Political stance, intelligence and personality.

We all know the stereotypes: right-wingers are less intelligent, abrasive and militaristic but pay taxes, while left-wingers are creative, compassionate and rely on welfare. But to what extent are these generalisations true?

Intelligence

Lower general intelligence in childhood, g (calculated from verbal and nonverbal intelligence scores from the 1970 British Cohort Study, as well as the National Child Development Study) predicts greater racism in adulthood (β = -0.17** and -0.11*** in men, -0.25*** and -0.07*** in women), which was accounted (correlation disappeared when the correlation with conservative ideology was factored-in) for by conservative ideology (Hodson and Busseri 2012). In addition, a model the researchers made showed that homophobia was associated with poorer abstract-reasoning skills (β = -0.17***) and partially accounted for by authoritarianism (β = 0.57***) and low intergroup contact (β = 0.23***).

Participants from 73 countries on US college campuses took 3 different cognitive tests: an analogies test, a synonyms vocabulary test and provided information on their SAT scores, and factor loading analysis was done on those results. Conservatism correlates negatively with SAT: (-0.35**), vocabulary test: (-0.40**) and analogies test: (-0.23**). It also correlated with conscientiousness (0.38), agreeableness (0.16) and in-group collectivism (0.26), although one problem is that it doesn’t give the extent to which liberalism correlates with these traits. In between nationalities conservatism correlated negatively with “future orientation” (planning, delaying gratification, -0.58), education (-0.69**), average IQ 1950 – 1999 (-0.73**) and positively with conscientiousness (0.67) (Stankov 2009).

586 Brazilian individuals were given the Standard Progressive Matrices (SPM) to measure IQ and an anonymous questionnaire measuring age, gender, income, education and political orientations (left, centre-left, centre, centre-right, right). Intelligence made it more likely to have any political opinion. The IQ results were centre-right: 105, centrist: 102, centre-left: 100, left: 97, right: 95. Grouping left and right wing centrists together produced a statistically significant difference from both the left and the right. 68% of the university population were left or centre-left (Rindermann 2012).

In the 2001 UK General election, for every standard deviation increase in childhood intelligence, measured in 1970 in the British Cohort Study, adults were 49% and 47% more likely to vote for the Green Party and the Liberal Democrats, respectively (Deary 2008). The 2001 and 2004 political support surveys also gave average IQs by party, Liberal Democrats: 107.5, Conservatives: 103.4, Labour: 102.3 and the British National Party: 97. Intelligence correlated with higher likelihood of participation in elections and more anti-traditional attitudes. In what is probably an unsurprising result, Eysenck (1999) found that supporters of the Conservatives and Liberals had on average higher levels of education than supporters of Labour.

In the USA, the SAT-verbal, SAT-math and American College Test (ACT) tests were used in a study of attitudes toward conservatism, gender roles and regulation. Frey and Detterman (2004) demonstrated that the SAT can be used as a measure of general cognitive ability. Self-described conservatism was related to lower SAT-V (Δr² = -0.88**) and ACT (-0.037*), as was a conservative stance on gender roles (-0.97, 0.085). Anti-regulation attitudes were positively related to both SAT-V (0.117***) and ACT (.072***); that is, the rejection of government control and restrictions on free speech was linked to greater cognitive ability. SAT-M was not predicted by any of the three variables (Kemmelmeier 2008). The study also used a quadratic model on their data to claim that extremists are more intelligent than centrists. There was also a positive relationship between the proportion of Democratic lawmakers in each state and state average IQ (β = 0.380*). At voting participation rate levels below 1 SD of the mean, greater proportions of Democratic lawmakers were linked to lower state-IQs, (β = 0.475***). In other words, in states with low voter turnout, in-state support for the more Liberal Democrats was related to lower state-IQ.

Using a 10-word vocabulary test that has a correlation of 0.71 with the Army General Classification Test as a measure of verbal intelligence, Noah Carl analysed data from the General Social Survey to obtain results on party affiliation and opinion. He shows that verbal intelligence is correlated with both socially and economically liberal beliefs (β = .10–.32) (Carl 2014). Social conservatism and economic statism had β coefficients of -0.26 and -0.21, respectively, with verbal intelligence.

intelligentlibertarians

So, conservatism itself has a reproducible negative correlation with IQ, cognitive ability, education level and various test scores, and these correlations were mid-range in their strength. Conservative traits of homophobia, racism, belief in traditional gender roles, an anti-abortion stance, an anti-drugs legalisation stance and belief in higher military spending had, somewhat smaller (<0.35), negative correlations with cognitive ability, some of which were accounted for by a correlation with authoritarianism and low intergroup contact.

However, in both the UK and Brazil, supporters of the centre and centre-right parties had the highest average IQs, followed by the centre-left and left, while the right had the lowest. This may be because of the negative correlation between leftist economic policies such as support for unions/price controls/government control of industry and verbal intelligence, since the far left and right often share these views.

Low intergroup contact and in-group collectivism had similar negative β coefficients (~0.25) with intelligence, and this characterises nationalism. While nationalism is more often associated with conservatism, the left also has strong loyalties to particular groups of people. Hans Eysenck for example, thinks that higher intelligence pushes people to the centre of politics, rather than simply to the left. Hodson and Busseri also noted that leftist worldviews can also simplify the world (immigrants as angels, patriots as ogres or caitiffs), despite their study examining the effect of authoritarianism on racism and homophobia.

It’s worth noting that Lynn and Nyborg in 2007 reported that IQ and belief in God had an r of -0.60.

To quote Meisenberg, 2004 in summary: “‘intelligence’ [causes] a rational, non-traditional system of beliefs and values. As people get brighter they develop a habit of critical thinking, questioning religious dogmas and other sources of traditional authority… The cognitive attitudes of conservatism often reflect difficulties or disinclincation to make fine-grained analysis of a problematic situation”.

But does conservatism cause lower intelligence? I doubt it, since intelligence is 75% genetic. Do these associations mean that if someone espouses conservative ideology, they’re dumber than you (as a liberal or libertarian)? No, because these correlations are not very large, with most being below 0.50, and the variation in cognitive ability between opinion groups will be large enough so that cognitive abilities overlap. These correlations only appear when you look at hundreds of individuals, they only prove that there’s more of an accumulation of low-intelligence people at the conservative positions than at the liberal ones. Why is that, you ask? Probably because many of them lack complexity. But plenty of intelligent conservatives espouse those opinions, and let’s not forget that sometimes the simple answer is the correct one, and that overthinking and over-complicating things does exist. Intelligence isn’t everything in politics, and that’s because personality, group allegiances, and life experiences are bigger causal factors of political ideology.

Personality

Iyer et al 2012 report that in terms of agreeableness, liberals were highest, conservatives only slightly lower and libertarians the least. The same difference existed between conservatives and libertarians on conscientiousness, with liberals in between. This agrees with Stankov 2009: a correlation between conscientiousness and conservatism on the individual (0.38) and the national (0.67) levels. Liberals were the most extrovert, with conservatives in between and libertarians the least, but little range between all three. Liberals were also the most neurotic, with conservatives and libertarians being almost the same, while liberals also had the most openness, with libertarians at a close second. See bottom of this page for personality definitions.
So liberals had the highest of all of the 5 NEO PI-R big personality traits except conscientiousness, of which they had slightly more of than libertarians. Women compared to men also followed the exact same pattern as liberals compared to conservatives, confirming that liberalism is more feminine than conservatism.

In Iyer’s study, liberals also had the greatest empathetic concern, with libertarians the least and conservatives in between, and these differences were quite large. Liberals also ranked highest on “fantasy”, with conservatives the least but similar to libertarians. Of interest, conservatives had highest disgust, while libertarians had the least and liberals close to least. Libertarians had the highest need for cognition and conservatives the least. There are numerous other measurements, such as “purity, hedonism, power, authority, security, fairness”.

A meta-analysis from 12 countries (Jost 2003) concludes that political conservatism is significantly associated with multiple measures of death anxiety (r = 0.50), closed mindedness, dogmatism, intolerance of ambiguity, low openness to experience (-0.32, measured as sensation seeking), uncertainty avoidance, need for order and closure, threat arising from social and economic deprivation, pessimism, disgust, contempt, anger and aggression and fear of threat and loss of self-esteem. “The threat or uncertainty may derive from fear of death, anarchy, foreigners, dissent, complexity, novelty, ambiguity, and social change. Responses to these sources of uncertainty include superstition, religious dogmatism, ethnocentrism, militarism, authoritarianism, punitiveness, conventionality, and rigid morality”.

A study on the interactions between who people voted for in the U.S. elections 1996-2004 and the Big Five personality traits confirms the pattern of Republican voters having higher conscientiousness (r >0.50**, Democrats ~ -0.40**) and having lower levels of the other personality traits (Jost 2006). Democrats had higher openness (r ~ 0.60**, Republicans ~ -0.60**) and extraversion (r ~ >0.25*, Republicans ~ 0.25*) and the differences in neuroticism and agreeableness were insignificant but both higher in Democrat voters.

