Linear thinking LO22911

AM de Lange (
Tue, 19 Oct 1999 15:24:17 +0200

Replying to LO22898 --

Dear Organlearners,

Chuck Wallace < > writes:

>I wonder if thinking "non-linearly" through the "complexity lens"
>can actually change the structure of the brain? Would this
>then allow easier absorption of nonlinear patterns.... i.e.
>increasing returns (A. Anderson) or positive feedback loop?
>Has anyone come across research along these lines I would be
>most interested on the connection of thought and brain function?

Greetings Chuck,

I keep my eyes open for the kind of information which you ask, but very
little has popped up to now. I have not yet conducted a dedicated search
on such information.

Most people think of the neurological system as a very complex electronic
circuit with the individual neurons acting as wires or switches. This kind
of thinking is metaphorically helpful, but causes much confusion and even
nonsense when the metaphor is carried too far. A typical example is the
left-right brain topology (Greek: "topos"=place). These left-right brain
converts seldom, if ever, ascribe any functions to organs in the brain
which are not duplicated, for example the brain stem or the pons.

The nerves from the ears, eyes, nose and mouth enter the brain at certain
definite locations. This strengthens the idea that the function of the
brain is mostly topological. Since electronic circuits are completely
topological, it is understandable why people so easily think of the brain
in a topological manner. They will often use the term "hard wiring" to
refer to the influence of brain topology on thinking.

As soon as people become knowledgable on the relationship between brain
damage (strokes, accidents) and thinking, they shift from a topological
model to a morphological model (Greek: "morphe"=form). They know each
distinctive feature (by way of its unique form) in the brain and try to
find a correspondence between it and a definite mental activity. The
morphological model gives better interpretative results than the
topological model. But it remains a weak model.

In my opinion we ought to look at the neurological system from as many
facets (disciplines) as possible. We should especially not lose sight of
the chemistry of the brain. Unfortunately, this chemistry happens on the
molecular level and not the macro= scopical level. On this microscopical
level topological notions (such as "hard-wired") and and morphological
notions (such as "organ-induced") have to be completely overhauled.

There is a very complex relationship between the abstract thought patterns
of our mind and the physical chemical reactions within and between the
neurons in our "brain" (actually our whole neurological system involving
the brain, the spinal cord and all the nerves in the whole body). Just
page through a pharmacological encyclopedia of medicine to get an idea of
the tens of thousands of different pure compounds which each has already
been tested thoroughly and all the side effects recorded, including
changes in thinking (patterns and moods). Another way to get an idea is
to live with a traditional herbalist in the wild and let him point out to
you the herbs causing mental changes, eating some samples here and there
just to check on his credibility. A third way is to observe your fellow
humans closely and see how the functioning of their mind is influenced by
the things which they eat and drink.

The paragraph above points to the fact that the chemistry of the brain
influences the "chemistry of the mind" decisively. It is very sad that so
many people know so little about this influence. This ignorance is
responsible for the lack of mental control by the person self when abusing
certain substances, or the unwanted mental control by subversive
organisations by seemingly innocent means.

What is this "chemistry of the mind"? It is nothing else than creativity.
(It is not my "deep creativity" since the latter involves both the
chemistry of the brain and the "chemistry of the mind" among many other

However Chuck, your question concerns the reverse case of the back
action:- can patterns in thinking change the (pick your choice) topology,
morphology, physiology or chemistry of the brain? Can thinking change the
"hard-wiring"? Can the "chemistry of the mind" influence the chemistry of
the brain?

It is exactly when we try to answer the latter question we discover that
our modern analytical instrumentation (such as NMR, HPLC, GCMS,
e-PHORESIS), although immensely powerful when compared to the analytical
techniques of a century ago, are still far too crude to give us even an
indication of what is going on. It has already been discovered with GCMS
that persons with certain FIXED mental disorders (advanced schizofrenia,
advanced obsessive compulsion) produce certain chemicals indicative of
their disorders.

These chemicals have been discovered in the skin, hair and liver, but not
in the brain because the bottom limit of detection of these instruments is
still far too high. The brain needs pico (10^-12) and femto (10^-15)
amounts to alter its function dramatically. Furthermore, the response time
of the modern analytical instruments are also far too slow to trace any
dynamic changes in the mind and not only fixed changes (disorders).

Any dog breed with a good smell (like a Blood Hound or a Alsasion)
function far better than the best available analytical instruments costing
millions of dollars. Our dogs (two Alsations) can and do smell the kind
of thoughts which I have. A previous one (called Noah) was so clever that
when I had sad thoughts he would make whining sounds, or when I had happy
thoughts he would make panting sounds, or when I was angry he would move
far away from me after one sniff. It is good to have a dog which tells you
-- "I know how you feel".

