Thoughts On Biology, Psychology, and The Self – Who (or What) Are You?

I’ve been thinking a lot about biology lately. I’m a psychology student, so the leap isn’t too unfathomable; I’ve had to study some cellular biology, and issues about the brain are a big chunk of my field. It’s all about the human body, essentially. What’s going on inside and around it to make it the way it is. Listening lately to Bruce Lipton, he’s really helped hit home just how crucial on a biological level the ‘around it’ is – the environment. See, we’re really quite intrinsic to our environment, in fact it’s inseparable from us (or us from it). We define ourselves, generally, as at least our physical body (often we’ll attach all sorts of things like our names, occupation, or hobbies) – but when you break past all that people will generally accept that they are in fact some sort of organism.

That’s fair enough, on one level: we understand things in terms of their individual nature. I am me (a human), that’s a tree, that’s a bird, and so on. What we often fail to see, I feel, is the interconnectedness of it all – the system that is at play. When we define ourselves, and everything around us, as these disparate entities it’s like we’re analogising everything to balls in some Newtonian game of billiards (as Alan Watts so excellently puts it). In that view we all move around and ‘interact’ in as much that we knock off one-another, causing reactions down the line of causality. As if a frog jumps in to a pond, and there’s a splash without ripples.

Now personally I wouldn’t feel this was an adequate explanation of how things operate even for a child. You’d be giving them a false view of the world to then go on and live by (which is essentially what’s happened to most of us). Children, and childhood more so, is another topic I’ve been thinking about. The way children learn and develop, and the socio-cognitive-emotional flux that we go through as adolescents, is so integral to how we turn out as ‘adults’.

As soon as we exist on any physical level (so in the womb, to give us an arbitrary starting point) we are influenced by what is around us. We know to consider things like whether a mother smokes or drinks while she’s pregnant in relation to the potential health of the child, since we have at the moment a very bio-medical view of health. We know now, though, that this model is fairly limited and that there’s a whole host of ways the body is impacted out with our standard models. Things like the emotional health of the mother has an effect on the growth and eventual chemical composition of her offspring, even passing through generations in cases of extreme trauma. The field of epigenetics is opening up a whole wealth of information that just decades ago seemed to be nonsense or superstition.

I feel it’s going to become harder and harder to define ourselves as these singular entities (at least without that knowing sense that we are much more than that, as well). Sure, I’m Jason, a student, blogger, painter, and so on: I’m also trillions of cells at any one time, electrical impulses that span all space, I am the air that I breathe and the sound of my own voice. There is no fine point to put on it. In reality, I can’t say what I am, or what anything is – there just aren’t the words for it.A

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s