Images of Mentality

Alexander Liss

06/25/98; 06/28/98


Images *

Social Side of Individual *

Collective Mind *

Logic *

Personas and Acting *

Maintenance of the Image System *

Artificial Reality *

Dynamic of the Image Introduction *

Science *

History *

Power of Imagination *

Meditation *



An individual mind has a basic point of reference: the body and the society it belongs to. It builds and maintains a system of images, reflecting this basic point of reference, and uses this system of images as a secondary point of reference - a convenient substitute for the basic point of reference. Now the mind can experiment with the secondary point of reference instead of experimenting with the first one.

Similar phenomenon we can find in the society: science as modeling the real word, literature as describing the social word and so on.

In each case we have a special system of images rooted in some experiences. Individuals who posses the access to these systems have richer experimentation ability and, hence, can make better decisions.

The basic tool of image building is finding the patterns: static descriptions of some sides of the streams of information, with which the mind operates. When found, these images-patterns are shared between individuals with the help of all available tools of communication, self-conscious and not.

Some of these images get elevated to the level of social acceptance - they become stable in the process of their circulation in the society. This we interpret as the socially maintained system of images. These images are strong and have their own life.

Images mostly are not self-conscious, and many of them are difficult to describe with the limited set of tools of self-conscious. However some of these images are what we call concepts and ideas, which we can describe with words.


Social Side of Individual

There is a perpetual process of exchange of images between individuals in the society. This exchange is intricate. Tools of this exchange include communication with the language, with facial expressions, with the body language, with intonations, etc. The amount of information passed back and forth is much higher than what is assumed usually.

In this manner the images are passed from one individual to the other and eventually return to the original one in the form shaped by the society. This intense (mostly non-self-conscious) exchange is better described with the concept of the Social Side of Individual, which is tightly interconnected with the Social Sides of other Individuals in the Society.

As a social being the individual is substantially open, hence, any individual changes of images immediately produce changes in system of images of society as a whole. Many of these changes are minute, however.

The stable images, circulating in the society, are elements of the social system of images. If someone introduces in the society a new image, which is accepted into the system (is stable), society as a whole acquires a new tool. This tool can be used in the decision-making, communication, establishing the consensus, etc. Hence, the society with developed system of images is smarter and more flexible. Many societies encourage development of this kind of images.

Entertainment industry is involved in the development of images; hence this industry plays a vital social role. This can explain, at least partially, the high payoff in the entertainment industry.


Collective Mind

Stable images circulating in the society from one individual to the other form a system of images. This system is an inseparable part of the society as a whole. The individual absorbs these images in the childhood, and continues to absorb them through the life. These images are common knowledge - they are accessible by any member of the society. Social image system is the product of the Collective Mind of the society.

Language is one of the basic parts of social image system and one of the most rigid ones.

Different societies exchange their image systems, using individuals as conduits. Each particular group, nation etc. does not exist in isolation; they are parts of a bigger organism, which organizes basic social structures. Simple exchange of information is a tool of this global social organization. As a result we all bear the mark of humanity as a whole. Common social images, which have to act broadly, are relatively simple, as the grammar of the language. These images are absorbed first and perceived as something natural. In some respect this perception is right - this is a nature of society.

Individuals test perpetually the images of the society by using them in their decision-making.

Effective Collective Mind, which produces images useful in the decision-making of the members of the society, is exactly what separates humans from animals.

The strength of this system is its basic flow. The images of the social image system cannot be useful all the time, the time comes when they have to be corrected, extended, or thrown away altogether. This is the maintenance of the image system. Images we had created by ourselves are easy to correct, in many cases this process of corrections even does not reach the level of our self-conscious attention. However, images absorbed from the society are corrected less willingly and less often.



Logic creates new kind of images - special hierarchical systems of references to basic images. These special images make search and manipulation of the image space especially easy.

We differentiate applied logic - the ability to retain and manipulate these special logic-images, and creative logic - the ability to create and maintain (correct) these special logic-images.

