EACH TOPIC is connected to a collection of NOTES and RESOURCES.  These do not represent the entirety of CONTENT TO BE CONSIDERED. 

READINGS can be critical, read about readings


Below, are collections of notes on topics and ideas that have emerged in recent years. The numerous intersecting themes enable many ways to index or cross-index resources BUT there is no attempt to organize these systematically.  The list is a combination of intuitive and historical, awaiting organized reconfiguration that would be make specific ideas more accessible. 

sitemap for resources

ART and SCIENCE  [i]   ART and SCIENCE are catchphrases for distinctive but overlapping configurations of cognitive functions. (localized and distributed coordinated processes in the brain and body that have more-or-less privileged connections with each other that make specific aspects of INPUT « INTEGRATION « OUTPUT more-or-less likely) ARTISTS and SCIENTISTS (and we are all more-or-less both) are highly motivated to make the contents of mind understandable (both to themselves and to others).  (“All art is autobiographical; the pearl is the oyster’s autobiography.”–Federico Fellini, Italian film director. (1920-1993) MIGHT is be, that all science is ultimately the same? (read A&O notes on the Art and Science of Art and Science)


  Our evolutionary biology has prioritized functions that support MEETING BIOLOGICAL NEEDS (including “to know and to be known.”)  At the right time specific COGNITIVE FUNCTIONS are highly ADAPTIVE and contribute to direct and inclusive FITNESS.


INTRODUCTION  (“The professor’s problem: “So, we have generations of teachers who can speak eloquently to concepts and their connections with each other, but are not particularly compelling in speaking to the connections between concepts and people.  This not the process for which teachers are trained.  Of course, people have to make these connections for themselves (and the best a professor can do is create an environment that encourages this), but that requires that people know themselves better, and that was not why they are taking this class. It is a challenge.”) 




(arguably, all meaning derives from connections)

resonance: the connections we “feel” by means that are not obvious 

Perspective on the growth of meaning can be enhanced by keeping an A&O DIARY


 Art and Science of Teaching 

and the unfolding of ART & ORGANISM

(A&O (like life itself)  consists of nested collections of related fragments — see the uses of Aphorism)



IS IT OTHER THAN A MORE-OR-LESS SUCCESSFUL EXPLORATION of ways that DISCIPLINES (and the nested collections of related fragments therein) ARE CONNECTED to each other? Or how they may be put into each other’s service, or how they may even divide or merge with each other?





“OH! LOOK! A butterfly!




