Systematic Political Science

Neuroscience in Reward, Gratification, Time Preference, Inconsistency, and Transcendental Signifiers Regarding Logos

Dallas F. Bell, Jr.

A complete wiring diagram of neuron connections in neuroscience has been called a connectome. The model is similar to the genome mapping of the DNA sequence. Different research teams have begun making neuron-to-neuron connectomes for specific brain regions, such as the hippocampus which is recognized for memory and learning. There are many varied approaches to understanding the neural basis of cognition--fMRI is one. (The preceding statement was made by Paula Tallal, Co-Director of The Center for Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience at Rutgers University, in an email exchange with Dallas F. Bell Jr. during March, 2010.)

It should be kept in mind that even monozygotic twins do not necessarily have the same brain structures. They do have nontrivial amounts of shared experiences. Maternal hormone levels, alcohol and drug use will have affected both twins similarly, if exposed similarly. If not, they will reflect a different structure due to the environmental influences on their shared genetic makeup. Of course, any research should be conducted in accordance with the Nuremberg Code of ethics, Primum non nocere (Latin meaning; First, do no harm). Adjustments should be made for nuisance regressors.

Richard J. Herrnstein (1930-1994) formulated the matching law. He noted that choices are distributed according to rates of reinforcement for those choices. Resultant conforming behavior is matching and non conforming behavior is in degrees of not matching the behavioral choice. Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus (121 A.D.-180 A.D.) was the last of the "Five Good Emperors" of Rome. In his book eleven of Meditations (Ta eis heauton; means thoughts or writings addressed to himself) he posed, "Have I done something for the general interest? Well then I have had my reward. Let this always be present to thy mind, and never stop doing such good." From his observation, reward is a sort of matching with reinforced good. That reward becomes a mappable part of the brain.

Operant matching, as defined by Yonathan Loewenstein and H. Sebastian Seung, is a synaptic plasticity based on the covariance between reward and neural activity. Operant matching has diminishing returns and low probability of reward. Probability matching has fixed schedules of reward, such as in slot machines. A two-armed bandit slot machine would have one of the alternatives yield a reward and the subject is rewarded in a high fraction of trials. Over time the behavior may become more like operant matching.

In multi-armed bandit experiments, subjects will explore to find more information to get higher rewards. These experience parameters could be building blocks in artificial intelligence to create parameters for rewards or simulate empathy, as defined by the designer, using self-analysis of inputted values and a sort of self-sacrificing behavioral priorities in relationships.

Delayed or deferred gratification is the choice to wait for a reward. Humans show a preference for similar rewards that arrive the fastest. The earlier reward discounts the later reward. Hyperbolic discounting of the value of the perceived reward falls sharply with time delays. Whereas, exponential discounting of the value of the perceived reward falls by a constant factor regardless of the time delay. Subjects that use hyperbolic discounting tend to make inconsistent choices over time because they value future reward more than exponential discounting subjects--dynamic inconsistency or time inconsistency.

A dynamically inconsistent game is subgame imperfect. This is due to the situation in a dynamic game that will not be perceived by a player as optimal when the future period of time arrives. Drug abusers enjoy their drug today but plan to quit tomorrow for reasons such as health benefits. When the next day arrives they repeat the choice made the day before and do not quit the unhealthy behavior. Tomorrow never comes and does not exist in moments within finite intellects.

Weber's law (1834) applied time perception 1 day from now which is easily distinguished from 5 days from now. It is different to distinguish 1,000 years and 1 day from 1,000 years and 5 days from now even though both time periods differ by the same number of days.

Time preference looks at how a subject prefers a reward. High time preference prefers a faster reward than the average person and a low time preference delays the reward more than the average person. The two Greek words for time are chronos and kairos. Chronos refers to sequential or chronological time. Kairos means the perfect moment appointed by God for His purpose (Mark 1:15). Jack London's (1876-1916) atheistic view, in To Build a Fire, substituted God with nature. The Tao-te Ching is a Taoist text that describes, in chapter I, the Originator and Mother of all things as the Mystery. Gabriel Marcel (1889-1973) indicated that mystery ends with the questioner becoming the object of the mystery.

Extended theological views are seen in The Book of Five Rings written by Miyamoto Musashi (c. 1584-1645), Arthaśāstra written by Chānakya (c. 350B.C.-283 B.C.), The Prince written by Machiavelli, and Aristotle's Book One, Part II of Politics in discussing how some people are natural slaves.