In many cases we need new additional basic images, which make these special logic-images possible. These new basic images are dictated by the nature of the logic and not by the nature of the initial image system. They look simple but they are difficult to understand and remember, precisely because of their origin. The person who utilizes logic all the time has perpetual refreshment of these images - basic images of new type and logic-images; otherwise they are not worked with and get forgotten.

This phenomenon often leads to miscommunication - the person, who does not use logic extensively, cannot grasp the arguments of the person, for whom logic is a ubiquitous tool, as if they speak different languages.

The simple and strong structure of the logic-image brings the illusion of the "ultimate truth" encapsulated in it. The further the person is from the creative logical process, which gives the understanding of the place of logic in the life, the greater is danger of such illusion. The simple example is the theory describing the interaction between the Sun, the Earth, planets, etc. One theory places the Earth in the center and emphasizes the visual aspects of the movement from the point of view of ordinary observer. The other theory places the Sun in the center and emphasizes the measurement of the distance between objects, not what we observe. Both are useful for the logical person in spite on their obvious contradiction. However their logical contradiction brought a lot of grief in the history of the society unaccustomed to the creative logical thinking.

Logic has a natural tendency of expanding its special logic-images with new references to basic images and new special basic images. This tendency produces conflicts between different logic-images. This conflict is a source of the development of the system of images.

Creative logic creates new basic images inspired by logic, creates new logic-images, expands and corrects existing logic-images. As any creative activity this creative process does not have clear rules, but over the years we accumulated a few helpful methods we can employ.

When some area of images reaches "critical mass" - enough basic images and logic-images and enough people creatively working in this area, the expansion of this area of images becomes driven by the internal forces generated by the nature of logic and contradictions between logic-images. We see this state of development in mathematics, and in the combination of sciences and technology. The fundamental research in mathematics and in sciences is driven already by internal forces and not by the helpfulness of its results. The applicability of results of this research is accidental and unpredictable.

Any interplay between images, when we are solving the problem, we are puzzled by some mystery, we sleep, etc. includes discoveries of the logical structures inside the system of images and contradictions between different logic-images. This interplay causes perpetual and mostly non-self-conscious rearrangement and development of the image system. This explains how the problem, which tormented us in the evening, is suddenly solved in the morning after a sound sleep. When we sleep our image system undergoes serious development.


Personas and Acting

Being social, we present to the society special images reflecting our self and our social roles. The same images shape our perception of self. This set of images is a basic image structure of the Social Side of Individual. They have a name "personas" - masks. We all have many personas, which often logically contradict each other, and which we successfully manage nevertheless. Socially developed people have developed system of these images-personas. They dedicate some time to self-conscious development of these images, because these images enhance social communication, make Social Side of Individual richer.

Excessive logic can be dangerous here. Personas form logical groups, where each such group contradicts logically to the other. This can be perceived as a conflict with reality. In this case the individual can resort to the existence in the set of separate states with separate memories of events. This is multiple personalities disorder. It happens when the logic is used for the assurance of one’s balance with reality, for example when other tools of reassurance are shattered.

Creating of personas - our ubiquitous activity, is very close to acting. This is one of the reasons why we are so fascinated with acting. We are interested much more with the new character created by the good known actor, than with the character created by unknown actor, even if second one is more believable (for example, because the actor plays himself). After all, we are interested with the acting and not with the recreation of reality.

Hence learning the acting technique is learning how to build richer social life. The most difficult part here is conveying proper messages with the intonation, face and body. This is not something that can be done self-consciously. Good actor involves in the creation of character many different tools, some of which are beyond the conscious self-observation.

The developed individual has a multi-layered structure of personas: deeper layers support external layers. This type of personality has a stable predictable behavior in the crisis, where there is no representative in the outer layers, which can serve in the situation. In the crisis the representatives from the inner layers of the structure of personas are used - they are simpler, more general and can be used in the wider area of situations. In the crisis people without developed persona structure do not have proper conduits of social communication. People with developed personality are an asset in the society.


