PART 2 — UNDERSTANDING PSYCHOLOGICAL REALITY THROUGH CLASSIFICATION
PART 1 PUBLISHED HERE
Human mind or the Psychological reality, while it’s clearly an important aspect of existence, is definitely not an independent entity set. It’s derived from general and specific reality we analyzed in the previous blog. In general reality, classification, causal connections, principal formation, and field or subjects of study are clearly functions of mind. In specific reality, the understanding of material, social, and physiological aspects also require application of mind. Yet, significant as all these may be, there is more to human mind. So with this this background, let’s look at various aspects of human psyche.
The most easily noticeable aspect of human mind are the things we remember from time to time. Mostly the things we have seen in past, but also things we have heard, or touched, or some special fragrances. So sense organs act as the foundation on which our memories are built.
Of course, not everything is equally memorable, or even equally clear all the time. Some memories are vivid, some are significant during one point in life, but become trivial later on. Reverse, where trivial memories become cherished is also possible. So broadly, memories can be classified as vivid or trivial, or some spectrum in between. And they can also be classified as short term or long term, or some spectrum in between.
Memories have a significant role in life. While our experience has other aspects also, it’s the memories that form basic content of experience. And its experience that not only helps us to navigate different aspects of reality, but also improve the navigation, as we move along. So memories and corresponding experience are the first few pearls in the necklace of Psychological reality.
Structure of Memories
So how can we visualize the structure of memories? Firstly and obviously, memories exist inside our mind. Further however, many of the memories refer to material reality or social reality or physiological reality. For example, most of the things we remember, like my office cubicle, or my Laptop, or face of my manager, or my spouse, or my school, or memory of me typing this blog, or eating food etc. All these memories exist inside my mind, through my brain, but refer to objects or attributes or events outside my mind.
So memories can be structured as follows:
STRUCTURE OF MEMORIES
Further though, some memories also refer to other parts of psychological reality, remembering some strong emotional experience for example. We need not study these memories right now though. But for completeness, here is the visualization of the complete structure of memories.
STRUCTURE OF MEMORIES, INCLUDING MEMORY OF PSYCHOLOGICAL REALITY
Not everything we store in our mind is equally beneficial to us. Some things in our mind make us significantly better off, other things actually distract us and make us worse off. Then there are things which are harmful, but we have to think about them, if we have to deal with them.
The beneficial things, distractions, and harmful things are again derived from material, social, and physiological reality — derived from external reality that is. Broadly, if we are to co-relate these realities to the benefits, we will come up with following type of values.
First, there are things like food, shelter, clothing, medicine, and safety tools, which facilitate immediate survival. Then there are things that may not cause immediate survival, but these do make our lives significantly better. These are machines like cars, or washing machines, or elevators. Then there are emotionally charging things like movies or sports. And institutions like school or government.
Structure of Values
So how are values different from various external realities we studied? Being psychological, values exist in our mind. Further, they are a subset of memories in our mind. And most importantly, they are not standalone memories. Instead values are a connection of memories. Like an electrovalent or a covalent bond we study in chemistry, the values have two elements which are in the form of memories. One memory element refers to material or social reality. Second memory element refers to Physiological reality or a different part of Psychological reality. Since Physiological reality is simpler compared to equivalent aspects of Psychological reality, I will postpone the explanation of memory that refers to Psychological reality. Instead we can focus only on values that have memories from Physiological reality as one of their element.
For example, Car is a part of material reality. The benefit of mobility I get from the Car is a physiological reality. Both Car and the benefit exist outside my mind. But the memory of Car, and the memory of the benefit I derive from Car exist inside my mind. And the connection between these two memories is the value, which also exists inside my mind.
STRUCTURE OF VALUE — CONNECTION OF MATERIAL MEMORY AND PHYSIOLOGICAL MEMORY
So to summarize, the material and social realities exist outside of mind, but they create memories inside the mind. Similarly, the physiological reality creates memories inside the mind, while actually existing outside of mind (but within the body). Values are a next step in the necklace of psychological reality. In values, memory of external reality involving humans and materials, often connects with the memory of external reality involving personal well-being.
Clearly values are a matter of life and death, or more appropriately, a matter of flourishing and misery for us. The next step after values, in our journey inside psychological reality, involves our reaction to the existence of values in our mind.
What happens when we see something that we had earlier inferred as being valuable? How do we even first realize that something is valuable? What happens if some value that we achieved, is threatened? What if we actually lose something valuable? How do we react when we see someone who took away something of value?
