book, 'Self-expansion', contains a generalized version of FIPP not available on psy2.org

Buy it on Lulu.Review copies are available for academics upon e-mail requestBuy it on Lulu.

Register and download the e-book for free!

Another obvious advantage of separation is seen when the complete schema from which we separate something has no relevance for the Self. For example, when a sculptor crafts a beautiful shape out of a large stone, although the shapeless stone is a schema, it is completely irrelevant for the Self of the person who observes the sculptor. This is the converse of the Self of the sculptor, who has to have a precise picture of where cracks are, where the stone is hard or soft, where and in which direction it can be cleaved in order to shape it. A similar, less artistic example is a quarryman who strikes a stone. The only important thing for him is to make smaller pieces of stone; to divide a bigger whole into smaller parts.

Another example better demonstrates the aggressive nature of separation. If I pull a key out of a lock then push it back, nothing happens. However, if I break and then glue back together a porcelain vase, we realize that the distinction lies in the different cases of separation. For the “key-in-the-lock”, the constituent parts have the schemata that represent themselves; the “key-in-the-lock schema” can integrate them. The pieces of the porcelain vase are not independent schemata, thus the compression (the gluing) is not a possible method of integration. Aggression in this case is akin to breaking the vase into pieces, which cannot be reintegrated (only if we purposefully do it). Separation is exactly the same in both cases. The difference is whether it happens to two separate schemata that are in a repulsive relationship with each other.


Magnets (illustration)

This position can be demonstrated with two magnets, the poles of which are aligned and so should repulse each other. Yet they do not move from each other as outer effects hold them together (two other magnets push them towards each other on the image). As soon as the outer effect ceases, the magnets move to a distance from each other where they no longer repulse each other (according to the law of physics to an infinite distance). The repulsive effect of the magnet parallels the repulsive connection, and the outer cohesive effect parallels the integrative compression.

36.1  Mixed type of connections


Ambiguous connections lead to uncertainty

The situation is different when not all the connections are repulsive, but there are supporting connections as well as repulsive ones (see the image). In this case, only integration with restructuring can help to avoid mixing of the connections.

The mixing of connections is also of key importance in compression. We can make stable connections, equal in value to connections based on integration, if no repulsive connections remain between the sub-schemata. (For example, when we have a cork and a bottle in our hands we have two separate, distinct schemata. When we begin to cork the bottle, overcoming the friction between the cork and the mouth of the bottle, by overcoming the repulsive effects we establish supporting connections. The supporting connection in this example is the adhesion between the cork and the mouth of the bottle, which does not let the cork come out, even if there is increased pressure in the bottle. We have then established from this corking the “schema of corking”.)

As a summary we can say that mixing supporting and repulsive connections generates an unstable situation due to the uncertainty that it leads to. If a schema is activated an other schema connected ambiguously should activate or not? That is why always the aim is to have either repulsive or supporting relations within two schemata and also their sub-schemata.

36.2  Energetics of connections

We can admit in both separation and compression that establishing and modifying connections take effort. An analogy from chemistry can help in understanding this, that is, the connections between atoms, otherwise known as chemical bonds. Chemistry describes the concept of binding energy – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Binding_energy – which is the energy required to disassemble two – or more – connected atoms of a molecule. (Example: in order to disassemble the H2O water molecule to an O and two H atoms, we have to place an electric current through the water via an anode and a cathode. The energy (electricity) is required to dissolve the hydrogen-oxygen connections in the water molecules). To make two atoms join (at least in the beginning) also requires energy (during the joining process the same amount of energy is generated as is needed to dissolve them. Usually this generated energy feeds the process after it has begun: when we light a fire we provide the energy needed for starting, then the process sustains itself). In chemistry, the concept of repulsive atoms is unknown (at least to me). But it is not impossible that we could find examples, similar to that of magnets, on sub-atomic levels.

While on chemistry, we are able to examine the energetics of separation and compression with precise measurements in case of mental processes (as it is difficult to measure) we can, at best, indicate only the types of relations (increasing, decreasing, bigger, smaller) during the processes. It is almost certain that the energetics of the mental processes have nothing to do with the energetics of what is happening in reality. The energy to activate an atomic bomb by pushing a button has no association with the energy released on the explosion. There is also no connection between the physical and mental energy required for the extraction and carving of stone. It seems most likely that it is the number of connections to be changed which most determines the mental energy: the more sub-schemata connected to a sub-schema, the greater the energy required. It is important to note that the one significance of the level of a schema is that a higher-level schema has more sub-schemata, and can thus have more connections; the sub-schemata of lower-level schemata have fewer bonds.

Note: further examination of this bonding energy and the energy flow of a system may provide interesting results if we could ensure that the cognitive schemata operate in accordance with the general systems theory.

Another important question in changing the connections is the relationship of the schemata and the Environment. Mentally, we can only deal with schemata and their related connections. However, the schemata represent the Environment. Until the Environment changes (through our actions or activity or independent of us), there will be discrepancies (contradictions) between what we perceive and the schemata we have. Accordingly, we either modify our schemata so they model the Environment (this is called passive adaptation; an example is how we think about the relationship of the Earth and the stars, whether the Earth goes around them &c.). Or, we modify the Environment to make it accept our schemata (this is so-called active adaptation, as when we excavate passes through mountains to build railways or highways). The third option is to attempt not to realize such differences between the Environment and our schemata (for example, when we do not want to notice that raindrops are falling because we want to barbecue outside). This third alternative is the worst solution. It does not provide a real solution, and eventually the Environment does something which will be difficult to overcome on a cognitive level. For example, it begins to rain so much that it puts out the barbecue fire. Regardless of this, the third solution is widely used, as it often requires less energy than does the real solution.

37.  Separation and compression as Self-narrowing effects

The establishment of the schemata means a positive confirmation for the Self (as it has more and more tools to represent the Environment so that it can exert an increasingly greater effect on the outer world, and becomes increasingly safer, and thus has a Self-expansion effect). At the same time, modification of the connections is not Self-narrowing only if a higher-level order can be made by switching the connections. This requires consistent connections (supporting and repulsive at the same time)) between two schemata, or not to have contradictory schemata. For example, trying to avoid the conclusion that: if a>b and b>c then c>a; the first two connections result in a>c, which contradicts c>a.

Inconsistency can be illustrated visually with images in which there are holes in the wall (supporting relationships amongst repulsive ones), or when there are potholes on the road (a few repulsive ones among supportive relationships). Such inconsistencies remaining within a schema do not provide obvious answers if we want to use the schema (for example, superiors command me to simultaneously stop and go; should I stay or should I go?); and it is only a matter of time before the contradictions emerge as problems (e.g. someone likes cats but is also allergic to them. The short-term solution is not to care about it, but eventually the allergy spreads and the person has either to get rid of the cat, or do something about the allergy).

Nevertheless, if we have too many inconsistent schemata it narrows the Self, as with the problem, so we can state that separation and compression cause Self-narrowing. The greater the number and size of the inconsistencies (so that the proportion of the repulsive and supportive connections between two schemata is 50-50, and instead of five or six connections of the schemata connecting with, say, 2000-3000 contradictory connections), the more Self-narrowing is caused.

38.  The aggression concept of FIPP and classic psychology

In psychology, there are different groups of aggression according to the aim (e.g. self-defense, territorial acquisition), the method (verbal, physical) and the form (latent, mental, auto-aggression) of aggressive behavior. Despite our feeling that there is something common in these manifestations of aggression, which is why we talk about the same concept – defining it properly and including all the forms of it in the meantime is difficult. The difficulty of the definition arises principally from the duality of behavioral manifestation and mental processes; someone can say something nice about us and yet wish us in hell at the same time, or he gives us his knife as he hopes we will cut ourselves with it. The difference in behavior/mental process is more clearly seen in passive aggression, when we do something by doing nothing. It is the negligence of an altruistic act (e.g. not holding out our arm to prevent somebody about to walk off a pavement into traffic).

38.1  The aggression definition of FIPP

When we first began to understand FIPP, we could admit that Environment is a completely subjective construct. Thus, we could clearly demonstrate both the priority of mental processes and that the change of the Environment is merely a result of the changes of our schemata. Such separation of the outside world and a person’s Self while emphasizing mental functions, explains amongst other things the equality of word, thought, negligence and act preached by different religions. As everything (talking, inaction and movement) is represented on the level of schemata, thus from his psyche’s point of view it is practically all the same whether the child merely has detailed dreams about hitting his younger brother, or actually does so.

In harmony with the above, FIPP defines aggression as follows: aggression is nothing other than the separation and compression performed on the level of cognitive schemata, independent of whether it will appear in any form of change in the outside world.

38.2  Verifying FIPP’s concept of aggression in relation to the results of psychology to date

To verify whether this definition – which appears elegant at first – is in harmony with the current state of psychology, and whether it explains the former connections that have a paradigmatic effect, let us examine some statements of psychology in connection with aggression.

Perhaps the first and most important thought that comes to a psychologist’s mind when he hears the word ‘aggression’ is the frustration-aggression theory. According to this theory, manifestations of aggression are preceded by frustration in the majority of the cases. Accordingly, people respond with either regression (returning to a former stage of personality development) or aggression when they are frustrated. But what is frustration? Psychology defines it as a hindrance in reaching a goal. According to FIPP, this is nothing other than the simultaneous presence of two mismatching schemata (one is the attractive goal, the other the obstacle itself). Rarely do we have the possibility – or time – to integrate the schema of the aim and the schema of the obstacle, so separating the obstacle and the connected aim, then dividing it into parts hoping that with the pieces it will not connect to the schema of the aim. (for example, we break the door, since the wooden pieces of the door cannot prevent us from entering the house). If the disintegrated schema was irrelevant for the Self in the first place (so that it is not connected to anything), then aggression is a solution. Nevertheless – staying with the former example – if we built the door with our own hands and are proud of it, breaking it is not such a good solution.

38.3  The relationship of aggression and Self-narrowing

We have seen from the former descriptions that a problem can have different solutions (solution of a problem: making a new schema out of two non-matching schemata). It can be solved with integration, when there will be one schema out of two schemata, but we can also detach one of them and “terminate” it by slicing it into pieces. The question remains of which one to use.

To answer that we have to understand that Self-narrowing is caused not only by aggression, but also that Self-narrowing leads to aggression. This happens during Self-narrowing and manipulating schemata; series of separations and compressions occur as a pot-luck method of problem solving.

We could say that the strategy chosen depends upon our personality. But we can go further: if we destroy one of the competing schemata, we recognize and record an x amount of Self-narrowing. If we wait until we find the schema (the solution with integration), during the search process we will also have Self-narrowing, the most extreme value of which would be y. The difference between them is that x remains even after solving the problem, while y turns to z Self-expansion where z is in proportionate to y. But we have an amount of uncertainty as we cannot be certain whether our Self-narrowing will turn into the same amount of Self-expansion as a result of finding the integrative solution.

If our former experience shows that (due to our skills) we often find the integrative solution, then we will undergo the y Self-narrowing, because it will be compensated for, and the solution will be stable. If we do not trust our abilities then it is easier for us to live with the x Self-narrowing, and we will choose the disintegrative solution.

According to this, our persistence in trying to find the long-term solution depends on the following:

  • the relationship of x and y (which one is larger)
  • our experience of how often we find the solution for these kinds of questions (how high is our pyramid of schemata of the field under discussion)
  • our ability to bear y Self-narrowing

The relationship of x and y is provided by the situation. Our former experiences and abilities come from self-knowledge; we call it self-confidence. And the last, the ability to bear Self-narrowing, is explained in psychology by the concept of frustration tolerance.

The second point (experience) is determined not only by confidence but also by our tendency to take risks (how risk-averse we are). Other aspects are: the time we have (although finding the solution during the time we have counts in deliberating our chances, and shows a connection with how fast we usually are in finding solutions); and, our general condition (e.g. hormonal condition) which influences the decision as well.

Advertisement

This article, and many others, is now available in print.
The book, 'Self-expansion', contains a generalized version of FIPP not available on psy2.org

Buy it on Lulu.Review copies are available for academics upon e-mail requestBuy it on Lulu.

Register and download the e-book for free!

At the same time, there are those who have positive experiences with disintegrative solutions, for example, because they are generally in a more Self-narrowed state (they may generally be anxious or aggressive). For them, the x Self-narrowing has a relatively smaller effect, which also passes faster (for example, because their memory is weak). So, more often they will choose another solution than the integrative one (people aggressive in general will tend to use aggressive solutions more often)

According to the foregoing, we can form a more precise picture of which solution we choose compared with simply predicting somebody’s strategy of problem-solving based only on personality characteristics. Also of importance is that the FIPP is both capable of handling the circumstances – the past, the present condition, and the problem, at the same time – and of reducing them to a common denominator.

38.4  The effect of the fluctuation of Self-narrowing on the appearance of aggression

In the previous sub-section, we referred briefly to the rôle of the general condition in the appearance of aggression. Here, we have to consider cases such as when a yogi and an anxious, stressed-out yuppie are stuck in traffic jams. Briefly disregard that they interpret the situation differently, and assume that their position has an equally unpleasant effect upon them. In the momentary Self-narrowing, the yuppie feels increasingly disposed to behave aggressively; for example, he might overtake in the bus lane to reach his aim, for which he gets a penalty for using the bus lane. Compare this with the yogi, whose Self will also narrow, but will not reach the level which would cause aggressive behavior to be exerted. He waits regardless that he will be late.