Carney 2008 reported that openness was associated with liberalism (r ~>0.20***) and agreeableness was associated with conservatism (r ~ >0.05*), while conscientiousness was also associated with conservatism (r ~ 0.10***) and this was composed of “achievement striving” (r = 0.24) and “desire for order” (r =0.21). Additionally, openness to experience has a low- to mid-level correlation with intelligence, while conscientiousness and neuroticism show low, negative but significant correlations with intelligence and agreeableness and extraversion show no or unreliable correlations (Furnham 2005a, Furnham 2005b).

A study exploring happiness and political stance notes “A 2006 public-opinion survey found that Republicans in the United States have been more likely than Democrats to report being “very happy” every year since 1972… trait conscientiousness and extraversion are positively related, and neuroticism negatively, to life-satisfaction”. It shows yet again conscientiousness (0.17**), neuroticism (-0.11**) and openness (-0.27**) to be related to conservatism, while agreeableness and extraversion had low positive but insignificant associations with conservatism (Peterson 2015). Conservatives were also more likely to be male (-0.11**), older (0.18**), more religious (0.43**), wealthy (0.16**), satisfaction with life (0.08*) and to believe the system is justified (0.29**). It was found that the greater happiness of conservatives disappeared when their lower neuroticism, greater conscuentiousness, log income or system justification beliefs were factored in.

Thus far, there has been an inconsistent relationship between agreeableness and conservatism. Jordan Peterson showed in a study in 2009 (Peterson 2009) that Republican voting was associated with lower agreeableness (β = -0.17). However, “preference for the Republican Party was predicted negatively by compassion (β = –0.32**), and positively by politeness (β = 0.18*)” which are the two aspects of agreeableness. Conversely, compassion predicted liberalism (β = 0.27**), politeness negatively (β = –0.30**). Tenderness demonstrated a positive correlation with liberalism (r = 0.19**) and reduced preference for the Republican Party (r = –0.29**). Of further interest, orderliness, a component of conscientiousness, was associated with conservatism (β = 0.26**), but not its other component, industriousness. Likewise, orderliness was negatively associated with liberalism (β = -0.48**) and industriousness was unrelated. Further information:

politicspeterson

An LSE blog also gives personality profiles of voters in the 2015 UK General Election:

So, which personality factor or combination of factors is the biggest determinant of political identity? The pattern certainly appears to be predominantly openness and conscientiousness, followed by neuroticism, with right-wingers being low in openness and high in conscientiousness and slightly lower in neuroticism, and left-wingers being the opposite. These associations rarely went above 0.60, but if we combine these 3 correlations together, then I believe a lot of political self-identification will be accounted for. Many individuals on the left are more conscientious than the average person, or not very open to new experiences, or below average intelligence: but all 3 together? I think there will be very few left-wing people of that description, and vice versa.

More speculatively, above is a discussion between Gad Saad and Jordan B Peterson. They discuss, at 34:40 the possibility that radical-left, or “social justice warrior” movements are characterised by a politicised, “collective” Munchausen syndrome (when people feign disability to attain sympathy from others). Peterson then helps to confirm this by explaining that people downplay their own persecution while exaggerating the persecution of their group, which, while describing only “people” generally and not specifically people on the far left, certainly aligns with the focus of the modern feminist, anti-colonialist, anti-racist and intersectionalism-obsessed political groups. If Munchausen syndrome (either personal or by proxy) falls under the diagnosis of “neuroticism”, then according to the evidence above, far-left groups, being highest in neuroticism, would be the most represented demographic in having it.

It’s often noted that far-right nationalists place their national identity first and proclaim their own national or racial group is superior in order to compensate for their own personal flaws: they’re often low in intelligence or have criminal records or lack employment. An amusing parallel would be if far-left groups can be diagnosed with Munchausen syndrome, making them crave sympathy from others, and because they are higher in compassion and empathy as shown above, then self-ascribing as far-left would be akin to saying “I’m a more compassionate person because I’m in the most compassionate group”. At 41:00 Peterson gets to explaining that more extremely agreeable (compassionate) individuals strongly advocate language control and had higher orderliness, (a trait conservatives were also high in), and that this was associated with low verbal cognitive ability (and far-left individuals have lower IQ and verbal intelligence than average, as we saw above). Language control correlated more strongly with lower verbal cognitive ability than academic grades did, and it also correlated with neuroticism (“clinical symptomology”). He then explains that this concludes that the personality predictors of political correctness are not the same as those of liberalism. In other words, politically correct individuals (those desirous of language control) as compared to liberals are: high orderliness, low IQ, high agreeableness and highly neurotic.

It would also be interesting to find associations between political loyalty and impulsiveness and tendencies to spend or save money.

Sexuality

Researchers found that in a simulated election with two choices, that compared to left-wing people, right-wing people will choose the candidate they see on the right of the ballot paper about 15% more often.

A study by Cantor 2005 showed that “The odds of non-right-handedness in men offending predominantly against prepubescent children were approximately two-fold higher than that in men offending predominantly against adults and three-fold higher after eliminating those men with intrafamilial (i.e., incest) offenses.”. In another study, pedophilia showed significant negative correlations with IQ and memory recall and was associated with non-right-handedness.

Pedophilia also appears to be inherited: “pedophilia is found more frequently in families of pedophiles than in families of nonpedophilic paraphiliacs.” and anecdotally associated with violence: “Poor control over impulsive behavior with aggressive outbursts and physical violence was present in individuals (of this family)”.

There may, therefore, be an association between pedophilia and left-wing belief.

In conclusion, I think that a large amount of variation in political belief is explained by intelligence and personality. These factors will restrict the life-time journey of a person’s political description to a range of beliefs that will lie on similar positions on the axes of personality and intelligence, allowing the rest of variations across a person’s lifetime and between people to be determined by life experiences.

For those who are interested, here are my results of the Eysenck test. I identify as an economic centrist with belief in classical liberal values such as those of the American Constitution.

Eysenck’s Test Results
Extraversion (37%) moderately low which suggests you are reclusive, quiet, unassertive, and private.
Neuroticism (45%) medium which suggests you are moderately worrying, insecure, emotional, and anxious.
Psychoticism (26%) low which suggests you are overly kind natured, trusting, and helpful at the expense too often of your own individual development (martyr complex).

Take Eysenck Personality Test (similar to EPQ-R)
personality tests by similarminds.com

“The big five personality characteristics are broad and stable universal predispositions including extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, openness to experience and neuroticism”.

“An agreeable person is fundamentally altruistic, sympathetic to others and eager to help them, and in return believes that others will be equally helpful. The disagreeable/antagonistic person is egocentric, sceptical of others’ intentions, and competitive rather than co-operative.”

“Conscientiousness refers to self-control and the active process of planning, organising and carrying out tasks (Barrick & Mount, 1993). The conscientious person is purposeful, strong-willed and determined.”

“Extraversion includes traits such as sociability, assertiveness, activity and talkativeness.”

“Neuroticism is a dimension of normal personality indicating the general tendency to experience negative affects such as fear, sadness, embarrassment, anger, guilt and disgust. High scorers may be at risk of some kinds of psychiatric problems. A high Neuroticism score indicates that a person is prone to having irrational ideas, being less able to control impulses, and coping poorly with stress. A low Neuroticism score is indicative of calmness and emotional stability.”

“Openness to Experience includes active imagination, aesthetic sensitivity, attentiveness to inner feelings, a preference for variety, intellectual curiosity and independence of judgement. People scoring low on Openness tend to prefer familiarity.”

“At the aspect level, the five domains are broken down into Assertiveness and Enthusiasm (Extraversion), Compassion and Politeness (Agreeableness), Industriousness and Orderliness (Conscientiousness), Volatility and Withdrawal (Neuroticism), and Openness and Intellect (Openness-Intellect).”

What Happened in Tower Hamlets?

In Tower Hamlets, Muslims are around 40% of the population (2011), and in 2010 the Respect Party and Islamic Forum of Europe organised a petition to trigger a referendum on allowing constituents to directly elect a Mayor. Perhaps they wanted a Muslim in charge. In 2010 Lutfur Rahman, a Bangadeshi, was elected as mayor as an Independent candidate. He was elected again in 2014 as leader of his own party: Tower Hamlets First. In 2015 he was found guilty of several kinds of voting fraud – it was found that he and his party had forged ballots, registered non-existent people to vote (which was possible because THs entire team of councillors were Bangladeshi-Muslim and the Islamic Forum of Europe had activists among the ballot-counters) and Rahman was found guilty of “undue spiritual influence” (because he and his supporters told people to vote for him or else they would go to Hell).