Happiness and Frustration broadly classify our feelings. And these reactions to values lead us to the next existent in psychological reality, our emotions. Happiness is a positive reaction to values, whether it’s automatic evaluation of something as valuable, or reaction to achievement of values, or just a desire of something valuable. Frustration is the negative reaction towards values, which can primarily be fear, or sadness, or hate, or anger.
Structure of Emotions
Before we go deeper into this aspect of psychological reality, let’s look at general structure of emotions. Memories are the elements of psychological reality. Values are the compounds made up of memories referring mostly to external reality. Emotions, unlike values and memories, are not purely inside mind.
Part of the emotion exists in material or social or physiological reality. It’s this external part which triggers the values inside our mind, and invokes an automatic reaction which may be happiness or frustration.
STRUCTURE OF EMOTION — A CONNECTION BETWEEN SENSE BASED EVENT AND VALUE
Let’s look at a child, and corresponding value, his lunch-box. A bully comes along and snatches the food. Now the emotional reaction in child does not involve just the value food, it also involves the realization that an external event has taken away that value. Same can be inferred about the joy this child feels on getting (but not eating) chocolate. It’s not just the value which comprises of memory that chocolate was delicious, but also an external event of actually getting the chocolate, that triggers the emotion of joy.
So emotion can be considered as a combination of value derived purely from mind, and an event occurring in material or social or physiological reality (or a separate area in psychological reality).
Seven Primary Emotions 
While emotions are a multidimensional array, varying in intensity of sensation and scope of events or values, all emotional experiences can be derived from seven primary emotions. Three of these primary emotions belong to positive or Happiness category, and four of these belong to negative or Frustration category.
If events cause referent of values like lunch box to be taken away, the emotions are sadness for the loss of value and anger towards the person taking away the value. There is another emotion hate which will be triggered later on, by the event which involves sight (or memory) of the bully. Or fear if one thinks that bully is again coming back to take away value (but has not yet taken it, in which case the dominant emotions will be sadness and anger again).
Similarly, there is love (or like) triggered by the sight of a positive memory like a chocolate. Desire when the child wants the chocolate, or joy is triggered when the child gets the chocolate.
So sadness, joy, fear, and desire are more connected to event part of emotion. Here, through event, there is reaction to actual or potential loss of value (sadness and fear). Or there is reaction to actual or potential gain of value (joy and desire).
Other three emotions, hate, love, or anger are more connected to memory than to event. The event in all three cases is again a perceptual sensation of mostly sight, or hearing, touch, or fragrance, or occasionally taste. If the memory corresponds to positive value, then it’s the emotion of love that follows. If the memory corresponds to negative value, then the emotion is hate. And if the memory invoked is the event where there was loss of value sometime before, then the emotion is anger towards the cause of this loss.
I will not consider the activity of combining these primary emotions. Just an example though. Emotional part of ambition involves a combination of love and desire of significant value, like career instead of something small like chocolate or ice-cream. (Unless it’s chocolate shop or ice-cream factory as career).
SUMMARIZING ROLE OF VALUES AND EMOTIONS IN HUMAN MIND
Values and emotions mainly help human mind to determine what is important. The human mind can operate at two levels. If things from reality are deliberately selected as important, then memory of those things becomes a value, and enters conscious part of mind. If one realizes that things of reality are important through emotions, then memory of those things was part of sub-conscious part of mind. Of course, there are more complex combinations. One can think that he values a friend, but resent his presence. These kind of conflicts are a more advanced application of psychology, but still require basic understanding of the separation into conscious and sub-conscious.
So to summarize, values and emotions refer to memories and ultimately to external reality, in different combinations. They help mind to determine what is important, as the mind directs body to navigate reality. Values operate at deliberate or conscious level. Emotions operate at an automatic or sub-conscious level.
Ultimately however, knowing what is important is just a part of reality navigation. Another important component of psychological reality is the knowledge of methods that are used in actual navigation. Understanding of these methods forms next step in the analysis of Psychological Reality.
After determining various goals through values and emotions, next step is to achieve those goals through sustained action. Achievement of simple values like eating food on the table requires a very basic activity. Complex values like a career require dedicated effort for a long time. It is such complex values that create the need for methods.
Elements of the structure of Methods
Like other things in psychological reality, let’s look at a general structure of method. Every method consists of the value or a set of values which have to be achieved using that method. Other than values, method also refers to actions that should be performed in reality, for achieving those values.
For example, in actions to extract the value oil, method consists of deploying and running oil drills. For value education, we have actions described using teaching methods. For the value software, we have programming and software engineering methodologies etc.