NOTES and Useful Links  


    • PHILOSOPHY.    “Philosophy is not the reflection of a pre-existing truth, but, like art, the act of bringing truth into being.” … “We witness every minute the miracle of related experience, and yet nobody knows better than we do how this miracle is worked, for we are ourselves this network of relationships” (Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1945)
    • EXISTENTIAL PHENOMENOLOGY  Its essence is concern for “the real, not the ideal” –that is, “real people in their real environment”  including Being; existence versus essence; individuation versus socialization.  Also at the heart of the ethological attitude.  
    • The Phenomenological Attitude
    • Understanding each other:  “language is integrated with, and in constant interplay with, an incredibly broad range of neural processes.” It structures and is structured by the brain (see Boroditsky’s brief editorial on  Language and the Brain )
    • ADAPTATIONS—cope with change.   A trait that contributes to fitness is an adaptation, BUT the term also refers to the process by which such traits come about.  Its several canonical definitions are all unified by the idea of compensation for change, either short-term (such as a stimulus or life experience) or long term adaptations (such as Other (complementary) definitions are: “an adaptation is an anatomical, physiological, or behavioral trait that contributes to an individual’s ability to survive and reproduce (“fitness”) in competition with conspecifics in the environment in which it evolved” (Williams, G. 1966. Adaptation and Natural Selection Princeton). and “a regulatory or advantageous change in response to an environmental stress by an individual or by a species in the course of evolution”   For A&O, I think the most eloquent and concise definition is by Rappaport (1971) “The processes by which organisms or groups of organisms maintain homeostasis in and among themselves in the face of both short-term environmental fluctuations and long-term changes in the composition and structure of their environments.”  
    • Coping strategies, of course, depend on context: what is the stressor, selection pressure, with which we must cope.   In a given context we must ask WHAT IS NORMAL?  
    • DYSFUNCTION:  when coping mechanisms are inadequate, we can speak of DYSFUNCTION  (MALADAPTATION?) 
    • PATHOLOGY by definition, maladaptive (doing more harm than good) and informed by Aristotle’s Golden Mean: the nearer the endpoints along a continuum of a trait, the more likely its expression would be (by definition) extraordinary, possibly dysfunctional. PPT  
      • A trait such as curiosity may be manifest by individuals who perform specific functions in society and they may be valued to the extent that the particular function they perform is appreciated.  Occasionally—depending on the stresses of a given environment—subpopulations may seem to need protection, for example, artists (as “the antennae of the race”) or “pure” (as opposed to applied) artists and scientists.  Certain savants, the appreciation of whom may be implicit in the popularity of superheroes.   
        • Savant syndrome: expressions of extraordinary abilities are often associated with behavioral profiles that are in other ways dysfuntional or maladaptive–they seem somehow associated with the peculiarities of neurology responsible for the dysfunction– but remarkably (and much more rarely) they can be acquired, apparently the result of some neurological accident: see “Genius Explored” in Brain and Life (Dec 2021/Jan 2022)  
      •  Making a virtue of necessity?  Reading: Witty Ticcy Ray by Oliver Sacks  
      • READING: Brain Hemorrhage and art as a symptom: Tommy McHugh


EXPERIENCE and its REPRESENTATION: (this is what art and science are all about)  perceptions, conceptions — ideas and states of mind in the concentric rings of their respective contexts [inviting the idea of recursion]. 


ART  (expressive and receptive) 

ART can be the great facilitator of MEANING:  Mark Johnson, whose writing is a great resource for understanding how our mind and body co-constitute understanding and meaning  is…   “following in the footsteps of John Dewey, who argued in Art as Experience (1934) that art matters because it provides heightened, intensified, and highly integrated experiences of meaning, using all of our ordinary resources of meaning-making.  To discover how meaning works, we should turn first to gesture, social interaction, ritual, ritual, and art, and only later to linguistic communication.…”  Johnson pursues “…Dewey’s insight that the arts are a primary means by which we grasp, criticize, and transform meanings. … [he ends up] with the idea that philosophy will matter to people only to the extent that it is built on a visceral connection to our world.” (Johnson 2007).  [from A&O webnotes on CONNECTIONS]

ART is essentially and dynamically intertwined with the organism that creates it and the organism that perceives and appreciates it.  IT involves communications within and between these organisms … processes that can be understood in large part by means of DEEP ethology, a scientific approach to understanding behavior, including cognition and consciousness. 

  • For example, amongst the processes contributing to communications between artists and their audience that has been explored by DEEP ethology is SENSORY EXPLOITATION …. interesting collateral story uses MAGIC, enabled by peculiarities of human perception,as an exaample “…constrained not only by our sensory systems architecture but also by our cognitive and attentional systems” (Macknik & Martinez-Conde 2020. “How Neural Constraints Set Us Free to Create” July/Aug  Amer Scientist pp196-199)   (                       .
  • In Exploring examples of art I tend to emphasize:




    • PHYSIOLOGY  (strongly implicit in its many connections to mental health)
    • SAFETY (gaining deep insight into aspects of nature of potential predatory or protective use) 
    • INDIVIDUATION  (self-knowledge that follows from working to represent implicit ideas)
    • SOCIALITY  (communications with others)
    • SELF-ACTUALIZATION (reproductive advantage, legacy) 

The cultural and social context of art

DEEP ETHOLOGY of ART (art can be considered as a process, the product of which is an artifact.  It is  a behavioral pattern which  –like all behavioral patterns– is manifest by an organism (or population) because it is to their advantage to do so. And like all behavioral patterns, art is more fully understood when reviewed in terms of the DEEP perspectives of ethology, thus considering simultaneously its origins and future possibilities.)  (from A&O web notes on ART and ARTIFACT

PATTERNS –their creation and recognition are significant elements in aesthetic experience

READING about Scholar Stones from Christie’s auction website (are these “found art?”) 