Maintenance of the Image System

The image system on the personal level or on the social level needs perpetual maintenance - correction of some images, introduction new ones and elimination some of old ones. Only currently stable images stay in the system. These images correspond to patterns of perpetual stream of sensory information and creative logical activity, individual and collective.

Images of the social image system are an incredible asset to the individual - they bring to individual the experience of the collective in the refined form. In many cases the individual trusts them more than own experience - the individual shapes own experience relying on the images of the social image system.

The image system is the basis of ability to think, to differentiate between concepts etc. Hence we cannot say that it is maintained to correspond better to the reality. The very concept of reality is one of the images in this system. In this context the concept of reality becomes very fuzzy. First, we do not perceive anything without perception shaped by this image system. Second, the image system itself is a part of reality.

The ability to manipulate this image system is a power. Fortunately it is a limited power - the changed images have to be stable to stay in the system.

There are ways, how this manipulation of the image system can be done. It is done with the introduction of special "walls", boundaries in the personal contact and communication. Careful manipulation of these boundaries makes some possible images stable and allow their introduction into the image system. From that point the system becomes more manageable - new images help maintain these special boundaries. As a result emerges what we call Artificial Reality.

In some respect Artificial Reality is an insanity, an insanity of individual or insanity of the society, because in this environment the decisions are made based on images, perceptions, concepts, desires, etc, which are induced by the artificial boundaries and do not exist without these boundaries. These images reflect artificial boundaries and not anything that might cause the stream of the sensory information.

There is only one way how the image system can be free of the illness of Artificial Reality and be useful for the survival of the individuals and the society. It has to be perpetually updated based on the stream of sensory information and actions of individuals and societies and the images have to flow between individuals and societies.


Artificial Reality

Artificial Reality is very common. We bring here a few striking examples.

A few generations of people were raised in the former Soviet Union in the careful isolation from the rest of the world and with the carefully maintained image system by the propaganda machine. As a result we have an example of Artificial Reality, were even cynical rulers of the country were trapped in the created new mentality. Similar situation was in Nazi Germany. Both social systems were relatively stable where majority of population shared basic elements of the image system. However the image system itself was artificial, perpetually supported by the brutal force. When that force was gone the Artificial Reality could not exist any more - artificial images lost their stability and new images entered the social image system. However it still takes quite some time for the particular individuals to get rid of artificial images, which they absorbed from the social image system, and which they are not able to correct fast enough.

Similar situation can be observed in small groups with severely restricted communication with outside word, as cult groups. Carefully maintained artificial restrictions allow creation of Artificial Reality for the group, in which even leaders are trapped. The behavior in such groups can be obviously bizarre and insane for any external observer, in the same time it is perfectly justifiable in their sick Artificial Reality.

On the small scale similar situation happens in families. The rules and boundaries creating Artificial Reality in families are usually learnt in childhood and recreated later in new families in adulthood. When the Artificial Reality takes hold it supports the maintenance of these boundaries. As a result there is a stable system, which can be corrected only with the outside help. Or the family fails under the pressure of its inadequacy to circumstances.

Secret (esoteric) teachings often lead to creation of such Artificial Reality. The very secrecy does not allow testing and correction of new images.

Definitely majority of the boundaries are not artificial, as moral boundaries, for example. It is usually difficult to distinguish which boundaries are artificial and which are not. The cultural tradition exists to aid in this differentiation. Boundaries created by the agreements, contracts usually do not cause Artificial Reality, because they are perceived as temporary.

Some artificial boundaries and resulting Artificial Reality can be beneficial for the individual or the group. For example, when people have to survive in the society with already developed inhumane Artificial Reality, or when people have some other internal imbalances. In these cases the creation of Artificial Reality works as medicine - creation of unnatural circumstances to cure unnatural imbalance. Interesting example is fanaticism. Fanaticism is a sure sign of Artificial Reality, which took hold; fanatics cannot react adequately in many circumstances. However there are cases when fanaticism aids survival.


Dynamic of the Image Introduction

The stability of the image system explains some events, which otherwise look mysterious.