Click to edit the image Click to edit the image Click to edit the image Click to edit the image

What happens if the yuppie practices yoga, so that these two people are the same, only that his state of mind differs at two separate times? Their conditions are determined primarily by the events of the previous hours (the Self-expanding and Self-narrowing of those hours), their hormone level and their health. I believe that it is a more efficient strategy if the previously mentioned effects do not vanish in us without trace, but determine their actual level of Self-narrowing as a random number generator. In other words, it is evolutionarily beneficial if the level of Self-narrowing is not constant but constantly fluctuating. Why? Because there are sub-optimal (worse than the optimal but still good) conditions of balance, and to turn away from these conditions we have to modify our general behavior: sometimes we may have to act as a yogi, sometimes as a yuppie. This conclusion is based on the mixed strategy described by game theory, which in most cases achieves a better result than the clean strategies. An example of a clean strategy is if I always answer based on the same strategy (e.g. whenever I become known to a client I raise the question of price; another strategy is to always wait for the client to ask about the price). A mixed strategy is when, by leaving it to chance, we mix two or more clean strategies in certain proportions (so before meeting a client I flip a coin: if it is heads I ask about the price, if it is tails I wait for the client to ask). It is mathematically verifiable that mixed strategies generally lead to better results than clean strategies, even if they are obviously worse in one or two series (e.g. always obtaining heads with the client who does not like if I ask about the price, and vice versa).

From another viewpoint, I would state the following: a fluctuating measure of Self helps in reaching the mixed strategy as a random number generator (as a replacement for flipping coins). Based on all of this, in real life it happens like this: sometimes, quiet people have to make a stand, while vociferous people occasionally have to restrain themselves.

39.  Aggression and optimal group decision

The mixed strategy mentioned above also leads to positive results in group decisions as well. Recall Churchill’s famous aphorism: “democracy is the worst form of government except (for) all those other forms that have been tried from time to time”. One interpretation of its meaning is that the opinion of the non-professional masses often pushes into the background those useful opinions that bring good solutions. Often, it is a problem in itself that certain solutions to a problem with multiple outcomes do not even enter the common knowledge or a debate, as they are so much against the mainstream. This happens at the cost of the group’s creativity.

Another example from politics: a state is short of money (a so-called adverse budget), and at first everyone urges increasing taxes which seems logical. This logic is simple and clear to all: the state has money from taxes  if the state does not have enough money it needs more  if more money is needed the state has to raise taxes. If we do not presume that taxes have an optimal level, then the government will raise taxes endlessly, disregarding the connection that the higher taxes are, the more people try to avoid paying them by sending their money abroad.

So, the governing party urges the raising of taxes. Then somebody appears (the person who impersonates the group’s creativity and who can step out of a certain frame of thinking, an out-of-the-box-thinker) and suggests that taxes be reduced.

In typical cases, others do not listen to him. Moreover, they accuse him of demagogy and populism. However, lower taxes attract more investors from abroad, people begin to invest their money in the country again instead of sending it abroad, and so on. Using this strategy, income from taxes will indeed decrease in the short term, but as trade – and profits (in absolute value) – increase, so more tax income will accrue to the state, even if it is less in pure tax rate percentage terms. Therefore, it is a better bargain for everybody than the government or establishment suggestion.

The same thing happens during the brainstorming of a non-accepting group (for example, a group with autocratic or dictatorial management), where some of the better creative ideas are not aired as the authors of the ideas are afraid of being criticized, so they will not raise them. Fortunately, since the new idea is a cognitive schema the urge to share it – described by FIPP – guarantees that this does not often happen.

These phenomena have been understood for a long time, which is why there is protection of minority opinions. Therefore, to increase the number of available solutions and their diversity, opinions suggested by only a few people will be presented in the decision-making process, but will be derided. Civilized, democratic governments patronize their minorities for similar reasons, as although it is often disconcerting to care about their opinion, a longer-term view shows that their activity expands the repertory of available answers to the demands of world economics and politics.

Let us examine group decisions through an example: a group of ten people reaches a point where they can choose from three directions: left, right, and straight ahead. They have an intuition that the aim is somewhere to the right and forward, but the target is to the left. Say that, at this time, six of them want to go forward, three to the right, leaving one person who wants to go to the left. According to the rules of democracy, they will vote; six win against four, and they go forward. If there is a debate, the ‘forward’ and the ‘right’ will debate, the one who voted for the left will not even have an opportunity to speak unless…

  • the group has a system which protects minority opinions; or
  • he stops the decision-making process (by any kind of unexpected behavior e.g. crying, shouting &c) and he begins to market his opinion by trying to convince others that he is right.

He may attract attention by speaking louder or being more persistent. This behavior might even be considered aggressive. Moreover, if he does this repeatedly and comes to the wrong result, they will see him as an aggressive person.

However, the real conclusion can be drawn in the opposite way: why are there not Paradisical conditions where nobody is aggressive and everybody agrees on everything? Why do we not just talk, vote, smile and move on? Aggression often increases the group’s creativity by turning our attention to such minority reports, which may potentially lead to the optimal decision. In many cases, emphasized, stubbornly repeated minority reports are disturbing phenomena, and the optimal decisions have to be made, notwithstanding arguments, in a calm manner.

There are two kinds of such aggressive manifestations:

  • when somebody becomes aggressive as a random number generator for hormonal or other emotional reasons (a trauma behind one of his memories, or an awful association &c.) and surprises all of their circle. Mostly, this kind of aggression has a “meta-rôle” that comes from being a member of the group (“Hey! Please help me! I’m in trouble”) and serves the goal of finding a new rôle within the group by showing new characteristics and features of the person.
  • when a group member obtains important (acquired or constructed) information, and this situation is coupled with commitment to the group. Therefore, the person wants to share the new information at all costs, since if the group makes the idea its own and uses it, the person’s Self will expand as he achieves a better position within the group and will be able to control his companions who function as his social Environment. The simplest example of this is when somebody shouts: “I have found it!” or “I have the solution!” ((“Eureka” is the classic story when Archimedes discovered the elevating force, jumped out of the tub naked and ran around town shouting Eureka=I have found it! This called the attention of others to himself, to share the connection between the weight of the expelled fluid and the weight of the body – a radical discovery then – with more and more people.

40.  The forms of manifestation of aggression

40.1  Sharing pro-social and anti-social aggression

As its name implies, the basis of the division is aggression’s relationship with society. In other words, the social benefit – or disbenefit – of aggression. If it is useful, we talk about pro-social aggression, if it is harmful, about anti-social aggression. As soon as we relate to such complex concepts as society, several points of view are immediately raised: what is considered useful by whom (or more precisely by which group of society) and what is not. We can invariably find a group within society which at least understands, and might well support, different forms of aggression. Let us examine it through two examples of aggression, the judgment of which is obvious for the everyday reader:

  • Terrorists explode a bomb. The majority will label it as deeply anti-social aggression when innocent people are killed by a group of fanatics. In spite of this, terrorists usually represent the interests of small or large groups (or think they represent them), so we can be sure that the close environment of the terrorists will make them consider it as pro-social aggression. They will see that, rather than innocent people, the dead are representatives of the enemy, and they think this justifies the issue under discussion. They see the whole act as a final possibility, a cry for help from defenseless people who have no tools to fight the numerical superiority other than the tools of intimidation
  • Soldiers fight to protect, or create, democracy. Democracy is one of the basic values of western society, so protecting it is a positive act, useful not only for the country that is becoming democratic, but also makes for a better conscience in western societies generally, so it is pro-social aggression. However, residents of a non-democratic country who lived in peace until a foreign country invaded their country, destroyed everything, killed neighbors and friends, will classify it as obviously anti-social aggression. Since they do not know of democracy and its benefits, they have no idea what the soldiers talk about; all they see is devastation.

Before reading the above examples, mention of ‘terrorist’ would bring a negative reaction to mind. Possibly, ‘soldier’ might have obtained a positive reaction. After demonstrating the relativity of these obvious concepts – according to what we consider as social norms – must we still have to reject the pro-social and anti-social division of aggression?

My answer is no. FIPP provides a distinction that makes the division free of values. What we must keep in view to achieve this is that, in most cases, an aggressive act is performed to achieve a goal. This goal is believed to make a positive change in the lives of one or more people; in other words, it helps their Self-expansion. For instance, the terrorist who kills in order to cause Self-expansion in members of the group he represents (cf. people shooting in the air and celebrating after a terrorist act). A soldier kills in the name of democracy to safeguard those at home, and to ensure that the next generation of the foreign country will live a less Self-narrowed life in a democratic atmosphere.

However, the bank-robber who walks into the bank by himself, shoots a cashier and leaves with the money, only cares about his Self-expansion: the moment when he spends the money – obtained at the cost of blood – and provides himself with Self-expansion (in the form of drugs, gambling, expensive sports cars &c.). The situation would be completely different if he shared the money amongst those who need it, as Robin Hood did. Then, although it is ‘blood money’, he would provide many more people with Self-expansion.

One way or another, the person who performs the aggressive act provides himself and his social Environment (people who are important to him) with Self-expansion. However, in parallel with this, Self-narrowing also appears, which he must bear as well. This Self-narrowing has two sources:

  • Systems established and controlled by the majority of society (a group of people who have the political power, perhaps the police or judiciary), which serve to preserve the power of the majority in a country; their direct aim is Self-expansion. These include:
    • acceptable punishment (he knows that if he gets caught he will be imprisoned for x years)
    • the process of criminal investigation (interrogations, observation) and the accompanying anxiety (escaping from the police, limits as to where he can go, who he can meet, which in the end narrows the Self); and
    • accusing attitudes and exclusion (nobody is happy when there is a criminal in the company or social circle)
  • taking over Self-narrowing of the victims of aggression and their Environment (mourning, loss, inconvenience) through empathy (involuntarily). No matter whether the aggressor wants it or not, the conclusion of his acts will also be represented amongst his schemata, and these conclusions include his aggression’s effect on other people. In addition, the Self-narrowing of the person who suffers the aggression will narrow the Self of the aggressor too.

On reflection, we talk about pro-social aggression when the Self-expansion we obtain with aggression is greater than the Self-narrowing arising from it. On this basis we talk about anti-social aggression when Self-narrowing is greater, and Self-expansion when it is smaller.

As in every concept and relationship in connection with people, we should not underestimate the rôle of subjectivity. Since the Self-expansions and Self-narrowings caused by the act determine the measure of Self-expansion, we have to consider several points of view. If we wish to place the recorded Self-expansions and Self-narrowings in mathematical terms, we can imagine it as the result of the following points:

  • how many people are affected negatively (a) and positively (b) by the aggressive act
  • how much were the people (c+ and c-) affected individually (by how much and in what direction did their Selves change)
  • through what distortions did the changes of the other people’s Selves reach the aggressor (d)

(More precisely: dSelfaggressor=Summ(f(dSelfi) ), where f(x) is the distortion as the Self-change reaches the aggressor, dSelfi is the changes of the Selves of i people – this contains those who profit from the aggression and (with the reversed sign) those who suffer from it.)

By way of illustration of how important these points (a.-d.) can be:

  • many people are happy, because a bad person will be punished: a=1; b=many
  • many people suffer because of the pleasure of one person: a=many; b=1
  • when an evil person who has been chased for a long time is finally caught and punished, people are very happy: a=1; b=many; c+=big, c-=big
  • one person’s pleasure is inconvenient for a lot of people: a=many; b=1; c+=big; c-=small
  • the environment of a dictator arranges the life of the dictator in a way that he only meets happy people: d=strong distortion

The rôle of subjectivity comes to the fore in determining the precise values, but these values change over time. A dictator who kills many people may see his nation initially happy and grateful, then his nation forgets or turns against him. Although the happiness of the nation may have been genuine, it is now gone. The losses caused by the killings remain constant; murder, aggression, separation are generally lasting as they cause irreversible changes. Thus, it can happen that a celebrated hero can be considered as a common murderer, or he may consider himself a common murderer, and he has to bear considerable Self-narrowing.

40.2  The division of verbal and physical aggression

Previously, the Hungarian police never intervened in family debates unless there was violence: the spouses could shout at each other, they could terrorize each other mentally, but the police attached aggression only to acts of violence (on the grounds of practical consideration). This example may divide physical and verbal aggression in an unhealthy way, as they are similarly represented in the brain. The power of speech can astonish us by its intensely subjective nature of human beings, and by its equality of mental processes and physical reality. Somebody swearing at another person appears to be nothing from a strictly physical point of view. But in sending sound waves in a certain tone to that other person, it can elicit a much greater reaction than if we, say, broke somebody’s arm or leg.

Advertisement

This article, and many others, is now available in print.
The book, 'Self-expansion', contains a generalized version of FIPP not available on psy2.org

Buy it on Lulu.Review copies are available for academics upon e-mail requestBuy it on Lulu.

Register and download the e-book for free!

Both physical events and verbal communication activate cognitive schemata in our brain, as well as our thoughts and fantasies. That is why, according to the FIPP’s approach, the forms of aggression are reduced to a common denominator; also, why their aggression definitions show no difference. If somebody remains certain of the superiority of the physical world over mental processes, compare what would then hurt him more. What if your partner physically cheated on you once with a faceless and unknown person and she never saw that person again? Or if, although nothing actually happened, but you came to know that your partner dreamed day and night in detail about how good it was to leave the reader for a friend and start a family.

A textbook example of verbal aggression is swearing, which is nothing other than encouragement in calling for the stepping over – or on – of sexual taboos. The rôle of taboo (untouchable, unquestionable things, acts, thoughts; stepping over them is coupled with irrational fear e.g. incest taboo, respecting the dead) is from the very first to serve as an unquestionable axiom and frame of reference within the Self and society, while determining its limits. Their limiting function also means a repulsive connection towards other schemata. Therefore, for example, there is a repulsive connection between a man’s schema, which represents sexuality, and the schema of his mother. Swearing is an attempt to turn it into a supporting connection with the verbal aggression’s compression. Verbal aggression, with its technique of canceling compression of the limits of the Self, endangers the Self itself. For instance, if somebody is called a bastard, then his full identity is questioned. He may begin to doubt the supportive, unsullied image of his family. What may be instilled instead is rootlessness, and the fear of a vacuum in family history. In this example, the power of ‘bastard’ lies in the connection to the family; separation from the mother and father would endanger a central element of everybody’s identity. In addition, being a bastard questions the schema of the father’s person; it questions the whole identity. In addition, identity is a concept which is in close connection with the measure of the Self, so the faltering of identity narrows the Self, which then leads to aggression.