So what was all the electoral fraud for? Tower Hamlets council gave £400,000 of taxpayer money to organisations which were not eligible for it, and also allowed family friends of councillors to buy properties without being the highest bidders and to receive money for setting up restaurants. He also more than doubled funding given to Bangladeshi and Somali organisations, which went against the recommendations of council officers. Some claim he sent millions of pounds to the IFE. He also seems to have had an influence on the police. Police have been seen to be unwilling to prosecute crimes committed by Muslims in Tower Hamlets, in particular an assault on a gay pub and on other Muslims not obeying Ramadan or wearing the veil. In Tower Hamlets in 2011 “Homophobic crimes in the borough have risen by 80 per cent since 2007/8, and by 21 per cent over the last year, a period when there was a slight drop in London as a whole.”
Extremists were also caught posting anti-gay stickers in Tower Hamlets. A gay couple in Tower Hamlets were beaten up by a Bangladeshi gang – they said “it happens a lot around here”.

The Islamic Forum of Europe declares that it is dedicated to changing the “very infrastructure of society, its institutions, its culture, its political order and its creed … from ignorance to Islam.”

There are examples of creeping Islamification in other parts of the country. In 2008 a Mosque in Oxford tried to get permission to blare out 3 of the daily calls to prayer on loudspeakers. It seems like they failed: I suppose we’ll have to wait until the Muslim population gets bigger, and then we won’t have a choice in the matter.

No, Europeans did not “invent” racism.

Anti-racism activists often claim that the concept of race was invented by Europe during the Renaissance: “The concept of race was invented by Europeans in order to enforce systemic discrimination against minorities. Racism is a learned social behaviour propagated predominantly by white European culture.”

Assuming that the definition of racism used today by many anti-racists is true (a policy or system of government, of discriminatory enforcement), it is still not true that Europeans invented racism. George M. Fredrickson claims “No clear and unequivocal evidence of racism has been found in other cultures or in Europe before the Middle Ages. The identification of the Jews with the devil and witchcraft in the popular mind of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries was perhaps the first sign of a racist view of the world.”

This is an abject untruth, if not a total lie. Aristotle referred to the Persians as barbarians that are slaves to their emotions and impulses by nature. The term barbarian (from barbaros, Greek) was used by Greeks to refer to other cultures “especially the Athenians, to deride other Greek tribes and states (such as Epirotes, Eleans, Macedonians, Boeotians and Aeolic-speakers) but also fellow Athenians, in a pejorative and politically motivated manner.”

In 91 B.C. Sima Qian (司马迁) wrote in the Shiji (Records of the Grand Historian) about the Xiongnu (匈奴) tribe that “they take up arms and go off on plundering and marauding expeditions. This seems to be their in-born nature.” as a way of contrasting them with his own civilised Han Chinese.

In the 600s A.D. Han Chinese author Yan Shigu (顏師古) wrote in his commentary on the classical Hanshu (汉书) that the Wusun people, a neighbouring tribe that lived in Gansu, had green eyes and red hair and described them as barbarians that looked like macaque monkeys.

In 760 A.D. Chinese rebels massacred Arab and Persian merchants in their thousands in Yangzhou. “The foreign merchants and traders incurred xenophobic feelings among the Chinese population, and they were scapegoated… were targeted for being foreign and for their wealth”. Another pogrom on foreign merchants took place in Guangzhou in 878, this time killing 120,000.

In the year 779 of the Tang Dynasty, the government passed an edict requiring Uighur men to wear their native costume in the capital and forbade them from marrying Han Chinese women. Similarly in 836, the governor of Canton, Lu Chun, was disgusted by “foreigners” marrying Chinese women, along with the overall lack of segregation. So he passed a law banning interracial marriages and foreigners from owning land.

When the Mongols invaded China and set up the Yuan Dynasty, they also divided the races into a caste hierarchy with Mongols, Semuren, northern and southern Chinese occupying different rungs of an oppression ladder. But this would coincide with the time when, according to people like Fredrickson, Europeans were busy “inventing” racism.

I hope my point has been made. Clearly Europeans did not invent racism. Even when you’re using a definition of racism concocted specifically to pin the blame of racism on Europeans. I think this statement summarises the truth of the matter: “Ethnographic literature reveals that ethnocentrism seems to be a cultural universal by default.”

Viewing other tribes as inferior (e.g. less intelligent and more impulsive) clearly satisfies the same definition of racism as an association of Jews with the devil, in that both are to associate a foreign tribe with negative things. It’s funny that Fredrickson first says that racism is a system where one group seeks to dominate another, and then in the next sentence, calls the association of Jews with the devil the first example of racism that ever existed. So which thing is the racism, the negative association, or the system that is built upon it?

It’s actually neither. These “systems” enforced against other groups of people, or negative descriptions of other tribes, aren’t the real root of racism anyway, as anti-racism activists claim they are.

I am not denying that racism can be defined as a system of oppression against people who are different: in fact there are multiple definitions of racism, and which one you prioritise depends on your political stance.

Dictionary.com gives the following definitions of racism:
“noun 1. a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human racial groups determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to dominate others or that a particular racial group is inferior to the others.
2. a policy, system of government, etc., based upon or fostering such doctrine; discrimination.
3. hatred or intolerance of another race or other races.”
Wikipedia further clarifies that: “Today, the use of the term “racism” does not easily fall under a single definition.”
But if racism has these separate definitions, then what is the root of racism? It manifests as an attitude that thinks of people of different biological heritage differently and only on the basis of that different heritage.

The brain must have somewhere a clear representation of reacting differently to people based on their origin. Implicit-association tests during brain scans are able to form associations between brain activity in specific areas and perception of other people. People feel less empathy for people not in their own group, measured as asymmetrical activation of the left and right prefrontal cortices (Gutsell and Inzlicht 2012). Oxytocin, a neurotransmitter in the brain, is known to promote in-group favouritism and, to a lesser extent, out-group derogation (De Dreu 2010).
Stereotyping against outgroups appears to be mediated by heightened left temporal and frontal lobe activity, which contrasts with immediate bias against individual outgroup members, which is associated with amygdala activation (Amodio 2009). The reason stereotyping does not coincide with higher amygdala activity may be because the right lateral prefrontal cortex inhibits this activity. Affective bias (personal negative reaction to others who look different) however, is regulated by the medial prefrontal cortex, which represents social knowledge and regulates social responses.
The inhibition of immediate racial bias through the prefrontal cortex also appears to be lessened after exposure to negative stereotyping of other such people, resulting in higher amygdala activity (Forbes 2012). Differing responses of the amygdala to outgroups versus ingroups are a consistent feature among races of people (Lieberman 2005, Hart 2000, Fu 2014), demonstrating that the neural circuits of racism do not exist only in white people.

These studies demonstrate associations between exposure to people who look different on the basis of origin and activity in certain brain areas, which demonstrates that racism is not “invented” or socially constructed, and does in fact exist at the brain-level. Strictly speaking, they do not demonstrate a causal mechanism; they do not prove that racism has its genesis the brain, but the mere fact that exposure to out-groups elicits activation in specific brain areas and not others, and the fact that we know our actions and opinions originate in our brains is evidence enough that racism does come from the brain and this applies to all human beings.

Some have claimed that “the true definition has more to due with power and how it pertains to race”, by which they may be referring to systemic oppression, but this is too vague to tell and not specific enough to argue against.

 racism
Well, yes Katrina, there is a “default” sense in which everyone is racist: all people have the in-born capacity for what’s at the root of racism. However since you’re conceding that all people have prejudice (if that’s what we’re calling the root of some discriminatory psychological process that results in racism), then your only recourse to make a claim that sounds as ridiculous as “only white people can be racist” would be to show white people do something to others none others do, and as I’ve shown here, non-white societies have engaged in “systemic racism”.

Philosophy II

To progress further in discovering what the nature of existence is, it is now necessary to pose questions about things which are not obvious or immediately evident. This requires the use of language and logic to reveal the sometimes invisible, soundless, or untouchable connections between sensory impressions. For this purpose I must examine the senses and not the other modalities, because they convey the sensory world to the mind.

Do our senses make sense? Can our experiences be explained?

It must be proven that sensations within a sensory field that take place actually have causes and are not simply unexplained existences or brute facts. If they did not have causes then there would be no necessary logic to any sensation: objects could change in appearance or tactile feel continuously, events would not be replicable and the sensations preceding any chosen sensation could constantly change over time. The very fact that a sensation can be repeated by repeating the sensations that came before it shows that later sensations have causes. So, the causes of my sensations must either be previous sensations in the very submodalities they appear in alone, or, in possible addition, unperceivable, non-mental causes. Sensations are known to cause each other, because sensations can be remembered as memories, which are themselves sensations, and memories can cause emotions which are other sensations. Memories and emotions can also cause imaginings, and so on. Therefore, it is certain that sensations have causes. The question remains whether the causes of sensations are only other sensations, which follow a logic, or whether they are caused by unfelt causes which also follow a logic in addition to those preceding sensations.

