Practical cognition

I am currently contemplating the pleasure principle aswell reading Marcuse book Eros and Civilisation. I am contemplating if the lifedrive as a motivating force of eagerness to engage and involve oneself with tasks and interests, and the want for further continuation, thus creating progression within the continuum, for example the craftman sees a progression in the lifedive because motivation is to engage with the craft, not the finished product itself. It is in the craft progress ocurrs.

A person not engaged with the lifedrive will see progress to reach the end of the task, the deathdrive. This is also what “winning” is, a deathdrive not a lifedrive.

The lifedrive is part of the pleasureprinciple, it becomes refined through the reality principle.

"the unconscious, ruled by the pleasure principle, comprises "the older, primary processes, the residues of a phase of development in which they were the only kind of mental processes.

They strive for nothing but for “gaining pleasure; from any operation which might arouse unpleasantness (‘pain’) mental activity drawsback.” But the unrestrained pleasure principle comes into conflict with the natural and human environment.The individual comes to the traumatic realization that full and painless gratification of his needs is impossible. And after this experience of disappointment, a new principle of mental functioning gains ascendancy. The reality’ principle supersedes the pleasure principle: man learns to give up momentary, uncertain, and destructive pleasure for delayed ,restrained, but “assured"pleasure. 'Because of this lasting gain through renunciation and restraint, according to Freud, the reality principle “safeguards” rather than"dethrones,”“modifies"ratherthan denies, the pleasureprinciple.”
Eros and Civilization - Marcuse

The reality principle help us discover the inbetween which the impulsive pleasure principle would have rejected to explore or see as effort or inconvenience, that is exactly there the lifedrive resides it is there craftmanship and artistry is furnaced into intellectual nuances within our dynamic expressions as sociocultural beings. If the pleasure principle rules motivation it is more convenient to search out the deathdrive, and this just keeps arousing as immediate craving (think consumer mentality), the pleasureprinciple refined as the lifedrive is ten times hundred more intellectually capable to explore the abstract curiosities of objective thinking hidden in craft and art processes, thus evolvement within our practical mentalities have abilities to furthering its topology.


That is an interesting observation, and reminds me of the book Finite and Infinite Games, by James P. Carse, previously quoted here: An ideal world: Who's up for a(n ontological) quest? - #11 by patanswer

I am attracted to the idea of refining the lifedrive through evolutionary curiosity—however, I think it is important that we don’t absolutize one drive and condemn the other. It is good to complete tasks and “put things to rest,” for without our ‘death drive’ moving us to do so, our ‘life drive’ would have no fresh, clear space in which to create and grow.

The finite and the infinite thus need each other and seek dynamic balance through our willing submission.


I feel that with the pleasure principle you have “fun” , with the lifedrive you are enriched. I feel that the “fun” is the exaltation in itself but it masks the underlying enrichment that happens within engagement itself. People tend to seek out the exaltation derived from engagement, this us empty “thrill” just keeping the pleasure principle addicted to it. The empty exhaltation misses enrichment to happen but it never will if engagement is minimal. Enrichment is not in the thrill but in the will to engage and interact that give rise to a patience and curiosity. If this path is not explored within peoples spirits, then people are stuck with “fun” the pleasure principle seeks after. Then the exhaltation will always end and the person will seek impulsively for the next thrill. I think that this is empty labour, as the quick thrill is simply a recurrent pattern based around exhaltation it simply never lead to any furthering of the consciousness about anything, rather it wants to “consume” the fun. That is, without exhaltation the person feels bored and impatient. This is like abstinence symptom of the exhalted oriented brain. But when you reach the lifedrive so many things grow in depth the more engagement and interaction we have together, it is having its own temporality, the thinking mind is derived from the lifedrive, humans true maturity lies in this transition from the values of the pleasure principle, to the lifedrive. You can not force the lifedrive principles on the pleasure principle because there must always be a transition of maturity towards a lifedrive devotion, and without this maturity on its own form of mind to quirk, you are not growing a mind you shape it to fit a model.