READING Empirical Genetics (introduction to a symposium)


ART and SCIENCE:  quotes from Constable and Zola  and the great Claude Bernard: “ART is I, SCIENCE is WE” (quoted in Bulletin of New York Academy of Medicine, Vol. IV 1928) 


READING Dissanayake on “ART” meaning “making special” (“selective attention”)

    • REAL versus IDEAL 
    • To EXPERIENCE ART is to go beyond the immediate needs of biology: to take something which has become (or been made) “special” (Dissanyake).
      • The cognitive implications are huge: to the extent we appreciate a specific work of art we have found a sort of communion with an artist (“The antennae of our race”—Ezra Pound called artists) and likely to see things beyond the bounds of mere habit.  In this sense, an artist is also the canary in the coal mine: early warning systems for movements into potentially dangerous territory. (Danger and Beauty together can evoke the “sublime“.) It also implies possessing the  resources, such as leisure, to explore and can thus be seen as a potentially attractive trait in sexual selection.   This MAY be an element in the many species that work to manifest their value as a reproductive partner: bower birds to peacocks. Observations that tend to validate the evolutionary argument for the emergence of art are at the A&O Page: NEEDS MET BY ART.  (arguably, needs when met ultimately serve inclusive fitness, most conspicuously when they are therapeutic) 
    • QUALITIES of  the EXPERIENCE of ART (=
    • SCHOOLS of ART?

 CONSCIOUSNESS   (defined & including “intuition” and “panpsychism”)   [Dropbox notes on “self-reflection”]   


IS THERE A The “hard problem?

PARABLE- Two Monks Saw Some Goldfish “how do I know?” …

  • READING: “In the River  of Consciousness” by Oliver Sacks (2004). ( William James and Henri Bergson may have intuited correctly that “the brain mechanisms that give coherence to perception and consciousness somehow analogous to motion picture cameras and projectors? Does the eye/brain actually “take” perceptual stills and somehow fuse them to give a sense of continuity and motion? No clear answer was forthcoming during their lifetimes.”)
  • What the brain diseased can reveal about the normal brain: 



[…”The relation, then, between epistêmê and technê in ancient philosophy offers an interesting contrast with our own notions about theory (pure knowledge) and (experience-based) practice. (Stanford Encyclopedia Philosophy)]

COMMUNICATION (as, for example from artist to audience) can utilize any medium  we have the sensory capacity to detect.

RESONANCE notes – amongst the ways elements can communicate with each other is resonance.  It is also a powerful metaphor for things that must be connected, but not in ways that are obvious. 

MEDIA:  Potential media for artistic expression are indexed by Wikipedia; beyond the traditional media of familiar art forms (painting, music, dance, language), consider EARTH, AIR, FIRE, and WATER 

SELF as a medium of art (performance)

COLLABORATIONS with LIVING NATURE:  Nature is always a raw material for inspiration and execution, but some artists develop a deep understanding of natural processes (e.g., Earthworks or Land art, above).  Understanding the lives and behavior of other species, however, goes further …. 


