Basic Orientation
Book1: R-E Living & "Homo Rationalis"
Book2: Humanianity
Book3: Mind-Body Problem
Causation and Explanation
Physical and Mental Worlds
Subjective Experience
Subjective Model
Objective Model: Linguistics
Objective Model: Agreement
Objective Model: Rationality
Objective Model: Measurement
Book4: (Future Possible Development)
Child Rearing Issues
Philosophico-Religious Issues
Psycho-Socio-Cultural Issues
The Twelve Articles
Relevant Autobiography


Now the next thing to focus on is the fact, previously discussed, that learning takes place. Within your subjective experience, you observe certain regularities, certain things you can count on, or predict. Your ability to do this is built in and occurs naturally and automatically. (Neurologically, as previously mentioned, it probably has to do with the strengthening of networks of synaptic connections between neurons.)

You learn things about your subjective experience.

You learn where things are usually found. You learn that under certain circumstances, certain things cast shadows. You learn that cats and dogs walk around on four legs, and people do on two. You learn that leaves almost always fall downward from trees. You learn that if the phone rings once, it will probably ring again.

You also learn things about your subjective experience specifically in response to what you do.

You learn that when you touch some things that you see they will be observed to be hard or soft, or hot or cold. You learn that some things you are about to eat will taste good or taste bad. You learn that if you put one foot ahead of the other on certain terrains, you will be okay, but on other terrains, you will need to modify your steps. You learn that if you turn on the light switch, light will probably come on. You learn that if you move your fingers and hands in a certain way, holding a shoelace, you will find your shoelace successfully tied. You learn that if you press the guitar strings in a certain way with your left hand and strum with your right hand, you will hear a certain specific sound. You learn that if you say "Hello," the other person will probably respond somewhat similarly. You learn that if you say certain things, other people will laugh.

So you learn all sorts of things about your subjective experience, and about what happens when you do certain things. (And you learn what it feels like to do something, as opposed to observing something just happening.)

And again, I would like for us to label all of these things that you learn "beliefs." You believe certain things taste good, or are hot or cold. You believe the terrain is level. You believe the light will come on or the phone will ring again or a certain sound will result from what you are about to do. You believe others will usually respond to your greeting. You believe you can make others laugh. You believe many, many things, meaning that you are able to make predictions as to what is likely to happen, including what is likely to happen if you do certain things.

And we have already spoken of beliefs as learned models of the way the world is, was, or will be. So we are talking about the development of a set of beliefs about subjective experience that develops in at least some, if not all, animals that have a brain or something like it. These beliefs, or models, of subjective experience are the basis on which action is taken. They produce the more specific predictions (expectations) according to which the animal acts, in this situation, in this way as opposed to some other way. (We are not ruling out there also being in the brain "beliefs" or "models" of the world that may be a part of the inherited structure and functioning of the brain independent of prior experience or of learning, things we would call, for instance, "reflex behavior," or "instinctual behavior," but such "inborn" models are relatively somewhat unimportant in what this presentation is about, and would not, I believe, be inconsistent with the presentation.)

You are most of the time doing things. Most of what you are doing is automatically done correctly. You walk, reach for things, go get things, tie your shoelaces, get something from the refrigerator, talk to others, etc., and everything usually goes pretty smoothly. You walk into your living room, and most everything seems the same. So you are continually automatically predicting, and finding that what you predict is what actually happens. Almost everything is happening according to your beliefs (or "predictions" or "expectations").

But then sometimes you do something and are surprised by the results, or you go into your living room and are surprised to discover that something is out of place or missing. Thus, what you had predicted (expected) turned out to be different than what actually happened, so you experienced the failure of prediction due quite possibly to an inaccurate belief.

And note that you might first become aware of a belief you have only when it turns out to be inaccurate. To a great extent, your beliefs are acquired automatically with repetitive experience, and they are used automatically outside of your awareness (unless you decide to pay specific attention to what is happening). You come to expect things to be a certain way, meaning that you believe that that's the way they are, only to become aware that you have such a belief, and that it is inaccurate, when things don't actually turn out to be that way. As new experience occurs, it is matched against a model that exists in the brain that, being activated by the current situation, predicts what that experience is to be, this being what is expected to be. And when the new experience does not match the prediction, that which is expected, the result is surprise. Expectation is automatic prediction of experience to come.

What I am calling attention to is that a vast amount of what happens in your life is indeed according to what you believe is going to happen, that is, is not different from what you have predicted, or have come to expect. Most of your beliefs are accurate enough, meaning that everything is pretty much happening "as usual," or "as expected," or "as predicted."