List of articles related to FIPP

Click here to read the short description of FIPP (recommended for better understanding of the below written)

While playing the video press the "HQ" button (in the right bottom corner of the YouTube player) in order to improve playback quality

41.  Fodormik's Integrated Paradigm for Psychology (FIPP)

Miklos Fodor developed a model based on three basic concepts (later highlighted in bold) that can describe human behavior in different fields of life e.g. problem solving, love, religion, sex, co-operation. The essence of the model is that it reinterprets the relationship of the Self and Environment, which to date has been considered as a static relationship. Thus, the model distinguishes

Self-narrowing: when the Self perceives the Environment as bigger than itself e.g. in anxiety, fear, making efforts, close attention.


Self-expanding: when the Self expands into the Environment and perceives it as a part of itself e.g. love, happiness, aha experience, orgasm.


Click to edit the image Click to edit the image Click to edit the image Click to edit the image

The change of the two states can be described with a general pattern, in which the turning point is the emergence of new cognitive schemata, being mental constructions organized on different levels, representing the outside world e.g. concepts, theories, shapes, categories.

The emergence of a new cognitive schema results in a need to communicate, which prompts the Self to associate the new schema with others. The Self-expanding is complete only when such communication occurs.

Example: Problem solving

  • Self-narrowing: as we learn more about a problem, finding a solution to it seems to be increasingly hopeless.
  • Self-expanding: when the person is about to give up, a new cognitive schema establishes itself, which in turn provides a solution to the problem.
  • Communicational pressure: regardless of obtaining a solution to the problem, the person does not experience complete Self-expanding until he can share it with others.

A detailed description of the model and of the basic concepts, with further examples, is provided here.

One virtue of this new model is that it integrates our knowledge of human behavior yet does not contradict psychology’s main discoveries. In addition, it harmonizes with statements of world religions and common sense.

Sex is such a central subject of our lives and culture that it is difficult to relate anything new about it. Perhaps a new point of view can help to discover and understand previously unknown elements.

We discussed several related subjects (e.g. sleeping together, merging of body image, intimacy etc.) in previous articles, but it is worth discussing the concept of orgasm, and intercourse itself as the central topic of sex, in detail.

Note: in this topic, the word sex is used to refer to heterosexual intercourse with vaginal penetration.

42.  Types of orgasm

Orgasm is more or less known to psychology, but it is also a mysterious subject. It has been known since Freud that there are two types of female orgasm, and that they differ substantially. Clitoral orgasm can be reached by stimulating the clitoris, while vaginal orgasm is a result of vaginal stimulation. (Male orgasm is said to be similar to clitoral orgasm.) Vaginal orgasm can be described (according to accounts) as a general euphoric state in which condition a longer lasting, so-called plateau phase, appears on the pleasure curve. In addition, vaginal orgasm elapses more slowly than does the male orgasm. Unlike male orgasm, it does not decrease sexual desire but increases libido. The refractory period (the “reloading” period, during which we have to rest) is much shorter as well. Compared to this, male orgasms are preceded by increasing tension; the quick dissolution of this tension is what provides men with pleasure.

Psychology talks about so many different aspects of sex that there is virtually no common denominator. However, there is. Both in the female and male Self-expansion processes occur; these last longer in one than the other. Unfortunately, nature was not evenhanded; although no one person can experience the difference, male orgasms are not only shorter, but also less intense. If we examine the curve of sexual response and the curve of Self-narrowing/expanding, the obvious similarity requires no further explanation.

What conclusions can be drawn apart from that it is the same process? It is plausible that the bigger the Self-narrowing, the bigger the Self-expansion. In other words: the more foreplay and the longer and greater the orgasm.

43.  Side-effect of sex

The exaggerated emotions during and after sex (which are usually labeled as love but can be mere desire) are connected to the social demand for Self-expansion. The blurred sense of time and space, and increased tolerance of pain, all support the existence of altered states of consciousness, which occurs at the same time as the characteristics of Self-expansion are experienced.

44.  Excesses and shortcomings (lacks) of the male and female bodies


The male and female body

However we look at it, we have to admit that men have some excess, and women some shortcoming, or lack, in their bodies. Something has to be done with the excess, and the lack has to be compensated for. This difference in approach determines the difference in gender behavior: men want to penetrate the Environment, to shape it, while women are the Environment itself, which needs to be penetrated. Environment can be made attractive, which attracts looks and stares, but at the same time it is not accidental that women pay more attention to their Environment in general: the interior decoration of their apartments, the garden, their own bodies (make-up, clothing &c.).

The female equivalent of male activity is that, until fairly recently, a woman could not take the initiative but could provoke a man into taking that initiative. A woman cannot penetrate another’s Environment/Self; conversely, heterosexual men have a horror of others penetrating them. Men do not penetrate an unattractive Environment with pleasure, despite its being virtually risk-free if the person’s Self-boundaries are intact (the man’s personality is healthy). Women’s selectivity is explained by their unwillingness to let anyone within their Self-boundaries, as that person can then merge with the Self and influences it directly. Perhaps this direct influence is why women are more affected emotionally by sex: since they let somebody into themselves, and this condition can harm them, but can also make them more valuable. Men as protagonists can let loose maximum energy through his actions, ignoring those times when he is exposed to unexpected effects as a result of the weakness of his Self-boundaries (cf. delusion, unexpectedly falling in love, decrease of self-confidence).

Advertisement

This article, and many others, is now available in print.
The book, 'Self-expansion', contains a generalized version of FIPP not available on psy2.org

Buy it on Lulu.Review copies are available for academics upon e-mail requestBuy it on Lulu.

Register and download the e-book for free!

With this model, we can finally reduce the non-professional rôles of women (mother, housewife), and their rôles in sexual connections, to a common denominator:

  • women as mothers also function as the Environment from the viewpoint of a baby’s Self (the same setup as in the sexual relationship, the difference is only that the infant took over the place of the entity which needs an Environment) and
  • as housewives, women secure the warmth of home as Environment for the man and the children.

To summarize, we can say that women are the passive agents of the Environment, while men can be paralleled with the Self. As we have seen, one determines the other; in other words, one does not exist without the other. A woman is needed so that the man can feel as a man, and vice versa. This is theoretically demonstrable by the division of rôles in homosexual relationships: in both lesbian and male homosexual relationships there is a masculine, active party and a feminine, passive party. (This was not established merely to undertake the technical implementation of sexual pleasure; these rôles are also manifested in sexual acts.)

45.  The rhythm of the sex act

Many people have meditated on why the sex act, intercourse, cannot be simpler if its biological aim is solely reproduction. To ensure that sperm meets the egg safely, it would be enough that a penis ejaculates sperm into the vagina and onto the orifice of the uterus. The existence of the penis and the advantage of its penetration is not questioned; like a hypodermic needle needed to get a fluid to a protected place, it is evolutionary beneficial if the man can get his DNA to its target more precisely with the help of the penis.

However, the forward and backward movement of the penis in the vagina is not required to achieve this. Theoretically, it would be enough to insert the penis, inject the DNA and take it out. However, this would make the selection of a partner, a mate, too accident-prone, and as such it would be against evolution. By this, I mean that the choice of a partner would not be well founded, and the parents’ subsequent relationship would not be so stable. It would be enough for just one party to want sexual intercourse: consider how easily and quickly a male stranger can get a woman pregnant, or how easily a woman can get herself pregnant by a male; perhaps 10 seconds would be all the time that requires. Therefore, we can state that evolution, through the time-consuming nature of sex acts, and the demand for a mutual effort, reduces the number of offspring accidentally produced. In addition, it is beneficial from the standpoint of natural selection that children are created by couples who have at least passed this mini-test. If a couple is incapable of co-operating for just the few minutes the sex act requires, then they should not have children, as they do not have the minimal criteria required of a stable couple.

If evolution imposed time limits and some sort of co-operation to creating a child, the question then arises…what is the simplest, most primitive act that demands these basic conditions (spending a certain amount of time together, the needed measurement of time, and the ability to attune their efforts towards a mutual goal)? In humans, the answer to this question is the effort of rhythm. This partly requires atonement (on both the physical and mental level), and partially proves the existence of physical ability (by demonstrating the ability to make a persistent effort). The passive act, namely a couple spending time together without any particular activity (e.g. similar to the particular phase when mating dogs are stuck together, so that the male dog’s penis tightens within the vagina ensuring that sperm cannot leave the bitch’s vagina too quickly) would not of itself prove physical fitness.

I have assumed that the biological background of which hormonal processes and muscle functions regulate the connections of rhythm, ejaculation and orgasm, is already known. Nevertheless, the psychology of the process is less understood. I am looking for the answer to…why does the rhythmical movement lead to orgasm?

It is important to understand that here rhythmical movement is an in-out movement during which the distance between two people decreases and increases. This increasing and decreasing distance repeats the experience of the merging of Self and Environment with growing intensity. This merging of Self and Environment is best illustrated by (the initial) penetration.

From this point of view, the movement performed during intercourse is as if the partners are seeking to repeat, with growing intensity, the merging of Self and Environment made by the penetration, but without ending the merging, without separating. It is at this point where the biological (as yet an unknown territory of biology) and psychological functions are connected. Rhythmical repeats are there, presumably, to multiply the strength of the singular experience, just as when neurons often transmit the strength of the stimulus by repeating the rhythmical firing with an increasing speed as they cannot signal it any other way (e.g. the neurological aspect of the sense of pain). Increasing intensity not only demonstrates the merging of Self and Environment, but also the aspiration of becoming an identical entity.

Advertisement

This article, and many others, is now available in print.
The book, 'Self-expansion', contains a generalized version of FIPP not available on psy2.org

Buy it on Lulu.Review copies are available for academics upon e-mail requestBuy it on Lulu.

Register and download the e-book for free!

This is in tune with the aspiration - which appears in many cultures – to revert to the ancient – ‘Paradise’ – condition when man and woman were one (e.g. Eve was part of Adam’s body as the rib; we can find the same aspiration in Greek mythology as well). Another association of this aspiration, emphasized by modern psychology, is that there is a woman in every man, and vice versa (cf. Jung animus and anima); that harmony and mental health comes from the unison of these parts (suppressing none of them).

Although men and women, in connection with their orgasms and rôles, are different, and they experience the sexual act differently, they both experience Self-expansion during penetration, as their Selves merge with the Environment that exists in the form of the other person. The growth of this Environment was what caused the strengthening Self-narrowing that ended after the orgasm. (Nota bene: Self-narrowing can also be reached if one of the partners narrows the other partner’s self as Environment by giving him/her a rough time. Alternatively, by elevating their status; for example, when we feel obligated to show gratitude because the other person cares about him or her, and the world feels wonderful.)

List of articles related to FIPP

Click here to read the short description of FIPP (recommended for better understanding of the below written)

While playing the video press the "HQ" button (in the right bottom corner of the YouTube player) in order to improve playback quality

46.  Fodormik's Integrated Paradigm for Psychology (FIPP)

Miklos Fodor developed a model based on three basic concepts (later highlighted in bold) that can describe human behavior in different fields of life e.g. problem solving, love, religion, sex, co-operation. The essence of the model is that it reinterprets the relationship of the Self and Environment, which to date has been considered as a static relationship. Thus, the model distinguishes

Self-narrowing: when the Self perceives the Environment as bigger than itself e.g. in anxiety, fear, making efforts, close attention.


Self-expanding: when the Self expands into the Environment and perceives it as a part of itself e.g. love, happiness, aha experience, orgasm.


Click to edit the image Click to edit the image Click to edit the image Click to edit the image

The change of the two states can be described with a general pattern, in which the turning point is the emergence of new cognitive schemata, being mental constructions organized on different levels, representing the outside world e.g. concepts, theories, shapes, categories.

The emergence of a new cognitive schema results in a need to communicate, which prompts the Self to associate the new schema with others. The Self-expanding is complete only when such communication occurs.

Example: Problem solving

  • Self-narrowing: as we learn more about a problem, finding a solution to it seems to be increasingly hopeless.
  • Self-expanding: when the person is about to give up, a new cognitive schema establishes itself, which in turn provides a solution to the problem.
  • Communicational pressure: regardless of obtaining a solution to the problem, the person does not experience complete Self-expanding until he can share it with others.

A detailed description of the model and of the basic concepts, with further examples, is provided here.

One virtue of this new model is that it integrates our knowledge of human behavior yet does not contradict psychology’s main discoveries. In addition, it harmonizes with statements of world religions and common sense.

47.  Confession

Confession seems a bizarre and illogical act for neutral observers: as an example, after I commit a murder, by simply telling somebody else of this my responsibility vanishes and everything goes on as if nothing had happened. This happens on the level of a phenomenon, so agnostics or atheists can be rightfully suspicious that this is one more tool used by the church to extract information from its ‘dependents’. However, confession is more complex than can be described at the level of a phenomenon. It is an internal (invisible, psychic) process connected to the church emphasizing psychological functions before behavior (focusing on what happens in the soul instead of what happens in the visible, physical world).

Let us look more closely at the theological background of confession in Catholic religion. Man has always been born as a sinner, for that was Adam and Eve’s covenant with God when they ate the apple. This is seemingly unjust: what has the decision made by two people thousands of years ago to do with me, even if – as “everyone” comes from Adam and Eve – I admit my descent from them. This culpability is canceled by baptism, a chance given to us by God which, if taken, enables us to stand with a clean slate (soul) before God. Therefore, baptized children do not have sins. Moreover, as it is intention that counts, as long as the child does not purposefully perform an evil act he cannot sin.