Nature, natural phenomena, and Earthworks


 AURAL – AUDITORY stimuli —


VISUAL stimuli




see Language and the Brain  


  AMBIGUITY. (Apophenia, pareidolia)

SIMPLICITY and COMPLEXITYrealizing seems easier than knowing … is that a hallmark of validity??  are SIMPLICITY and COMPLEXITYRelated to holism and reductionism





    • NEEDS and MOTIVATION  considering needs, evolutionary and physiological thinkings is particularly relevant.
    • Physiology, the proximate need –in the aggregate regarded as HEALTH.  
      • At the “base” of a hierarchy of needs is PHYSIOLOGY:  The core need for any organism is its machinery for extracting energy from the environment and channeling it in ways that serve its life–  
      • Dynamic balance, homeostasis. Needs that are or may be compromised can evoke a stress response
      • POST on health-enhancing effects of art 
    • Physiology,  
      • STRESS   … involving the real or perceived possibility of not being able to meet a real or perceived need.  Stress energizes the processes that might act to mitigate it.   [“What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for some goal worthy of him. What he needs is not the discharge of tension at any cost, but the call of a potential meaning waiting to be fulfilled by him.”–Viktor FranklMan’s Search for Meaning (1946)
    • TRANSCENDENCE     Transcendence and art … we are always “going beyond”  EUDAIMONIA appears to go beyond mere needs.

    • Is there a “NEED TO KNOW?”; Aristotle, infovory … 

    • NEED for ART: including Maslow

    • But in our pusuit of NEEDS, we must know ourselves and do nothing in excess.  [self-knowledge … why is this important? how deep do we need to go? “Knowledge is Power.”)  “All of us have felt the pleasure of acquiring information—a view of a dramatic landscape, a conversation with a friend, or even a magazine article, people-watching, can all be profoundly gratifying. But why is this so? What makes these experiences pleasurable? // We believe that the enjoyment of such experiences is deeply connected to an innate hunger for information, connectedness, meaning: Human neuro cognition has enabled beings that are designed to be “infovores.” It’s a craving that begins with a simple preference for certain types of stimuli, then proceeds to more sophisticated levels of perception and cognition that draw on associations the brain makes with previous experiences. When the hunger becomes even moderately starved, boredom sets in.”  (Biederman, Irving & Vessel, Edward A. 2006)  Key Word: INFOVORE…  


  • THE PHYSIOLOGY of NEEDS:   How NEEDS and STRESS are related [A real-or-perceived challenge to meeting a real-or-perceived NEED evokes more-or-less of stress response (which “energizes” organism’s resources (motivational systems) to cope with challenge and restore homeostasis]  (Exemplified in the health  consequences  of LONELINESS 

DEEP ETHOLOGY manifests an ETHOLOGICAL ATTITUDE: an approach to discovery and interpretation. The INTEGRATIVE BIOLOGY of BEHAVIOR involves the coordinated activities of four broad areas (as biologists study them): DEVELOPMENT, ECOLOGY, EVOLUTION, and PHYSIOLOGY and how they are brought to bear on BEHAVIOR (“DEEP ETHOLOGY”

    • Development.
    • Ecology
    • Evolution

Experimentation: natural and artificial; Ethologically Informed Design


  • DESCRIBE Before we interpret or analyze our experience of behavior (our own or that of others) we must DESCRIBE it … using your “scaffolding” of art and science to describe has the extraordinary–and sometimes surprising effect of conveying insight and understanding… 
  • ARTISTIC RENDERING of NATURE: can and artist’s perception of a natural object contribute to understanding nature– Even though it is but a fragment of nature seen through the artist’s temperament (Zola)

WE tend to apply the DEEP perspective  at the level of manifest behavioral patterns, but it applies at ALL LEVELS of ORGANIZATION: proximate causes and consequences, (mainly physiology) ultimate causes and consequences (mainly evolutionary biology), always manifest in more-or-less intimate internal and external environments (mainly ecology) and in constant flux (mainly development) 


    • METABOLISM.  A&O emphasizes our capacities and competence in detection and perception of phenomena, the most interesting of which may be works of art and artifacts. Then, the cognitive processes by means of which the “meaning” (“connections”) is established and applied to meeting our biological needs.  An, finally, how the meaning we extract is translated into adaptive action.  All this depends on meeting our most basic need: physiological stability–or at least predictability.  ETHOLOGISTS appreciate that all behavior occurs in and interacts with, a context that gives it adaptive meaning. [recall, “real animals in their real world”] Contexts are internal as well as external. We are organisms in the midst of an ecosystem–but current understanding is that the ecosystem is as much within us as outside.     


