Notes on Human Interaction and Autonomy

There are many arguments for autonomy in humans that fall short of producing confidence in it. The common perception is that of autonomous agency; however reduction and testing tends to suggest otherwise. Though human interaction and behavior is chaotic and thus difficult to predict in discrete instances, more general predispositions are trivial to demonstrate. The notions of determinism and causation both appear to be incoherent upon further examination as well. A more wholistic approach is probably more likely to be successful.

The common perception is that of the individual being in the drivers seat of a biological organism. The cognitive constraints that we all share however, tend to produce truncated perceptions. These perceptions are produced by the limited amount of interactions that we are attending to. We often take credit for learned behaviors, evolutionary predispositions, social heuristics, family traditions, impulses etc..

Human interaction, more carefully considered, appears to be feedback loops with various environmental stimuli. It’s also subject to normative pressures. Though there are degrees of freedom, consequences are a constant concern. Almost all human behavior is a result of impulse. Though it’s over 90%, it’s difficult to say how much because even cognitive responses become habituated and thus impulsive. Habituating a generally successful cognitive response is only rational. What one has learned from experience is too often thought of as an autonomous response; however it appears to be merely a deprecation of less successful thoughts and behaviors; and the before mentioned habituation of more successful ones. The act of thinking before responding is merely an economy of this process.

The success of game theoretical understanding has uncovered some interesting arguments against determinism. The presence of cheating and signal noise are chaotic components to the system. Though reducible after the fact, discrete prediction isn’t likely. Since the ability to reduce the instances exists, cheating and signal noise are not likely candidates for autonomy either. This is because the cheating and / or signal noise are themselves products of environmental stimuli as well.

We tend to truncate the evidence in reduction as well. We try to see causal factors in the interactions; though the evidence suggests that all interactions are feedback loops. Our cognitive constraints are the likely reason behind this; though they too are economic products of the environment. In order to be capable of reducing systems and interactions, we truncate them into hierarchies. These hierarchies are products of human cognition and not so much an accurate depiction of nature. The Bohmian view holds up to scrutiny much better. General Systems Theory holds up to scrutiny well too as it doesn’t focus on hierarchies. Rather it focuses on prevalent systemic behaviors. These behaviors scale in our hierarchical accounts.

Personal note:

I’m having more success with General Systems Theory and Bohm’s Implicate Order than I could have anticipated. Though hierarchies are a part of my understanding of natural systems, the reality that nature is not in essence composed of hierarchies specifically creates an interface between the two. I now think of systems as a fractal froth of discrete components; with overlapping spheres of influence. None are causal or responsive; but interactive and cooperative, or at risk for extinction. Biological systems are proving to be subject to this as well… even humans. This is the understanding that I’m gaining from the sciences. It’s also allowing me to consider systems across a wide variety of disciplines; as the axioms provided by General Systems Theory are producing results that are expected by the various disciplines. Whoda’ thunk it? General Systems Theory appears to be a general systems theory.


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