However, as soon as the child begins to make conscious decisions about his acts, he can be in one of two conditions: sinner or sinless. Sinners go to hell when they die, the sinless go to heaven. So far, it seems clear. Then, what happens when someone sins? Religious or otherwise, the sinner experiences compunction. Psychologists have various explanations for this:

  • some interpret it as a result of learning: generally, sin is followed by punishment – beating, scolding &c. – and the anticipation of the punisment has an effect that is compunction;
  • some link it to social education, and emphasize its evolutionary benefit in that it deters us from further sin; and
  • there is, for example, e.g. Freudism, where the complete function of psyche is based on the super-ego, which is there to keep the norms and fight with the ego – which sometimes misbehaves – because the id which represents our instincts makes it do so. Compunction is a by-product of this fight.

It is certain that, if somebody becomes weak and does not change the Self-expanded option, then he becomes Self-narrowed: he is anxious about the consequences of his act, afraid of its coming to light, and in general he feels bad. The main problem with Self-expansion called compunction is that – thanks to the function of human memory – it never ends. It fades with time but repeatedly returns, and can also exert effects that cause illness. If anxiety escalates, it can become permanent, and hinder attainment of mental balance. In “Crime and Punishment”, Dostoevsky described how sin can even lead to suicide, more or less genuinely but, above all, suggestively.

Catholicism answers this with its theology, or in the guise of theology. It is a historic ‘given’ that priests are not ordinary men; they have a unique relationship with God following their ordination and vow that they are his servant. This means nothing other than the opening of a communications channel to God; anything related in the confessional is told directly to God. Since they are only a channel of communication in this rôle, they have no right to retain, talk about or imply anything to do with this information. That is the so-called “Seal of Confession”, the priest-penitent privilege that is recognized by the laws of many countries. In other words, the priest cannot pass on whatever he has heard in the confessional (the small box-like construction with two doors to two compartments separated by a grid, in which people can be heard, but not seen or identified visually, by the priest) as it is not himself who is being told or informed to, but the Lord. Since the Lord cannot answer directly, the priests answer for him; according to Catholicism, the Lord suggests the answer to the priest.

Therefore, it may be that someone hurts somebody else by thinking selfishly and, finding a Self-narrowing solution to a problem; for example, he is short of cash and so steals a wallet. A tension then arises in him, which might remain with him until his death, even if he returns the wallet and money, as certain (negative) elements become embedded in his Self, which narrow it. He goes to the confessional, which guarantees complete anonymity, and he relates his act to the servant of God.

What happens in the confessional from a psychological viewpoint? Somebody shares a secret and relives an event. Sharing a secret decreases the tension (Self-narrowing) caused by the secret, according to how many people we tell and to whom we tell it (how important those people are). If I tell a secret only to my wife and my best friend (who will not hurt or betray me) it will barely decrease the tension, as there are virtually no consequences. If I tell the police it might have serious consequences as the police represent society; in effect, I tell everyone. In many instances, the police are not interested in the issue, or analyze it only on the levels of the scale of the act and physical reality of its consequences; it is not their duty to deal with psychological motives. However, sharing the secret with a priest is perfect, in that: I share my secret with “the universe”, who will understand it in the way I want it to be understood. God only listens to me, and theoretically ‘reads my thoughts’; we need not go into detail and bother with protracted questioning and answering, for ‘perfect’ communication takes place. Psychologically, I have the experience of saying those words used to share the secret; I had to say “I stole the wallet”. However, it only matters to me, as God is “all knowing”; he knows that I stole the wallet, the reason why, and what it meant to me. As well as sharing, the key is reliving.

The effect of words is many times surprising, as when we put something into words, when we digitize analogous information (words store information in digital format, while our emotions are stored analogous). During this process the information is involuntarily restructured (so called: reframed) and a new cognitive schema emerges which, until that point was merely a set of acts and sensations with an emotional tone. (He had had the opportunity to talk to himself about stealing the wallet, but the final form of the cognitive schema emerges only by writing it down or telling it to somebody.)

Advertisement

This article, and many others, is now available in print.
The book, 'Self-expansion', contains a generalized version of FIPP not available on psy2.org

Buy it on Lulu.Review copies are available for academics upon e-mail requestBuy it on Lulu.

Register and download the e-book for free!

Let me have a detour in connection with the process of putting something into words: it is similar to describing the moment or event of death.

We could observe in old times that, if somebody died, their close relatives or friends tried to describe their bereavement by relating to others the experiences and memories to which they are being subjected. Initially, the words used in this may have been incoherent, unintelligible, as they are emotionally saturated or the words themselves exert strong emotions. Then – so to say, with practice – the story becomes increasingly structured, Emotions recede from the cognitive schema and the historical core of the cognitive schema becomes clearer and more understandable. The person begins to focus upon the quality of communication to share the story, and emotions become slowly detached from the events and take their own, separate place. This process is supported in the Jewish tradition of acquaintances of the deceased visiting the house to meet the bereaved family. At such times, we give the bereaved the opportunity to repeat their story about the deceased as many times as they need to, to put the emotional load of this event to its place, and distract the focus from the event.

The next most important aspect is so-called ‘sincere regret’. Namely, that it is not enough to say automatically “I stole a wallet”, but we have to experience the negative nature of the event and plan how to avoid making the same mistake again. The whole story happens between the person and God: no-one (apart from the priest) knows what sin encumbers the soul of that person. Nevertheless, even the priest cannot determine whether the person regrets – or not – what he did. Moreover, it is not the priest’s duty to judge this. As nobody calls him to account – or could call him – everyone understands that confession only serves to make the penitent feel – or seek to become – better.

There are two further aspects related to confession:

  • Penitence: the so-called penitence (remorse) levied on the sinner by God (and communicated in words by the priest), is nothing more than a certain amount of prayer, in proportion to the weight of the sin(s) (according to God’s judgment). It is not difficult to admit – or see – that this is a strictly symbolic form of compensation – a mere five to ten minutes of prayer – to relieve oneself of the sins. However, this ‘compensation’ is compulsory. Because of its meditative nature, prayer has the effect of preparing one for the end of the phase of Self-narrowing. In a Self-expanded state, prayer helps inner communication and the absorption of inner processes required for remorse. (Because I achieve inner harmony with myself during prayer, I can more easily focus on myself and my decisions can then touch higher-level cognitive schemata. The relaxed state of Self-expansion then helps the restructuring of my cognitive schemata, which is required to change bad habits.)

  • Remission (communion): within the sacred framework of the mass, one of the high points is the repeating of the last words of Jesus at the Last Supper, when he blessed the bread and wine. So Jesus’s body becomes identical with the bread, as does his blood with the wine. During communion, a person has a piece of holy bread (a flat wafer of bread, the host) placed in his mouth, which is a piece of the body of Jesus, so he becomes one with him. The communion is bi-directional:
    • as the communion can take place between two similarly sin-less entities, only those whose souls are without sin might become one with God; either they confessed recently (so all their sins were forgiven and so their souls were thereby clean) or had not committed serious sins since the last confession. If you want to take part fully in the most holy event of the mass and to relive the communion with Jesus, you should cleanse your soul by confession
    • the communion, on the level of an individual, is the last step of the confession/penitence process towards obtaining God’s forgiveness.

The act of communion (the priest placing the ‘body’ of Jesus in the mouth of the person) is the turning point towards Self-expansion. As the wafer-thin host disintegrates in the mouth of the person, the possibility of a new life opens, by being able to start over our everyday life without sin (assuming that he genuinely regretted his sins and carried out the act of penitence).

The Catholic Church is often presented as authoritarian, which is true from many viewpoints. However, as with most religions, the Catholic Church was established principally to conserve the essence of the religion and to survive. However, the service of confession in its churches is considerably liberal and democratic, and it respects – and builds upon – the function of psyche. Why do I say this? The confession/communion is on one hand a mental antiseptic (preventing mental illnesses, fighting against anxiety, and soul distorting effects), which can preserve the mental balance of the frail and easily sinning people who could break down if confessing to serious sins, even if they still have the strength to change to the ‘right’ way. The first step in using the opportunity of confession is to accept that there is a higher entity that has power over us. It cannot work without this. If someone is so Self-narrowed (evil) that he is incapable of uniting with his Environment by Self-expansion, he will not go to confession in the first place. It is hard to imagine Stalin or Hitler, while sending further millions of people to death, rushing to priests to confess.

In addition, too great a Self-expansion also does not allow confession: if I am so big that I feel that I am a king and everyone serves me then I will not accept someone to mediate between me and God; I want to talk to him directly, not through a priest.

That is why I cannot imagine that Napoleon would go to confess. Someone has to be in a normal state to start on this path: neither too Self-narrowed (in religious terms, he “has lost his connection with God”) nor too Self-expanded (contemptuous).

However, the above mentioned conditions are not exclusive: the opportunity is open, even for the greatest murderers, to return to the righteous path, and be able to attain Self-expansion again. The church or Jesus laid the decision of trying to return to the righteous path in the hands of the individual. To illustrate this, consider that there are no control points for outsiders: nobody can control a mass-murderer’s internal (soul) processes. If someone only simulates the whole process and meanwhile thinks about how he will cheat his wife, then he will not be different from someone who genuinely regretted their sins and who will be a better (more Self-expanded) person the next day onwards. This notwithstanding that he may speak in the confessional exactly the same way, kneel in prayer (whether he prays in the meantime or thinks about the next atrocity is something nobody else will know) and take the host in his mouth.

This being without control delegates the decision to the deepest part of the person. We have to square our conscience with nobody else, so usually most people would rather not go to confession than attend and apparently confess, but not genuinely.

These Self-repair mechanisms work not only on an individual level but also have an effect on communities. During confession, people will, more or less, commit themselves to changing their bad habits and to try to take next decisions so that their Self should stay/become expanded (e.g. help other people; behaving in an unselfish way; avoiding the use of aggression). This approach also has a positive effect on those people who do not believe, or who do not attend confession, in two ways:

  • those who confessed after re-evaluating their existing relationships they are given a chance to repair in reality their broken relationships; they get rid of negative feelings towards their enemies (the obligation to forgive to your enemies is a part of the confession). So, either they are given one more chance to a turn a bad relationship into a good one, or they can start to reverse the effect of their sins in real life (this obligation is also a part of the confession, more exactly, the penitence) and
  • there is a psychological effect associated with that new chance: when you have one (theoretically last) chance to be good again, you try harder to be good. This is like a child who becomes extremely dirty whilst playing. After a while he becomes disturbed by the mud and dirt , so takes a shower (which he may normally loathe), puts on clean clothes and so experiences how good it is to be clean. Then he will try harder to keep himself clean when he goes playing again.

Before assuming that I have an overly idealistic opinion of confession, I must note its limitations. These arise from:

  • the human nature of the sidemen (priests, who can pray on the Seal of Confession);
  • the innate insincerity of people (for example, people only confess because of peer pressure in small communities); and
  • the aims of the church as an institution (an example being the influence exerted by priests upon all strata of society throughout the ages).

Apart from these limitations, I believe that confession is a fortunate and useful institution, which has probably saved the mental health of millions of people (think about the adolescents who repeated compunction) and improved mankind. However, the intention of this detour was not to make a judgment, but to demonstrate a psychological phenomenon that is interesting from the viewpoint of our FIPP model.

Advertisement

This article, and many others, is now available in print.
The book, 'Self-expansion', contains a generalized version of FIPP not available on psy2.org

Buy it on Lulu.Review copies are available for academics upon e-mail requestBuy it on Lulu.

Register and download the e-book for free!

Finally: in Judaism, forgiveness and regret are not connected to the mass, but to a celebration (Yom Kippur) when everybody apologizes to God for the sins they have committed against others, and forgives those who have sinned against him. At the same time, everybody apologizes to everyone they know, and everybody has to forgive everybody who apologizes to them.

Click here to read the short description of FIPP (recommended for better understanding of the below written)

While playing the video press the "HQ" button (in the right bottom corner of the YouTube player) in order to improve playback quality

48.  Fodormik's Integrated Paradigm for Psychology (FIPP)

Miklos Fodor developed a model based on three basic concepts (later highlighted in bold) that can describe human behavior in different fields of life e.g. problem solving, love, religion, sex, co-operation. The essence of the model is that it reinterprets the relationship of the Self and Environment, which to date has been considered as a static relationship. Thus, the model distinguishes

Self-narrowing: when the Self perceives the Environment as bigger than itself e.g. in anxiety, fear, making efforts, close attention.


Self-expanding: when the Self expands into the Environment and perceives it as a part of itself e.g. love, happiness, aha experience, orgasm.


Click to edit the image Click to edit the image Click to edit the image Click to edit the image

The change of the two states can be described with a general pattern, in which the turning point is the emergence of new cognitive schemata, being mental constructions organized on different levels, representing the outside world e.g. concepts, theories, shapes, categories.

The emergence of a new cognitive schema results in a need to communicate, which prompts the Self to associate the new schema with others. The Self-expanding is complete only when such communication occurs.

Example: Problem solving

  • Self-narrowing: as we learn more about a problem, finding a solution to it seems to be increasingly hopeless.
  • Self-expanding: when the person is about to give up, a new cognitive schema establishes itself, which in turn provides a solution to the problem.
  • Communicational pressure: regardless of obtaining a solution to the problem, the person does not experience complete Self-expanding until he can share it with others.

A detailed description of the model and of the basic concepts, with further examples, is provided here.

One virtue of this new model is that it integrates our knowledge of human behavior yet does not contradict psychology’s main discoveries. In addition, it harmonizes with statements of world religions and common sense.