While we have already inferred the structure of values, the other part of the structure of method still needs to be discovered. Specifically, how is structure of memories, a superset of values, different from structure of actions referred by method? Memory is from past, and very similar to the existent from external reality it refers to. For example, memory of the face of your wife won’t be very different from her actual face when you see her. But degree of variation of the image of action in method, from reality, may be more.
Like memory, actions in method also ultimately refer to images from external reality. The image stored in mind for these actions of methods will be mostly from prior experience or education. More importantly however, the image of some action planned for future, will differ more from reality, when the plan of action is applied later on. This brings us to another important property of human mind, concepts or abstractions.
CONCEPTS OR ABSTRACTIONS
So while a memory refers to single mental image, abstractions or concepts refer to a set of mental images. These mental images referred to by concepts or abstractions can be divided into two parts. First part consists of memories that are from past, like the memories of actions of drilling method one may have known through prior experience or education. Second is the projection from these past memories into future, where one tries to imagine how actions will look in future activity, like drilling in a newly acquired field.
There is more to Abstractions than just images from past or future. These can also involve lower level abstractions like concepts of screw (for drilling), digging, deployment of drill, oil field etc. However, since lower level concepts are ultimately reducible to images, therefore we can represent abstractions or concepts as a set of images in representation of method.
STRUCTURE OF CONCEPTS OR ABSTRACTIONS
ROLE OF ABSTRACTIONS IN STRUCTURE OF METHODS
So coming back to the structure of method, again using the analogy of Chemistry, it can be described like a more complex molecule. Think of memory as an element Hydrogen, value as a compound of elements like Hydro Chloric acid, and method as a more complex compound like Chloro-Benzene or proteins.
STRUCTURE OF METHOD
More elaborate structure of Methods
So overall, memories, values, emotions, and methods can be considered as the core of Psychological Reality.
Ultimately, since enabling discovery of various methods is the ultimate aim of Psychology (check my previous blog on Freud for details on purpose of Psychology), so a final word on emotions. What is the role of emotions in psychology, particularly because the emotions do not appear in the structure of method? Actually they do, but I have not represented them explicitly. Since emotions are reactions based on values, so they are also a type of action. Similar to actions in social, material, or physiological reality, emotions can also be referred by method-action related abstraction. Examples of actions in Psychological reality can be thinking, imagining, remembering, feeling etc.
MORE ELABORATE STRUCTURE OF METHOD
Further, since second part of the structure of value can refer to Psychological Reality instead of Physiological Reality (first part refers to material or social reality), so emotions can also take part in value part of the structure of method.
FURTHER ANALYSIS OF METHODS
Methods can reside in conscious as well as sub-conscious. That is, they have an aspect which is deliberately selected when being applied, and they have an aspect which runs in auto-pilot during application. Think of a regular skill like driving. During learning stage, there are so many conscious aspects. Position of pedals, degree of steering rotation, concepts related to half-clutch, judging the distance in blind spots ahead, steps for parallel or perpendicular parking etc. However, with practice and after introspecting about various parts of this skill, most of these activities become automatic. (Though even after becoming skillful, every method will continue to have some or few conscious parts.)
Ultimately, every method is about first consciously understanding the relevant values, principles, concepts, and causal connections involved. And then training the sub-conscious to automatically apply these abstract generalizations.
This brings us to various critical aspects of methods.
PRINCIPLES AND SUBJECTS
Before acting to achieve values, one has to understand the nature of values being pursued, and the specific means that can be used during the pursuit. This understanding has Principles at their core. Combination of few or many principles forms subject of study. The subjects can be technological in nature like Computer Engineering or Mechanical Engineering. These can also be academic in nature, where value is primarily education. Subjects of science like physics, or subjects of humanities like History and Literature fall into this second category.
Given the complexity of using academic principles in Engineering Technologies, we also have intermediate category of subjects called Applied Science. In the realm of physical sciences, the corresponding applied sciences can involve experimental technologies like Lasers or different types of batteries. Or principles of accounting derived from some parts of mathematics. In the realm of social sciences these can be Principles of Management derived from Sociology and Ethics.
PRINCIPLES AND CONCEPTS
Subject is a combination of principles. Further, principles can go in two opposite directions. One direction is to combine with other principles to form subjects of study we just looked at. The other direction for principles is to reduce them to simpler causal connections and concepts. This combination or integration into subjects, or reduction into concepts or causal connections, however is not random or arbitrary. The integration or reduction is in a definite, systematic order.
