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Saturday, November 04, 2006

Assumption = Reflex & Intention Responding to Meaning

David Bohm: Every assumption is implicitly a reflex and a set of intentions. A person cannot form intentions except on the basis of what the situation means to him, and if he misses the mark on what it means, he will form the wrong intentions.

To restate in my own words, Bohm says that, for there to be an intention and the reflex that carries out an intention, there first has to be an intepretation that is based on assigning meaning.

I'll have to watch situations where that's happening in me. The first example that comes to my mind is from an infant with colic; they form the intention to cry as a response to having incomplete digestive systems, and they cry. Do they cry in hopes of getting attention from the parent? I think they're too young for that. They cry because they hurt and that's how they're little brains are wired to express pain? There's really no way of telling because they can't talk. But this is what I've seen by how they act. If you take away the pain, they stop crying, just as a horse will put it's foot back down if it stops hurting. But a dog who had trained itself to hold it's foot up will keep doing it. I don't think a child as young as that has the ability to be so trained to "call" the parent, even though the parent may assume so. That whole train of manipulation happens later as the child gets a little older.

I imagine this statement of Bohm's comes from assigning a sequence to "all" actions. He's a physicist and he wants to make a "law" of meaning, I guess. Lately, I'm quite suspicious of this idea of "all" that I also seem to want to have. It seems that "gets the wrong interpretation by missing the mark" is the operant part of the quote.

I'm not sure that there is always an interpretation process that goes on. I know that there is not always in place a trained reponse that answers an interpretation of meaning. People often do not know what to do about what meanings and conclusions they come to. The imperative nature of some of these conclusions often leads them to "do something" instead of waiting for more information. Interpretations imply familiarity, and sometimes there is no familiarity and it is obvious the unusual is wrongly interpreted. Grownups can feel uncomfortable around unfamiliarity, but kids learn from it; that's why kids will learn a language faster than their parents can.

Maybe there is "always" a meaning that is coupled with a response that doesn't have to be 'true.' If the person is observant and continues to learn, this meaning can becomes updated or more sophisticated as things turn out to be happening differently from what meaning was first assummed.

I'm not sure about this - because some of us can hang out in a ongoing state of blank curiosity (at least when a child.) People can just pay attention and experience. We can always come to conclusions about what it all meant and what is the most appropriate response to deal with it quite a bit later, when there is no imperative of fear or immediate action. I can have an ongoing intention to suspend, and just "wait and see" for instance. Would what I just described be what Bohm termed a "deep" intention? No, I think this non-judgmental curiosity is an "original" state.

Thought or intention coming before action doesn't really have to happen like that in many people who do not write - as it can happen in most people who write. People can just "do things" without thinking or having an intention - they see what happens. Then they adjust their actions toward what they want to occur, or want to avoid. Some people act in order to "stir up" something so they can have some differences to sense and then have some observations to make an intention with.

Then I come along and write about them... ;o)

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