49.  About happiness

Despite the historical search for a definition of happiness, psychology today talks, at most, about happy people within the frame of the concept of mental health. The connection between happiness and mental health is quite strong, but happiness – and the ways of reaching it – has not become a part of the mainstream research and has been discussed only by positive psychology (e.g. Seligman, Csikszentmihalyi etc.). This is due to many reasons:

  • as a concept difficult to define, representatives of science are not too eager to deal with it;
  • as it is a concept that embraces the totality of human life, it is seen as more in the territory of philosophy (cf. life philosophies);
  • it greatly overlaps with religion, which does not deal with the study of happiness (because they examine our relationship with transcendence), but the question of a “good life” (from different viewpoints) is at the center of their interest. In addition, the logic of religion is directly opposed to the logic of science (as they do not prove but simply accept things in which one ‘has’ to believe).

Despite these reasons, it seems clear that it would profit mankind if science provided some guidance on how to attain happiness, which would also state something of the meaning of human life.

In Psychology 2.0's one main article we presented a model called Fodormik's Integrated Paradigm for Psychology, that makes us understand the joy and happiness from a cognitive point of view. We have seen that FIPP describes thinking processes in problem solving. It can also say something about sexual life and gender differences. Since FIPP is rooted in system theory, it is worth examining further, whether the described patterns works also on other systems.

As an example, a society is a system, but so are the human brain, groups, companies and the family. It is, therefore, not illogical that, if we look for the same pattern in these systems, that how we perceive things is simply a matter of organization and viewpoint. It is about the same people, just that at one time we consider them as elements that assist a company, another time as units of race-preservation (family), and yet another time as parts of a community bordered by geographical borders. “Reality” is the same, the only difference being the viewpoint, the way we model reality, and at what level we observe. (Just as a tree is part of a forest, and the forest as a mass of trees is the same thing on a different level, so applying FIPP on different levels sheds light upon different things.)

When we examined the topics of smoking and sex, we observed certain isolated parts of human life. Now we are trying to apply FIPP to all of human life, and make no secret of our aim, which is to define happiness and compare ways that lead to it.

Initially, we must learn something what is for sure unhappy: the end of our lives.

50.  FIPP and death

We tested FIPP with problem-solving first. But happiness is connected with life, not problems. Or would life then be a problem as well? If it was, how can we be so different and still have common problems? Is there also a turning point in life, when something new emerges, such as a new cognitive schema emerging during the process of problem-solving?

My answer is yes. Everybody’s common problem is that we are going to die. Since we were born, we will also die. It is an axiom based on the biological nature of human existence that we need to do something about our own (physical) dissolution.

If the problem is "how do I deal with my death", then how is happiness connected to it? To answer this question, we have to divide the concept of happiness for a while into short-term happiness (we can call it joy; for example when seeing a person for the first time in ages) and permanent happiness. In our previous discussion of permanent happiness, we touched upon solving the problem of “what can I do about my death?”; that is about accepting death as the natural order of life, and that our physical presence is a temporary condition, which goes against the normal flow of the universe. What is meant by ‘going against the normal flow of the universe’ will now be discussed.

50.1  Death and the laws of nature

Click image to enlarge
A system's different stages as the entropy increases

Perhaps one of the most general physical laws (besides the concept of time and space in the relativity theory) is the so-called principle of growing entropy; the alternative name is the Second Law of Thermodynamics. The concept of entropy shows how inordinate a system is: how evenly the elements and energy of a system are distributed. In other words, how the distribution of the elements of the system is very similar to random distribution.

The principle of growing entropy says that a system strives to be entropic, and that order is an unnatural condition of nature. So maintaining order (e.g. keeping two things separated from each other) requires effort. Based on the concept used in the aggression article, we can say that repulsive connection is against the laws of nature. We have also seen that boundaries are nothing but repulsive connections. If borders are against the laws of nature, then the splitting up of borders accords with the laws of nature.

The human body is an entity that has borders. Moreover, the Self has borders too, and people want to strengthen these borders. Nature inevitably handles this by using the principle of growing entropy as a temporary state: atoms manage to congregate against the principle of growing entropy for a while (cf. body) then nature wins and atoms begin to depart from each other (cf. decomposing body).

What people need to realize to accept their unavoidable death is that all their boundaries are temporary. They can only be maintained by force, and that it is normal that they will end. We do not have to separate ourselves from nature and society and their laws; we do not have to strengthen our separation from them; but we have to obey them. The meaning of obedience to these laws and flow, and whether we impersonate them, is discussed in our study of the ways to happiness.

51.  FIPP and happiness

For someone trying to apply the description of FIPP and its examples to himself whilst reading them, it will not be of any surprise if I say that the experience of Self-expansion is closely related to the everyday use of the concept of happiness. Perhaps even more than closely related, as there is the matter of pride being a part of it, due to the enhanced Self and new competencies. This is the small difference (amongst other things) why I think it is important to enter the new concept within the formulation of FIPP, and is also the reason why I did not use the word happiness.

However, with the help of FIPP, we can define happiness as experiencing Self-expansion.


FIPP used on different magnitudes of a process

I previously noted that, when examining happiness, we have to keep the aspect of time within view: happiness is either manifested for a short time (so to say, as an impulse) or is manifested as an elongated period (as a mental state). This division does not invalidate the previous definition (happiness = experiencing Self-Expansion) as the fact that we can apply the model of FIPP on different levels and different complexities of phenomena also means that it describes things of different temporal courses. For example, when someone learns how to furnish his room (or his office, his workbench, his computer’s file system) then the new concept (a collection of ordering principles) is, in itself, the solving of a problem. However, during the execution, new partial problems occur (I cannot connect two cables, a cabinet does not fit, etc.). On the level of schemata, these partial problems are the ‘children’ schemata of the conception established by deduction from higher-level schemata. But these partial problems can include other problems as well (the two cables can finally be connected, but the socket of one of them is slightly deformed; finally there is space for the cabinet, but is it not level). The solving of these partial-partial-problems' solution are also showing the FIPP-pattern, just like the discovery of the conception. So, it causes Self-expansion as well, which is equal to little pleasures (pleasure as short-term happiness).

As we have seen before, schemata do not only have constituent parts (children-schemata)), but they themselves are parts of something. Together with other schemata, they make a higher-level schema. In our case, the room we furnished with our conception serves our comfort, improves our efficiency and altogether serves to achieve our goals. Thus, they contribute to a happiness that manifests itself over the longer term. If we continue the list, we can find what is common in the nature of pleasure and happiness: since achieving our goals, being better at our jobs eventually helps us to reach the final goal of lives and contributes to whether, overall, we live a happy life or not.

The only question remaining is: what possibilities do we have in determining the final goal of our lives? Before answering this question, we have to examine whether there has to be a final goal of our lives at all. Do we overcomplicate things, or place an unnecessary load on ourselves by setting up goals? Because it can also be – and this leads us to the question of freedom – that the goal hinders us. (As an example of the hindering nature of goals, if my goal is to lose weight, then I cannot eat whatever and however much I want.).

51.1  Freedom

Western cultures have been determined over the ages by the question (for example, existentialism, and the work of Camus, Sartre et al): which one is more important; freedom or happiness? From the moment we commit to something we are no longer free (if we ever were). And this something can be the final goal as well. So, if we have a goal, we cannot do anything and everything we want to any more; we are no longer free. The inverse of this logic follows: we should not have goals so that we can preserve our freedom.

Advertisement

This article, and many others, is now available in print.
The book, 'Self-expansion', contains a generalized version of FIPP not available on psy2.org

Buy it on Lulu.Review copies are available for academics upon e-mail requestBuy it on Lulu.

Register and download the e-book for free!

From another viewpoint, people who lack the competency of controlling the Environment are not free. Since the Environment controls him, he cannot do what he wants, and so he is not free.

Let us translate the above two thoughts into the language of FIPP:

  • ”if we have a goal it means we are not free” means that, as soon as there is an Environment in front of the Self (which in addition grows), then our Self narrows. Accordingly, being not-free is the same as being Self-narrowed?
  • If we cannot control our Environment, then our Self is smaller than the Environment, so we are Self-narrowed. Did we reach the same conclusion, that the lack of freedom is Self-narrowing?

From all of this (if Self-Narrowed state is due to the missing freedom) we can draw the conclusion that the Self-expanded state is nothing other than freedom. This is supported by a visual example as well: birds are the symbol of freedom in many cultures, as living in the air enables movement in all three dimensions. If we imagine the Self of a bird in the air, it is without boundaries, just like the air, since wherever there is air it can fly there. (Please note, that a bird by knowing how to fly, can control the air around him)

51.2  The relationship of freedom and happiness

Is it not contradictory to say that Self-expansion is happiness first and then saying it is freedom? Moreover, we have also stated that these two are incompatible…

The free person loses his freedom and becomes happy when he finds the goal that suits him. While he works on achieving his goal, he advances the Self-expansion which will come to him, and which can make him happy. Although it is possible that he endures a deal of frustration on the way to the goal, knowing he is on the right way makes him happy. That is, if he knows. As approaching the goal also has a pattern described in FIPP, when we meet difficulties, we become uncertain whether we are really on the right path, and whether we really want that goal. (For example, when sportsmen train daily to win the Olympics, which occur just once every four years, and have to daily persuade themselves that it is a goal worth working hard for.)

If we do not commit to anything, in order to selfishly preserve our freedom, paradoxically our freedom loses its value. In other words, the value of freedom manifests itself when we give it up; until that point, it is seemingly worthless. Let us again look at birds. Try not to imagine an average bird, but rather one which strives for absolute freedom that it wants to preserve forever; its ability to fly in all directions. If it starts flying to a direction (e.g. horizontally in a valley) a hillside will eventually be in its way. At this point, it might turn back to where it still has space; that may be the exact place where it came from. The more it fears its freedom the faster it will turn back, until it will go around in circles. Sooner or later, it will starve in the air. However, despite freedom being important to the bird, it will not discover an exit from the valley through which he could have flown out and over an ocean (in psychological terms: he is afraid of exploration).

To summarize: if we do not commit and do not choose an aim, although freedom remains, the lack of a goal will also result in never reaching anything new or attaining new competencies. Not having a goal and not struggling to reach a goal keeps us away exactly from that thing why we did not want to lose our freedom. If you do not choose a goal simply to stay Self-expanded – to be free – you miss the opportunity to expand your Self by choosing a goal and reaching it. (This Self-expansion is greater even than that which comes from freedom.)

51.3  Enlightenment as a goal

According to FIPP, enlightenment is the condition in which we reach the final and maximum extent of our Selves. In the Enlightenment article we described in detail that it is not attainable by everybody, since our innate abilities play an important rôle in whether it is it possible that a schema emerges which integrates everything.

Therefore, although in many cultures it appears black-and-white as a final goal, dangling Enlightenment before the masses is futile. On the other hand, enlightenment is not something that can be forced: it is possible to develop in certain fields, which may establish a one-level-higher schema and connect the well-known fields with others, but we cannot really want it. My belief in this is supported by wanting (the act of wanting something), which is a Self-narrowing procedure: it is the concentration upon something. Also, enlightenment requires giving up the boundaries of the Self or, as previously mentioned, it requires admitting that we are controlled by laws and cannot counteract them. Perhaps enlightenment requires a combination of knowledge and humility: here, humility is taken to mean not wishing to increase the size of our selves any more, nor to think that the boundaries of our Selves are important, nor that differentiating us from the Environment is important.

The last argument that is against choosing enlightenment as an absolute goal, is that even FIPP can provide a limited explanation for the phenomenon, primarily focusing on cognitive processes and the relationship of Self and Environment. However, the phenomenon has an emotional level that we have not touched upon so far, one that I cannot estimate the importance of, or determine exactly what happens in it. As emotions are also extremely important, it might require a totally different approach.

52.  Objects of life – which ways lead to enlightenment?

After this speculation on freedom, we can exclude freedom as a purpose of our life, as we have to choose a goal for ourselves. Furthermore, we have seen instances of enlightenment as, initially, an overly aspirational goal. So, let us now review what other truly satisfying objects of life are available to people which can bring us closer to enlightenment and a happy conclusion of our lives.

Click image to enlarge
Different paths to reach the enlightment (the top of the mountain)

There is a commonplace answer to the question in the title: “So many people, so many ways”; but that is only partly true! (As we have seen in the Enlightenment article). Just as a mountain can be climbed from different directions, there are different ways of obtaining happiness. Though we can draw an endless number of paths on the mountain, the mountain has sides. Similarly, the pathways to happiness belong together according to their nature: we can distinguish religion, science, art and society as the main areas which help us prosper in life.

It has been known since Freud that people’s thinking is saturated with sex. It is also not a new discovery that the main goal of sex is pleasure. This is, therefore, the first topic we shall examine closely.

52.1  Happiness by endless sex

If people were animals, the sole object of their lives (so the condition of happiness at the same time) would be to give their genetic material to as many successors as possible. If it is a male, he should spread his seed indiscriminately and fertilize as many females as possible. In females, they should choose the healthiest male and give birth to a successor every year.

So far, that is the oversimplified, lay interpretation of evolution. A little more complicated, but still a particularly biological definition of the purpose of life, is that both genders strive to ensure that their successors survive and pass their genes on with the highest probability (cf. selfish gene theory). Since resources are limited, people would have to hinder the spreading of competing genes, and give preference to relatives. So aggression towards others (and the successors of others) would appear.

That evolutionary fact, that the chance of survival of certain genes is greater if the individual stays within the group makes the issue more complicated: beyond simple sex and reproductive activity the man has to deal with a more a complex issue: his relation to other people, the society, and co-operation within it. So, no path leads to happiness from mere generational and nurturing effects.

A distorted version – unsuccessfully implemented in society – of the aim inherent in biological drives, is the sex-centered lifestyle propagated by Mr. Heffner (founder of Playboy magazine) and the hippies. Orgasm is Self-expansion, and it would be logical to make it permanent by promiscuity, thus reaching a state of happiness. Even if we disregard the ethics of thousands of years, we can see that people do not get “stuck” in permanent sex, even without ethics, as orgasm is a Self-expansion that runs down quite quickly. As we experience the larger and longer Self-expansion of e.g. creation, a permanent state of orgasm will not seem to be particularly attractive as an object of life.

