Guest post: Percept and its related concepts

Originally a comment by Brony on We’re adept at masking inconsistencies from ourselves.

percepts [the object of perception]

That word. Percept and its related concepts have been invaluable to me in getting an understanding of how brains and minds unify with respect to human behavior. When I consider that word a whirlwind of brain anatomy, journal articles, psychology and sociology stream through my thoughts. It’s so relevant to unifying how emotion, reason, logic, what is in perception, and resulting system one and two responses operate in a functional, real-world sense. The picture is not complete but so many useful pieces are already there.

The precept is the world that exists in your perception. Sight, sound, touch, smell, taste, position of your parts relative to each other and objects, direction of motion and gravity. All of those break down into a fascinating array of sensors that are combined in a hierarchical assembly of what you experience.

I wish could easily, and conveniently describe how all of that functionally assembles reality here, but the resulting picture and how it works functionally is another matter. In this picture once you assemble an image and identify components, you start classifying and ordering pieces based on emotional tags attached to previous percepts due to past experience. Think about the emotional resonance of a swastika, a recognized logical fallacy, a “dog whistle” like the word feminism that means totally different things to different people, or a kitten.

Once you have assigned meaning to what you perceive, you prioritize what should do based on the content (in positive/negative, or good/bad terms. sometimes neutral terms). What you interact with first or interact with at all, how you choose to implicitly and explicitly portray what you see to yourself and others, what perspective you choose to apply, whether how or what you choose to attack defend or obfuscate about, or if you choose to neutrally understand and reason.

Reason and logic are like “apps” here. They are learned analysis tools that are compatible with the learning machinery that are applied by implicit or explicit choices and those choices are driven by emotional signatures like the puffs of gas from a spaceship’s maneuvering thrusters. They are targeting systems (I wish I remember who made that analogy). The emotion drives you down paths of actions and the amount self-awareness that you have about the whole process is a learned thing as well. We do not tend to choose to use logical fallacies (I leave room for people that do for dishonest usefulness), we are driven to use them because they work in a social sense based on past experience and like a martial artist learning a form, one has to gain an awareness of the forms of “primate chess” that drive social interaction like we see in sociopolitical conflicts.

Here is where our routines create the inconsistencies that blind us to how we treat others differently for social convenience. It’s unconscious strategy on a group level. We don’t do it on purpose, but neither do we just “do it” in a way that removes personal responsibility. One reasons many are resistant to accepting knowledge is because it ALWAYS comes with a price. One you know what you are doing you are responsible in a way that can be stark and unpleasant. Catharsis sucks, but driving another to one has it’s uses.

The logic of the system is a reality that can be used for wonderful or terrible purposes. But make no mistake we are all using it or letting it use us. However greater understanding of it can make a person an angel or a demon, so don’t think that the moral and ethical worries will all disappear with self-awareness. There are many paths to psychopathy, and empathy.

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