First, introduction of new images is greeted with hostility; the newer and more fundamental these images are the more hostility they produce. If images finally win acceptance, they become a part of the system, a part of the working mechanics of the minds, and they are perceived as something obvious, known in ages.

The person introducing a new image or group of images (new for given society in given time) goes through stages. First, he has to fight for it. As a result he gets less flexible, less able to correct his own images, he learns the weaknesses of these new images, and he accumulates doubts. Eventually, when he achieves break through, his own acquired rigidity does not allow him to recognize the moment. When these new images are absorbed into the social image system, the entire image system is adjusted and new images are corrected. However innovators miss this moment and do not learn in time the corrected new images. In this moment they are inadequate, in imbalance with the society.

When we try to change the image of ourselves, introduce new persona instead of the old one, first, this attempt invokes unexplainable hostility and challenge on every step. If we are persistent, in one moment suddenly everything goes smoothly. But later on comes a moment of the "test", when we have to prove to ourselves, that the new image is "true". If we "pass the test", than looking back on the events, we see that the only thing, which was needed from us, was to be in concert with the new system of images, which we ourselves worked hard to make, and which now is a part of new reality.

In the times of social revolution, people who bring it mostly are not fit to benefit from it. They are fanatics and fighters, but when the new images are accepted by the society these people have to become flexible and have to learn the new society, and they do not know how.



Many myths about scientific knowledge should be removed. Science does not discover the ultimate truth, it builds a system of scientific images, and the guardian of this system is the special club - scientific community. Acceptance by this community is a criterion of right and wrong in science, as acceptance a language element by a community using the language is the only criteria of right and wrong in the language. Many scientists understand this, they say that the beauty of a concept (how well it relates to other concepts) is a leading sign of proper solution.

Science is a logic-based social image system, which is in the process of perpetual testing and adjustment by the scientific community. Many people are involved in this process. Some of them face particular scientific image in their everyday work and test it the same way one tests images related to the everyday life. Others relate to the particular image through logic-images, which need coherent workings of all images they reference. Others yet are in touch with the particular scientific image through perpetual communication of images.

The introduction of new scientific images faces first the tough test of the particular group of scientists working with the particular set of images, where the new image have to fit. They serve as custodians of this particular branch of scientific image system. New scientific image has to satisfy quite a few requirements to be accepted by these people and to become a part of social system of images. First, of all it has to have a good chance to be stable - we do should not expect any substantial correction of it in the future, when the society learns more. Second, it has to fit well in existing system of logic-images - it has to stimulate the development of logic-images. Because there are lots of images-candidates into the image system, only ones, which advance the particular branch of science, are accepted by that branch.

New scientific image does not exist in isolation from the scientist, who advocates it. Just an opposite, one who advocates it gives an implicit promise to develop and maintain this image in the system of images, promise to look for the hidden connections of this image with other images. Hence the image advocated by the person, who had proven to deliver and take proper care of new images, has much more chances to be accepted by scientific community, than the other one, which does not have such powerful support.

If new scientific images are brought by outsider, this is interpreted as a claim of the place in the club of custodians of the scientific images. This claim is mostly viewed as more important event than these new images.

Therefore, science is the activity of the scientific community, and in the large degree criteria of scientific truth is the acceptance by the scientific community.



When we as individuals or we as the society recall events of the past, we do it only because there is some imbalance in the current situation, which we want to address. Mostly this recollection goes beyond our self-conscious attention, but some difficult cases require the image of Self and bring self-conscious into the process. This we interpret as the recollection of the past, the history. As we see, the history does not exist in the abstract "objective" form, it is always the specially organized collection of images related to past events, which address the current imbalance. Hence the cynical observation - "The history repeats itself", is actually a wrong way to look at the essence of history. The history is a way to collect past experience to solve current problems.

Good historians find the imbalances in the core structure of the society and address them with the recollection of similar imbalances in the past, events caused by these imbalances, and efforts to correct them. Hence there is no history as one perpetual development, where one historian picks up where the other has left, but rather we have histories, where the historian addresses the current issues and uses research of other historians only in extend it addresses similar issues.