In activities which society respects at different levels, the height of those levels is in direct proportion to the strength and longevity of Self-expansion. And, fortunately, everything is in its place: the higher the level the activity is, the more social value it carries e.g. any form of science is incomparably more valuable to mankind than any sexual act. Perhaps there is just one position that does not support the notion that the higher the level the act is, the greater its value and the Self-expansion it causes, and that is Buddhism. From a European perspective, the pursuit of Buddhism seems more selfish than socially valuable, despite it being seen as, notionally, a religion of a higher level. This is because Buddhism only focuses on the individual by making the increase of Self-expansion the goal, not just a by-product. And this Self-expansion occurs by – in one way or another – disregarding social activities as by-products.

Another socially more valuable but still sex related topic: the question of successors. Those who are childless perhaps did not experience yet: children can be the source of enormous Self-expansion, but can also cause many Self-narrowings. Watching our children causes Self-expansion. But the road to it is not self-evidently a series of Self-expansions. Childbirth is the transcendent event for many people; it causes huge Self-expansion (without this women would face serious difficulties when enduring the pain of birth). But it is temporary, not a permanent, condition.

Let us not pass on without a summary: hopefully the foregoing was sufficient to see that sex and creating children do not of themselves lead to happiness. We can ascertain that these basic connections (according to which sex leads to Self-expansion as does having a child) are deeply encoded in people, and provide an intense drive for them. We can also state that, the smaller the chance someone has of reaching a higher-level Self-expansion, the more he focuses on those Self-expansions that are biologically available to everyone.

52.2  Happiness in religions

Let us move on to the “mountainside”, the closest relation to Self-expansion itself: religion.

Not having been at the birth of the great religions, we cannot state the reason why they were established. If we think in a very material way (and accept the model of FIPP), we can imagine the situation the following way: people lived their lives and had Self-expansions as and when they realized certain successes, they started to name these phenomena that were in connection with Self-expansion, talked about them to each other, until finally they had to attribute these strange feelings to something. Probably that was the time when they established the concept of transcendence or gods as the source of Self-expansion. They could then explain the event of Self-expansion only by assuming that there is something, beyond the physical realm, with which they were connected.

According to Jewish-Christian religiosity, man consists of two parts: the divine part (the soul) and the physical part (the body). If it is the physical part that shows change during life, we can see it. If it is the mental part, then we experience the phenomena what we call Self-expansion resp. Self-narrowing. We can look on all of this from an inverted, cause-and-effect viewpoint, as religion teaches it: the Lord gave us the ability of Self-expansion (e.g. we can pray), so that we can experience our divine part and do not forget about or ignore it. One way or another, Self-expansion connects with the transcendent, which parallels the process during Self-expansion when our Selves merge with the Environment, which is the world itself.

A teacher once told me that religions were born only in places where there were mountains. His explanation for this was that there is something in mountains that urges people to engage in transcendence.

I believe it is something else. If someone climbs a mountain, the scene in front of his eyes is a vast Environment, which he can also experience as a whole (nature) of which he is a part. For example, if he climbs to a familiar place, the valley he looks down on is on harmony, and he is safe: when he looks down on his village or recognizes the island in front of him he will have Self-expansion. Of course, if he is hanging on by his fingernails to the edge of a rock, that will more likely cause Self-narrowing.

So, where there is a mountain that can be climbed and by looking around a Self-expansion can be experienced. In addition, the new perspective can provide us with realizations of new connections so enhancing this Self-expansion. With the help of this rare perspective, which puts things into a different context, and provides a better visual representation of the proportions of man and nature, it is then easier to imagine a god who sees everything from above (it is the characteristic of god in almost every culture that he is somewhere above us).

My teacher could be right about a mountain-religion connection, but with the help of FIPP we can explain the same connection on a deeper and more intuitive level.

Buddhism

Although I do not have a deep knowledge of Buddhism, I shall begin with this religion as its declared aim is to reach a condition in which the soul achieves Nirvana, a state of permanent happiness. The road to that is Enlightenment, which can be reached with meditation, prayer, yoga &c. It wastes no time on gods and afterlife, but purposefully seeks to establish the top cognitive schema that can both explain the whole world and answer all questions.

Correct, straight speaking. I do not know the minutiae of the religion, but imagine that they ‘attack’ from the physical side of the “mountain”: so Self-expansion can be exerted by auto-hypnosis and relaxation; followers of this religion become adept at these techniques. The body is complex, so its mysteries have to be revealed before we can control it. That requires huge energies and a lot of time (cf. how much time is required to be able to perform yoga techniques at a ‘professional’ level).

Buddhism emphasizes the importance of getting rid of desires (and thus borders -- see Aggression article). It seems to me that Nirvana is the place where people can rid themselves of desire, and so have nothing bonding them to earthly things. How does this enter our picture? Why would reaching Nirvana, and ridding ourselves of desires, be good for us? Because every physical thing we desire can cause Self-narrowing, and that causes discomfort: we work for it until we attain it, we narrow our Selves to achieve it and to make it a part of our Selves. Then, when it is actually ours, we begin to worry that we will lose it, and that leads to new Self-narrowing. Only at the moment of obtaining do we obtain pleasure, even if ‘it’ is repeatedly obtained (for example, seeing our children day-by-day or receiving our salary regularly each month). There is no Self-expansion without Self-narrowing except when we rid ourselves of all desires and unify with the Universe; we reach Nirvana. (Although it is a big joy to have a wife, children, a house, we can never be calm, as we always have to be afraid of something in connection with them: our wife leaves us, children get sick or become lost, our house burns down… Moreover we need new, more, better: bigger house, more expensive car &c. It is conceivable that this hinders achieving a Self-expanded state.)

Let us detour to the issue of economics as a variation of the route to happiness.

Children know that wealth is relative: according to our needs, we can feel we are immensely rich with just marbles in our hands in childhood, or in adulthood even the twentieth million dollar may not be enough to assuage or quest for wealth. I translate this as: our Environment is determined by our Selves, the question is…what is important to us at a given moment: marbles or money? Environment tries to manipulate the Self (this happens in advertisements, when items appear of which we have never thought before, or when an unnecessary ‘essential’ breaks into our field of vision), and the Self does not have perfect control over what it considers to be the Environment.

There are then two extremes of feeling rich:

  • we get everything we need
  • we decrease our needs to zero.

Buddhism tends to the latter. I also tend to a decrease in our needs, to be happy about everything we obtain as bonuses for using our abilities.

Judaism

The principal concept of Judaism is that of one God, and this God gave the Torah letter by letter (its Christian equivalent is the Old Testament), and if we read it attentively and thoroughly we can answer every question (in connection with society and behavior). Since these answers come from God, they have absolute validity, and can be considered as laws. (For example, “you shall not murder” is one of these absolute commands).

The function of the laws and an everyday relationship with the Torah can be imagined as branches that are points of decision in a person’s life (beginning from what to do when I wake up, to how to behave towards my enemies). Torah and unwritten tradition is nothing else than a system of connections hidden in a limited amount of information that helps us at these branches, from which we can obtain the right answer at every decision point.

Jewish people who are religious live well if they make the right decisions. Of course, the Torah cannot be there at every single move they make, that is why there are superior commands (laws), which more or less successfully give the right answer to a particular situation.

Religious Jewish people believe that, if someone acts according to the laws, that he then acts according to the will of God, by which he, so to speak, unites with God. A way exaggerated we can say, believing in the laws make people behave rather like hypnotized people who blindly trust the hypnotist and follow his commands. Pleasure comes from the ability of following his orders and thus merging with him. In this case, the hypnotist is the most perfect thing: God. We do not have to think about what we want to do in a situation, but we have to understand what God told us precisely in order to be able to execute it. Knowing that someone who keeps to the laws of God is on the right track causes Self-expansion, as the Self merges with the Environment, which is nothing other than God. The more successfully someone keeps the laws, as he becomes more used to them and understands their common essence, the more he begins to understand the “will” of God, and so unifies with him.

The methods of merging the individual and God are greatly emphasized in religion: this goal is supported by short prayers, which people are obliged to relate virtually at every repeated event (waking, eating, traveling etc.). The rôle of prayer is to constantly remind people that everything is due to God. It is a type of auto-conditioning: people expand their Selves with a force voluntarily chosen every time to connect to the Jewish Environment that symbolizes God.

In Judaism, the power of the community plays an important rôle: while the laws and prayers regulate the relation to transcendence, this is real. The community plays the rôle of the social Environment, the place where people live their lives. Nursing the relationship with the religious Jewish community (on Sabbath dinners, feasts, in the synagogue etc.) establishes a connection that helps the merger of the Self and the social Environment. The interest in the connection is that it does not only have an effect on the present. By remembering, with the help of feasts and rituals, it provides the people with the feeling of being a part of a family/community with a glorious and long past, that many other people feel the same way, and that this connection is unconditional and exists regardless of our will (on a quasi-genetic basis). This dissolution in the past (in time) and in the world (in space) causes Self-expansion and, at the same time, it satisfies the need of defining our selves (our identity).

Another important element of Judaism is continual learning: the deepest possible knowledge and interpretation of the Torah. Discovering the connection hidden in the text causes (like problem-solving in general) Self-expansion. Moreover, it also means – since it is a divine text – that the connections of absolute laws about the relationship of God and people are revealed.

Christianity

Jesus (who himself had been raised according to Jewish laws) brought something new – compared with Judaism – in the sense that he directed the attention from the outer level (discernible, phenomenological) to the inner (so to say, cognitive) processes. The change was that the priority of the acts were replaced by the equality of acts, thoughts and intentions. In tandem with this he made a new law (a high level schema): Matthew 19:19 – “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself”.

Jesus did not want to change the basic teaching of Judaism, only he thought that caring too much about the laws focuses our attention on appearance too much, since the laws cannot do anything with the invisible, inner processes. The regulation of the act granted the harmonic functioning of the society and the unity of the nation for the Jewish people, so it fitted the aim perfectly. However, the regulation on the level of thought directly affects the Self, so co-ordination of larger masses became possible (cf. the spreading of Christianity, evangelization). The acts and the inner world are independent of each other, because action does not influence the size of the Self. The religious Jews act for the mental representation of their acts, not necessarily for the representations of the consequences: (for example, we can practice charity without feeling anything in common with the person we help, but we can experience the pleasure of fulfilling our obligation to practice charity).

Based on this, we can consider the teaching of Christ as if Jesus had commanded: be Self-expanded in decision-making situations. If you do so, you will unite with God (the Environment), or, as your Self expands, it can reach the condition of uniting with the Environment (go to heaven cf. Enlightenment).

Let us understand this sequence of ideas through an example: the person walking in front of you drops some money on the ground. What do you do?

  • Judaism precisely controls the situation, saying word by word what has to be done. You have nothing to do but execute it. After doing it (reluctantly, or with pleasure) you feel that you kept the command, you acted in accordance with the laws of the world, therefore you became closer to God (you experienced Self-expansion).
  • Jesus does not give you a straight answer, even if he explains in a parable a mechanism that works in similar situations. He says (according to my interpretation): "Make your decisions in order to expand your Self!". This can mean many things:
    • if you keep to the main teaching (so you love your neighbor who walks ahead of you as yourself) then you do what would make you happy: to get back what is yours. Pick it up and hand it over! Here, Self-expansion means: your Self unites with the person who walks ahead of you (who is your Environment at that moment) and you feel what he feels, so you will be happy too when he gets back what is his. Maybe Jewish teaching teaches the same command.
    • but if you have more information in connection with the situation e.g. you have a hunch that the person who walks ahead of you has stolen the money, or that he has a lot of it and, as others are hungry, should give it to them. You take it and give it to the hungry and say it was given by the rich-evil man. It is not you who gave it to them, but the rich man. Here, Self-expansion postulates a bigger Environment: now, not only the people who walk ahead of you are a part of it (him as well) but others too (the hungry). And in that Environment, you achieve harmony according to your best knowledge and regardless of your selfishness: you give it to those who need it more, but you do not ‘profit’ from it. You do not feel that you acted correctly because money was given to the hungry. No, you did not give the money, rather the rich-evil person did. You just put things in their places in the Environment, which accidentally reached the ‘wrong’ place. You could also say that God obtained the money from the rich-evil man’s pocket and then dropped it on the ground, so that you could give it to the hungry. It is important that, in the act of “giving-harmony-to-the-environment”, your Self retreats into the background, which then guarantees an unselfish, Self-expanded decision.

Advertisement

This article, and many others, is now available in print.
The book, 'Self-expansion', contains a generalized version of FIPP not available on psy2.org

Buy it on Lulu.Review copies are available for academics upon e-mail requestBuy it on Lulu.

Register and download the e-book for free!

This ‘giving-harmony-to-the-environment’ phenomenon was mentioned in the introduction as laws e.g. helping the growth of entropy. The money was not distributed evenly (the rich had more, the hungry had less), and this was against the growth of entropy. In that the money reached the poor, the entropy of the money increased, thus events took place in unison with the laws of nature. Of course, this parallel between entropy and the distribution of money is a bit too optimistic, but we can illustrate with such visual examples that there are laws of society and nature, which we can only oppose temporarily. Going against them (or more precisely wanting-to-go-against-them) hinders reaching happiness. In Judaism, it is declared, even more evidently, that the laws of God which had to be kept are, at the same time, the laws of nature. As in Buddhism, it is the disintegration of the desires, the dissolution of borders, that results in the final calming and unifing with nature.