It is the reproducibility of sensory impressions that prove that they have causes which exist and proves the existence of a sensory world with constant laws, whether that world contains un-feelable causes or not. This does not fall to post hoc ergo propter hoc, because in repeating particular sensory elements and then observing that others follow it, I am not only observing one thing follow another and then falsely attributing causation: I am repeatedly performing an action and then observing the effects in comparison to (repeatedly) not performing that action at all and observing the difference in effects between the two scenarios. It should also be acknowledged that all sensations, whether individually repeatable or not, definitely exist. They exist because we perceive them.

One might object that true replication is impossible, since every occurrence is unique. In the words of Hume “this idea of a necessary connection among events arises from a number of similar instances, which occur, of the constant conjunction of these events; nor can that idea ever be suggested by anyone of these instances, surveyed in all possible lights and positions. But there is nothing in a number of instances, different from every single instance, which is supposed to be exactly similar”. I actually can perform two actions which are exactly similar, with the level of detail my senses can provide me. I can repeat an action where my sensual experience of it before, during and after the action are sensually indistinguishable. In addition, if Hume’s argument were accepted, then no causal laws could be accepted as fact, meaning that forming beliefs about the world beyond that would be impossible.

As an example of one specific sensation causing another, consequent sensation, I could sit on a chair in front of a desk, with a candle on it. I pick up a lighter to ignite one of them. At this point my sensations are as follows: I feel the pressure of my buttocks, back and feet on the chair and floor, I see a candle on a desk and the wall behind them, and my body, and I don’t hear much apart from a high pitched buzz inside my head. If I now reach out and light the candle, the yellow flame on the candle wick will appear, it is quite bright and it emits warmth, I can hear it, although it is quiet, however the feeling of my body on the chair hasn’t changed. Meanwhile, another candle on a desk beside me doesn’t have a flame, and nor does is it emitting light, warmth or any sound. I can do this repeatedly with the same results. This proves that the flame, along with the light and warmth it emits, but not the feeling of my body on the chair, was caused by me lighting the candle, because the exact same conditions lacking only that factor of me lighting the candle did not produce the effects of the candle’s flame. This is how causation is proven, not merely by one sensation following another. To be even more specific, at the level of submodalities, I could coat the wick of a third candle in barium chloride, a white solid, and light it, causing a bright green flame, rather than the previous candles white-yellow, to burn. I can further demonstrate this by sprinkling barium chloride into the first candle, which then briefly burns green, showing that the conditionality of the green flame depends on the addition of the barium chloride. Therefore, if a change in a submodal sensation has a sensory cause, it can be identified.

In order for it to be proven that the reasoning employed here does not prove that specific sensations cause other specific sensations, it would have to be shown that a particular sensation is a causeless effect. Also suitable would be an effect which did not reappear upon the restoration of its antecedent causal sensation. Someone might argue that one’s life itself is a causeless effect, or the ringing in one’s ears, since nobody experienced a sensation before their first sensation, but this can be disqualified on the basis of the belief that if I take my own life, my sensations disappear with it.

Is the sensory world fully explained by our sensations?

I should ask whether I ever experience anything which cannot be true. That is to say, does the sensual world ever present a sensation which is unexplained by other sensations? If discovered, this would show that causes of a non-sensual nature exist. This would be proven to occur if one of my submodalities had a sensation which could not be detected and therefore cross-checked by another one of the senses, and if there were no sensations reproducibly preceding or following that particular sensation. There are only a few modalities within which I know this to happen: vision, pain, and touch. Tactile, or particularly, painful sensations can arise with no clear indication of any contact with the body. It can be argued that these sensations have an unknown medical reason, especially if they are felt within the body. Painful twitches with no seen, heard or felt cause often appear in the skin. This happens with no obvious sensual cause before the twitch, nor with any following sensual consequences. But this phenomenon could still be caused by unfelt microscopic incidents alone, and therefore if correct would not be a case of our senses providing an unexplained sensation.

The same applies to the visual field, within which spots can appear with no apparent cause, nor have any effects on the visual modality, nor on other modalities. In addition, dreams are experiences involving many of the modalities, including all of the sensory modalities, primarily vision, which occur within the mind during sleep but have no effect on experiences during wakefulness. However, these experiences are much less vivid, less detailed and more easily forgotten in comparison to sensory experiences. Events which are perceived in a dream are found not to have happened upon waking. Additionally, events within the dream only have short term effects on each other within the dream, if any. The lack of reproducibility and consequences for visual spots and dreams creates a delineation between them and the sensory world. Taken together, these observations show that dreams are not experiences which follow the same logic as sensory impressions and represent false information about the world which the senses inform us of. Therefore, visual spots and dreams are examples of our senses evincing a sensation unexplained by other sensations and could appear due to causes which are not submodal sensations and exist below the lower limits of the senses.

Further, if I look at rows and columns of black squares on a white background, then I will see grey circles between the black squares. When I try to look at them, they disappear and appear elsewhere. Here we have an example where I can reproducibly move grey circles around a grid simply by moving my eyes. But nowhere else do I know of a situation where my decision to look around an object continually morphs that objects appearance. Normally, by moving my position, I see a different side of an object, but the side I am looking at is not influenced by moving my eyes over it. The only way that would be possible is if my intention to move my visual sensory field has an effect on sensations within that field beyond simply changing my position. How can looking around a static object cause the visual sensations that I see within that static object to change? This must be an example of a flaw in the visual modality, of sensations following unestablished, rogue laws. In addition, if the colour of the black squares are changed, or if they are moved, this effect disappears, and because the grey spots can’t be verified by the other modalities, it is not believable that moving the visual field produces a change in the object being looked at. This means that either my visual senses can and do show my mind unexplained phenomena if the only thing which exists are sensations themselves.

We are then faced with the conclusion that this visual illusion must be an example of a sensation that does not follow the same logic as other sensations within the very same modality. The cause of the illusion could be unfelt, microscopic, non-submodal causes.

Thus far I’ve established that our sensations have causes, that sensory causes can be identified by subtraction and re-addition of antecedent sensations, and such causes could include a cause different in nature to sensations, that some sensations are unexplained by the senses and that the cause of unexplained sensations could be microscopic events that we cannot feel.

It is important to clarify what a philosophy supposing that only the sensations we feel compose the world would posit. This would argue that when a sensation occurs, such as seeing a rock hitting another that the sensation of being knocked would act on the rock as well as the visual field of the observer. That sensation then leads directly to a decision being made by the observer, also a felt sensation, to speak about seeing the rocks, then leading to the sensation of commanding one’s lips to move and feeling them move and hearing one’s own voice, which another person also sees and hears. So sensations would have to be omnipresent, present in objects acting on each other and observable by any number of observers, and able to transmute into other submodalities, in order to fully explain the world.

Do causes that are not sensations exist?

In order to find out whether unfelt causes are the causes of sensations, both reproducible and non-reproducible, I must ask if I do not perceive something which can be proven to exist. Are the sensations I experience within the modalities the only things which exist? Do my senses show me all of the world, or are there things my senses do not show me?

The sun produces three sensations in me: light, warmth and its own image, a bright ball in the sky. If I stand in the sunlight for extended periods of time each day, my skin will turn red and then get darker. However if I sit in the light and warmth of a campfire, in a cave or in a tepee, then my skin will not get darker. Even if I sit in the shade of a tree, and still feel warm and see the suns light, and peek through the tree leaves at the sun, my skin will still not turn dark. So there must exist something I do not perceive in the sunlight which is turning my skin dark, which is creating the sensation of my skin turning dark.

If I hide food somewhere nearby, and tell my hound to search for it, he will begin sniffing and find it, while I cannot smell the food at all from where the hound and I are. Therefore there must be odours in the air that are not producing sensations within my olfactory field, but are within that of the hound.

When I was younger, there was a birdsong that I could hear, but no longer can, even when the bird is present. I have also lost the ability to hear certain high-pitched whistles, but when I ask a younger person to listen for the birdsong or very high pitched whistle, they tell me they can hear it. Therefore, the sound must still be there, as I heard it before, but I no longer hear the sound in my auditory field.

I could pick up an iron nail and tightly wrap it with copper wire, and dip one wire into a solution of zinc in sulphuric acid and the other wire into a solution of platinum in nitric acid, and the nearby iron nut would fly through the air and stick to the iron nail. Yet in doing this, I do not see any contact between nail and nut that could possibly make the nut move, and I do not hear or feel anything leading to the sensation of the nut moving. I can do this repetitively, and none of my modalities show me any connection between the sensation of the wires being put into solution and the nut moving to the nail. Therefore there must be something I cannot perceive, something unseen, unfelt and unheard, causing the nut to move when I do this action, something non-mental.

