If you haven’t read Kevin Behan’s reply to my recent post on “Awareness”, I’m going to reprint it here verbatim. It deserves to be dissected, pared down into easily understood components, and discussed. Like most of Kevin’s writing, it requires “physically” seeing demonstrated what he is conceptualizing. I’m breaking this down by applying the title “Behans Law” to it…Hopefully Kevin will forgive the hubris of that accolade, but what he writes seems to be the very core of a much larger whole. Let’s discuss this after you read it, and think it over. It’s profoundly simple really, and puts a new lean on canine behavioral theory. Here’s the reply in whole:
Robert, I appreciate the time and thoughtful effort you’re taking to investigate my theory. When I wrestle with the notion of awareness I have come to begin with the body as opposed to the brain. Sensory inputs take shape in the animal mind by crystallizing around the body’s physical center-of-gravity because configuring the body around this point is the essence of locomotion, and being able to move is the essence of animal emotion. Emotional processes piggyback on the systems dedicated to remaining upright and keeping in motion, and thus the animal mind configures around this point as well. So the body serves as an animals’ frame of reference for experience and its awareness of the world. The body formats perception into specific frames of reference well before the brain begins to process an experience. In other words the body is how the brain makes sense of things. The mechanics of this, and I would argue it’s a universal feature of sentient life, is that an animal “projects” its physical center-of-gravity onto relevant objects and thereby feels just as if it is physically connected to it. This actuates a compulsory drive to connect since the individual is trying to reconnect with what it has projected outside its body and which it feels as a part of its self. The external object involuntarily elicits internal emotional effects and these destabilizing influences must be stabilized for the animal to return to “peace of mind.” This is why I believe all behavior is a function of attraction and whether two individuals are able to sustain an interaction so that it can elaborate into a relationship is a function of “emotional capacity.” (In my view human beings and domestic dogs have the highest emotional capacity in the animal kingdom.) I feel that what most commends this model is that a definition of self as a function of the surroundings not only provides for individual integrity, but simultaneously is the vehicle for integration into the whole as well. Also, its very universality so that any two animals can potentially communicate and connect, at the same time factors out to be the source of individual uniqueness as well. In a sustained relationship individuals end up mirroring each other and developing a specialized set of personality traits (they become equal and yet opposites in all things). They don’t differentiate at random, but as complementary feelings to each other. Additionally I think this emotional dynamic serves as a gateway to the other modalities of awareness you’ve mentioned, extraordinary feats of navigation, anticipation of earthquakes, seizures in owners, criminal intent in strangers, etc., etc.. (Hope this isn’t too long or dense.)
Simple, Huh? I’ll let you digest this for yourself before I make any more attempts to write about it. As preamble, I’ll say this: What Kevin is suggesting is not mystical, mysterious, or psycho-babble. It’s actually the “science” of all Living Things, interconnected, linear, and indivisible. Back soon…Dogs need a walk. You do the same!