First we have concepts like table and chair, or drill, or pulley. Then we have combination of concepts to form causal connections in the form of generalizations. Generalizations can be like “Table is for keeping smaller objects”, “drill digs a hole”, or “a pulley pulls the heavy loads easily”. Combining these causal connections leads to principles like “load balancing using tension in various wired materials”, or “decreasing area of the tip of drill to increase the pressure”, or “flat surfaces having height around one meter are good for keeping smaller household things”.
The concepts can be of different types. These can be entities like the things we look and touch and hear (tables, drums etc.). Or these can be attributes, which are a specific aspect of entities, like red color of ball, or cubical shape of Rubik’s cube, or metallic nature of guitar. Or these can also be actions like rolling of ball or rising of load in a pulley. Concepts can also be adverbs or attributes of actions, like drilling deeply or pulling efficiently. Further, there are concepts of consciousness like thinking, knowledge, principles, and “concepts” itself. And then there are higher level concepts like Furniture, or concepts like Government which are a combination of lower level concepts, causal connections, and also lower level principles like “Individual Rights cannot be violated through initiation of Physical Force”.
So Principles and corresponding subjects or concepts or causal connections form conscious part of methods. The next part is practice, which involves application of principles in method.
CONSCIOUS ASPECTS OF METHODS
SUB-CONSCIOUS ASPECTS OF PRINCIPLES
*MOTIVATION HAS BOTH CONSCIOUS AND SUB-CONSCIOUS ASPECTS
PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICE
Principles, while necessary for enabling and developing methods, are only a first part. Next part is to train the sub-conscious for applying the principles to form various types of skill. In the skill of driving for example, it’s one thing to know half-clutch and steering rotation, and related but different activity to apply the knowledge in specific situations. Considering that the human mind can only retain very few concepts and images at a single instant (4 to 6), the sub-conscious needs to be thoroughly trained.
In which situations should driver be in full control of clutch? Which gear is necessary in which situation? When to reverse in narrow roads and how? Similarly for tennis players, how to react in different situations? Situations like baseline play or net play, defensive or attacking, for all circumstances sub-conscious needs to be trained. Think of your comfort level when you were initially learning to drive or learning your work skills, and your comfort level after few months or years. The principles do not change much, what changes is the skill level through practice one puts in.
The practice, or more precisely training of sub-conscious using conscious, can be classified as the motor activity of sub-conscious (corresponding to motor nerve in lower part of brain). Motor Activity therefore being the sub-conscious aspect of practice, and Principles being the conscious aspect of method. Contrasting these from the physiological activities like running or moving in the tennis court, or steering while driving.
METHODS AND EMOTIONS
Just as the mechanical motor needs monitoring instruments, to check its temperature, general wear and tear, voltage levels, etc. during operations. Similarly the motor in sub-conscious part of method needs to be monitored. Specifically, we need to check if specific actions towards the values are indeed taking the individual in the direction of values.
Emotions being automatic response to values on the occurrence of event, provide necessary feedback to the conscious mind about the direction in which the method is taking an individual.
For e.g. sadness after practice or production session may reflect individual’s inability to move in proper direction towards the goal. Anger may be an indication that other individuals involved in pursuit, or individual himself, are not motivated or good enough for the pursuit. Joy may reflect that the journey is going good. Desire before the activity of method means that the individual is motivated. Love of values may mean that resources being applied for method are for right values. Reverse being true for the emotion of Hate.
Further however, just as the instruments can be faulty or not accurate enough, emotions can also be misleading sometimes, particularly during the beginning of activity. So emotional response, the non-motor sub-conscious, needs to be co-related with the principles governing the methods. And mental actions like thinking, imagination, etc. need to be applied on emotional and principle based data (followed by physical actions like tuning, resetting, repairing etc. in skills like vocational jobs).
Taking the analogy of industrial instruments to emotional mechanism further, if motor instruments show voltage fluctuation, you will check electricity supply and condition of wiring. Or if chemical levels and pressure levels in a chamber of factory are toxic or higher than safe, corresponding supplies and recalibration mechanisms like valves are fine-tuned.
You have a minor accident while learning to drive. Emotions of sadness, and anger over self or instructor are natural. Taking leads from these emotions you need to evaluate your actions related to learning. Also, you may now have to think more, whether learning this skill is worth it? What will be the benefits once you learn the skill? Whether these benefits are significant enough to justify the allocation of various resources for learning? Further, even emotions like joy or love may not always be healthy. If you feel happy on seeing destructive fallout of methods like “unwarranted subjugation of hard-working subordinates by manager”; this may be reflective of nihilistic approach to values, which should be controlled and ultimately reversed.