And most of this prediction or expectation is automatic. So when I speak of "automatic prediction," I am not referring to an intentional act, but instead to an expectation. Your prediction is occurring moment-to-moment as perhaps a feeling of familiarity or continuing confidence, or even with no identifiable feeling at all, other than perhaps the feeling that everything is going "smoothly." The fact that you have a belief that things are a certain way may become evident only when you find out you are wrong and therefore experience surprise.

("Prediction" is, of course, also something that can be done as an intentional, verbal act, even perhaps as a response to a request to do so. For example, I may say to someone, "Since you asked me, I predict that X will win the election." But that is not the kind of "prediction" I have been referring to. That is a linguistic act that is also called "making a prediction.")

(And "expectation" is also used to label something like "that which you believe is appropriate or ethically right." For example, "I expect you to do what you said you would do." But obviously that meaning of "expectation" is different from the one I have been using so far in this presentation.)

So we have been talking about the development of beliefs about what you subjectively experience. We are talking about the development of models of your subjective experience that allow you to predict (or expect) subjective experience. And these beliefs, or models, are the basis upon which you act. You act because you expect or predict, at least to some extent, a desired outcome, that is, believe that the desired outcome is likely to follow your action. And the presence of such a model may first become apparent when you are surprised at something happening that you did not expect, or predict.

But please note that we are not yet talking about beliefs that have been put into words. We are talking about beliefs that exist in the brain (or central nervous system) of non-human animals as well as humans, independent of anything to do with language. These beliefs, or models, are continuously being activated by ongoing, moment-by-moment subjective experience, and are the basis for almost all that we do moment by moment, whether we are aware of these beliefs or not.

We should also note again that there is really no clear dividing line between subjective experience and subjective models of it, or beliefs about it. Usually we will find it fairly easy to distinguish linguistically between perceptions and beliefs about those perceptions. However, it is possible that a particular perception may come to be associated, through acquired beliefs about it, with a certain feeling tone, such that the perception of the "entity" seems to include the feeling tone. We may come to associate certain things we see with certain feelings, such that the seeing of those things automatically includes the feeling that we have learned to have upon seeing it. So something may "look" frightening, or disgusting, or gloomy, etc. The feeling seems to be a part of the perception, even though that feeling is produced because of acquired beliefs about what is being perceived. This produces the situation that belief about a perception causes a modification of the perceptual experience itself.

But this inability to distinguish between subjective experience (primarily sensation and perception) and beliefs about that subjective experience is even more basic than that. When we see something, for example, that perception really includes the belief that what is being perceived is indeed "there" (unless we are dealing with a complex phenomenon like a mirage, when we have learned that what we are seeing is indeed not "there"). When we see an obstacle in our path, we step around it. Doing so implies a belief about whether it is possible to proceed ahead without altering our path. When we hear a sound, it seems to be coming from a certain direction, this being a belief that may lead to turning in that direction (with the prediction that one will see the source of the sound).

So we can say that the perception of something is actually a model of it, something that exists in the brain at that moment, the structure of that something in the brain presumably being determined in part by the structure of the entity or situation in reality that is being perceived (modeled). And that perception includes to some extent what we would be inclined to call "beliefs" about what is being perceived, beliefs also being considered in this presentation to be "models." So the concept of "perception" merges with the concept of "beliefs about that perception," even though more complex beliefs about a perception may indeed be considered separate from the perception itself.

To clarify further, we can use an example of a chair. There is no clear dividing line between perception (experience) of the chair and beliefs about the chair. One could feel the hardness of the chair and therefore believe that the chair is hard to the touch. One could see that the chair is placed in the middle of the room and therefore believe that the chair is in the middle of the room. One could sit in the chair and experience it as being sturdy, and one could believe that the chair is sturdy, based upon one's experience while sitting in it. On the other hand, one could see the chair, and not yet have a belief as to how sturdy it is, because of not having sat in it yet, and then later believe that it is sturdy (based upon having sat on it), though no longer experiencing sitting on it (or even seeing it). We are considering "perception of the chair" and "beliefs about the chair" to be ultimately indistinguishable, more like a continuum from direct experience to complex prediction, just as there is an indistinct linguistic difference between the "chair" and the "chair's properties," it probably being impossible to define one of those terms without the use of what is meant by the other term.

So the distinction between subjective experience and models of (beliefs about) subjective experience may sometimes be helpful and sometimes not. This is an example of the fact that much of our labeling and defining is the drawing of lines on terrains (like the "boundary" of North Carolina).

