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Personal Functioning


Personal functioning is the field of study. Personal functioning is required for survival and evolutionary success because it is the basis for endeavours, personal and social.

The «mind» is popularly conceived as a (metaphorical) instrument for handling or containing our functioning and endeavours. However, it now appears to be a superfluous concept equivalent to personal functioning.

Any complex real field of study is a system whose elements must be identified and ordered: this generates a TaxonomyTHEE.

The Field of Study

Personal functioning is an observable requirement for our survival. It is dependent on biological functioning but distinguished from it in being:

Examples: comparing, intervening, visualizing, varying, planning, signaling, valuing, risking, feeling, knowing, arbitrating, choosing, helping, structuring, orchestrating, adapting, needing, obeying, judging, stabilizing, prioritizing, leading, representing &c.

Each distinguishing feature will be briefly explained in the Topics to follow.

Exit «The Mind»

I had previously followed common usage and referred to 'the mind' and to 'mental functioning'. But it seems increasingly likely that «mind» is an unnecessary concept from a scientific perspective. «Mind»cannot be observed. Everything attributed to it is a form of personal functioning or of brain functioning.

It is a person who dreams, who risks, who judges, who signals, who acts &c—not a mind (and not a brain or neuronal circuit). All such functioning has consequences for the person and for others.

Many things that are sub-personal, like pupil dilatation or facial expressions, are closely related to personal functioning, but they are a world apart. Brain (neuronal) functioning is sub-personal too.

We may be able to use personal functioning to control some sub-personal phenomena. But this leads to a regress because other sub-personal phenomena must then be in play.

We can still speak of «mind» as a metaphorical instrument that handles personal functioning. If it makes reading easier, I may sometimes write as if it is the «mind» that meets our vital needs and responds to our inner pressures.

While it is impossible to study a non-existent non-observable «mind», it is perfectly possible to study both personal functioning (in a metaphysical world) and concurrent biological changes including brain functioning (in the physical world).

Organisation: Findings & Conjectures

Speaking systematically about personal functioning plunges us unavoidably into a complicated world. Below is a brief introduction that may confuse some readers because it is so new and different.

Research has clarified that personal functioning can be represented as a non-physical system of systems. Each system is called a Domain, and there are two sorts of Domain: Root & Primary.

The Root Domain is named Will. It enables coping and thriving, and ultimately supports both psychosocial and biological functioning through personal endeavours.

The Will Domain is structured via distinctive manifestations into 7 Levels. Each forms a Primary Domain e.g. Inquiry and Action are two Levels of Will and simultaneously the Inquiry Domain and Action Domain. Primary Domains, which are largely under social control, guide and contribute to personal endeavours.

Each Domain is presumed to have its own evolutionarily acquired need
e.g. the Action Domain serves the need for achievement. Domains have complicated control systems to enable meeting those needs e.g. decision is the source of the control system within the Action Domain.

Personal functioning in each Domain is shaped and driven, at times irrationally or destructively, by a specific felt pressure e.g. the Inquiry Domain is believed to be permeated by a pressure for certainty.

Psychosocial pressures are quasi-instinctual and are conjectured to emerge from neuro-biological systems. They can be temporarily assuaged, but not removed.

Originally posted: 1-March-2015. Last amended 4-Jun-2015.

All posted material is part of a scientific project and should be regarded as provisional. Visitors are encouraged to think through the topics and propositions for themselves. Copyright © Warren Kinston 2009-2016.
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