Reward means to watch or guard as a ward. The Bible defines reward as payable services (Greek misthos) or compensation (Hebrew eqeb). It teaches that there is reward for the righteous (Ps. 19:11; Prov. 11:18, 25:21-22; Matt. 6:1; Rom. 4:4-5; Col. 3:23-24; Heb. 11:6). It also teaches that there is reward for the unrighteous or wicked (II Sam. 3:39; Ps. 31:23, 91:8; II Tim. 4:14; Rev. 18:6).

Rewards are positive awards for behavior that is compliant with NLF and justly given to intellects with freewill. Negative awards are justly given for chosen behavior that is not compliant with NLF. Rewards, then, are for the present time when the knowledge of wisdom is found (Prov. 24:14) and the candle of the wicked will be put out (Prov. 24:20). Jesus said that if we leave our possessions and our family for Him that we will receive a hundredfold now and in eternity where the first shall be last and the last first (Mark 10:29-31).

Eternal rewards would be from God and would be just. They would be part of the nature of our intellect with the freewill to expect appropriate tangible rewards that are incorruptible and eternal (I Cor. 9:25-27). The Bible says that blessed is the man that endures temptation, for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to them that love Him (James 1:12). The crown (Greek stephanos and Hebrew atarah) means to encircle like a crown used for a victory wreath. Crowns are for the victor's joy (I Thes. 2:19), for the righteous (II Tim. 4:8), for the faithful (Rev. 2:10), and for glory (I Peter 5:4). These crowns, positive eternal rewards, will be the only value of the awarded. They will freely give them to Jesus in worship of Him (Rev. 4:10-11). This is a marked difference in perception from those, such as Orwell, who is often quoted as saying that the biblical Heaven sounds like eternal choir practice in a jewelry shop.

All people need eternal reward for transcendence. However, some teaching is contrary to that reality, such as in Darwinism which Karl Popper (1902-1994) called metaphysical research since it is not testable scientific theory. In Darwinism, there is nothing after death and life has no purpose. This belief has a big effect on people, especially those below the age of 26. They are not given any transcendent reason to delay gratification and so they must suffer the consequences of their animalistic behavior, often ending with homicide or suicide behavior. Their option is to transcend material pain with material pleasure. That state cannot achieve continuous joy and must then be accepted as normal without hope of a good ending or that inconsistent belief is rejected and the biblical consistent belief accepted where hope is naturally possible.

Transcendence is the concept of going beyond our material universe and so salvation is transcendence from death (I Cor. 15:55-56). Dean Hamer wrote in The God Gene that self-transcendence is believed to be in part psychometrically measurable and is partly inherited. His view has been widely criticized. Wolfgang Schirmacher (b. 1944), professor at the European Graduate School, explains that to survive the absence of God man must live without transcendental purpose. Jacques Derrida (1930-2004) attempted to show that all text is not a complete whole but is composed of irreconcilable and contradictory meanings. That means that all texts have more than one meaning and are irreducible only to a certain point. Semantic deconstruction would apply to all semantics including the semantics of deconstruction also rendering that thought meaningless. Joseph Hillis Miller Jr. (b. 1928) observed that deconstruction is a metaphysical and rhetorical exercise.

Derrida is said to have adopted a defensive philosophy of vous m'avez mal compris, vous êtes idiot (you have misunderstood me, [so] you are an idiot). If his concept was true there could be no societal law or human relationships. In general, all people are sufficiently intelligent to communicate sufficiently to form relationships and learn.

Central to deconstructionism is différance which is the concept of using language signifiers. Transcendental signifiers are concepts such as truth. Différance is described as an attempt to escape from the logic of transcendental signifiers, especially truth, with relativism. The fact that 2 + 2 = 4 disproves the concept on many levels. The equation is independently true and is not rationally misunderstandable with any of the parts that compose the whole.

A real problem of understanding signifiers lies in finite intellects. The infinite intellect (Ps. 147:5) of God has perfect knowledge with wisdom, power, justice, grace, mercy, and truth. Human understanding has variations in experience, education, IQ, and chosen theology. God told Isaiah to speak to the people who hear but do not understand and see but do not perceive (Is. 6:9-10). Jesus did the same by speaking openly of controversial subjects (Matt. 13:11-17; Mark 12:17) and often in parables (Mark 12:1-12; Luke 8:10) so those with ears could hear while His message was blinded to others.