    • the BRAIN is at the center of our interests in understanding how communications works within and between our organs (and even our endosymbiotic organisms, biota) as well as the external environment.  The brain resembles a single organ, but it is a constellation of multiple functional units that are integrated with each other at several different levels of organization. It evokes a sense of a MOBILE of many carefully balanced elements such as an  Alexander Calder artwork  :  A very broad and compelling sense of the interaction of multiple units working together comes from considering the two hemispheres of the brain, understood after they are separated from each other:  Read Wolman’s news article from the journal NATURE (it includes a good account of split brain research that provided these insights)… (including comments by a split brain patient and an old (1970’s) short video of early research nicely explained–and not much has changed)
      • MUDDLE ALERT!  The perils of “localizationalist” views of brain function: The “narrow localization” of Broca and other nineteenth century neurologists, who likely enjoyed the waves of popular enthusiasm for phrenology .   Allan Schore presented Hughlings Jackson’s “view of how the brain operates … to emphasize the fact that the problem of emotion, [for example], cannot be understood with a localizationist perspective, one that still dominates neuroscience.  … Along these lines, in the context of cognitive neuroscience, Goldberg (1995) argues convincingly for a paradigmatic shift from modular to interactive brain systems (1996, p. 34).      

    • READ The Brain’s Dark Energy (Raichle 20026
    • COGNITIVE NEUROSCIENCE: collection of excerpts that focus on how this is understood
    • Brain development involves both highly programmed (“closed genetic program”) change and flexibility: neuroplasticity, generally in response to situational and environmental influences
    • CIRCUITS and CENTERS that orchestrate specific behavioral patterns are a primary target of the physiological ethologist–indeed, anyone seeking to understand the proximate causes and consequences of behavior (the physiology part)?  Any behavioral patterns sufficiently well described (the ethology emphasis) becomes the basis for  search for its causes and consequences.  AS AN EXAMPLE, PARENTAL BEHAVIOR. (see  DEEP ETHOLOGY – BRAIN notes) 
    • PARTS of the BRAIN and their CONNECTIONS (optogenetics & connectome project)
    • THE BRAIN IS NOT ALONE:  behavior (including consciousness) is NOT the brain alone: this is explored by philosophers and researchers that speak of EMBODIED COGNITION –the integration of the BODY and the BRAIN in the creation of MEANING. But further, integration of the unseen living symbiotic elements within us (such as our “microbiome”)–as organisms we are also ecosystems. 


§  neurofiction essay (Gary Marcus recent essay,  “Neuroscience Fiction,”  in the New Yorker (Dec 2, 2012)

READINGS:  “In Their Own Worlds by Sanford Schwartz in NYRB 7 June 2018;   The Electric Pencil: Using Art to Diagnose the Artist (Scheftel 2011)Hospital in Rio (Hoston 2004) ravidrin-on-psychiatric-art-in-pysche-2021




