Information and Reason Relationships, Transformation and Flow
Note: this diagram does not show quantities, it shows relationships. Quantities will vary from person to person and time to time.
Earlier I showed a portion of this diagram to show the relationships between truth, knowledge, belief, faith and theory. Now it is time to expanded the earlier concept to encompass some other kinds of information, and to integrate what we have learned about reasoning. Information is transformed by various processes from one form to another. Reasoning Processes
Two new large rectangular zones are shown that form the factory in which our understanding of information becomes conscious. They are the value-based reason and logic-based reason zones. I use the following definitions of Feeling and Thinking: Feeling is the value-based reason process that gives rise to belief; Thinking is the logic-based reason process that gives rise to knowledge. I now delve into these processes in more detail.Feelings - Value-Based Reason
Feelings arise in the conscious mind. They cause physiological phenomena in the body (such as release of chemicals like adrenalin, cortisol, dopamine). These chemicals give rise to bodily responses which have various purposes in the functioning of the body. The bodily responses are very often noticed by the conscious mind as “feelings”. Butterflies in the stomach is a good example: excitement or fear arises in the subconscious, adrenalin is released, the heart responds, the response is noticed as a feeling.Thoughts - Logic-Based Reason
Thoughts arise in the conscious mind. Thoughts do not give rise to bodily responses unless a thought triggers a feeling. The thought “where did I put my passport?” is a simple logical construction of the mind until, on the way to the airport, realization that the passport is left at home, triggers a flurry of feelings. Thoughts that do not give rise to feelings thus have no emotional association and are merely tools of the conscious mind used in the construction of knowledge.
Knowledge and belief are not stored in our minds simply as raw information; such a store would make us little more than memory sticks. It is our understanding of the information we hold that gives us our human intelligence. In order to attach labels such as “knowledge” and “belief” to our information, we must first process it to gain some kind of understanding of what the information means. Carl Jung called this processing judgement, and explained that it can be done in two psychologically opposite ways which he called Thinking and Feeling. I am calling them value-based reason and logic-based reason.
It is precisely because thoughts often give rise to feelings that we may find it difficult to realize the distinction between the two. Our brain has the capacity to both think and feel, and it is not easy for all of us to distinguish between the two. When we try to think about a subject which has emotional association, it is extremely difficult to do so without feeling. Most of us have experienced situations in which we know we have to think rationally but we are overwhelmed with emotion and feeling and find it difficult to think clearly. Fire fighters, pilots, surgeons and martial artists train to permit feeling-free thought processes in the midst of emotional circumstances.
Inside these zones, I show the stages of processing that occur that turn raw information into beliefs and knowledge. Since we humans do this processing all the time, we already have words which fit into those stages, which I have used accordingly. The stages are equivalent in both value and logic-based reasoning and I have called them sources, propositions and judgements.Sources
- Authority (value-based) and Ideas (logic-based) Sources provide us with the seeds of new beliefs and knowledge. If we are able to comprehend these sources, we will be able to form propositions from them. Examples of sources are ideas that we or others may have, by-products of previous reasoning, Holy texts, books, teachers, media, dining table discussions and so forth.Propositions
- Assumptions (value-based) and Hypotheses (logic-based) are Propositions which derive from Sources. Hypotheses are untested theories in the case of logic-based reason. Their equivalent, Assumptions, may well pass directly to Faith if we do not feel the need to question the source of the information. If we do feel that need, then we may feel that we are able to make judgements on them. Examples of propositions are: god is omnipotent, we have evolved from an ancestor we share with a banana, my keys are on the shelf.Judgements
- Feeling, meditation, contemplation, blasphemy (value-based) and thinking, experimentation, calculation (logic-based). If we are wise, then we will wish to devise some way of improving our certainty that our propositions are true. The scientific method provides us with experimentation, a vigorous test that gives us a comparatively strong certainty if the proposition passes the test. However, if we are taking a value-based reasoning approach to an assumption of an authority such as a religious text, then any such judgement may well be considered blasphemy. Thus assumptions are likely to pass directly to Faith without judgement being applied. In this case, the religious will often say that certainty in the Faith is a given because of the value they place in the authority source.
