This present work comprises a theory of how the brain and our minds evolved. It is intended to combine ‘inner’ observation with known evolutionary facts, in a way that is logically consistent. The theory is centred on a structural aspect of behaviour, that re-appears at successive levels of neural complexity. In this context the structure is termed a ‘norm’. It is presented in a simplified schematic form.
In nature, fractal-like recurring patterns can be seen in many species. A fern is an example, where a basic fan like shape is repeated in various sizes throughout the structure. ‘As above so below’ is a saying that echoes throughout this theory of norms.
The brain has evolved over millions of years from a structure that began as a small group of cells. During its development there had to be a balance between its functionality and efficiency. In this respect new capabilities developed from existing structures wherever possible, involving minimal energy expenditure.
The brain is a complex physical organ. It contains tens of billions of neurons with trillions of fibre connections. Scores of inhibitors and excitatory agents help with data transfer. Any study of how it functions can become swamped by a myriad of detail. There are difficulties in attempting to make relevant scientific observations. The brain is materially soft and can quickly degenerate when prodded or dissected. A further problem is that complex neural activity can occur at a micro level at very high frequencies. At present it is largely impractical to investigate that behaviour in detail.
There are some lines of approach that prove useful. The mind can be considered to be that ‘space’ within which various types of thought, feelings and levels of consciousness occur. The mind also includes an element that we regard as ‘I’. To the ‘I’ many of the brain’s activities appear to have an objective nature. This renders them suitable for careful observation.
The functioning of the brain is logical in the sense that it acts to preserve life. Any organism that failed in that respect fell to the wayside on the evolutionary path and is no longer present. That ‘logic of survival’ must therefore be intrinsic to neural activity in any present day species.
To highlight the presence of this imperative within all brain functioning, a separate paragraph on survival logic is included at the end of each section.
Any worthwhile theory must stand the test of actuality and be valid when exposed to scientific enquiry. The rigorous testing of a theory relies upon the appropriate use of extended observations. It is observation that fundamentally confirms our view of reality.