The nut moving can be shown not to be a causeless effect because I can repeatedly perform the action of dipping the wires into the chemical solutions and always get the same result.

Thus, since it has been shown that there exist sensations which have no sensory explanation if other sensations are the only causal factors, and that inducible, replicable sensations exist which clearly have an immediate cause which is not sensory, then there must exist non-mental causes of sensations.

The legitimacy of asserting or deducing a causal factor that I cannot immediately feel may be questioned. Yet the above reasoning clearly proves that without doing so, we cannot explain certain occurrences that we experience. The only additional complication accrued by asserting that the cause of the metal nut’s motion was non-mental is that I could not see the thing that was moving it. It is not a substantial assertion to claim that there are forces driving our sensory impressions that we cannot see, hear or feel, and the verbalization of those forces is no less valid than our verbalization of the sensations we directly experience.

There are things that we don’t immediately feel, but arguably are felt by other beings. This means that a cause being unfelt is not proof that the cause is non-mental. I would argue back that there will still be undeniable examples of unfelt causes of sensations for any particular individual. For example a pigeon has the sensory power of magnetoreception, but the pigeon will not be able to see all the hues of colours that I can, and that leads us to the question of why I can see them and the pigeon not, and why can the pigeon feel what’s causing the metal nut to move and I cannot? If the conclusion that non-mental causes exist is disallowed, then this would suggest two types of mental activity: that which is felt and that which is unfelt for any particular being. If causal factors can be identified which nobody and nothing can feel, neither I nor the pigeon, then the reason for referring to those unfelt causal factors as mental is lost, aside from ephemerally asserting that they represent the inner workings of a mind orchestrating our separate sensual realities, but this is unsubstantiated. The question of what kind of causal factors exactly they are, then appears.

philosophymap1

Do laws of sensations apply to all persons, where are my sensations located and are those sensations and the mind separate entities?

An objection might be that more complex, long-term, unexplained experiences exist, such as the appearance of a person from nowhere, who speaks to the subject, then disappears. Experiences such as these occur in people with mental illnesses, so since different people have different sensations does this not mean that different people’s senses follow different logics, and there may be no underlying rules common to different subjects? No: these hallucinations will still have few if any, reliable, antecedent feelings that could be inferred as a sensory cause, and they have no consistent subsequent sensations other than their mere memory and emotional reaction, showing that they are rogue sensations not following the dependable rules of the modalities. Indeed, if such hallucinations were commonplace, there would be no way of establishing concrete rules of our senses, making philosophy impossible. It could be countered that subjects of these hallucinations just experience a different reality. This would depend on how one defines reality, but it remains that these hallucinations won’t have reproducible effects.

It could be suggested that anything imaginable that could be real, could also be explained as following a law of some description. But I would reply that explaining a law depends firmly on being able to repeatedly induce sensations. If one’s world is merely a set of sensations appearing and disappearing without any pattern in relation to each other, then one cannot attribute a law.

If I were to remove a piece of my skull in front of a mirror and insert my finger or an electrode inside I would experience sensations not dissimilar to the false-positive sensations mentioned earlier, or indeed epilepsy. I am stimulating unsolicited sensations at their most direct level, which shows that my brain is the real source of my sensations and that there is no underlying, inaccessible reality from which my reality is being orchestrated in front of me, such as having a non-mental soul or having my “real” mind plugged into a simulation. Because otherwise, the question of how I would be able to interrupt the flow of sensations from the simulation or soul into my mind would go unanswered. Unless, such an ability to hijack my sensation-experiencing capabilities is programmed into my soul or the simulation I’m living, in order to fool me into thinking my brain-orchestrated reality is the real one. But there is no evidence of this, and therefore amounts to mere creative scepticism. It also asserts that non-mental causes (e.g. the soul or source of the simulation) exist.

Sensations are admittedly not separate from the mind perceiving them, because if I were to become blind or deaf, I would still be able to see bits of colour and hear ringing and I would also be able to see and hear in my dreams. Endogenous sensations exist, even when the senses are cut off from the sensory world. In addition, the causes and effects of such feelings from the outside world do not change and are repeatable, which encourages the idea that the sensory field itself which feels the sensations is constant, although their acuities do change with age. Hence, sensations are not separate from the sensory field in which they appear, but because the sensory field does not itself change in the short term, while the sensations do, this does not lead to the conclusion that only sensations exist and does not mean that mind necessarily does not exist as an independent substance.

So far I’ve established that our sensations have identifiable causes and that those causes can be unfelt, the brain is the source of sensations and sensations are not separate entities which act on the mind.

 

Are all, not only some, sensations caused by something unfelt?

Does the invisible force moving the nut account for all of the examples of sensory false-negatives that I have given? Does it explain why the hound can smell something that I cannot, why I lose my hearing and why my skin turns brown in the sun? Do unfelt causes also explain the specks of colour that often appear in my vision along with the black-and-white grid illusion? So, the two options available from here are firstly that either unfelt causes only explain those sensations which cannot be explained by other sensations and sensations which appear to be felt for no discernible sensory reason and that all other sensations can sufficiently be explained by their preceding, spatiotemporally-conjoined sensation. Or, secondly, that unfelt causes of the nature of that causing the nut to inexplicably move are in fact the immediate cause behind each and every sensation.

As stated earlier “Upper magnitude limits on the submodalities are bound by pain. Pain begins before the upper limit of a submodality is met”. To elaborate, the brightest object I can look at is the midday sun, and while it is painful to stare at, and I involuntarily look away, I cannot imagine a brighter object. If I press down on my hand with an object, the feeling of my hand touching something only becomes more intense to a point, after that it just becomes painful, without the feeling of being touched increasing any further. An example without pain would be for me to prepare tea, and to add sugar, and taste. I taste a pleasant sweetness in the tea, so I add another two spoons of sugar, and taste again, so that it tastes strong, and less pleasant. Now, I can actually fill the tea with sugar, and taste, so that it tastes so sweet that I also feel an accompanying sense of revulsion, but the tea could not possibly taste more sugary. Clearly, then, the senses have their limits in the intensity of their sensations. But we know that sensations have causes, so are their causes also so limited? This would not make sense, since I can add still more sugar, making the tea taste more revolting but not sweeter, I could look at a brighter object than the sun, so that my eyes become scarred, but it might not look any more bright than the sun did, and I can press so hard on my hand that my hand is destroyed, and I would feel more pain but not more a sensation of touch before my hand is crushed. However, other objects clearly are acted on by causes greater than which I can feel. For example, a tree can fall and knock another tree, so that the second tree is also broken, but if I were to place my hand in between the two where the second tree is knocked, then I would simply feel a maximum amount of pain and a maximum amount of pressure, which I can also feel from a knock on my hand which is incapable of breaking the tree. Hence, my sensation of pressure cannot inform me of the magnitude of all causes, causes must exist for all sensations that are too great for us to sense.

My imagination provides me with a means of predicting the future by means of my memory, but what if asserting the existence of unfelt causes provides me with the ability to make extremely accurate predictions about my sensations in the future? My senses tell me which rock is heavier than another and which out of two sticks is longer, but in order to speak accurately about objects, I must be able to tell exactly how heavy the rock is and exactly how long the stick is. Thus, rocks and sticks must be counted in amounts of an unchanging weight or length. Measurement allows far greater precision to our descriptions of events than our senses allow, and if my predictions are correct in what can be precisely and repeatedly measured, then whatever I am basing my predictions on must be correct, since precisely measuring our observations creates far greater variety in our descriptions than does our experiences without measurement. To measure is basically to compare to a constant.

So, are all sensations caused by unfelt causes? In order to find out if the sensation of seeing one object hitting another is caused by unfelt causes, let’s look at more trees falling onto the birch tree and see if we can predict which ones will and which ones won’t break it in two. I can measure the velocity with which the tree is toppling by measuring the distance between the two trees when stationary and when in collision and by dividing this by the amount of time that passes between those two points. I can also estimate the period of time over which the toppling tree loses its velocity due to colliding with the birch tree to be almost instantaneous: less than a second. I can also measure the force the falling tree exerts on the birch tree by strapping a rope around it as it topples and attaching this rope to a spring scale, showing me the force in Newtons. Now, when I estimate the change in velocity upon collision, which is roughly equal to the velocity the tree is falling with because it loses most of its velocity on impact, I see that by multiplying the moment of time of collision (less than a second), by the force in Newtons and dividing by the change in velocity upon impact we get a number which is inherent to every tree. I can use this equation to predict exactly which trees will and will not break the birch tree, they all fall with almost the same velocity and those that can produce more than 20,000 N of force will break the tree, but whether they produce that much force depends on a quantity inherent to the tree – its mass. Therefore, I can predict whether a sensation will happen based on a proposed, unfelt, mathematical property.

