Jon Hellevig
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The Biological Paradigm of Expressions and Interpretations

I first realized that all social phenomena correspond to the paradigm of expressions and interpretation, but when I studied the biological conditions for speech it occurred to me that the same holds true for all biological phenomena as well. I noticed that all biological phenomena are also manifestations of organic expressions and interpretations. Thus I came to think of expressions and interpretations on a continuum which ranges from elementary physical movements to cognitive expressions and interpretations performed by a human being. Each organic act corresponds to an act of expression, the organism by its movements (reactions, external and internal) expresses its interpretation of a stimulus (set of stimuli); similarly, and in parallel to expressions, interpretations are also movements in reaction to stimuli. In higher evolutionary forms of life, such as in the human these movements of expression and interpretation cumulate to cognitive expressions and interpretations in the mental processes, which essentially consist of movements in form of neural reaction patterns.

Thus I first subsumed all the human social activities under the paradigm of expressions and interpretations, and later I noticed that the same paradigm fits for the biological, organic, world that produces the social. Then I recognized that I had in fact discovered the continuum which joins the biological world and the social world, natural sciences and social sciences, this is the continuum of expressions and interpretations. I came to understand that life is a constant process of expressions and interpretations. We humans, as all organisms, constantly interpret our environment, both the internal and the external. Homeostasis, the homeostatic system, represents such a complex biological system of interpretation (and naturally in the other, reverse, dimension it is a system of expressions). This is the life sustaining homeostatic system of a living body, i.e. the complex interrelations between the processes in the body that interact to maintain a relatively stable state of equilibrium, or a tendency toward such a state, in the whole body at large by the continuous adaptations of the constituent processes to external and internal stimuli from one organic action to another. On a higher level of cognition the homeostatic system is enhanced by cognitive interpretation that occurs as mental processes which eventually lead to cognitive feelings and thoughts, and their expression in speech.

The Organic Process Model

The expressions and interpretations paradigm, in turn, is connected with the organic process model which depicts how various phenomena correspond to organic processes, which occur in organic bodies (most fundamentally these bodies in themselves are bundles of processes), where stimuli is being processed, which stimuli result in process outputs (reactions, expressions, reflections). These ideas bring us to the most fundamental idea of life, as I see it; this is the idea that all expressions and interpretations, all cognition and all cognitive operations and behavior, and therefore also speech, represent functions of the processes which occur when an organism posits itself in relation to its environment, that is, interprets its environment in relation to itself. This interpretation is always at the end of the analysis about how environmental stimuli affect the body and its parts through their effects on the organic homeostasis of the body. I argue that there is no difference in principle between how cognitive feelings and other type of stimuli affect the homeostasis; cognitive feelings which cumulate to ideas (thoughts, opinions, etc) merely represent an extension of the system of homeostasis, and thus form an integrated part of the homeostasis. When a human organism processes stimuli it is de facto interpreting the environment or its position in the environment. We shall recognize that the starting point of a science of human behavior lies in understanding that all biological processes (of which the social is an extension in form of expressions resulting in social practices) are at the end of the analysis about the well-being of an organism in relation to its environment. An organism has thus developed evolutionary inasmuch it has been able to coordinate and adapt all its movements, organic processes, in relation to the environment. In this evolutionary process the neural system has developed to coordinate the other organic processes and organs in relation to each other, and in relation to the environment (i.e. the internal environment in relation to the external). The neural system has from the very beginning been about coordinating the somatic system (the rest of the body) and naturally it has continued to be so, only in a much more complex fashion. Each received environmental stimulus has an effect on one or another part of the body - this effect is recorded as the somatic marker. This illustrates how the bodily (somatic) processing systems precede and interact with the mental processing system. Even the highest cognitive mental processes are at the end of the analysis about the body in relation to the environment, the difference (between cognitive and more simple neural operations) being only in the higher degree of complexity and multidimensionality of the processes.

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