(We really are talking about ambiguity of language as we try to label things in the world, when there are no clear lines of demarcation among those things in actual reality. In this situation, we are talking about very basic, primitive processes deep in the center of the brain, things that occur so automatically and close together in time that drawing lines of distinction can be very difficult. I believe this ambiguity will not be a problem in our effort to understand what is being presented here. This is an example of linguistically attempting to draw a line on a terrain, or of creating differences in definition that nevertheless leave ambiguity because no such dividing line actually exists in the world being modeled linguistically. It is the same process as that involved in the development of concepts such as "tall" and "short." Such "distinctions" sometimes are useful and sometimes not.)

Therefore, we can say that subjective experience itself is a model, and it is continuous with the more complex model consisting of beliefs about that subjective experience, that consist of the ability to make predictions about subjective experience to come, or subjective experience that would occur under certain conditions (e.g., feeling the heat coming from something resulting in the prediction that getting closer to it or touching it would result in pain). The important point being made is that subjective experience itself is a model, just as are beliefs about that subjective experience, and that there is no clear dividing line between these two entities. There is probably some capability for prediction inherent in any sensation or perception. Nevertheless, as we discuss most of what is to follow, it will probably frequently be useful to think in terms of subjective experience and beliefs about that subjective experience.

We should also note that some beliefs tend to be connected to, or be part of, other beliefs. (My belief about the location of my car is connected to the belief that there are such things as cars, that I have one, that cars can do certain things, that there is such a thing as ownership, etc.) So we can have sets of beliefs that tend to go together. And to some extent, probably all our beliefs are connected, at least remotely. So we can consider ourselves to have systems of beliefs, or even perhaps one big belief system. We may wish to single out certain beliefs or belief systems for consideration, but such singling out is somewhat arbitrary. It is like drawing a line around a particular area of a large terrain and considering only what is within that line.

And, as already noted, these beliefs and belief systems can be considered "models," presumed to be some arrangement of enhanced synaptic connections in the brain. So what I would like to do is lump together all of these beliefs that do, or could, automatically become active within our subjective experience from moment to moment, independent of anything having to do with language, as "the Subjective Model of subjective experience." Infants and non-humans automatically and progressively develop an increasingly accurate Subjective Model of the way the world seems to them, which allows them to develop increasing skills (abilities to do things that result in expected outcomes), and that Subjective Model grows in the brain continuously throughout the life of the animal, including the human (except in the case of substantially increasing loss of neuronal function).

(Where we draw the line between animals that do have a Subjective Model of subjective experience and ones that don't will probably be arbitrary. We are talking about the process of learning, and we have to go pretty low in the animal world to find animals that do not learn at all.)

(Also, please note that we are arbitrarily assuming that at least some other animals have what we are calling subjective experience that is at least to some extent the same as that of humans, based upon our awareness that subjective experience, so far, seems to be dependent upon brain structure and functioning, and based upon our awareness that, as far as we currently know, there are no brain structures in human brains that are both required for subjective experience and present in no animals other than humans. It seems extremely unlikely that we will discover some structure within the human brain that is required in order to have subjective experience and which we can find in no other animals' brains. I don't believe this issue will have any bearing on this presentation.)

Please note that I have begun talking about "subjective models of subjective experience," and even "THE Subjective Model of subjective experience." I am capitalizing the term, Subjective Model, to make it apparent that I am referring to the current total state of the relevant parts of the brain, and thus the totality of all beliefs about subjective experience that could become active, depending on the situation. This capitalization will be to help distinguish this total set of beliefs from more specific beliefs about, or subjective models of, subjective experience. (There is also implied in this capitalization that ideally all of these models would be logically consistent with each other and thus part of one big Model that contained no contradictions, in addition to being maximally accurate compared to any other such Model, though it is quite apparent that this is simply a goal to be aimed toward, not an achievement to be expected.)

And again, since there is no dividing line between subjective experience and beliefs about that subjective experience, we should realize that the term "Subjective Model" could be said to refer to beliefs about subjective experience or could be said to refer to subjective experience AND beliefs about that subjective experience. The Subjective Model starts with subjective experience that includes the belief that what is being subjectively experienced is actually "there," and then grows to include additional beliefs about that subjective experience that allow for an increasing ability to predict subjective experience to come.

It is obviously difficult to develop a consistent, unambiguous linguistic approach to these very basic concepts. You could say that the Subjective Model is essentially your whole personal world as you personally find it to be.

Now, as stipulated above, the two-word term "subjective experience" does not imply that there is also something that would be called "objective experience." However, we so far do not rule out that there are some things that we can indeed call "objective models." If the definition of such a model is possible, then we could possibly say that there are both subjective models of subjective experience and objective models of subjective experience. (And if it is found to be reasonable to call something "the Subjective Model of subjective experience," then we could possibly call something else "the Objective Model of subjective experience.") And if so, we can ask what those terms specifically are to mean, and how they are to differ in meaning.