When you find your lifedrive (passion) you can write philosophy about it, you can abstract it to science, you explore that which gives you lust to engage in a concrete kind of way, like the wonderful people I read about in the book Parasite rex, that spend weeks in a swamp collecting flukes from different sources , wow! I would never do that but thanks to their lifedrive devotion (passion), this is an option for them. So much knowledge rests on their shoulders about such intellectual curiosity as studying parasites. Isnt it cool people find things like that curious? :slight_smile:

How would such devotion have started? Probably as an interest in biology and then growing more specific as knowledge developed to end up with specification in parasites. Would he, in the start of his journey have chosen to study parasites as a specification, probably not, the journey took him there. Its awesome.

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Also about consumption of “fun” or “pleasure” Erich Fromm wrote the book To have or to be:

"Society nowadays has completely deviated from its actual path. The materialistic nature of people of “having” has been more developed than “being”. Modern industrialization has made great promises, but all these promises are developed to fulfill their interests and increase their possessions. In every mode of life, people should ponder more on the “being” nature and not towards the “having” nature. This is the truth which people deny and thus people of the modern world have completely lost their inner selves. The point of being is more important as everyone is mortal, and thus having of possessions will become useless after their death, because the possessions which are transferred to the life after death will be what the person actually was inside. "


Im thinking about notions:

Im thinking that notions operates in a orientational way in the mind but often is heavily biased and incomplete, rather just something used for better ‘view’ or ‘grasp’ of or about something. It simply gives a relief to a person once a notion is established and it often spreads amongst people in a kind of superstitious way, that is the notion is enforced within a society so that all people treat things according to the notion.

I think this is related with objectification aswell, the notion preconditions the brain to a certain view with the benefit of quick orientation but with the lack of furthering any knowledge beyound that threshold. The fear of losing control and orientation the notion gives, the person with the notion feels threatened and experience cognitive dissonance once such notion is questioned.

Thats why one must explore this dilemma of notions further without being stuck in ones own blindspots and biases, which is very hard. One must be willing to challenge the stability one consider orientable safe, to find out what notions they are supported by and how developed those views actually are. I think this is important.


Hi Marielle, thanks for your thoughts. I guess “notions” are like “half-baked” concepts? I do not mean that literally, of course, but as in, “unexamined”—accepted pre-reflectively.

Thinking, reflecting, reading, writing, doodling, dreaming—the life drive can be in relationship with real ideas. These are subjective as well as objective, practical as well as notional. They can be universal in a way, but are also highly particular.

I like your thinking on human maturity, craft, and curiosity. This shows concretely in your drawings, where I think your handwriting and cartoons give rich expression to your inner thought processes. Thanks for doing some of your thinking out loud.


I am currently watching a really good lecture serie on Youtube by John Vervaeke:

I highly recommend it!

Thank you for your reply Marco, I decided to purchase a copy of the book that was quoted in your message about infinite play. I am looking forward to read it! You are always receptive and kind to me, I am glad to hang out on this forum.

I have ordered these interesting books which also relates much to practical cognition aswell:

Also in the lecture serie they discussed this book:


How close are the categories ‘value’ from ‘meaning’? Can meaning develop the idea of value or vice versa? I am thinking that for example using a price creates a meaning to us but that this meaning is totally different from meaning to value, for example sentimental value cannot be defined in a clear value system. [With clear value I mean categorical value , quality, quantity, measurements etc]

The clear value system perhaps prefer easily confined meanings to how value is understood in terms of commodity for example. This predictability to a value -meaning structure of association and cognition might be hindering many to look at meaning as valuefree and that value is something we firstly place on things we like rather as a transaction method, I think intuitively the meaning of transaction method means a payment for loss, a moral issue of “taking” someones thing and therefore “compensating” with money. It seems to enforce this akward value-meaning structure with the result that we prime such meaning between ourselves when we consider value, if something is liked, it automatically gets a higher moral meaning value. The interesting thing would be that the higher moral value things are experienced to have the more territorial a person becomes and protective and cautious, like the moral value somehow indicate a sertain kind of loss occurr similar to someone killing another person and wants compensation in the form of moral debt. A moral value meaning cannot at all see meaning as various values not just as one, by connecting value to commodity we lock meanings in a moral value compensation meaning, “I will pay for what I took with these money”.

