04.11.07 / 13.02.23
The ability to predict future events based on analysis of past events gives humanity its power over other species and the physical world and gives individuals a competitive advantage over each other in the social arena. The ability to predict is a major reason – if not the reason – we have been able to develop complex, extensive, useful, and enduring technologies and societal organizations. In summary, the value of the ability to predict is its utility, and this ability is essential to being human (or any more complex and social form of life). This ability to predict is also essential for societal organizations. But what is the locus of the drive to be able to predict? Is it the organism’s engagement with the world? Is it the social organization’s need to serve organisms or other organizations in order to sustain its existence?
Perhaps there is a more fundamental, more biological locus for the drive to predict. An organism’s own self-awareness and ability to function as an individual is organized around its brain’s/mind’s ability to become familiar with its body and to be able to recognize patterns and make certain assumptions about its own internal states. This would be true even for an organism with no sensory perception of an external world. No regulation of basic biological processes, let alone higher mental function, would be possible if the brain/mind could not first frame its experience of the sensations of its body’s systems, its sense of self, and its emotions in this moment through some stable interpretation of the phenomena as they occurred in the past. A brain/mind is first and foremost concerned with the interrelationships of its own systems and its perception of self and proprioception and emotional states and it must be able to recognize and distinguish between enduring versus emergent or erratic internal states and whether or not there are patterns to the ebb and flow of transitions between internal states. Once such a capacity exists, it is likely an inevitable step that it begin to anticipate future states based upon awareness and knowledge of current and past states and its feel for the patterns of transition between states.
With this hypothesis in mind, the desire to predict and to value the capacity for prediction is recognized as a projection of an internal, biological, organizational and regulatory mechanism – of a brain/mind perceiving of itself, its body, and its emotions and regulating their interrelationships. Once established for internal self-regulation of systems, this capacity is available for mitigating perceptions of the external environment and becomes useful in guiding the body in interacting with the environment. If this hypothesis is accepted, then we may say that prediction is the organism’s attempt at establishing homeostasis in its use of its own body first, and its interactions with the external environment second, and with its use of social organizations third. If this a valid hypothesis, then prediction used for larger societal aims is a byproduct of organisms’ minds’ attempts to use similar means of engaging the world and society as they do their own bodies. In this sense then, each brain/mind is literally making attempts to annex the world and other organisms exterior to its sensory receptors and enlist these into the same or similar organizational and regulatory structure as that which facilitates its reading and regulation of its own biological system. Thus there exists a drive to remake the world and our social relations in such a way as to facilitate the probability of the mind’s extension into them and regulation of them as an extension of its own biology. From this perspective, the world and our social relations are quite literally part of who each of us is as an individual organism – or at least our brains/minds would have it be so – and they want to be able to perceive of and regulate current and future biological states to maintain internal homeostasis, hence the drive to prediction.