It might be said that mass is in fact my sensation of the weight of an object and therefore it’s a sensation and not an unfelt cause. It actually isn’t weight because weight is the moment of an object: its mass multiplied by the force of gravity. Therefore my sensation of weight will correlate with an objects mass, and within a limited range I may learn how to estimate the magnitudes of moments created by certain masses, but very light or heavy objects I will not be able to feel the weight of, and therefore their masses to me will be insensible. Despite this, for those very same objects with masses too heavy or light for me to feel, I can still use these proposed non-mental properties to accurately calculate the forces they exert on other objects when moving at certain velocities, and therefore will be able to predict not only whether or not distinct sensations will happen, but how they will happen.

Similarly, I can deduce the wavelength of light using a single slit chamber, the charge of an electron using an oil drop experiment, the flowing current in a wire by its deflection of a magnetic compass or the voltage produced by a voltaic pile using an electrometer. All of these examples allow me to infer the precise value of a proposed, unfelt quantity purely from my sensory perception of lengths and weights, aided by a ruler or weighing scales.

Proposing such purely-unfelt properties allows me to build an electric circuit with an output I can feel such as a lamp or heater, or to calculate the energy released from two burning powders and the colour of light with which they burn. Even extremely distant phenomena can be predicted, such as as-yet unobserved celestial bodies in the night sky which are then found to exist by asserting the existence of these unfelt properties. One might believe that current, charge and voltage are in fact felt, because feeling an electric shock is unpleasant in its own way. But all an electric shock feels like is some very fast vibration inside the body and some pain; so current, charge and voltage are non-mental qualities. It could also be asserted that wavelength of light is merely a more precise elucidation of the properties of colour and therefore is a sensible property, because as the wavelength of a shining light increases it goes from red, through yellow and green to blue. But this is not so because there are wavelengths of light we cannot see. This is the same proof why mass, velocity, and force are not reducible to the submodal sensations that inform us about them.

It must be added that there are some such postulated properties that I can feel, such as moments and lengths. The reason why these are physical, non-mental properties is because they can take on values of themselves that I cannot feel. I cannot feel the moment of a crushing weight that destroys my hand or the tiny moments bacteria produce on my skin when they touch me, just like I cannot see lengths smaller than 0.2 µm. These properties, that are both felt and unfelt, as well as those that are always unfelt, I refer to as physical properties.

It is known that objects less than 0.2 µm apart or smaller than 0.2 µm cannot be seen, because light itself cannot resolve below this distance. Arguably, a bumble bee with a microscope could see in finer detail than this, because it can see some ultraviolet hues, but then there will still be a limit, and no creature can see the shorter wavelengths of ultraviolet because hardly any of it penetrates the Earth’s atmosphere. In further speculation, a reptile can see infrared hues, it can see heat, so it has a higher upper limit of frequency of light compared to us humans. But it will still have an upper limit, and there won’t be any creature that can see above this limit because seeing microwaves would be biologically useless. Additionally, a pigeon won’t be able to feel the magnetic pulse created by a collapsing star, since it will be too great for the pigeon to distinguish, further emphasizing that there are unfelt causes.

An objection might be that other creatures perceive differently the physical properties we perceive, such as birds seeing lengths differently due to the architecture of their irises. This is not known for sure and is therefore speculative, but it remains true that I can successfully predict future sensations for the bird based on calculations that treats length and other properties as mathematical values.

If I were to take ketamine my perception of angle and length would become distorted, with objects becoming bizarre in shape, and also appearing either far tinier or larger than they should be in relation to myself. Further if I were to suffer damage to my posterior visual cortex I would become unable to see moving objects (akinetopsia), instead seeing the same stationary object multiplied through the line of its motion. These are the very senses I believe represent physical objects the closest; yet they, and indeed all of the ways I feel the world, are dependent on what is happening to the brain and therefore are completely variable. Someone might argue that this means that all is in fact sensation, that there is no consistent way of viewing the world other than as sensations succeeding one another and even the way I perceive those sensations is constantly changing. But if I can reliably induce a specific change in my perception which reverts over time, or even if it is permanent due to the damage being permanent, it shows that those sensations have causes, without it disclosing if those causes are just other sensations or unfelt causes. It also does not disprove that within my usual state of mind, I can prove that there are unexplained sensations if I assume that only sensations exist, that there clearly are experiential causes I cannot feel and that I can predict future sensations by proposing properties I can’t feel. Whether other animals see this way is unknown, but it remains true that I can make these deductions in my normal state.

Because I can use a purely postulated, mathematical value of a physical property to predict the appearance of a sensation that I can measure, both mathematically and judge with my bare senses, it does not matter that my only conception of such values to which I have assigned values to are in my sensual imagination. Such predictive power is proof that they exist just as much as my immediate sensations do.

The very fact that I can vary a physical property of a causative object, such as the weight of a falling tree, from a value below the limits of my senses, through those that I can directly feel, and up to and above those I cannot feel, and then use them to precisely predict the resultant sensations shows that physical properties causally underpin my sensations. Additionally, assigning a number to an unfelt cause, through calculation and algebra back to a length or weight scale, such as that unseen cause moving the nut, is the only way I can precisely predict how the nut will move and how my future sensations will change. This proves that the attributed mathematical aspect of physical properties is appropriate. Earlier the question was raised as to what the nature of these unfelt causes is, now I can conclude that they have a mathematical nature.

Clearly then, all of our continually changing experiences can not only be accurately described, but predicted if the objects of our experiences have non-mental, physical properties possessing mathematical quantities. Yet this fails to describe the relationship between our unfelt and our felt realities.

philosophymap2

Philosophy I

 

Sat on the dirty ground in an open field, I wonder what the nature of things is. It is best to begin with discovering the certainties of my existence. It seems obvious that I exist. I could not correctly think that I do not exist, or think that I am not thinking. Therefore if I can think, I must exist.

The dominant aspect of my existence is that which I can see. I see the green field before me rolling up to where it suddenly meets the sky. I see the sky’s gradual change in colour from bright pale blue to a darker blue. When I look down I find my own body, and beside it I notice the bits of twigs and small stones in the dirt.

The noises of the field are also apparent to me. I hear the rush of wind, the sharp, melodic singing of a bird, and a coarse scrape as I extend my leg in the dirt.

When I put my hand down on the ground, I notice that I feel the ground with my hand, as I can with my legs and my rear. I can displace more of my body weight onto my hand, which intensifies the deepness of the feeling of touch, meaning I have a sense of pressure. If I lean too hard with my hand, a small stone pushes into my hand and causes a feeling of pain which compels me to stop leaning.

After deciding to pick up some of the dirt, I hold it close to my nose. It has the familiar odour of earth, which I am diffusely aware of inside my nasal cavity, and can be felt more vividly if the smell is strong. I put a bit of the dirt on my tongue, which is accompanied by a sensation of the very same nature as that in my nose, only more densely and vividly. The sense of taste can only be felt on my tongue and is, like smell, a disperse sensation.

When a breeze blows past, I feel a combination of its gentle touch across my body and a unique cold sensation, which has a quality of sharpness. This seems to be relieved or even reversed, to a pleasant softer feeling of warmth when I am bathed in light as the sun emerges from behind the clouds. If I run around while in the warm sunshine I feel warmer until I feel hot, a distinctly uncomfortable feeling which causes me to seek a colder state.

Harder to notice is that I seem to be instinctively aware of where my arms and legs are with respect to the rest of my body. Similarly, if I lie down on the sloped part of the field nearby with my head below my feet, I feel a distinct disorienting sensation, the feeling of which is localised within my head.

These senses, which shall subsequently be referred to as sensory modalities, seem to be indescribably different from one another and each have their own localization of feeling, or their own field in which sensations appear, although these fields can overlap. These sensory fields have the property of acuity, or sensitivity: they can be precise or imprecise, disperse or acute.

Returning to what I see, my intention is to describe in more detail the peculiarities of this sensory modality. Overbearingly apparent is the variety of colours and shapes I see. The blue sky begins at the horizon as a pale, bright blue and gradually and imperceptibly becomes a deeper, darker blue as I look directly overhead. On the ground, beneath the grass lies the soil, composed of specks of dirt, which are distinguished from one another by sharp borders defined by the edge between two shades of brown, one darker than the other. Other pieces of dirt, or regions within a piece of dirt, may differ not in their brightness as above, but in their exact colour, or hue.
Brightness and hue can be demonstrated to be separate properties by approaching the nearby tree. The tree casts a shadow. This shadow appears flat on the ground imposed through an angle, and the grass underneath it appears darker than the grass outside it. When the grass moves out of the shadow, it appears brighter but could not have changed colour. If I hold a green leaf from the tree against a blade of such grass, they both appear green, but different hues, and the leaf too changes to a darker shade when moved under the tree’s shadow. In addition, the leaf has a distinct, singular border against the grass, defined by their differences in hue or by different brightness.
In contrast, the soil has no distinct edge; it appears to be a bland mass of brown, just as the hue of the sky gradually changes in brightness from its horizon to its zenith. But if the soil is looked at closer, the different hues and shades can be seen. Edges therefore represent a boundary in brightness and hue, since the world is not a diffuse blur and only those things which are composed of many tiny particles appear blurred, gradual and lacking distinct borders.
The borders of objects can change together in space, as an object moves. Therefore such movement is a mere change in the position of objects in my visual picture and does not seem to be a unique property of the vision modality.