52.3  Happiness by performance

A friend gave the following reason for withdrawing from the world at the age of 30 and to begin living an ascetic, religious life, despite his successes in everyday life: “Let’s assume that I work to make enough money to be able to marry the kind of woman I want. So far so good. I buy a house and a car. I marry a beautiful woman and we have children. Then we will need a bigger house because the kids grow up, and a bigger car. I work to be able to buy those. I bought them. So what? My wife loses her youthful attraction after a few years, and the children leave the house…”

That is how a person without religion thinks. For him, only the results of the physical world are conceivable, as only those ‘exist’. Since he is a man, giving birth to successors does not excite his curiosity that much. Fortunately, despite the many mistakes of this friend, there is something essential about his realization: life has to have a purpose, because performance in itself (e.g. making money) does not lead to a constant happiness. Take the example of first-class sportsmen: if a single outstanding performance caused satisfaction or happiness in the long run, then every Olympic champion and world champion would retire the day following that performance. And in everyday, economic life, anyone who earned their first 10 million euros would retire from their job.

So people have to have a purpose to their lives. Moreover, a purpose of itself is not enough: we have to make a story around it so that we can explain how we chose that exact aim and provide a more precise framework for that aim. (“I work until I am rich” is the aim. But when do I achieve ‘wealth’? When I have a 1 million euro fortune, or when my income – without working – is 4000 euros a month? Why do I pass as rich from that point?) As an analogy of the expression “narrative” in philosophy, I call this personal-narrative. These personal narratives might have the same structure as the religions, but we can discover one of these on our own.

52.4  Goals and personal-narratives

Different types of self-narrative are known by everyone. If we look at a newspaper kiosk we can read celebrity news about people that are envied. Some of these people have nothing else to do than trying to figure out how to make their life happier. The emphasis in choosing the right way is on their talent and abilities. Common to every solution is their aim of merging with the Environment

  • either by way of religion (Madonna by the cabala, Richard Gere by Buddhism, Cruise and Travolta by scientology)
  • or by their individual solutions (Princess Diana and Bono by their charity works, Bill Gates with his charitable expenditure of billions of dollars). Let us take a closer look at these.

Altruism as an object of life

Altruism would assuredly win any vote on the nicest human characteristic, at least according to our present value system. Its definition: doing something which serves the interests of an individual or a group even if it is against our own interest. Its archetype is Mother Teresa, who helped so many of those in need that she was awarded a Nobel prize. At first sight it seems inexplicable why would someone give anything to strangers, or dispense the money he or she has gained with hard work, but it is evolutionarily reasonable. The function of the mechanism is discussed in detail in the Altruism article, where we explain the function as well. For those who have not read it, a brief summary.

When we give money to a beggar or otherwise help someone, we feel good about that. Psychology describes the phenomenon, but the explanation of the underlying process is not easy, as so far it can only be explained by empathy. According to this, we reward ourselves through seeing and experiencing the other person’s pleasure (relieved situation). According to FIPP, it is about dissolving the border of the Self, and so letting the Environment in and merging with it. We therefore act by looking at the common profile of the Self and the Environment. The merging of the Environment with the Self can be seen as Self-expansion. And it is known that Self-expansion provides a positive experience. The fact that this also happens according to the pattern of FIPP is supported by the dead point before it, when we hesitate and consider before doing something against ourselves. (The archetypal story of this hesitation is when Jesus decided to die for the good of mankind, and the dead point before that was his last night in the Garden of Gethsemane, when he had his last chance to escape. Instead, he waited for the soldiers to find him, despite knowing the suffering awaiting him.)

Helping others (supplying food to the hungry in Africa, caring for the sick etc.) is a pro-social activity, but the efficiency of the execution is often questionable. Although the goal is pure, the way it is realized often takes matters in the wrong direction (e.g. the leader of a tribe takes all of the supplies; or unsuccessful surgery caused by malpractice) or cancels the efforts. That is why help does not have a top-form that is the most valuable, but instead has many variations according with what is considered to be the most effective and by whom. Who and how we can help also depends upon our Environment: the doctor who heals neighbors helps in one way, UN employees or charity people help another, while voluntary helpers, dedicated politicians or government advisors help in others. There are people who teach in African villages, because that is what they can do, and there are people who are cavers or first-aiders who help at disaster areas.

It is common that the saved person, the healed patient and the hungry give an enormous experience to the people who help. However, it takes great naiveté not to notice that, besides this Self-expansion, there are a lot of irritating circumstances (stealing, mistakes, bad organization) which cause Self-narrowing to the helpers. Unfortunately, there will always be suffering in the world; the realization of this leads to mental exhaustion in many altruistic people. Since the fight against problems never stops, altruism in itself does not give us the complete happiness, as it is like a drug: the more we help, the more we want to help, and the more trouble we see and experience.

Scientific research and artistic creation

We mentioned previously that mankind can be helped on many levels dependent upon the abilities of its people. A special case is of discoveries, inventions, arts and sciences. I consider these matters special as, particularly if they are pursued by people of talent, they are all self-rewarding. The Self-expansion accompanying the establishment of a new cognitive schema can maintain creativity independently of any physical circumstances: for example, money; how many starving poets/painters/inventors, such as Van Gogh, have there been?

Constant creation and sharing the new cognitive schemata would theoretically be a good solution for finding a happy life, as discoveries and works of art help people to realize and understand the laws of the world. This helps us all to live in harmony with the world. However, this path is not given to everyone as a possibility, because some lack the required abilities. Individual differences play an important rôle in the fields of personality, ability and self-estimation. It does not matter if someone has wonderful images or thoughts in his head if they cannot be realized as his skills are all manual, or cannot think rationally, or is too impatient, to work out the details properly. Individual differences play an even bigger rôle in sharing the cognitive schemata, when personality can determine how much others accept his intellectual products (think of the strange personality of Dali or Warhol, or those inventors with poor communicational skills or introverted personalities), or how he deals with the (often negative) reflection of the social Environment.

Moreover, doubt always accompanies creation, and doubt is Self-narrowing. Is what I have done nice? True? Correct? If it is, is it something new (have I given mankind anything new by this)? Could I have done the same thing better? These questions are the great enemies of artists and scientists. If someone is talented, and the age in which he lives understands him, his personality remains healthy and he reaches happiness on this path. That is why I believe it probable that Picasso or Einstein were happy.

Mental health and creation is not a simple issue. In particular art – and science – heals, if someone connects to reality through these, if for nothing other than the frequent Self-expansion, which dissolve the tensions and contradictions between the cognitive schemata within the Self. However, the brains of very talented people are rarely coupled with competencies that enable living with ‘average’ people to be smooth. Even if it were, the growth of the Self, which subsists on research/creation, makes living together difficult. (If half of the scientific or artistic community considers someone as a unique talent, there is a chance that after a while he believes that helping his wife with the housework is a waste of time and beneath him). It is not only a question of will and situation which might generate serious friction between the researcher/artist and his environment: he often pays for his talent with disadvantages in other fields. How could he assure harmonic, balanced development in all fields if there is a favorite field (that in which he is talented) as the strong attractive force, the pursuit of which rewards him more than anything else does. (It is hard to imagine that Einstein would have been happy to go to cookery classes if he had had the possibility to solve physics exercises instead).

Children and grandchildren

Women have a great advantage in achieving happiness: their ability to give birth, and what comes of that, their instinctive attraction to children. Moreover, society supports them in this activity, since there is no other group of people that would value investing so much in their successors. The fact that they are already halfway along the route designated by biology guarantees them 50% happiness. Of course, personality plays a rôle here as well: are they capable of loving their child, do they build good relationships with them, do they practice good educational techniques?

However, guaranteed Self-expansion is still there for them, which they feel when they look on the children playing, and later their grandchildren. They feel that their blood flows in their veins, and they experience the identical existence of them and the family and it makes them happy. Of course, this is not eternal either, since children and grandchildren grow up, there are conflicts etc. Still, for many women, the path to happiness is nothing but the greatest possible number of children with the best possible upbringing and the connection with them, in other words the unity of family.

There is only one thing against the automatic happiness of women who are capable of giving birth and bringing up their children: there is, unfortunately for them, there is also an animus within them which desires other kinds of pleasures as well.

Eternal competition (oil billionaires)

America culture, but also Anglo-Saxon in general, does not allow slacking: there is an underlying feeling that those who stop are lost. So what often happens is going to the extreme: forcing competition and constant fighting.

Multi-billionaire oil moguls were asked how they can still be motivated to increase their wealth? We should understand that getting rich from oil did not require a special talent in 20th-century America, unlike e.g. the creation, building up and management of a multi-national corporation. Some fortunate people were in the right place at the right time and fighting others for control of oil fields (similar to gold mining). So, oil moguls knew each other, and fought for their millions competing with each other. It is not about the money in the long term: money is only a measure of their skill and success, like centimeters in long jumping.

Of course, this way of measuring somebody’s skills by counting how much he is earning is a tendency at most of who cannot stop making money after a point.

I believe that very rich people are:

  • either simply lucky, like lottery winners (e.g. he establishes a firm, which stands on its own feet after a while and makes a fortune. He keeps his shares but does not have to do anything more)
  • are born competitors. I do not want to upset them by saying that their personalities are injured, but it is something like that. If someone cannot give up making money and worries even after a certain level of fortune has been reached, it would seem that he is running from something:
    • either because he is good at nothing else (whatever else he would do, the slower progress in that field would frustrate them, and his personality is not mature enough to deal with failure). It makes him a specialist in a narrow field with no other interests, and he has a decreased chance of finding peace of mind.
    • or because he finds pleasure only in that. His brain is constructed in such way that he can answer problems which come up in a particular market or industry, or he is a talented manager, so he generates a constant aha-experience by solving problems. From this viewpoint, it is similar to the category of the artist/scientist described earlier.
    • either because he runs away from a problem (it can be the wife, children, a problem in childhood etc.): he is successful in his work, and he is too lazy to struggle in other fields because he is not successful there, or it directly injures him.
    • or he gives something to the world which is really needed. And he is the only one who can provide that (or that well). In this case, the person can be happy if he does not measure himself by the amount of money (as in something which is independent from his Self or something that symbolizes only a part of him), but in more human things: how many people his firm provides jobs for, how many people are happier every day for obtaining his products etc.

The problem with money and constant competition is that society supports this attitude, thus spawning very specialist people who are blinkered to other areas. Many societies demand altruism and contribution as opposites in a healthy way. Both direct the attention of rich people to others and compensate society for the supposed loss that the rich obtain unjustly on a social level (e.g. money from avoiding paying taxes, profits from arms manufacturing or gambling etc.). Obeying this pressure takes our ‘poor’ billionaire out of the treadmill of everyday life. An alternative contribution is when people who become rich engage in politics: this is theoretically another form of altruism (or should be) as it is a form of acting for the common good.

Traveling: escaping from seeing the end

In many biographies we can find travel as a hobby, and we can find many people who have had once-in-a-lifetime experiences which took place on a journey. What was so unique about those journeys is a different issue: the quality of the accommodation and food, the adventures or the landscape, perhaps something to do with the people or culture. If someone wanted to learn about landscapes and the shape of nature, theoretically he would not even have to leave his home. He could simply switch on the Travel Channel, or surf Google Earth. I can think of two reasons for travel which cannot be easily substituted for with a surrogate:

  • if someone feels bad in the culture where he lives and wants to move
  • if he needs to have new stimuli all of the time.

If someone travels to the same country e.g. the Seychelles, and regularly, or obsessively looks for a place where he feels good, that is most often due to the structure of his brain not fitting in with the culture he lives in (exceptions are when someone travels because of sport or business). If we believed in reincarnation, we could say, for example, that the soul of a person from the Seychelles is reborn in the body of that regular visitor, and that is why he returns again and again to the islands.

If we consider the time and energy spent on travel, we can see that people make serious efforts to obtain something in return. What is the pleasure or satisfaction provided by a journey? Every culture has a particular logic and a particular value system, similar to that we mentioned in connection with the brain: life is organized differently in an Arabic country (time, space, human relationships etc.) as compared with, say, German culture. However, the way we look at the world, genetically or family-wise, and the order in which we feel good, is a faculty that does not necessarily fit the geological territory he was born in. For example, if somebody is slow because of his hormonal function and nervous system, but he was born in Manhattan, he feels much more at home in a slow, sleepy Mediterranean town, where nobody is in a hurry. The same applies to human relationships: if a direct, sociable person is born in a cold, Northern country, he will have a series of Self-expansions if he moves amongst people (e.g. in Greece) who are happy with strangers and trust them without question. The opposite can be true as well: if a Greek person has more vulnerable self-boundaries, perhaps he would rather live in a place where nobody wants to interfere in his life, and people, in general, keep a greater distance (e.g. Sweden).

In these cases, things naturally happen in a way convenient for the person who sees again and again that life can be lived differently (exactly the way he wants) from what he is used to; this will lead to unspoken and unconscious Self-Expansions. All he feels is that everything is in its place. Which is of course untrue, as there is no culture that would fit someone perfectly, but things will on the surface, work smoothly (what a tourist sees). When someone returns to a place regularly, it means that the matching of the person and the culture goes deeper than the surface.

The opposite of Self-expansion provided by engaging with the culture are the Self-narrowings we feel before the journey: packing things, planning the route, the inconvenience which comes with travel itself (e.g. waiting at the airport, long journeys etc.). Arriving and acclimatizing to a new place are signs of long-lasting Self-expansion. During these occasions we expand our minds almost compulsively at the beginning (e.g. when we have to adapt to the local customs; in Italy, shops close during the afternoon), then after awhile we expand our minds purposefully to embrace the new Environment (and we begin to adapt), for that is why we go there. The new stimuli inundate us, new cognitive schemata are established, people begin to understand the local culture at their own level, thus they are enlightened. We recognize items, styles, scenery we have seen on photographs, and they fall into their places (e.g. Santorini in blue-and-white, Arabic calligraphy, Arabs in dressed in robes etc.) and all of these things cause Self-expansion. Tourism from this point of view is a journey with Self-expansion: we jump from obviousness to obviousness, then we return home. That is why it is so horrible when something bad happens (e.g. someone is robbed or kidnapped etc.), as that deters us from permanent Self-expansion.