Often transaction between people happens for other meaningful reasons which in themselves carry values not as easily discriptive mean but values of enjoyment and satisfaction give it meaning. When something becomes valued from a moral meaning we get alot of sacrifices to our time/effort/money we want to be compensated for our “jobs” we start to measure meanings in such way that only on this moral scale of value to meaning do we tie ourselves in a constant moral compensation behavior.


Hi Marielle, it is my pleasure to interact with you and I appreciate you bringing attention to these interesting topics of meaning, value, cognition, etc.

I fully agree with you that price of commodities and the value of things don’t necessarily match up—and that while a price (entailing a compensation-exchange) may have a meaning (cheap! expensive! fair! rich! poor! indicating the status of the object or the holder), the domain of what we find meaningful is not reducible to these terms of exchange.

What I value means something to me. If I value it enough, I am willing to pay for it. But my available money is a limited resource, so it has to mean enough for me to part with a portion of this power I have as a consumer to buy things. However, there are many things I value which I don’t necessarily have to pay for. In fact, it is better (they retain their meaning) when I don’t pay for them. However, there may be another kind of exchange entailed…

For example, a conversation is an exchange of valuable information, ideas, feedback, or simply a feeling of shared resonance and presence. Maybe that is what we are doing here?

I am glad you have posted your “Movement in the Static” scribezines, which I referred to above. I enjoy the quirkiness and braininess combined in exploring theories of mind.


It is, to be sure, an interesting relationship, and the matter is addressed rather extensively in the discipline known as philosophical hermeneutics. The seminal text here is Hans-Georg Gadamer’s Truth and Method (Reprint Edition, London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2013), of course, but it is a dense and challenging read. More accessible (and shorter!) introductions are Jens Zimmermann’s Hermeneutics: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015) and Richard E. Palmer’s Hermeneutics: Interpretation Theory in Schleiermacher, Dilthy, and Gadamer (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1969).

On the notion of “notion”, I would like to add one thing: Marco’s “definition” of “notion” as a “half-baked concept” isn’t a bad one, in my view. Concepts are products of what Gebser calls the Mental structure of consciousness, and one of their most admired characteristics is that they can be, more or less, clearly and precisely defined. This is one of their advantages, but at the same time, one of their greatest drawbacks. I like to think of them more along the lines of “hypotheses”, if you will: a current best-guess at what one’s driving at. True, they are more vague, less determined than concepts per sé, but they are still open, and I think that is their primary advantage. The downside here is that they can be used carelessly, of course, but as long as the conversation is continuing, they can be seen as vehicles to keep it going. Just a thought.

Also, thanks for the link to the Vervaeke talk. It looks like an interesting series. I think I’ll give it a look.


I also enjoy the John Vervaeke video, especially the focus on ancient civilizations and the difference between Bronze and Axial ages civilizations, and the role of alphabetical literacy in developing/unfolding our sense of deep interiority and thus selfhood. For more on the Axial revolution, see this series of talks: "Second-order" culture & the Axial Age: an overview

Regarding “flow” I found some interesting/alternative perspectives this talk with Dr. Andrew Huberman, a Harvard researcher who also comes across to me as extremely personable and self-aware. The interview starts off with him telling about his childhood as a feral skateboarder. My brother, who was also like that, sent me this video.

He thinks “flow” is really secondary to focus, or conscious/intentional behavior. For me, the big takeaway here is the necessity of deep sleep and restful states to enable learning and growth—as well as the role of pain, discomfort, stress, and the sense of urgency in motivating action. There are also some breathing techniques and strategies for chunking big projects down and rewarding small victories discussed in the video. This refined my understanding of how dopamine works.