  • BELIEF—TRUTH | KNOWLEDGE—REALIZING (why we may believe in things we cannot personally experience; extrapolation, interpolation, coherence and correspondence)
  • MEMORY.    MEMORY is the essence of COGNITION:  (“MEMORY,  needless to  say,  is  critical  to  cognition.  Without memory, present circumstances have no context; the detection of change is impossible. Without the ability to detect change, the decision to alter behavior can only be random, haphazard. Without  memory,  learning  of  any  kind  is  impossible.  While cognitive scientists now accept that discoveries concerning the molecular basis of memory in the marine invertebrate Aplysia are relevant to the study of human memory (Kandel, 2006), they (to say nothing of microbiologists) have yet to connect the dots with memory processes in prokaryotes.”
  • MEMORY and IMAGINATION: see “The Future of Memory: Remembering, Imagining, and the Brain,” by Daniel L. Schacter et al.  
      • CNS: A Surprising Connection Between Memory and Imagination.  
      • “USELESS ATTRACTOR” is a nickname for a focus which in itself has no particular meaning and with no previously obvious connections that suddenly triggers a redintegrative cascade of otherwise apparently unconnected and otherwise useless snips of knowledge. The cascade (and we can here apply the metaphor “angle of repose“–particularly as it applies to an avalanche) may have had a coherent outcome suddenly glimpsed or intuited. 
      • (Attractor [xv] is a convenient but not precise metaphor).  The coherence may only be apparent OR TOT (“tip of the tongue phenomenon”) OR FOK (“feeling of knowing phenomenon”). I often feel that a very important solution to a problem is (as Franz Wright put it once, a “Radiantly obvious thing I need to say, though quite what that might be escapes me at the moment, as it always has, and always will.”)
      • Synecdoche and redintegration—trigger experience, the attractor of hidden dreams, infusing previous experience with new meaning and putting it in the service of coherence, validating a new realization[xii]—all things are connected—
      • “not quite memory(?):  tip-of-tongue—Feeling of Knowing–  INTUITION    Intuition presentation
      • FILLING IN: extrapolation[xiii] and interpolation
    • Excerpt on brain processes of filling in


    •  [OUTPUT/ to memory or action]







Position not yet determined:

·        RULES
·        USELESS KNOWLEDGE. All the consequences of a specific trait may never be known, but the prodigal diversity of consequences is revealed and open to further thought with the support of systems such as DEEP ethology. For example,  The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge [xiv]   Not only have extraordinary breakthroughs emerged from what seemed like idle curiosity but there are multiple CONNECTIONS.
·        Both the PROCESS and the PRODUCT of CURIOSITY move the human race forward [hopefully the urge to CONTROL and EXPLOIT will be better coordinated with the urge to PROTECT and RESPECT or we will be swept away in the failed trophic cascade.]   Just as paranoia might be adaptive at a battle front and devastating other places, our adversarial urges towards nature were adaptive for the small populations of ancestors in hostile environments, but not in contemporary environments.
·       Example.  compare to the tension between INDIVIDUATION and SOCIALIZATION—in that each is vital at one level of the NEED HIERARCHY and devastating at others. (see Listening Angels and A&O notes on Uniqueness) then read about the difference between loneliness and solitude (then look in on  loneliness and longing)(reading on the History of Loneliness)

[i] Art is I: Science is We

[i] “scientific abstraction liberates us from the slavery of facts” (Walter Kaufmann. 1958:93.  Critique of Religion and Philosophy.  Harper & Brothers Chapter 32 (Common Sense) –is artistic abstraction any different? has it led the way?

[ii] Aristotle, Metaphysics, Book I, 980a.21. 350 BC

[iii] Science consists of facts and theories. Facts and theories are born in different ways and are judged by different standards. Facts are supposed to be true or false. They are discovered by observers or experimenters. A scientist who claims to have discovered a fact that turns out to be wrong is judged harshly. One wrong fact is enough to ruin a career.

Theories have an entirely different status. They are free creations of the human mind, intended to connect facts and thereby provide an understanding of nature. Since our understanding is incomplete, theories are provisional. Theories are tools of understanding, and a tool does not need to be precisely true in order to be useful–they are more-or-less true, with plenty of room for disagreement. A scientist who invents a theory that turns out to be wrong is judged leniently. Mistakes are tolerated, so long as the culprit is willing to correct them when nature proves them wrong.  (Freeman Dyson’s review of   Brilliant Blunders: From Darwin to Einstein—Colossal Mistakes by Great Scientists That Changed Our Understanding of Life and the Universe by Mario Livio.   NYRB  Mar 6 2014:4-8)  Scientists–all of us–tell the best story we can with the best facts we have.  As facts are validated or discarded, the story changes. 

