As described in my previous article, Birth of a Story Mind, when people gather in groups, they self-organize into a group mind in which each individual specializes in one of our mental functions, such as becoming the voice of reason for the group, or the skeptic, or the conscience of the group. These functions are both cognitive and affective, and for the group mind to form, is must have all of those function at work within it.
In a large population of individuals, many group minds will naturally form as the anarchy begins to settle into organization. When group minds encounter one another as they move through the population, some will collide and shatter, some will maintain their identity but have their course altered by the encounter and focus on other subject matter, and some will combine to form larger group minds in which each smaller group begins to specialize to focus on one of our mental functions.
So, one group will come to express (or represent) the voice of reason within the larger group, while another will express skepticism, and still other will function as the larger group’s conscience. Just because a whole smaller group begins to focus or center on reason, as an example, does not mean that it stops having its own voice of reason with it, and its own skeptic and conscience. Rather, these individuals in the smaller group will still function as the voice of reason within the reason group, while another individual will still function as the skeptic in regard to reason.
In essence, one might say that as a small group specializes within a larger group, the members of the smaller group move with it, maintaining their relative positions within the small group as they all be come consistently biased toward the new thrust of their small group within the larger group. In other words, the individuals take on the flavor of their group as it evolves as a member group of a larger group mind.
This process is not unlike how solar systems form, gathering aggregate from dust to form small particles that combine into larger particles, rocks, boulders, and so on. It is also not unlike the way the brain works insofar as neurons in the brain (individuals) gather together into ganglia (little neural networks of a few thousand cells), which then gather into clusters and ultimately into the hemispheres of the overall brain
Like in a solar system, loose gas and dust gathers at the center of this evolving organization until the planets, story archetypes or social groups revolve around it. Eventually, this gravitational center reaches a critical mass and becomes a star, the Main Character for a story, or the identity of a social group.
When people feel they are members of a tribe, not just of their families, or of their state or nation, not just of their county or neighborhood, it is an primary indicator that one or more larger group minds above them has reached a critical mass and is burning with an energy from which they draw. In our own minds, this is our self awareness, the “I” in “I think, therefore I am.”
In the brain, the creation of such an identity requires a sufficient number of levels in the hierarchy – neural networks within neural networks, sub-minds and proto-minds within larger minds, following the same physical pattern as the story mind psychology, because the psychology is just a dynamic resonance of the underlying structural (physical) system that spawns and maintains it.
The cognitive functions are driven by the binary firing of the neurons. The affective functions are driven by the flow of neurotransmitters through the fluid-dynamic system of the brain. Note that neurons don’t just fire when stimulated. They fire with the electrical potential between the inside and outside of the neuron’s body (the axon) reaches an action potential of a certain differential.
This potential can be created by sufficient direct stimulation through spatial summation (multiple small stimulations all at once) or by temporal summation (a series of small stimulations that collectively increase the charge faster than the neuron can shed the excess through natural half-life style decay).
But this is just half the system – the binary network of neurons within larger networks, which are components within even larger networks. The other influence is the biochemical dynamic in which neurotransmitters affect the likelihood of firing.
Normally, neurons such as exciters and inhibitors are spewed out by one neuron’s boutons to be received by another neuron’s dedrites which pass the information to the axon which then may fire if it has received enough information either spatially or temporally.
But not all of these exciters and inhibitors actually make it from the boutons to the dendrites for they must cross a biochemical ocean – a small gap between the physical end of one neuron and the beginning of another. This gap is called a synapse and it holds one of the two keys to self awareness.
As some of these biochemicals drift out of the synapse into the general population of the brain at large, they form currents and eddies and standing waves of varying duration and complexity. These patterns also hold information, not of the binary cognitive kind, but of the analog affective kind.
When a wave forms at a particular synapse, it is may be more biased toward excitement or inhibition, depending upon its chemical make-up which is in turn determined by the collective impact of sensory stimulation of neurons which had previously fired.
These waves (really just concentration densities of chemicals) are also built from the shedding of potential from neurons that do not fire because they did not reach their action potential threshold.
Functionally, these concentrations can further moderate the effects of spatial and temporal summation so that a neuron which would ordinarily fire due solely to binary network stimulation by not fire because the surrounding biochemical environment lowers the action potential around the axon to the point it is inhibited below the threshold. Similarly, a neuron which normally would not fire, may do so anyway, because the biochemical environment about it increases the action potential beyond the threshold.
If the point of origin for network stimulation is observation, then the energy produced by the natural decay of neurons which don’t reach threshold is a parallel for internal thought. Along these lines, chemicals that act to excite can be analogized as our desires, and those that inhibit as our repulsions.
Now this is actually not directly true, for at the level of the whole mind / whole brain, desires and repulsions may be created by either exciting or inhibiting, thereby creating an inequity, which may be positive or negative to the mind at large in an affective sense. But I used those words to illustrate the fractal similarity of the lower brain function to the higher level psychology, in the first belief that while there are certainly many levels of similar organization in between, the end result is that the lower level functions are fractally layered until they influentially affect larger and larger systems, resulting ultimately in both our cognitive and affective attributes being organized in virtually the same pattern of relationships as the smallest components at the very bottom of the hierarchy.
Now, add this to the solar system model and the fractal psychology model of the organization of group minds and you can begin to get a sense how there is a parallel between a sun beginning to shine, a Main Character representing our own sense of self in a story mind structure, and groups forming and self-organizing into larger groups.
The general population that does not become part of a group is part of the gaseous material that collects in a growing gravitational sense of group identity until it ignites in a sense of self in which, like the biochemistry in the brain, the hierarchical functioning of organizations is moderated to be excited or inhibited by the general population in which they function.
And, as from the smallest interactions of neurons to the largest interactions of our thoughts and feelings, it requires many levels to build a truly functional mind to the point of self-awareness, such as national identity.
Communication among members of the general population is the key to their ability to act as an analog to the biochemical influence in the mind. Historically, increased communication outside the direct control of the organized neural networks (or socio-political groups) is an essential attribute to the freedom to form complex wave patterns (densities of opinions) which are sufficient to cause a group to act where it would not have by its own internal structure or to not act when it would have.
This is the nature of lobbyists, and of boycotts, and anti-boycotts in which the general unorganized components of society show their support or opposition to what the organization is planning or doing, just as the biochemistry affects the neurons and neural networks.
While communication had previously evolved to the point that many nations were able to achieve national identity, even today some nations have not yet coalesced into the level of self-awareness..
At an international level, everything from the formation of European Union to the Arab Spring illustrate the impact of internet and personal multi-media communication on the formation of identities for nations and even consortiums of nations.
But what of a global identity, a global group mind – the subject of this article? Clearly, the very same dynamics are at work among nations forming as group minds within a larger global mind – cognitively through channels (network hierarchy) and affectively through the global population (analog to the biochemical) by means of direct global communication among individuals of different nations.
Currently, this process is awaiting the advent of real time language translation that is accurate and effective to the fidelity of resolving idioms of one language into appropriate idioms in other so that the affective content in maintained.
When this happens, communication of analog, emotional information among individuals from all parts of the globe will become a functional dynamic wave-driven system, and with its advent a true global identity will reach critical mass and ignite into what amounts to a planet-encompassing self-wareness in which the earth itself may ponder, “I think, therefore I am.”
Melanie Anne Phillips