Regarding “concepts” and “notions,” well, there is sometimes a great notion—and I think Ed’s right that the big benefit of notions is that they are open and can lead us in the right direction by suggestion, especially when fuzzy is the best that we can do. That’s a notion I have, anyway. And now I have a clearer concept of this notion. :slightly_smiling_face:


I like to take time to think things through properly before responding, so no need to feel rushed to respond quickly. :slight_smile:

Half baked truths makes me think of oppinions and attitudes being touched by notions in some sense. I wonder aswell if it can be involved with heuristics?

I think value is a very curious thing;
If a commodity is broken, it is not valued as much as a whole commodity, but say you have a torn money bill, what if it would be worth less as a means of payment? Or as Robert Sapolsky said in an example:

“My friend is such a good painter! He can paint with 20 colours”.
We do not have such distinction of valuating a painter based on that criteria so it becomes absurd claim. It doesnt mean that you cannot do it, its just that its unusual to value painters talents like that.
I was contemplating the difference of valuation between functionality (strong, effective, able) and instrumentality (easily manageable, affoardable, good quality, available, useful). It is used quite often in discourses.

I was also thinking about Vervaeke’s lecture of agape being interesting. I often felt afraid of the affect of Eros as I am a person that prefer deeper friendship in terms of affection.
It made me compose this:
"Instead of Eros, how about agape being the love we share, not the love we own.
I want to know you through atopos not as object of desire "

Fun note! There is also a species of slugs called atopos apparently :grin:

I am also thinking about semantics in philosophy being study of meaning aswell as hermeneutics mentioned by you, Ed. I wasn’t aware of that term before so thank you!


I would like to discuss feedback loops in terms of practical cognition.

Sometimes when I dream, I feel like the mind takes you through an action or behavior dream sequence just to reach a certain feedback to that act or behavior, it is not indicated dreamwise that so is the case, because the dream feels like a successive flow of fictive content, but it feels like progression in dreams occurr in some sense by these feedbacks to dream acts and behaviors.

Also interestingly, when I dream that I am calling someone and I cannot properly dial the number it seems to indicate to me that the practical feedback you get when dialing in real life is not available to the dream state, thus one cannot dial numbers that properly. Or when you try to run and you cannot move properly, I think is a similar feedback error, the fictive dream content cannot reproduce the practical feedback of running in real life.


The psychology of editing.
One thing that we as humans have learned to apply to cognition is the ability of editing. We want to “correct” our mistakes, “Hide” that which we are not satisfied with. There are many many other examples.
I often felt Im editing myself when I put on make up or try to live up to social expectations. If I compare editing to my sense as an artist, the editing of a drawing (erazing lines etc) is part of the drawings’ realization as a finished work. To reach this realization of the drawing I must both create and destroy. The editor seeks the presentable conclusive, it follows guidelines of preference which dictates in part how my art turns out, what style, motive etc, I decide to draw aswell as aesthetic considerations.

The editor is not the creation process, but rather the way we study the art process to see how we can improve it after the creation process is finished.
We are therefore I think dividing the practical behaviors to finished experience, this is because there is a cognitive shift occurring between executing an act and considering the act. I must have a finished act to work with as I edit, this helps me study how I will continue the realization. If the act is a kind of concretization and the edit reconsider parts of the concretization to furthering the continuation process of my realization, I might easily develop such a feedback where I need a concretizating act aswell as an editing ability to feel something have progressed in a realized manner.

Say you want to open a lock, first you dont find the key, so you edit the plan, now you choose a hair pin trying to force the lock open, but you fail, new edit of plan, now you take a rock to bash it open with , you succeed. You used both concretization aswell as editing to realize the goal of opening the lock.

I think the editing also exists in problem solving of different kinds, when we ask how we can “fix the problem” we are employing editing to the problematic conditions in attempts to solve the issue.