In this, science is at least partly described by  Bayesian inference: “… a method of statistical inference in which Bayes’ theorem is used to update the probability for a hypothesis as more evidence or information becomes available. Bayesian inference is an important technique in statistics, and especially in mathematical statistics. Bayesian updating is particularly important in the dynamic analysis of a sequence of data. Bayesian inference has found application in a wide range of activities, including scienceengineeringphilosophymedicinesport, and law. In the philosophy of decision theory, Bayesian inference is closely related to subjective probability, often called “Bayesian probability“. (

[iv] “Physicists have come to see that all their theories of natural phenomena, including the ‘laws’ they describe, are creations of the human mind; properties of our conceptual map of reality, rather than of reality itself.  This conceptual scheme is necessarily limited and approximate, as are all the scientific theories and ‘laws of nature’ it contains.  All natural phenomena are ultimately interconnected, and in order to explain any one of them we need to understand all the others, which is obviously impossible.  What makes science so successful is the discovery that approximations are possible. . . . This is the scientific method; all scientific theories and models are approximations of the true nature of things, but the error involved in the approximation is often small enough to make such an approach meaningful.” (Fritjof Capra 1975 in The Tao of Physics, p. 287).

[v] Biology occupies a position among the sciences at once marginal and central. Marginal because‑‑the living world constituting but a tiny and very “special” part of the universe‑‑it does not seem likely that the study of living beings will ever uncover general laws applicable outside the biosphere. But if the ultimate aim of the whole of science is indeed, as I believe, to clarify man’s relationship to the universe, then biology must be accorded a central position.” (Jacques Monod Chance and Necessity Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1971, p xi.)

[vi] Infovory.  Biederman, Irving & Vessel, Edward A. (2006) Perceptual Pleasure and the Brain. American Scientist. 94(3), 247-253. [PDF] A neurobehavioral elaboration of Aristotle: “All men by nature desire to know.” (Metaphysics, Book 1)

[vii] Between the ages of twenty and forty we are engaged in the process of discovering who we are, which involves learning the difference between accidental limitations which it is our duty to outgrow and the necessary limitations of our nature beyond which we cannot trespass with impunity.”—W.H. Auden,1963)[vii]

[viii] Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution” (Theodosius Dobzhansky, 1973, in the American Biology Teacher, volume 35, pages 125-129. (Dobzhansky first published the title statement in a 1964 article in American Zoologist, “Biology, Molecular and Organismic”, to assert the importance of organismic biology in response to the challenge of the rising field of molecular biology” – Wikepedia

[ix] ADAPTATION—copes with change.   An adaptation is a trait that contributes to fitness, BUT the term also refers to the process by which that trait has come about. “The processes by which organisms or groups of organisms maintain homeostasis in and among themselves in the face of both short-term environmental fluctuations and long-term changes in the composition and structure of their environments.” (Rappaport, 1971) Its several definitions are all unified by the idea of compensation for change, either short-term (such as a stimulus or life experience) or long term adaptations (such as Other (complementary) definitions are: “an adaptation is an anatomical, physiological, or behavioral trait that contributes to an individual’s ability to survive and reproduce (“fitness”) in competition with conspecifics in the environment in which it evolved” (Williams, G. 1966. Adaptation and Natural Selection Princeton). and “a regulatory or advantageous change in response to an environmental stress by an individual or by a species in the course of evolution”


    • BIG QUESTION: as information trickles from our senses (or memories) through our brain, at what point is information transformed into consciousness? [I like comparing ice to water to mist and clouds]
    • Susan Greenfield speaks of the “collective activity of brain cells that expand or diminish from one moment to the next to accommodate varying depths of consciousness.” (quoted by Ananthaswamy – and in his terms, transient assemblies, size, and duration determined by external stimuli, levels of neurotransmitters and hormones in brain and body.)
  • (Bullock 1977) sensory adaptation is when receptors are less responsive to stimuli after long term exposure to them –e.g., the smell of food or the feel of clothes. and see exaptation (from A&O Glossary)  compare to habituation


