Proprioception means “one’s own” or “ones’ individual” (Latin proprius) “perception.”
We normally use this word to refer to our physical position in the world—whether we are standing or sitting, how we are moving, and how much energy we are using.
When we dream, our capacity for physical movement, with rare exceptions, is paralyzed. But we still do a sort of proprioception in dreams—a semiotic proprioception, or proprioception within the semiology of the dream.
In dreams, we grope through semiotic associations and respond, gropingly, to them. People and things often look smaller in dreams, or distorted, because we do not have either the need or the capacity to calibrate our physical proprioception as we do in waking life.
Dreams move from one semiotic proprioception to another via our individual four-dimensional (3D plus time) groping/associative function. In one short segment of a dream we are at home, then we go through a door only to find ourselves on a boat in the ocean. Our 4D semiotic proprioception within dreams readily accepts groping, associative shifts like this.
Much of what we perceive when we are awake is memory. We glance at a room we know well and call up our memory of it rather than actually look closely at the room.
I am fairly sure that the memories we call up to aid perception while we are awake are much the same as the groping proprioception we experience in dreams. A major difference is when we are awake we can and do check our waking proprioception with the people and objects around us, while in dreams the associative function has a much freer range.
Notice how dreams move from scene to scene rather slowly. Things can go quickly, but normally dreams grope somewhat slowly along the 4D path of semiotic proprioception.
In waking life, our dreamy use of memory and association to aid perception of the world happens constantly.
When we speak with another person, we use this function to make groping associations concerning what we think they are saying. We grope and respond to them as in a dream while at the same time searching for clues that indicate we are both in the same dream.
These clues that two people may sort of “agree on” while speaking are normally standard public semiotics that belong to whatever culture(s) they share. By “agreeing” on them, we form a sort of agreeable camaraderie with whomever we are speaking, and this can be satisfying, but if we only get this, it can also become deeply unsatisfying.
The four dimensional groping/dreamy function of our mind is far richer than any standard collection of public semiotics. In our public lives—professional, commercial, based on organizations, etc.—we have, at present, little recourse but to accept normal public semiotics, to agree with them and manifest agreement.
We can express some deviation from them and sometimes make jokes about them, but we are generally fairly bound to the semiotics of the culture or organization that generates the context of our speaking. Consider how people in the same church or school are bound by the semiotics of those institutions.
In our intimate relations, however, we do have recourse to investigate and understand how our groping, 4D semiotic proprioception works. This is what FIML does. It allows partners to observe, analyze, and understand the semiotic proprioceptions of their minds as they are actually functioning during interpersonal communication.
If you constantly avoid FIML types of investigations, you will be stuck with a mix of dimly shared public/private semiotics that will tend to become highly ambiguous, even volatile, or very shallow.
Signal networks should be conceived of as dynamic patterns that change over time.
A psychological example of this might be a short exchange between two people during which one person interprets a small signal coming from the other.
The signal might be a fleeting expression. The person who sees this signal is likely to interpret it and remember (weakly or strongly, for some period of time) what that interpretation is.
As something held in memory—short or long term—that interpretation of the fleeting expression has become both itself a signal and part of a signal network that is changing over time, changing in part due to that new signal.
Of great importance psychologically for both persons described above is the fact that neither knows how the other interpreted the fleeting expression or if it was interpreted or sent or received. Or remembered or for how long. And almost never do they know how to get that information.
This is a micro example of human communication as it happens in time.
If this micro signaling network is held in the mind and analyzed correctly by the two persons described above, much will be revealed to both of them about how their psychologies actually function in real life and real-time.
FIML practice is designed to get them to that point.
If we view the universe as being made up of signals rather than matter, what we call “reason” looks very much like a method for organizing signals.
We can visualize this and from our visualization imagine other ways signals organize.
We say something is reasonable when we cannot find elements that do not seem to be in place among elements that do seem to be in place.
In this respect, the term “aesthetic reasoning”—musical, visual, poetic, etc.—makes good sense. It explains how the elements of an artwork are put together, how they are organized.
Engineers generally reason in more utilitarian ways then artists, but there is a great deal of overlap between these pursuits.
Not all reason works only with tangibles and how to organize them. We also fit things together in our minds by what we normally think of as reasoning, inference, intuition, purpose, and so on.
In many cases, it is simpler and easier to think of signals than matter.
Signals organize into networks that signal other networks and receive signals from them.
