Table of Contents
How far does (the dominion of) the (unified) self extend? It’s arbitrary. It could be zero, an illusion resulting from the convergence of non-self processes, as it is in Buddhism. [Still, this self is full of concern and interest. It strives and works to fulfill its striving. The self is always selfish because when it reflects it sees that all its activity relates everything to the same center of interests.]
How far does (the dominion of) the (unified) self extend? To begin let’s define the self as the point-like seat of intentional unified effort (will) that we believe is free. An intentional unified effort—as opposed to what’s really going on underneath. For the reality underneath may just be
- A chaotic multiplicity of desires that can be conflicting. Desires can be many, conflicting, and mutually canceling.
- Desires can also be vegetative, unified automatic movements that make ATP or transcribe proteins. Desires that coordinate but without intent. Like a plant.
So we can imagine that the power of the “I” moves outwards under different universals. Once the atoms have started reacting in the human way, you have a source of unified negentropic power. Minimally, the body is doing the work of living and self-repair. This is true even of vegetating humans—sleeping, unconscious, or comatose.
We can imagine that the intending acts of the body, and so the body’s self-concept, exist and spread out along multiple group-type realities simultaneously. That is to say, the embodied self is many kinds of groupings at once; it exists on multiple levels of abstraction simultaneously.
But before we can treat these different levels, we must recognize that all of them occur on the side of intentional activity. But the self arises unintentionally. Before there is an “I,” there must be matter. Matter combines and coordinates into life, and then life becomes sentient, and then sentience becomes self-representing—and then intentional consciousness arises. So there are two distinct fundamental strata:
- The focusing of many into one. Matter organizing into a unified and intentional “I.”
- The responsibility expansion of this one over many. The “I” learning to identify its concern with larger and larger spheres (higher and higher genera).
The self (the “I”) originates as a coordinated intelligence over the body. Then the conscious person arranges for being-doing-having in the context of language and society.
- Matter organizes into negentropic structures that develop survival enhancing behavior due to natural selection. Surviving patterns get to … survive and reproduce.
- Cells come together into colonies that enhance the survival of the genotype.
- Organisms develop unified and coordinated awareness of the environment Organisms represent the world and represent themselves as locus of representation. Thus, a survival-oriented “I” develops.
Thus is born our self as a coordinated survival impulse. What is born is an attitude, a survivor, a Godfather-like power that seeks to secure its survival. Survival produces a consciousness that works self-consciously for survival. The Godfather power has the final say in the behavior of the organism and is the master director behind all willing.
So there is first a concentration of many wills, many cells in the colony, realizing survival advantage from coordinating into a body, and bodies that can anticipate the future realize a further advantage. So the advent of the negentropic eddy produces the “I” that floats over and above the 10-trillion cells that produce and constitute it. The representer that represents itself is born. Then, a kind of cohering of a completely different order can begin to manifest. Once there is an “I” over and above the body, the “I” can consider itself under higher and higher orders of abstraction.
The Godfather is a survival-committed care-taking intelligence. The Godfather, who is just the interest in survival, expands his power (survivability) out and across the following dynamics. The self is an impulse that seeks to pull in and take care of the well-being of the self under some concept. The self arises as responsibility for the well-being of some collection or kind:
- your body-self
- your body’s half-self (children)
- your team (self as our gang; in-group members)
- your same species (self as we humans; in-team and out-team members)
- your same grade of entropy (negentropic, living, sentient)
- your same grade of stuff (particulate matter)
- all consciousness generally (the push behind material motion)
- the ultimate reality on which all existence rests (Nature/God)
A note on (2). In all these instances, my ontological expansion occurs through consciously co-willing with other material bodies under some shared universal. I know that my surviving, the impulsion and quickening behind my constant doing, is shared by others, and that we see the same world and even think in the same language. We also recognize each other and work for each other. So the affinity we have for the child and spouse really falls under (3): being with a team. Also, the spouse and child are not on the same tier. The only thing distinguishing family from (3) is DNA, and this is shared only in the child. The spouse is secondary to the child.
We can rewrite these with an eye to the nature of subjectivity in each dynamic:
- “I”—The “I” is private and inside the body yet unified, perduring, and aware. It senses, feels pleasure/pain, recognizes, infers, and has certain behavior tendencies.
- “My biological form”—The “I” sees the body as a possession that determines the “I.” I am allergic to oranges; my son is also allergic. I have a big nose; he has a big nose. Also, my DNA makes me care for my children. I see something, not of my spirit, but of my body in my child’s body. My self is partly biological form, and this is shared across individuals. You body can share some of its phenotype (and genotype) with its half-selves, its “children.”
- “We”—The “I” sometimes prioritizes the goals of the team over its own goals. A solider is self-consciously subjugating his will to the will of a coordinated team striving. He derails his bodily preferences and becomes a cell in an organism whose goals are more important than his own. Here the “I” is spread-out among in-group members. Our will vs their will. The greater the threat, the more intimate the team-consciousness. Every part cares most for the whole, and “I” is happily a means for the “we.”
- “Everybody” (humanity)—The “I” here speaks not for the individual for for the species. This is Marx’s species being. An individual body is has interest from being an individual, but also interest stemming from the kind that it instantiates. The “I” here actually has a plural extension. The agent that speaks, here, pretends to be the universal: “We humans are …” The voice arises from the shared form, not the matter. “All triangles!” says the triangle.
- “Everybody” (life)—The “I” here speaks for all bodies of the same entropic type. I love people, but if they’re not accessible I am happy to commune with a fly. I can root for an amoeba in an amoeba–paramecium battle. Even plants (we feel) strive for the sun with an inner feeling of need or lack that we can relate to. If I’m on Mars and I have a plant, you bet I’ll refer to us as us. Damned right I’ll talk to it. Here, the self is life generally.
- “Everything”—The “I” here speaks for the kind of stuff it is made of. Here, the self is the matter of the home universe, as opposed to other kinds of matter.
- “Atman”—Here the “I” identifies with all consciousness generally.
- “Brahman”—Here the “I” identifies with all existence generally, with Nature, or God.
This is LRH’s system of taxonomic ranks:
- individual (body)
- children and other relatives (half-bodies)
- trusted tribe (some members of same species)
- same species (all members of same species)
- same grade of entropy (life)
- same reality (material; all matter)
- same ideality (consciousness; all consciousness)
- same ontology (existence; Nature/God)
Let’s rewrite LRH’s by getting rid of unnecessary distinctions. First, what does the list of dynamics pretend to represent? It is the identification of conscious intent and concern with increasingly larger classes of object. As such, the Eight Dynamics is LRH’s system of taxonomic rank. Since the object of his investigation is the self qua organism, why not use the standard taxonomic ranks?
Why not the following:
- species, genus, family, order, class, phylum, kingdom
If we use this scheme, then we will see that there are really only three divisions here.
- The material individual. Self as this body.
- The various kinds or forms that the individual falls under—e.g., family, in-team, out-team, human, mammal, animal, life-form.
- The existence of the individual as material presence—matter and matter’s underpinnings.