ZOOM 04: A&O for Katie at Home

KATIE at HOME (Wednesday, May 13, 2020)


About REALITY … and at what level of organization we care

(in the range from infinitesimally  small to cosmically large, where are YOU, and do you care about any of the others?  If so, why?)





MORE ABOUT REALITY:   How do we know what’s real?  We start with what new information we can accept after it is “tested” by the brain:  A&O notes on REALITY TESTING  (BTW, the “filters” are at many levels, from sense organ to brain sites of conscious awareness –if it is TOO remote from our past experiences, the information from the outside world may never even make it very far into our nervous system.)


So we know it is likely “real” … but what gives it “MEANING.”  The meaning of anything, the meaning of life.  Is CONSCIOUSNESS created by an awareness of the “CONNECTIONS [that] exist WITHIN and BETWEEN phenomena at MULTIPLE LEVELS of ORGANIZATION of our BRAINS.

Is there any basis for HUMAN EXCEPTIONALISM?

Possible Assignment:

  • WHEN have you been wrong?  I mean, when have you… 
    • thought something was real because it was so compelling to your senses? (can connect to COGNITIVE DISSONANCE and MYTHS)
    • thought something was real because everyone else seemed to support it? (fashion, viral memes, delusions of crowds; mass hysteria) (What is “folie a famille(e.g., Ashish Srivastava and H. A. Borkar 2010)) (in this respect it is worth thinking about “popular delusions” or “mass hysteria.” (list of examples in Wikipedia )(suppose an entire population had been affected by a psychedelic agent?)

IMPORTANT POINT: when things are AMBIGUOUS we subconsciously try to remove the ambiguity. –we try to fit it into something we have already experienced or become familiar with (Look at A&O website on AMBIGUITY)



  1. COHERENCE and CORRESPONDANCE: how do we know if it is “real?”
  2. LEVELS OF ORGANIZATION  (the range of phenomena from infinitesimally  small to cosmically large … INCLUDING a fascinating metaphor from the individual cell o the community: the Slime Mold (at A&O website, read “An Extraordinary Connection” — it addresses individuation and socialization, differentiation, and altruism.)
  3. INNATE AND ACQUIRED (genetic, congenital, and learned, experiential BIASES hat guide behavior (look in on Art & Organism notes on congenital and acquired biases)
  4. DEEP ETHOLOGY (four main perspective of biology (development, ecology, evolution, and physiology) converge on a specific behavioral pattern.) 

Possible Assignment:

  • RECALL instances when you were wrong: bought it because it was compelling to your senses, or because all your friends thought it was?  visionaries.  

Connections exist within levels (such as cell-to-cell, organ-to-organ, person-to-person, “heart-to-heart“) BUT also between levels (such as organ to person, person-to-population)

ASSIGNED: diagram hypothetical connections within and between levels of organization

SLEEP & DREAMS: precise synchronization of multiple parts: DREAM - flow chart

NOW, look at ART & ORGANISM web notes on DREAMING


emergent ideas during hour:

WHAT IS REAL?:  Our built in reality testing: read A&O notes on REALITY TESTING

 (coherence and correspondence: The best story you can tell with the best facts available –remember, as accuracy and precision –validity and reliability– increase, new facts are always being discovered and old facts always being replaced by better ones)  

NEUROPLASTICITY: (e.g., READ: The Widening Gyrus and the experience of the epileptic violinist: Martha Curtis)




  • CONNECTIONS seem so great, but the physiology is interesting as biology and as metaphor


  • NEXT:
  • Hi Katie – here it is !  (Henry V, not Richard) : full screen, loud


    I use this to make points in the classroom about the brilliant theatre as well as rhetoric and psychology (and, of course, the psychology is grounded in biology)  We can get into this if you.  (there are Shakespearian terms that may not be clear … how he uses “cups”, and “gentles”)  The phrase “band  of brothers “ has become famous… 


    • there is evidence that the specific brain circuits used when one “identifies with another person” (empathy)  also involved in providing pleasure and mitigating STRESS … ALTRUISM used to be defined in terms of sacrificing some of your resources to benefit another individual … but is it a sacrifice if it provides you with an advantage ?
    • KINDS of ALTRUISM connected to COOPERATION (as important in EVOLUTION as COMPETITION) (link)
  • (A few years after this play came out (around 1600) John Donne composed a famous “meditation” (1624) that many people might be thinking of these days (it was one of the first things I ever memorized) it ends: ….No man is an island, entire of itself…any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”  —  I wouldn’t be surprised if you already knew this.)