So to summarize, emotions in methods are a means to monitor the activity, and then re-validate the method. However, even the emotions are not always accurate, and need to be co-related with corresponding principles to understand the correctness of various actions involved in method. Conversely, it’s also possible that emotions are guiding you correctly, but principles and values involved are flawed.
METHODS AND MOTIVATION
Love of values, though necessary, is not sufficient to motivate an individual. Commitment towards method requires willingness to give time and other resources for pursuing those values. Since time, money, and individuals of various skills required for pursuing values are limited, we need to look at values in a broader context.
This broad view provides us with the necessary willingness to spend resources. Only when an individual stacks various material values like Car, social values like Friends, family, etc., cultural values like a social or an intellectual cause, physiological values like health, and professional values like career; only by stacking and then analyzing these values together can an individual make an informed decision about the values and methods involved in pursuit.
Motivation is the part of method which helps an individual to look at effort being applied and values being pursued from time to time. Its motivation that helps an individual to course correct by either redefining or refining or sometimes even changing personal values(These values may belong to any of the four realities). Its motivation which allows individual to allocate more time and resources towards values, when needed.
Was I too hasty in opening my startup, without really evaluating the market, or skill pool? Should I still continue in my pursuit? Or conversely, now that my initial vision is achieved, can I take next step to pursue broader values in material, social, physiological, or even psychological reality?
Motivation is necessary when situations involving different roadblocks or opportunities arise in pursuit of values through methods.
HOW METHODS FIT INTO THE NAVIGATION OF REALITY USING MIND?
Clearly, methods are not the only aspect relevant to psychological reality. It includes full range, from memories and values to principles and emotions. However, it’s the methods that emphasize the role of psychological reality in navigating various aspects of life.
Further, depending on complexity, the scope of methods can also vary. Professional methods like plumbing or carpentry or production grade programming are complex. Other methods like washing utensils, or shopping, or filling a basic form online are simple. Then there are methods of intermediate complexity like cooking at home, or driving to work, which may not require career level focus.
Another classification of methods can range from mostly physical to mostly mental. Methods for manually lifting medium level loads or taking bath are mostly physical, though these still require few calculations. Writing or teaching methods are mostly mental, with a few physical aspects. Engineering and Management methods can be considered as having equal weight for mental and physical part. I would like to make a special mention of non-professional, mostly mental methods, like Ethics, helping us to discover goals, to pursue them, and to distinguish right from wrong.
One interesting classification can also be done by comparing methods that involve lots of emotional feedback, and methods that involve less emotional feedback. Utilitarian methods like carpentry and driving involve minimal emotional feedback, once certain level of expertise is reached. Artistic professions like painting and fictional literature on the other hand require awareness of emotional mechanism inside the mind of an artist.
So overall, whether its career or hobbies or activism or finance or relationships, it’s the methods connected with various aspects of reality, which demonstrate the necessity of human mind.
The blog was mainly about exploration of various aspects of reality, with understanding of Psychological reality at the core. Before going into Psychological reality in part 2, in part 1 we looked at other forms of reality, which contribute to the formation of Psychological Reality.
Generally, any aspect of reality is understood by first classifying the objects of reality, then forming causal connections using the classified objects, then forming principles, and then subjects or fields of study from principles after that. Specifically, reality can be material like clothes or cars, it can be social like people or institutions or business corporations in our lives. It can be physiological, which involves benefit or harm done to our body, mainly by material or social reality. Together, material, social, and physiological reality can be classified as external reality.
Finally, understanding of psychological reality starts with memories of external reality. Next step in understanding are values, which are a combination of memories of material / social reality, and memories of physiological reality (or memories of other parts of psychological reality, like a memory of an intense emotional response). Then we move on to emotions, which are automatic mental reactions of various intensity, towards the values, triggered by activities in material, or social, or in physiological reality.
Values are a part of conscious mind, and emotions a part of sub-conscious mind. Both values and emotions help individual’s mind to determine what’s important, and ultimately his goals.
The methods form final aspect of psychological reality. These are the means to the goals determined using values and emotions. These are composed of corresponding values and abstract actions. The abstract actions can either refer to memories of actions in past, or projection of actions into future. These actions of method can take place in any of the four realities.
Beyond values and abstract actions, various aspects of consciousness form sub-components of methods. These are principles and subjects of study, concepts and causal connections, connection of principles with practice, and a connection with emotional response related to method, and motivation to move on during the application of method.
Overall, enabling discovery and refinement of methods is the ultimate aim of Psychology.
Seven Primary Emotions