The dogs do not smell the compounds which my brain itself produces. These
compounds are produced in too small amounts and have to be moved form the
brain to the surfcae of the skin to be smelled. What rather happens, is
that these compounds trigger other organs in the body to produces other
compounds in much larger quantities and variety (one-to-many mapping),
thus giving different spectra indicative of different mental moods. It is
interesting to observe that when one works with a specific compound for
some reason, how this compound distorts the mood spectrum for the dog.

Poeple who think so much about the fuction of the two hemispheres in
creativity, have probably never traced the evolution of these hemispheres.
In the simple invertebrata where they are still recognisable, they seem to
have only one function, Guess what function? The olfactory function --
sensitivity to chemicals!

To get an understanding of how the mind (not brain) influences the
production of definite chemicals, one has to know more about Irreversible
Thermodynamics. IT is the study of entropy production by means of
force-flux pairs and the outcomes (manifestations) of this entropy
production. During every (there is not even one exception) chemical
reaction there is a production of entropy. Most (of the few people who
think about entropy production) see it as a consequence of the chemical
reaction. But actually it is the cause of the reaction. Any entropic
force-flux pair, when operating in a mixture of chemical compounds
initially at equilibrium, will cause a chemical reaction which upsets the
equilbrium. The brain is, among other things, a micture of chemical

What kinds of force-flux pairs operate in the brain? Here are
a few examples.

entropic force entropic flow
~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~
pressure volume flow (blood)
concentration osmotic flow (total dissolved)
chemical potential substance flow (specific compounds)
voltage (EG) ion flow (electrolytes)

Try to picture in your mind how the thinking brain looks like when taking
into consideration each of these many entropic force-flux pairs operating
in many regions of the brain. For each entropic force or entropic flux we
need its own kind of instrument to measure it. Should we really try to
measure all of them, the laboratory will almost look like an exhibition of
all kinds of instrumentation. The wires and tubes going into the brain
will be any technician's nightmare. This image will not do for our

The best image is to think metaphorically by giving a certain force-flux
pair a specific colour of the rainbow. The physical brain then looks like
a strange three dimensional movie having wierd forms changing like in a
pygmallion, but much faster. I have never seen the "polar lights", but I
imagine the result of this metaphor will be much like them -- polar lights
in the brain! A 3D holographic display in many colours will also give an
indication of how the metaphor will look like.

In the case of linear thinking the brain will show a few regular patterns
in a few colours which will change slowly in a few places in the brain. It
will look like the regular patterns in mass production stuff like wall
paper, dress material or a TV set not well tuned. But in the case of
non-limear thinking the diversity in patterns will become much more, the
colours used will become much more and the patterns will change faster in
many places in the brain. This latter mental image is the one which I had
in mind when I used the phrase "rich picture" so many times in my

Chuck, you ask specifically if thinking about complexity will enhance
non-linear thinking. Yes, it does, and as follows.

People say that diversity in nature breeds diversity. Diversity
has to do with the essentiality otherness. There are also six
other essentialities of creativity:- liveness, sureness, wholeness
fruitfulness, spareness, openness. When you fellow learners go
again into nature untouced as far as possible by human culture,
try to observe how in nature
diversity breed diversity,

in other words
otherness promotes otherness.

Once you have become aware of this, try to become aware how
liveness promotes liveness
sureness promotes sureness
wholeness promotes wholeness
fruitfulness promotes fruitfulness
spareness promotes spareness
openness promotes openness.

After you have become aware how each essentiality promotes itself, try to
become aware how each essentiality promotes the other six.

Ashby (or is it Beer) said that variety is the measure of complexity.
Variety has to do with the essentiality otherness. In other words,
otherness is "a" (not "the") measure of complexity. Why "a" and not "the"
measure? Because each of the other six essentialities measures a different
dimension of complexity! When you are able to think in terms of all seven
essentialities, you will think very complex. When you are able to perceive
how each essentiality promotes all seven essentialities, your mind will
have have shifted into the complex world of non-linear, irreversible,
one-to-many-mapping. The entropic force-flux pairs producing entropy in
the brain, will (when represented by colours) produce moving like those
depicting nature -- movies taken in the deserts ot the tropics, in polar
regions to its equator scenes, in the water and form the air. What more
non-linear thinking can we desire?

The trouble with culture (of humans) rather than nature is that it
disturbs the harmony in the brain immensely. If you want to form an image
of what I mean, find a very strong magnet and bring it closer to a TV
screen with an undistorted broadcast (the nature case). As soon as the
magnet (culture) gets closer to the TV screen, the picture gets distorted
(culture case). If you move the magnet fast enough, it will even reduce
the tuning to the channel. As a result you will get the typical regular
patterns of bad tuning (linear thinking). What?

When we think linearly, we have to seek the cause in culture and not in
nature. This is the great lesson which Jean Russouw tried to teach us with
his book Emile, one of the best books ever written in the history of human
kind on learning .

I have a question for each one of you.

Can Learning Organisations afford linear thinking?

Best wishes


At de Lange <> Snailmail: A M de Lange Gold Fields Computer Centre Faculty of Science - University of Pretoria Pretoria 0001 - Rep of South Africa

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