Jesus intentionally did not interpolate signifiers in many cases, yet He did with NLF. As Jesus' life perfectly interpolated Old Testament Messianic prophesy, He interpolated past NLF. For example, He explained that adultery also includes lust (Matt. 5:27-28) and murder includes being angry without cause (Matt. 5:21-25). His teaching extrapolated future law and prophesy for this universe and beyond (Matt. 5:17-20). He said the only unforgivable sin is intentional blasphemy of the Holy Ghost (Matt. 12:31-32) which Paul did out of ignorance (I Tim. 1:13). He explained male and female relationships (Matt. 22:24-32) and resurrection principles (John 5:28-19).

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God and all things were made by Him (John 1:1-3). The Word was made flesh and dwelled among people (John 1:14) as Jesus. Logos (Greek; something said, a thought) or the Word (Jesus) is extrapolated to return in the finality of mans' evil to destroy the antichrist and reward evil for eternity (Rev. 19:10-21).

Evil (a monad of systematic theology and a transcendental signifier) could not have likely allowed for long-term survival of humanity without Divine intervention, i.e. major human events from creation c. 3941 B.C. (Gen. 1) to the world flood c. 2285 B.C. (Gen. 6:11-13) to Jesus' ministry c. 30 A.D. (New Testament) to the present day movement for one wicked world government (3W from B3 within Fa, Ch, and Bu; prophesied c. 95 A.D. in Revelation). David Plaisted, a computer science professor at the University of North Carolina, argues that entropy means our universe had a beginning and that the Creator had to be outside of this universe. (Plaisted's remarks were made in an email exchange with Dallas F. Bell Jr. in March, 2010.) The Laws of Conservation and Transformation of Energy militate against the survivability of mankind beyond very many millennia. The reality of those laws is evident apart from words and therefore not linguistically deconstructive.

Melvin Calvin (1911-1997), 1961 Nobel Prize winner for chemistry, observed in his 1969 book titled Chemical Evolution that the monotheistic Hebrew God implied that one God made all laws. That fact allowed for the historical foundation of creating a modern science. If material was all that exists, then no one could know truth because molecules could not recognize or distinguish anything. Absolute truth is existent in an essence that does not eternally evolve or decrease. Truth is a chosen attribute of the infinite Creator of the cause of all effects. The nature of truth (Jesus is the truth [John 14:6]) does not lead to disharmony. Instead, truth is how all things interact harmoniously. Untruth is against how all things interact and is disharmonious. Truth (Jesus) is thee way.

Law must be addressed then grace and truth (John 1:17) are evident in love. God is love (I John 4:8). His truth is both ulteriority (further, beyond) and anteriority (before, precede) which is transcendence signified. His holiness is above the evil and good that indicate relationships between individuals. That means there is by necessity a Godhead with a relationship between the Father, Son (Jesus), and the Holy Ghost.

Christianity is the only theology with scriptures that understand transcendental signifiers. The way man is told to communicate with God is by calling on Him in truth and He will draw near (Ps. 145:18). God is a Spirit and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth (John 4:24). The disharmonious alternative can be seen in Canto the Sixteenth I by Byron (1788-1824), "Bows have they, generally with two strings; Horses they ride without remorse or ruth; At speaking truth perhaps they are less clever, But draw the long bow better now than ever."

Wilhelm Richard Wagner's (1813-1883) opera Tristan und Isolde shows with love (eros) and death (thanatos) that transcendental signifiers (in this case love) have a needed relationship with the material (in this case death) proving that they are equally real. The Testimony of the Evangelists, by Simon Greenleaf (1783-1853), established a model for people interested in pursuing Christian apologetics.

(The author would like to thank Jonathan Nelson, neuroscientist at the Max Planck Institute, for his comments during an email exchange in April, 2010. The author would also like to thank the following people for their peripheral assistance in email exchanges in 2010: the staff of Raymond Damadian, M.D. and inventor of the MRI, at FONAR; David Hubbard, M.D. and Director of the Applied fMRI Institute; David DeWitt, neuroscience professor at Liberty University; Dov Sagi, neuroscientist at the Weizmann Institute; Ted McDonald, neuroscientist; Dennis McKenna, professor at the University of Minnesota; Carl Zimmer, fellow at Yale University; Jesse Bering, Director of the Institute of Cognition and Culture at Queen's University.)

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