A more “reasonable” network organization will work better than a less reasonable one. This type of network will tend to evolve.
Viewing nature as a signaling network shows its advantage with this question.
Instead of asking where our moral sense comes from, we ask instead what makes for a good signaling network?
The answer is “good organization.”
By “good,” I mean efficient, well-made, good use of resources, easy to maintain, rational, etc.
You are a signaling network.
A well-organized you will probably tend to be morally pretty good and wanting to get better at it, depending on your conditions.
Of course some people view “morality” as whatever is in their best interests. And that is a type of moral thinking. When it is found out, though, most other people, very reasonably, do not like it.
If we view nature as the evolution of signals and signaling networks rather than as the evolution of matter, we will see that changes in signal organization are fundamental to the evolutionary process.
In this sense, it is the most ordinary thing in the world that you, a complex signaling system that is conscious, would consciously seek good organization and/or want to adapt your organizing principles, both objective and subjective, to conditions that impact you.
Conditions that impact you are signals being perceived by the signaling network you think of as yourself.
Your adaptations, both small and large, will encompass many moral considerations and choices.
Morality can be viewed as a kind of organization. The networks that make up your being must organize their relations with the world around them and other sentient beings. We make many moral decisions when we do this. These decisions are an integral part of how we are organized.
Last night I heard a drunk swearing at his friend from the street. “You fucking bastard…” etc. Not well-organized, but still he was yelling a local version of morality and this was fundamental to his networks and behavior.
On this site we have claimed many times that words and semiotics are held together in networks. We have further hypothesized that “psychological morphemes” are also held together in networks.
A “psychological morpheme” is the smallest meaningful unit of a psychological response. It is the smallest unit of communication that can give rise to an emotional, psychological, or cognitive reaction.
Of course word networks, semiotic networks, and emotional, psychological, and cognitive networks all intertwine with each other.
FIML practice is designed to help partners untangle unwanted emotions from these intertwined networks. FIML practice focuses on psychological morphemes because they are small and thus rather easily understood and rather easily extirpated from real-time contexts (when partners are interacting in real life in real-time).
The hard part about FIML practice is it is done in real life in real-time. But the easy or very effective part about FIML is that once partners learn to do it, results come quickly because the practice is happening in real life in real-time. It is not just a theory when you do it in that way. It is an experience that changes how you communicate and how you understand yourself and others.
In FIML practice partners are mindful of their emotional reactions and learn that when one occurs, it is important to query their partner about it. They are mindful of psychological morphemes and as soon as one appears, but before the morpheme calls up a large network leading to a strong reaction, they query their partner about it.
This practice leads, we have claimed, to a fairly smooth and effortless extirpation of unwanted psychological responses. This happens, we believe, because the data provided by the partner that “caused” the reaction shows the partner who made the FIML query that the psychological morpheme in question arose due to a misinterpretation. Seeing this repeatedly for the same sort of neurotic reaction causes that reaction and the psychological network that comprises it to become extinguished.
A fascinating study from the University of Kansas by Michael Vitevitch shows that removing a key word from a linguistic network will cause that network to fracture and even be destroyed. An article about the study and a link to the study (pay wall) can be found here: Keywords hold vocabulary together in memory.
Vitevitch’s study involves only words and his analysis was done only with computers because, as he says, ““Fracturing the network [in real people] could actually disrupt language processing. Even though we could remove keywords from research participants’ memories through psycholinguistic tasks, we dared not because of concern that there would be long-term or even widespread effects.”
FIML is not about removing key words from linguistic networks. But it is about dismantling or removing psychological or semiotic networks that cause suffering.
Psychological or semiotic networks are networks rich in emotional meaning. When those networks harbor unwanted, inappropriate, or mistaken interpretations (and thus mistaken or unwanted emotions), they can cause serious neurotic reactions, or what we usually call simply “mistaken interpretations.”
We believe that these mistaken interpretations and the emotions associated with them can be efficiently extirpated by revealing to their holder the “key” psychological morphemes that set them off.
My guess is the psychology of a semiotic network hinges on repeated reactions to key psychological morphemes and that this process is analogous to the key words described in Vitevitch’s study.
Vitevitch did not remove key words from actual people because it would be unethical to do so. But it is not unethical for consenting adults to help each other find and remove key psychological morphemes that are harmfully associated with the linguistic, semiotic, cognitive, and psychological networks that make up the individual.