Further, if I divide white light by shining it through a glass prism, I see that white light is merely my own coinciding perception of all the separate colours, which are far fewer in number than the infinite palette of hues I see around me. If brightness is one submodality which varies one-dimensionally in magnitude, then how many of these purified colours are their own submodality which likewise have a magnitude or intensity? These colours seem to blend continuously into one another. But they cannot all be one submodality of hue which varies with magnitude for they are not all of the same nature. Some areas of the colour band seem distinct or unique from one another. Hence there must be more than one submodality of colour. I can identify six distinct areas, starting from the inside of the refracted band of light: purple, blue, cyan, green, yellow and red. These colours can turn to one another, and when perceived outside of the colour band of diffracted light, red can turn to purple. So we can assume that within the mind these colour groups interact to produce an infinite range of hues between colours. But, if these submodalities interact this would produce twelve colours, and indeed between the colour groups, new hues can be identified, such as those of orange, turquoise and violet. However, six submodalities are not necessary to perceive all of these colours: only three submodalities are required to perceive the six colours originally listed.

In conclusion my visual world is uniquely characterised by innumerable hues of colours and shades of brightness or darkness, with brightness having the property of extent and the hues accounted for by the three colour submodalities, also possessing extent. Its field has a very high degree of acuity.

Two birds sit on adjacent branches in the tree I am looking at, on the left a magpie, on the right a sparrow. When the magpie moves its beak I hear a rattling, chattering croak, more prominent in my left ear than in my right. When the sparrow calls, I conversely hear a punctuated, melodic series of tweets. This time I hear the bird with greater intensity in my right ear, and with the understanding that the noise is coming from in front of me.
The magpie’s croak had a duller quality than the sparrow’s tweet, while the sparrow sounded sharp, such that a sound could not have both of these qualities. This level of “dullness” or “sharpness” of the noise is its frequency. At very low frequencies, sounds can cause mechanical vibration as bass and are heard as having a “deep” quality.
I am able to spatially locate a noise, in that my ears seem to each inform me of its location, although the precision of this ability is less than that for what I can see. I can feel an object move around me by virtue of hearing its position change in a particular direction, because my ears seem to have in place a map on which they can point in any direction around me.
Some more birds sing in the trees on the eaves of the forest far behind me. The frequency and melody of their songs sound identical to those birds nearby, with the exception of being dimmed, as though weakened by their distance from me. If I move away they sound dimmer still, until their songs become inaudible. If I approach the two birds in front of me their songs become fuller, as if strengthened. Should I click my fingers at arm length, the noise created is diminished compared to doing so right next to my ear. All sounds then, which could not have changed in frequency according to their distance from me, have this quality of fullness against weakness, that we call volume.
Some sounds are very short in duration like the sparrow’s individual noises, while others are gentle in arising, such as a wind’s breeze. This represents the speed with which the volume of the sound increases and is not a fundamental property.
Hearing then has the unique submodalities of frequency and volume, both of which have the property of magnitude, or intensity. There is an audible sensory field felt within each ear which locates a noise in space similarly to the visual field, but has less acuity.

The ranged sensory fields, the visual and auditory, have the property of having an inversely asymptotic increase in size or volume with regard to the distance away from the stimulus. For example, if I walk to the nearby tree it will get slowly larger and as I draw near it will gain in size very quickly until it can get no larger when I am right next to it. Similarly, if I hear the wind blowing through trees from a distance and approach, the volume of the noise will get louder until I am sat in the branches of the trees, but no louder than that.

All over and within my body, I can feel soft or hard touches. Unlike sight or hearing, they are felt on the body itself. As I put my hand on the ground, it first brushes past blades of grass. The grass feels soft and offers no rigidity, which is also felt everywhere my body is in contact with my clothes, or the wind, such that the feeling gives an impression of the shape of my body. Once my hand meets the ground and I displace my weight onto it, this sense of gentle touch transitions into a feeling of pressure, a greater extent of feeling. As I press harder on my hand, the feeling of hardness intensifies. This feeling can be reproduced anywhere in my body.
The modality of touch therefore has the unique submodality of pressure, having magnitude, allowing things to feel soft or hard. Its sensory field is universal in the body and has a varying acuity.

A touch is often accompanied in the same sensory field location by a feeling of warm or cold and can be accompanied by pain. If I press too hard into the ground, an additional, dull sensation which is abhorrent and urges me to release pressure on my hand arises. The same sensation occurs if I should lean on a smaller stone, but more severe with a feeling of sharpness and greater urgency. This feeling can also be felt anywhere in my body, however it is most intense upon and after an injury and diminishes the more time passes from the injury, still being present without the affected area being touched. Therefore, despite the identical sensory field as touch, the modality of pain is not a submodality of touch and is characterised by its own unique submodality of pain, which has magnitude, the “sharp” feeling described earlier.
Additionally a similar but tolerable irritating and unpleasant sensation which compels me to scratch can arise on my skin if I am in a position of discomfort. This irritation can arise on its own and varies in degree and also can be felt anywhere in the body.

The pleasant feeling of heat in my body when the sun shines on it transitions to feeling of coldness gradually as I move into a colder area or as the night draws on. Because holding a warm or cold object can result in a warm or cold feeling as well as a feeling of touch in the same area, I could think that this feeling of warmth is a submodality of the touch modality. But as in the case of basking in the sun, I can feel warm or cold without being touched. Sensation of temperature seems less accurate or defined as that of touch or pain, and is less sensitive as temperatures seem to blend into each other whereas touch and pain do not. Thermoception is not always felt, like touch and pain, but is less noticeable or vivid than either. It is only really vivid at extremes. Therefore, the modality of thermoception has the unique submodality of warmth, which has magnitude and is felt within a universal sensory field and is less acute, sensitive and vivid than touch or pain.

I could sample many objects to taste, but some underlying properties of different tastes can be found, and these are sweetness, saltiness, sourness, bitterness and savouriness. Each type of object seems to have a compound taste composed of any of these five basic flavours. Flavours and odours are perceived as having the same fundamental nature, the same submodality. However, I can recall many more individual smells than I can tastes, they have such variety that I cannot list them. While many things can taste partly sweet, savoury, bitter, sour or salty, they are constrained by these submodalities. However, odours each have their own nature in addition to these submodalities and they can only be known by smelling them. In addition each odour and each taste may evoke an inherent sensation of disgust or pleasure or neither. I am able to detect fainter odours in my nose than in my mouth, so olfaction must be more sensitive than gustation because odours are stimulated by less matter. Yet the sensation of soil on my tongue is much more present than its odour in my nose, so smell is less vivid than taste. In both cases the perception of flavour or odour is felt generally in the mouth or nasal cavity. It is easy to think that olfaction is merely taste at a distance, but in fact I can only perceive odours that have reached my nose and has no more a ranged sensory field than touch or taste do.
Therefore gustation and olfaction both have in common the unique submodality of flavour or odour, which has magnitude. The olfaction modality has a sensitive sensory field in the nasal cavity and taste has one which is less sensitive but has stronger vividness on the tongue, and both have low acuity.

Proprioception, my awareness of where my body parts are in relation to my other body parts, has a barely perceptible phenomenology, and its presence can only be noticed if focused on. However it is precise and sensitive, since I am always aware of where my body parts are. The vestibular sensation however, when invoked has a definite feeling which urges the correction of the body posture, but it has little range of magnitude and is insensitive since it can only be felt when off balance.

Some unifying properties of the senses have therefore been identified. All senses depend on time to make sense; they are impossible to imagine without time.

Sensory acuity refers to the level of discernment between different points in the sensory field. For example, my visual sensory acuity is very high (seemingly the highest of all the senses), while the sensory acuity in my fingertips is also high while in my lower back I struggle more to discern between stimuli. By comparison, my auditory sensory acuity is much less precise than my visual acuity.

Each submodality seems also to have a typical vividness, how intense its magnitude most often feels. For instance, the vestibular sense is not very noticeable to me, while pain, or anything in my visual experience will immediately grab my attention. It is the modal magnitude of the submodalities.