[xi] Sensory Bias:  (pitch to the most responsive system in your audience (or avoid the systems of your adversaries)  – in the sense of “know your demographic” …”know your sense organs” )  (The sensory bias hypothesis (in mate selection) states that the preference for a trait evolves in a non-mating context and is then exploited by one sex in order to obtain more mating opportunities. The competitive sex evolves traits that exploit a pre-existing bias that the choosy sex already possesses.)

[xii] “Redintegration” is “the process of reconstructing an entire complex memory after observing or remembering only a part of it.”  Sometimes, only a tiny fragment of new information will suffice: “It is only necessary to behold the least fact or phenomenon, however familiar, from a point a hair’s breadth aside from our habitual path or routine, to be overcome, enchanted by its beauty and significance …” (Thoreau, Journal 8:44)

[xiii] There is a universal tendency among mankind to conceive all beings like themselves and transfer to every object those qualities with which they are intimately acquainted and of which they are intimately conscious (David Hume, 1757) [When faced with ambiguity or ignorance, we extrapolate from the next nearest phenomenon . . . as with anthropomorphism] origin of ToM –they think like I do?

[xiv] :  “Abraham Flexner, the founding Secretary General of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, penned in November 1939 a most readable essay on fundamental research1The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge described, in Flexner’s fluid prose, how apparently random experimentation eventually leads to the most important discoveries. He argued vehemently against the need for utility in the promotion of research and the allocation of funding. Instead, Flexner delivered a rousing plea for the “freeing of the human spirit”. His article is an eloquent discourse on the benefits and virtues of freedom in fundamental research. Flexner’s words are music to the ears of scientists who pursue science because they are curious and, in the venerable words of Friedrich Schiller, do not live off science but, above all, for science. Although Flexner’s essay appeared more than 75 years ago, it is still one of the most compelling pieces on the vital role of fundamental research — extolling not only its cultural value, but also its benefit to mankind in general.”

[xv] An attractor is defined as the smallest unit which cannot be itself decomposed into two or more attractors with distinct basins of attraction. This restriction is necessary since a dynamical system may have multiple attractors, each with its own basin of attraction.   Attractor — from Wolfram MathWorld   i.e.,

An attractor is a set of states (points in the phase space), invariant under the dynamics, towards which neighboring states in a given basin of attraction asymptotically approach in the course of dynamic evolution. An attractor is defined as the smallest unit which cannot be itself decomposed into two or more attractors with distinct basins of attraction. This restriction is necessary since a dynamical system may have multiple attractors, each with its own basin of attraction.

Conservative systems do not have attractors, since the motion is periodic. For dissipative dynamical systems, however, volumes shrink exponentially so attractors have 0 volume in n-dimensional phase space.

A stable fixed point surrounded by a dissipative region is an attractor known as a map sink. Regular attractors (corresponding to 0 Lyapunov characteristic exponents) act as limit cycles, in which trajectories circle around a limiting trajectory which they asymptotically approach, but never reach. Strange attractors are bounded regions of phase space (corresponding to positiveLyapunov characteristic exponents) having zero measure in the embedding phase space and a fractal dimension. Trajectories within a strange attractor appear to skip around randomly.

Also, nicely stated at  And further developed in a way accommodating to mathophobes at (“The simplest example of an attractor is an attractor point, such as the lowest point in the middle of a pendulum swing. The flow of this simple dynamic system is continually drawn to this central attractor point, and after a time period determined by a variety of factors (the force of the push, the length of the string, the friction of the air etc.) eventually settles there. A slightly more complex system would settle into not just an attractor point but an attractor basin. i.e. a set of points that describes a region of that space.”)  When many of these guys say evolution they just mean change.


Evolution & Development of Art – clues from paleolithic