If we consistently see history in this way, and not as a bearer of the objective description of the past, we have the powerful decision-making tool, which allows the use of recollection of the past instead of the current experimentation. This is especially important for the society, where experiments are costly.

The other role, which history plays in the society, is the creation of the foundation of the self-conscious of the society. This is kind of "official history". There is a place for it and a need for it in the society. However the goals of this history are different, this history has to discover the invariant part in the dynamic of the development of the society. It is desirable to keep these two types of history separate, but in the process of mutual coordination.

Similar on the personal level, we have the recollection of the past, when we feel the imbalance in the particular situation. Each recollection is driven by the particular imbalance; and there is no one universal recollection. In the same time we have a "universal" recollection of the self-development, the basis of our self-image, our self-conscious. Again, it is desirable to keep these recollections separate, to keep them as effective tools.


Power of Imagination

The Imagination is the skills of image-creation. People with these skills are an asset in the society - they create the perpetual stream of images, which the society filters and shapes updating social image system. The image is passed from one individual to the other. This other individual changes behavior accordingly to this new image and gets immediate feedback, and so on. Some images cannot travel far this way - they dissipate soon. The other images are strong, and can live longer.

Con men generate strong images and try them on many people, until they find one to benefit from. The society discourages this activity.

People with imagination generate a lot of different images, some of which became the part of the social image system. They do not benefit directly from this activity. Civilized society rewards people with imagination indirectly, because they play an important role in the society, and the society has to encourage this activity.

The society dedicates special areas of the social image system, with very rigid constraints on images, as the areas of independent experimentation. The images in these areas correspond to the most basic patterns of streams of sensory information, which are hooks for images. These areas are music, poetry, literature, etc. The independent development in these areas allows faster and more effective introduction of images needed for the decision-making.

People with imagination possess a powerful tool, which sometimes they can use in their advantage, and sometimes it destroys them.

The ability to create new images gives the power of persuasion of other people and groups of people. People perceive as true the idea, which fits well in their existing system of images. If one is trained in creation of images, which correspond well to other images, for example because the image creation is a ubiquitous activity for him, than it is relatively easy for him to create such image.

Also, strong images can create strong reactions in one's own body, hence the ability to create such images gives an additional control over own body and non-self-conscious tools of communication, as facial expressions.

From the other hand people with highly developed imagination differ from the main group of people and susceptible to some pathological development. They can be too trusting, because they are ready to explore the image, which others would treat as unrealistic. They suffer when there is not enough recipients for the images they create - after all image creation is a social process. When restricted they produce fast a lot of new images induced by these restrictions and not by reality - they live in imaginary world. The more they are restricted the more evident is this drift into imaginary world, the drift which is caused only by the fast process of image creation twisted by the artificial restrictions. Fortunately, these special areas of independent experimentation in the social image system often gives people with imagination the needed outlet to the excess of their image creation ability.



Self-conscious is very restrictive (we will not repeat here what is said already about it in detail elsewhere). The restrictions of self-conscious change the image system - some images cannot enter it and there are other images, which are stable only because of these restrictions. Sometimes there is a need to shake-up the image system. The image system undergoes the general shake-up while we sleep, but sometimes we need some small local balancing. Usually we realize this need, when something goes wrong in our lives and we do not see the solution, and we suspect that something is wrong in the way we think. This is a good moment to let the mind to balance the image system without involvement of self-conscious. We expect from this process not the solution of the particular problem, but the change in the general approach to the life, where the solution of the problem emerges as some consequence.

This is done with Meditation. We can distinguish three phases in this process. First is the balanced process of shrinking the involvement of the self-conscious in the thinking process. In this phase people eliminate distractions, which can "wake-up" self-conscious, and slowly and carefully guide this process. On the second phase the mind balances image system without involvement of self-conscious, hence the person can say nothing about this experience, this is kind of blank state as far as self-conscious is concerned. On the third stage the self-conscious reacquires control. On the way it rearranges the image system and changes itself. The process works, but sometimes there is a need for a few iterations, because often the most important and the most difficult work is changing of self-conscious in this process.