Sensations cannot be infinitely large and an infinitely small sensation cannot be felt. Therefore, each submodality has a magnitude range. In the dark, even the tiniest of lights can be seen within my visual field. Similarly, very small things can be felt that come into contact with me, especially for the submodality of pain. By contrast, it is not uncommon for small noises to go unheard and the same applies to tastes. Submodal sensitivity is therefore very difficult to compare between senses, but principally it is the lower limit of perception of the submodality. Upper magnitude limits on the submodalities are bound by pain. Pain begins before the upper limit of a submodality is met.

Certain separate submodalities, including different odours, different tastes and different colours, are of the same fundamental nature, yet different, like separate submodalities within a common theme. The three basic colour submodalities, through which’s magnitude variations and interactions produce the innumerable hues we see, are alike in all fundamental ways but one. Something ineffable differs between them. Similarly, the five gustatory submodalities and the many olfactory submodalities all have the same essence, yet each of them is unique. Unlike the colours however, they do not interact. I can smell both smoke and food at the same time; they overlap, they do not congeal into a new odour. Touch and pain however, are separate submodalities of the same sensory field as they can both be felt in one location within that field, for example the tip of a finger.

Generally, it appears that the more submodalities within one modality, and the greater the interaction between those submodalities, the richer the experience within that modality.

Each sensory modality has its submodalities, some of which are unique to the modality, defining it. Submodalities are identified by separation according to how they feel, and have the property of magnitude in which they vary and all modalities have their sensory fields.
Therefore I propose the sensory modalities, followed by their submodalities and sensory fields to be thus:

Modality Vision Auditory Tactile Pain Thermo-

ception

Gustation/

Olfaction

Vestibular/

proprioception

Submodality Three colours, brightness Frequency,

volume

Touch Pain,
tickle,

irritation

Warmth Sweetness,
saltiness,
sourness,
savouriness,
bitterness,
other odours (nose).
Body-orientation
Sensory field Eyes (ranged) Ears (ranged) Whole body Whole body Whole body Mouth, nose

 

Whole body
Sensory acuity Highly acute Acute Acute Acute Less acute Imprecise Imprecise
Vividness Highly vivid Vivid Vivid Highly vivid Less vivid Vivid (mouth), less vivid (nose) Dull/not vivid

 

There are however, similar feelings which arise within me that are time-dependent and not dependent on the exterior environment. As the hours go by I begin to feel an uncomfortable gnawing emptiness in the stomach, which compels me to think of, find and ingest food. If I do not drink, I will slowly begin to feel an intense dryness in my mouth which will drive me to find and drink water. I also feel a growing and unpleasant watery sensation in my bladder and a push in my bowels, which urges me to relieve it by finding a place to excrete. Finally, as the day becomes dark, I feel a dulling sensation in the head and body, causing me to desire to lie down somewhere comfortable and close my eyes.

Once again, each inner bodily sensation has its own anatomically-relevant sensory field. Each of the sensations of hunger, needing to urinate or excrete and tiredness are accompanied by an urge which is separate from their pain-like submodalities, and this urge acts as motivation to act to find relief from the sensation.

There are other internal feelings which do not appear to serve a simple biological function. Instead, these are produced in response to something I have seen, heard or thought. They are characterised by their inner richness and they fill me on the inside. These are the emotions and their function is to determine my behaviour, such that the outer behaviour resembles the unseen inner feeling of the emotion. Emotions have a deeper sense of meaning than the senses.
The emotions are many separate submodalities, and disentangling them is exceptionally difficult as many of them occupy the same sensory fields. Additionally, many of these submodalities are alike. The emotional sensory field is typically within the stomach and heart and on occasions, in the arms, throat or head. Their vividness can be all-consuming but varies to the fullest degree possible and their sensitivity is questionable because their stimuli are complex and they can be induced by thought alone.
I will nominate five most basic emotions, or five submodalities of emotion. This shall be based on their distinctness of feeling from one another and that each of the many other emotions seem alike to one of these five. These emotions are love, happiness, sadness, anger and fear. These are the emotions which are most like themselves, but all other emotions have them as a part of their whole. Examples of other emotions related to these basic five are compassion, like love, nostalgia and amusement, like happiness, shame, like sadness, jealousy, like anger, and anxiety and disgust, like fear. Although, I will not try to categorize or rationalise the non-basic emotions any further here. All of these emotions have effects on thought. Anger can severely hinder thought while fear causes it to prioritize survival. Love, sadness and happiness affect thought in other ways.

Other internal feelings which are more mental than visceral yet still have a huge effect on behaviour are concentration and absent-mindedness, motivation and lethargy, and expectation and surprise. These are not truly emotions because they are typically much less vivid than the emotions, and their sensory field is within the mind. Their submodalities are difficult to describe because they are not very vivid and their main effect is to evoke action, thought or inaction. There are other emotions, which could be the result of combinations between the more basic emotions, such as wonder, courage, pride and excitement (accompanied by a rushing feeling of adrenaline), and are likewise difficult to describe. Other examples include familiarity, panic, pity and gratitude.

I notice that sensations conveying a change in the environment from the separate modalities coincide with and give evidence for one another. If I pick up a twig fallen from the nearby tree, its appearance suggests to me how it shall feel, and the tactile impression upon my hands agrees with its appearance. And should I snap the twig, the noise heard gives evidence that the twig is thin and brittle, and I hear, feel and see the twig snap all simultaneously. My sensual impressions are autonomously synchronized together, giving me a sense that I am one self. But, if I sit and meditate, I can experience a greater awareness of my senses and feel greater presence of a process of meta-cognition which oversees them. To contrast, if I take a hallucinogenic drug, I can enter into a depersonalized state which lacks self-awareness and lacks the integration between my senses. Additionally, if I were to lie back on the grass in the warm sun, I could fall asleep and have a dream. During the dream I will experience sensory impressions, perhaps touch and certainly visual silhouettes, but I will lack most of my self-awareness and cross-integration between my senses and thoughts. Therefore, self-awareness, which oversees the senses and all other mental states, and leads one thought to another and one memory to another, is only a malleable mental state employed to facilitate my own individual agency, but it is that which can most accurately be called my-self.

For some, certain letters or numbers appear only in particular colours. Red ink, when drawing symbols, may turn blue for some people when a certain number is drawn. Even fewer people see colours when a particular sound is heard, sometimes colours unknown to anyone else. I, however, only experience synaesthesia which is associative rather than directly perceptual: I associate blueness with coldness, yellow with happiness, particular hues of brown with sophistication and spicy tastes with redness. It could then be suggested that submodalities are not truly separate or independent, and our senses are all just an indescribable mix lacking true boundaries. But they clearly are separate by nature; in both weak and strong forms of synaesthesia, each submodal sensation is still only itself, and is felt within its own sensory field boundary or the imagination, just, for unclear reasons, two sensations are being perceived simultaneously.

The senses also impart to me an awareness that I am in a singular location, due to the fact that I can see both parts of my own body and things which are not my body but can only feel things which touch my body. This also makes me aware that the soil my hand rests on is not me, because I only feel within my hand and not within the soil.

Whenever I decide, I can recall sensations I have perceived in the past, which is the recalling of a memory. Any memory has a diminished sensitivity relative to the sensation that was actually perceived in the modality, as if it is not an authentic sensation. For example I can remember the birds in the tree I listened to, but I cannot hear or see them with the same vividness as I did in the field. It additionally lacks detail from that which was perceived, if I imagine the tree I approached, I can only see within my memory’s eye parts of it at any one moment and not the entire thing. Therefore memory can take on the form of any submodality or sensory field but has diminished acuity and sensitivity.
Imagination operates in much the same way but instead the sensations called upon do not need to have been felt in the past. It can further be distinguished from memory in that I have a distinct feeling of whether or not some sensation has truthfully been felt before when I remember it, while when I imagine a perception I know that I have created it.

As I sit here in the field thinking, each thought has associated with it the imagined sound of my own voice speaking each thought. Apart from that, thinking has a submodality which is phenomenologically thin, that is to say, it can barely be felt. Its vividness is therefore minuscule and its sensory field is within the head. When I am thinking I am trying to make a connection between two or more things in a causal sense, and until that connection is made there is a sense of confusion. Under some conditions a completed thought can be accompanied by a large feeling of surprise, and very occasionally, a strong feeling of understanding. All of this applies equally to the thoughts which do not require narration by my mind’s voice. Examples of such thoughts include performing actions or watching events that I am familiar with. Often the connection a thought makes is made before I verbalise the thought. A further instance would be that if I look down at two bits of grass in the dirt below, I have a non-verbal thought which bestows me the understanding that there are two of them. But if I were to count many this would require language in my thoughts. Thought therefore becomes language as it becomes more intricate, which leads on to logic. Thinking is the only mental state which infers; it makes the connections between the sensations we perceive.

TheoryofMind2