ON DOUBT: WHAT IT IS.
CAN THERE BE “EXCESSIVE DOUBTING?”
WHAT IS DOUBT? Doubt is generally defined as a feeling of uncertainty or lack of conviction. It is synonymous with indecision, hesitation, hesitancy, dubiousness, suspicion, confusion, etc. But the above description does not define the mechanism of such “feeling of uncertainty” or “lack of conviction”. Such “feeling” or “lack of conviction” arises from our perception of opposite or many different identifying characteristics in the same object or concept. Hence let us discuss the mechanism of perception.
MECHANISM OF PERCEPTION: Perception is the processing of the result of measurements of different but related fields of something with some stored data (memory) to convey a combined form “it is like that”, where “it” refers to an object (constituted of bits) and “that” refers to a concept signified by the object (self-contained representation). Measurement returns restricted information related to only one field at a time. To understand all aspects, we have to take multiple readings of all aspects through all sensory agencies. Hence in addition to encryption (language phrased in terms of algorithms executed on certain computing machines - sequence of symbols), compression (quantification and reduction of complexity - grammar) and data transmission (sound, signals), there is a necessity of mixing information (mass of text, volume of intermediate data, time over which such process will be executed) related to different aspects (readings generated from different fields), with a common code (data structure - strings) to bring it to a format “it is like that”.
In communication technology, the mixing is done through data, text, spread-sheets, pictures, voice and video. Data are discretely defined fields. What the user sees is controlled by software - a collection of computer programs. What the hardware sees is bytes and bits. In perception, these tasks are done by the brain. Data are the response of our sense organs to individual external stimuli. Text is the excitation of the neural network in specific regions of the brain. Spreadsheets are the memories of earlier perception. Pictures are the inertia of motion generated in memory (thought) after a fresh impulse, linking related past experiences. Voice is the disturbance created due to the disharmony between the present thought and the stored image (this or that, yes or no). Video is the net thought that emerges out of such interaction. Software is the memory. Hardware includes the neural network. Bytes and bits are the changing interactions of the sense organs (including sound that produces words - strings) with their respective fields generated by the objects evolving in time.
In the mechanism of perception, each sense organ perceives different kind of impulses related to the fundamental forces of Nature. Eyes see by comparing the electromagnetic field set up by the object with that of the electrons in our cornea, which is the unit. Thus, we cannot see in total darkness because there is nothing comparable to this unit. Tongue perceives when the object dissolves in the mouth, which is macro equivalent of the weak nuclear interaction. Nose perceives when the finer parts of an object are brought in close contact with the smell buds, which is macro equivalent of the strong nuclear interaction. Skin perceives when there is motion that is macro equivalent of the gravitational interaction. Alternatively, eyes “see” or measure only color, i.e., different wavelengths of light. Our sense of touch measures the form. Sense of taste determines its “softness” or “hardness”. Sense of smell determines its fragrance. Our sense of hearing determines its “compression-expansion” nature, i.e., perturbations of density, pressure and velocity, where sites of maximum density alternate with sites of minimum density to generate and propagate the vibrations to describe the orientation and arrangement of parts. Individually the perception has no meaning. They become information and acquire meaning only when they are pooled in our memory.
In the perception “this (object) is like that (the concept)”, one can describe “that” only if one has perceived it earlier. Perception requires prior measurement of multiple aspects or fields and storing the result of measurement in a centralized system (memory) to be retrieved when needed. To understand a certain aspect, we just refer to the data bank and see whether it matches with any of the previous readings or not. The answer is either yes or no. Number is a perceived property of all substances by which we differentiate between similars. Hence they are most suited for describing messages concerning everything. Since the higher or lower numbers are perceived in a sequence of one at a time, it can be accumulated or reduced by one at each step making it equivalent to binary systems.
All our measuring instruments including the agencies of sensual perceptions, are directed externally, i.e. designed to receive external impulses and send it in through the neural network. Its mechanism can be compared to the sodium-potassium pump in our body, which moves the two ions in opposite directions across the plasma membrane through break down of Adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Concentrations of the two ions on both sides of the cell membrane are interdependent, suggesting that the same carrier transports both ions. Similarly, the same carrier transports the external stimuli from sensory agencies to the cerebral cortex and back as a command. This carrier is the mind. The existence of mind is inferred from the knowledge or lack of it about external stimuli. Only if the mind transports different external impulses to the brain for mixing and comparison with the stored data, we (Self) know about that (for the first time impulse received about something, there is no definite ‘knowledge’). The agency that does the mixing is called intelligence.
ARE PLANTS & ANIMALS INTELLIGENT? The plants have only one primary sensory agency: touch, which incorporates all other senses in a secondary manner. Thus, plants can feel pain and joy. A cell can sense its internal errors during metabolism. The virus and bacteria have two primary sensory agencies: for touch and taste. The insects have three primary sensory agencies related to touch, taste and form. The animals and those produced from eggs (birds, snakes, etc.) have four primary sensory agencies. They are deficient in one of the sensory agencies. However, they develop extraordinary capability in one of their sensory agencies. Only humans have all five primary sensory agencies in a balanced manner. None of these has extraordinary powers. Since the plants and animals do not have all the five sensory agencies and are not balanced, their perception is incomplete in some respect or the other, though it may be excessive in some respects like those found in octopus dolphins, monkeys or elephants. Hence, only humans are intelligent.
MECHANISM OF DOUBT: Doubt arises when we perceive:
a) Similar identifying characteristics that may be common to two or more objects. For example, in my childhood days, while passing through a forest area where I had heard about some ghost stories, in the darkness of night I was confused to see a structure ahead, which had the same built of a person or the trunk of a dead tree (it was the latter). That raised doubt about what it is. Or the often quoted example of a rope confused as a snake in darkness. Here the doubt arises due to our quest to know the specific identifying characteristic that differentiates between the two: tree and man; or, snake and rope.
b) Different identifying characteristics in many otherwise similar objects.