Examples of judgements are:
1. I feel that this is correct because I trust my Imam, so I shall pass this information to the Faith zone.
2. I have conducted a rigorous experiment that allows me to pass this information to the theory zone.
3. I feel this Evolution is wrong, I reject it completely.
4. I hoped our experiment would prove this to be right but unfortunately it is nonsense.
5. Noah’s ark had kangaroos that bounced to Australia? Polar bears that swam to the Arctic Circle? At the risk of being labeled as a blasphemer, I feel this should be taken as an allegorical story, not a literal history.
If we are considering questions religiously then the value-based reason process leads to faith; if we are considering questions scientifically then the logic-based reason process is the route to theory. In either case, if we reject the hypotheses or assumptions at the point of judgement (the triangles), the information is passed to the recycle bin. Thus, we can now say that assumptions are to belief as hypotheses are to knowledge; authority is to belief as ideas are to knowledge; feeling, meditation, contemplation and blasphemy are to belief as thinking, experimentation and calculation are to knowledge. Alongside Carl Jung’s “thinking” and “feeling”, I include other concepts of judgement as essentially equivalent mental judgement processes. Thus, when someone tells us they are “meditating” or “reflecting” on a subject we can use this diagram to assess that they are using a value-based judgement process. Note, I am not attempting to equate the spiritual concept of meditation to the value-based reasoning process. On the contrary, I assert that if someone says he is “meditating on a topic”, then he is using the term incorrectly, since meditation is a spiritual discipline concerning the self, not a reasoning process that concerns some other topic.The Recycle Bin
The new information ellipse on the diagram, the “recycle bin”, contains information that we think is false but we keep in our minds because we are aware of it. It results from the human tendency to cling on to bad ideas rather than just dropping them from our consciousness. Note: even some things one thinks of as nonsense are true. That gives us some justification at least for hanging on to what we think are bad ideas, just in case. Allegory is the value-based form of nonsense - beliefs that we consider to be false in the literal sense but information nevertheless. Allegory, like nonsense, may also contain an element of truth. Pseudoscience, and indeed anything that we consider to be false, resides in the recycle bin.Enlightenment / Breakthrough
I have included a processes of “enlightenment” and “breakthrough” in the flow of information. I propose that enlightenment and breakthrough are not so much about finding answers as about getting rid of bad ideas. Our minds are full of information, much of which even we think or feel is wrong.
The Enlightenment was the replacing of old superstitions and many religious dogma with new, better, logically-derived knowledge. Perhaps the human mind is not naturally willing to dispose of a bad concept until it has found a replacement, which is why our minds have this archive that I have called the recycle bin.
Carl Jung’s concept of value-based and logic-based judgement is gloriously apparent in the comparison between the logic of enlightenment and the values and emotions of romanticism. What better evidence in support of the concept of the psychological opposites of logic and value could there be?Irrational Thought Processes - the Faith Short-Circuit
I have defined faith as a value-judgement that is a sub-set of belief. With other beliefs, it makes perfect sense that we have a sliding scale of certainty in a given belief ranging from “I believe it somewhat” to “I strongly believe it”; in faith the mind makes no distinction between faith, belief, knowledge and truth. In the case of faith, all of the mind’s rational checks and balances that it usually employs when considering all other subjects are bypassed. A short-circuit of the brain occurs and the faithful person loses the ability to distinguish between belief, knowledge and truth. It is a form of mental blindness which is similar perhaps to colour blindness or tone-deafness. A colour blind person can see but can’t distinguish between colours; a tone-deaf person can hear but can’t distinguish between different pitches; a faithful person can think but regarding faith, can’t distinguish between belief, knowledge and truth.
Faith is a feeling, a process that occurs in the brain that releases chemicals in the body that are recognized by the conscious brain and interpreted as a feeling of wellbeing which is given the label “faith”. There are other feelings like faith which are just as compelling. Love is a very powerful feeling for those lucky enough to have experienced it. Like faith, it is a process that occurs in the brain that releases chemicals in the body that are recognized by the conscious brain and interpreted as a feeling of wellbeing which is given the label “love”. Try telling a person in love that their love is false. Faith has a grip on the brain because it invokes feelings like love, fear, joy, and hatred.