Need to know

Brain Science Biology Psychology

At the moment I’m reading the fascinating book about the brain, Incognito – The Secret Lives of the Brain by David Eagleman. One of the big takeaways for me so far is that the Extended Order, to continue briefly on the post from last week, could be seen as a mirror of our unconscious in the outside world. Our subconscious is a vast network of neurons and memories all stored away and relatively inaccessible to our comparatively limited conscious minds. It’s full of rules and regulations on how the body works, much as the Extender Order controls society with its rules and traditions.

The subconscious, and indeed the Extended Order, is so vast there is no way the conscious mind could ever hope to know all that goes on in there. Indeed, even our explicit memories, those we can access readily, tend to be locked up until we need them. And so the brain operates on a need to know basis. As matters arise in our daily life, so we tap into the stores of memories, both implicit (gut feelings) and explicit (autobiographic) memories.

All the time new contexts and situtions present themselves to us and we seek relevant information depending on what we want to know. Hayek argues that this is why trying to control trade/commerce/economics will always fail, as those put in control of trying to order such enterprises can never hope to know all things in all circumstances.

Always better to defer and decentralise to those that can specialiase in specific situations in specific circumstances in more local settings. Making arbitrary, central decisions that try to cover too many different circumstances will always be doomed to fail.

On the Extended Order

Board Empty Rule Instruction

I keep waffling on about the Extended Order, but what on earth do I actually mean by that?

In my mind, following on from Hayek, who developed the idea extensively, the Extended Order is the laws, traditions and rules of society. More often than not these rules are deeply ingrained within us through our parents and family from birth, and we play by these rules primarily at a subconscious level.

This order is controlled by no-one; it could never be because it is vast and complex. Within it there are groups of often competing sets of beliefs; religion, trade, economics and politics all emerge within the extended order. I read recently that once a population reaches a million it starts to develop notions of religions. I’d say that you probably don’t need that many people for them to start figuring out how they can work and live together, and a fledgling extended order starts to develop.

As Hayek likes to point out, these rules and traditions exist develop somewhere between reason and instinct. By this he means that if we based the rules purely on reason or instinct alone, the logical and primal aspects of our brains would negate much of the positive good that comes from the extended order.

The extended order is irrational and evolutionary. As culture changes, so old ideas drop away and new ideas (that work) come to stay. It’s interesting to watch recent developments in regards to gender and feminism and multiculturalism, as people push and prod at our long held beliefs. Over time, the order will change to either accept these newer ideas, or they will drop away from lack of use as newer challenges come along.

Hello World

Hello World Computer Programmer

Inspired by many accounts that daily blogging is a ‘good thing to do’, I thought I’d dip my toes in and give it a bash.

By way of introduction, my name is Andy Coughlan and I’ve spent most of my adult life split between careers in IT and Digital Marketing, and, at various times, trying to ‘make it’ as a writer, musician and filmmaker. I’ve been reasonably successful on all of those fronts, even if I’m not a household name living in a luxurious countryside mansion.

I make award winning short films with reasonably well-known actors, run a great little Sci-Fi anthology with one of my oldest and closest friends, enjoy working in London as a Digital Product Manager (and the daily commute on Southeastern’s High Speed link), have played hundreds of gigs with some top class bands (all of whom could have been the next big thing), and spend most of my spare time either adapting my favourite books into screenplays or writing new ones.

So that’s what you’ll find here; the outpourings of a mind struggling to make sense of all things creative, social, political, philosophical, and metaphysical. I have a deep interest in neuroscience and how that affects the way we deal with the world. Fair warning; I’m a libertarian (in the mould of Hayek and von Mises) and a firm believer in all things free (especially lunches – I’m usually available between 1 and 2!).