Based on the above, it can be seen that it is a little artificial Self-expansion which we bought, which immediately raises a question: why do we spend money on travel? Staying at home means confronting our real lives that we might live without goals. Moreover, and more frightening, is that we realize that our lives are meaningless. Collecting experiences endlessly during a journey is like collecting money: having more experiences or money does not enrich our personality. What is worse (although the photographic and video industries are built upon it) is that the experiences (cognitive schemata established during the journey) are very difficult to share. It does not matter that I see a thousand different cultures, besides a couple of colorful stories and some well-taken photographs it is all mine. Still, Self-expansion is complete if we can share the new cognitive schemata (cf. accounts of experiences, travel films). So what remains is getting home, a Self-narrowing period at home again, and the hope that we can hold on until the trip.

One last argument for the illusory nature of this solution: I wonder whether Einstein traveled using the money he earned from his work and awards? Whether Mother Teresa was excited when she traveled? Did Picasso need to spend holidays in exotic places? There are people who develop their world – and enrich themselves – inside by giving to others. Others try to steal the beauty of the world using their sight or camera, but it does not actually penetrate them. They will not be wiser or more open and, above all, they cannot give to others. I wonder whether we would be happier if we gave the price of a holiday on the Seychelles to a poor family?

This is not to say that I dislike travel: I enjoy it. The difference that I want to emphasize is that there is travel which enriches our personalities, and travel that provides short-term experiences that you quickly forget.

Endless acquisition of knowledge

Following the downbeat conclusion of the section on travel...

Firstly, we have to differentiate the types of endless acquisition of knowledge:

  • autotelic
  • seemingly autotelic but engaged in God (see studying Torah in Judaism)
  • integrative acquisition of knowledge with an aim of publication

After having read my critics, there is seemingly an ethical aspect anticipating that only the first (autotelic) of the above list does not lead to true happiness, due to it not giving anything to anyone. Since we examined ‘seemingly autotelic’ in the section on Judaism, let us examine the other two.

Advertisement

This article, and many others, is now available in print.
The book, 'Self-expansion', contains a generalized version of FIPP not available on psy2.org

Buy it on Lulu.Review copies are available for academics upon e-mail requestBuy it on Lulu.

Register and download the e-book for free!

Autotelic acquisition of knowledge

Due to its distinctly intellectual nature, it is universally respected. Someone who constantly reads has a certain standing in European society (perhaps this originates in its positive judgement in Judaism, where lifelong learning is the most valuable activity) and it means a general moral appreciation. We could say that until somebody reads he does – perhaps cannot – hurt others. Of course, we usually consider reading as a neutral activity, since people who only read take that time away from something perhaps more useful. He could use the same time with helping others, or engaging in other pro-social activities. The positive judgement also comes from the fact that these people can, while socializing, flaunt both their education and being well-informed.

It may be a harsh judgment, but one who reads a great deal seems to do so only because nothing assembles to him: he is engaged in acquiring information, rather than engaging in actual understanding, which he could do so by being selective with, and limiting the number of, his choice of books on a particular subject. Another motivation for chronic reading can be a strongly introverted nature: reading accompanies loneliness; there are no rules for propriety and dress, as only the person and the book are together. This gives great freedom, but also a good reason, or excuse, for avoiding people.

Many people, upon finishing a book or article, immediately forget what they have just read. Others are incapable of integrating what they read. Even more people read newspapers and books of poor or questionable quality; tabloid newspapers come to mind. Now the internet provides many alternatives to reading. Accordingly, it is understandable that the number of chronic readers is gradually reducing. This does not mean that we do not have to read, rather, that we should read in optimal quantities. We should more carefully select what we read, as integrating badly constructed cognitive schemata in our Selves harms us instead of educating or helping.

But why do people do nothing but read? Depending on the intellectual level, there are always books that have something new to say. Saying something new is nothing other than establishing new cognitive schemata, which cause Self-expansion. A lot of reading provides many Self-expansions. The act of reading itself is a sign of Self-expansion: an act performed openly in one’s Environment in a relaxed state.

Reading with the purpose of integrating

People having good general abilities can reach a point in their Self-knowledge where they accept that, by themselves, they cannot give anything new to mankind. They measure and accept the limits of their abilities (initially, creativity), and choose the path of utilizing their different and unique abilities: of integration, memory, attention to detail, organization &c. These are the people who make science work by their own arrangement of information, distilling it and so making a dialogue between different theories. They are a good source of information for those too impatient to read all of the literature on a subject.

This activity can lead to happiness, as people can feel that they do not only absorb, but also provide a service. As previously seen, such giving is one way to Self-expansion. Autotelic reading lacks this sharing of knowledge.

52.5  Arts (collecting, cultivating)

A more visible measure of unlimited wealth, and more intellectual than jewelry or gold, is the art collection. Before reviewing the psychology of collecting art, we should recall that the sole aim of art is to obtain Self-expansion; this is enlarged upon in the article on beauty and aesthetic quality. Let us begin with the general acceptance that looking at a painting causes Self-expansion. The better the painting (it is also how we define it), the greater Self-expansion it causes and to more people. Using this principle, let us disregard the collections acquired as investments by wealthy people who value art only by price, not for its aesthetic qualities. Such people see art as a status symbol. Instead, let us focus on those who appreciate the aesthetics of art as an exemplary life form which should be available to all people.

These people are determined in their pursuit of a painting or its provenance, and feel satisfaction (Self-expansion) when they succeed. In this and everything else, there is no difference between passionate collectors, whether of stamps, baseball cards, china, matchbox labels &c. They all obtain Self-expansion from improving their collection. (“One of the 1934 etchings of Picasso was still missing, but now I have that too. Now it is a complete collection.”) On the other hand, as they appraise their paintings, they discover new connections, or conduct research in order to find connections between different pieces.

We could ask, “So what?” Imagining somebody living their life amongst art of immeasurable value, in constant fear of it being stolen or damaged, and doing nothing but eat, sleep and look at his art, makes us feel that this cannot be fulfilled happiness. The world of art collectors is a subculture: they know each other, each other’s collections, brag about their new acquisitions and disposals, they live and breathe art.

Still…so what? Some of these collectors (also motivated by economic considerations) want to leave their collection to their children, so that they can obtain a form of the happiness which comes from raising children. That is what happens to the collections of the aristocracy: the Prince of Lichtenstein, the British royal family. The problem is still that there is no permanent bridge between the Self and the wider (social) Environment, therefore permanent (lasting) Self-expansion cannot occur. So, they open their collection to the general public, or give it to the state. They can then finally step out of the confined world of the Self, and open up to the world by unselfishly giving again. This smacks of altruism, another way to happiness.

Another method that can also make a (subjective) bridge towards others is to patronize art. When a wealthy person patronizes an artist with whom he can identify aesthetically, he practically buys a share of the artist’s Self-expansion arising from the process of creation. When the painter makes a work of art that the patron likes, the patron rightly feels that he has a part in the creation, that it is due to him too that the world is enriched by that work of art. At such times, we can be surprized at the purposes money can serve: that somebody can contribute it to the creation of great works without any creativity or without touching a brush, and can have a share in the pleasure of its creation. It is not by accident that art historians maintain records of patrons and customers of former ages so accurately as the financial driving forces of the world of painting.

Returning to the publicizing of collections, we can discover a “Catch-22” which applies to other forms of Self-expansion. What is it like when someone opens his collection to the public and then takes it back for some reason? Or gives it to the state then requests its return? This is unimaginable, but this bi-directional nature is what gives a bad taste to Self-expansion in general: when you tell a secret to someone in a very intimate moment, and cannot take it back when the relationship goes wrong. However, if you do not tell it, there will be no intimate moments.

This calls attention to Self-expansion having to be irrational to allow things to happen which would not happen rationally. At the same time, irrationality enhances Self-expansion, even if it is not its essence. That is more akin to the dissolution of boundaries and obstacles, which make the merging of the Self and the Environment possible. The question is: can the Self reset the original boundaries after the Self-expansion passes? To use the previous examples: I told a big secret and someone will be able to blackmail me; or, I gave my collection to the state, and I watch helplessly as they store my biggest treasure in damp and dusty places. What can I do at such times? The rational answer would be: a.) do not be irrational; b.) secure their return or silence legally; or c.) ensure you that cannot be harmed. For example, you may be told a secret in return; you make a contract with the state, declaring what they can and cannot do with the collection. In most cases, spoken words are very difficult to take back, and performed acts are very difficult to undo.

This legal attitude to contracts &c. detracts from the beauty of the situation. They require a Self-narrowed condition (contracts require concentration, maneuvering requires guile), and so are against Self-expansion. The same applies to marriage contracts. It is a logical thing but they carry the germ of distrust. What we have so far discussed is that there is no complete Self-sacrificing, that the Self cannot become completely one with the Environment, that there is no absolute trust, as there is no absolute truth. However, everybody strives for it, and we need a condition in which we can forget about this. We realize that condition by forgetting what we are not supposed to forget.

53.  Summary. FIPP’s contribution to the existence after death

I attempted a difficult task in discussing a happy life. We cannot make ourselves absolutely independent from the moral aspect, although I believe I can demonstrate principles based on general human motivation. Briefly, we can feel happy in the hour of death (because what else counts if not the last moment which lights up – or, admittedly clouds – everything that has happened before) if we feel we can give something to the world, we are at peace with our Environment. We might say: our Self (the boundaries between it and our Environment) started to decompose even before our physical body. A man’s Self could merge with the Environment, as after he dies his physical body will merge with his physical environment (“ashes to ashes, dust to dust”).

I would like to keep morality away from science. However, I am not disturbed if it does intrude, in the sense that what I described above does not contradict any major traditional system of thought: religions, Kant’s categorical imperative (do to others what you want others to do to you), psychology’s image of mental health. I am satisfied with this as I believe it cannot be far wrong.

Another result is that we could reduce the parents of children such as the altruistic Mother Teresa, Einstein, Picasso and Bill Gates to a common denominator. Everybody gives something to the world, only they do so in different ways and with different things (people who help others; give knowledge; create beauty or things that make our lives easier) according to their best knowledge. What is common in them is that they did not retire to loneliness to obtain only lower-level Self-expansions (e.g. sex, eating, autotelic reading); this form of Self-expansion is short-term, and has little effect on other’s lives. Instead, they chose to use the good within them for the common good.

I believe that is how heaven works. People who, at the end of their lives, can look back and say that they gave are the people who can enter a state of endless Self-expansion. Is this foolish? Am I not over-emphasizing Self-expansion so that I can even explain heaven and hell with it? My answer (although speculative, due to its nature) is: near-death experiences have been studied scientifically in medical procedures, whereby a patient is placed in a state of clinical ‘death’, then brought back to life; this technique is used on asthma patients. Psychologists interviewed these patients about their near-death experiences. There were two common points in their accounts:

  • people relived their lives (or thought that they did) before the moment of death (as when a computer discharges and memory cells are activated randomly)
  • they are completely calm, see lights, hear pleasant voices etc.

By combining the two, assuming that the latter is an extremely Self-expanded condition, the process then works in the following way. We relive the experiences of the highest emotional intensity, amongst which there will initially be intensely Self-narrowed and intensely Self-expanded experiences (e.g. first kiss, marriage, childbirth etc., and matters that are sins according to the Ten Commandments: intrigue (gossiping), stealing, cheating &c.) All of these memories, mixed with the actual state, result in those who were mainly Self-narrowed attaining a Self-narrowed (evil-minded, pessimistic, violent) state, and those who are generally Self-expanded (positive thinking, helpful, giving) will become Self-expanded. The import of this moment is that it is the last a person will ever have. There is no absolution of this, and no chance for explanations, so it becomes a constant moment. The key to understanding this lies in the wrong – or at least altered – sense of time: when we relive a whole life (70-80 years, more than 2.2 billion seconds), it is possible that the last second may feel as if it lasts for decades.

Let us imagine the worst (the most Self-narrowed) moment of our lives: great pain, terrible news etc. Fix that mental condition in ourselves. Now imagine that we are in that mental state for 70-80 years. Is that not the greatest punishment we can ever receive? Permanent living purgatory? Is this not Hell that we get for our sins? Is this not the opposite of what we call heaven (70 years of constant Self-expansion similar to a 70 years long orgasm)?

Did God create in us this alteration of the sense of time (when one-tenth of a second feels like 70 years before death), or this is only a biological fact everyone has to decide for himself. I do not know exactly which hormones and neurotransmitters could do that, but if there is a system like this, is it both a work of God or the result of evolution?

Advertisement

This article, and many others, is now available in print.
The book, 'Self-expansion', contains a generalized version of FIPP not available on psy2.org

Buy it on Lulu.Review copies are available for academics upon e-mail requestBuy it on Lulu.

Register and download the e-book for free!

There have always been people throughout history who “came back from the dead”, so that their remaining lives run down in front of their eyes due an existential danger. After they related their experiences, the concept of heaven and hell could be established, which closely related to the good in the life of these people.

54.  Limitations of the above

As the theory I have described is not verified by experiments yet, is not so robust after all, nor usable in many cases. What I can state is that the above mentioned may not work exactly in a chemically pure form, but that the combination of these paths is close to give a real answer for somebody. Therefore, that real happiness can be attained by someone who mixes the above, even if one of the aims overtakes the others by some way. Altruists who do not have children, or who are not interested in aesthetic beauty, will have difficulty in being happy. It does not matter how nice or attractive these things are, but as we are sated and sickened if we eat chocolate all of the time, so permanent stimulation of the region of the brain dealing with cognitive schema will lead to burn-out.