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I think there are different ways of being an editor, and while it is possible to see editing as a form of “correcting” a deficient or incomplete creation, it is also possible to see the editor as part of the creative process—not only acting on but within it, too.

As an editor, I try to enter into the world of the work—the consciousness of the artist—and sense what that works wants to become, what the artist intends. Being identified with the first-person perspective of the artist, it can be hard to see the shape of one’s work in a larger context, or to be aware of some defects in one’s one realization of an idea or transmission of feeling. The self and the work are still fused and interdependent; there is insufficient distance to judge.

An editor offer can offer a more disinterested, yet still caring point of view—with empathic insight. S/he can also serve as a bridge to readers and a wider cultural currents, to which they are attuned. An editor may also provide a critical stress-test to the final composition, so that by the time it reaches an audience, it has been subjected to a cold, clear eye of mature taste—as well as the furnace of the heart (which this editor keeps blazing through many dark nights), which is fueled by passion and respect for the craft.

Yet as a creator, I hate to throw things away, if they feel true to me. A line, image, rhyme, sound, crazy-seeming idea—may not fit where I originally thought it did, or anywhere else that’s obvious, but I keep it scribbled somewhere for compositing, recycling, or repurposing later on. Sometimes it takes many years for a scrap a poetry to find its place in the world. (Most, sadly yet thankfully, never do.) Yet a spark of genius can light an inferno, if conditions are right.

At the same time, I think you are right that some destruction—I’d add, mindful deconstruction—must take place intimately with the process, if only to tidy up and declutter our minds, break bad habits, and make space for new forms and fresh energies, which the world needs to recreate itself and become other than what it was.

Thanks for bringing attention to this topic that’s close to my heart.


Always a pleasure to read your replies Marco, I like your profound thoughts regarding the subjects Im exploring. Thank all of you who replies its interesting to take part of peoples angles and thoughts.

I have been contemplating the different interpretations of conceptual vs metaphorical understanding. I have found it weird that we rely so heavily on concepts that determine a specific meaning, when there are so much that has a more metaphorical nature, I wrote this to a friend:

God is seen as a conceptual entity by many, the metaphorical meanings of god which don’t express the same iconic implication of what “a god is”, but rather what it stands for in terms of various views, if I give an example, by discussing what the word “cold” associate to you, and I explain what “cold” means to me, we do not need to share the exact view of what cold should mean. I cannot say, you are wrong because you didnt say “morning breeze”.
This is I think why god should be seen as a metaphorical comprehension, something its ok to have variative ideas about, but that all is shared under the ‘idea of god’.
I also think that this variative understanding of something that metaphors contain is in a sense creating ability to reflect on new perspectives of itself, the idea of ‘god’ to me is a sharing of thought that is meant to differ from others but by that shape new perspectives and not cause conflict, and this is what I think metaphors do when they are being discussed. There is no shame in having an own perspective in such discussion.

If the metaphorical discussion creates the social room for dialogue , we then see philosophy evolve in such rooms, its a opposite of social conformity because it is a dynamic place.

Mogobe Ramose discusses the idea of “university”. (Starts at 50:56)


I like to explore the heuristics involved with practical things, because I feel like the procession of practicality rests on these mechanisms. We have a tendacy to think about the answer have the priority, but I think that there is many ways to reach the answer, and it is these multitudes of ways to reach that solution that interests me, if one are accustomed with heuristic properties one can easily reconfigure data in various ways so that one is not just locked to one heuristic model of procession or solution. The most important thing to remember however, is that things touched by heuristics have to be objectified by the mind. I think there is also a risk that the level of control gained from various heuristics creates a new baseline for how things are accustomed to us. If we consider notions such as “How do I deal with this” for example, we depend on heuristic solutions. My issue with this is that heuristic solutions may take over how we engage and interact to such a extent that we MUST objectify everything in order to gain the control, power, and skill heuristics provide.