Internalizing ideas and theories

universe_pointApparently the subject of internalization is widely studied in academic psychology and sociology. I am not an expert in the academic aspects of internalization but I am cognizant of my own mental processes. I wanted to share some of my observations.

Dictionaries define internalization as

  1. To make internal, personal, or subjective
  2. To take in and make an integral part of one’s attitudes or beliefs

The Wikipedia defines it as: “In sciences such as psychology and sociology, internalization involves the integration of attitudes, values, standards and the opinions of others into one’s own identity or sense of self.”

I would like to focus on the internalization of ideas and theories. This is the mental process where ideas conceived by others or theories formulated by others become integral parts of our contemplative process. In my categorization, “ideas and theories” does not include inspired writings (poetry, fiction, non-fiction). Religious dogmas are in a different category as well. I don’t include suggestions received from others in the “ideas and theories” category either.

My “ideas and theories” category includes mathematical ideas, scientific theories, theories related to social progress, theories of history, philosophy, metaphysics and spiritual philosophy.

Can you internalize Quantum Mechanics?

Speaking of internalizing scientific theories, I have never met a physicist who internalized Quantum Mechanics. Quantum Mechanics is a probabilistic theory. I find it very hard to internalize a probabilistic theory. Have you ever met a person who constantly computes probabilities in daily life?

Geometric thinking

There are many physicists, on the other hand, who believe in the idea of explaining all physics using geometric concepts. They have internalized geometric thinking. This is especially apparent among the Western physicists. Einstein was a true believer in geometric thinking and he influenced many others.

In physics there is a constant push towards building physics theories based on geometric concepts such as curvature. Einstein’s General Relativity theory is the best example but there are other examples in the String/M Theory.

Algebraic thinking

Algebraic approach to physics involves abstract manipulation of mathematical symbols corresponding to physical quantities. Geometric approach also involves manipulation of mathematical symbols corresponding to physical quantities but in the algebraic approach the geometric interpretation is missing. Algebraic approach is more abstract but less influenced by our common prejudices.

This approach is not very popular because algebraic theories are difficult to internalize.

De-internalizing an idea

Physicist and blogger Philip Tanedo mentioned the term “internalizing” in a different context: “…an entire generation of graduate students and young postdocs is internalizing the idea that finding new physics will not be as simple as turning on the LHC as some of us had believed as undergrads. Despite our youthful naivete, the LHC is also still in its infancy with a 14 TeV run coming after its year-long shutdown. The above results are sobering, but they just mean that there wasn’t any low-hanging fruit for us to gobble up right away.” (http://www.quantumdiaries.org/author/flip-tanedo/)

Tanedo used the term “internalizing” in the sense of accepting the rejection of a beautiful idea by Nature. He does not use the term supersymmetry, he says “new physics” but it is clear that “new physics” means supersymmetry in this context. I would call the acceptance of the wrongness of a beautiful idea de-internalizing an idea.

Since my college days the idea of supersymmetry was all the rage in particle physics. It was a grand idea and it was beautiful. Many physicists bet their careers on supersymmetry. The whole String/M theory framework relies on supersymmetry too. Unfortunately the results from CERN LHC and the experiments on cosmic rays show no evidence for supersymmetry. This is deeply depressing for many particle physicists.

In the 20’th century physicists were spoiled in the sense that their beautiful mathematical theories usually turned out to be true. It seems that for the first time we are facing a complete rejection by Nature! De-internalizing is hard to do.

Why is it easier to internalize geometric theories?

I think that in evolution visual processing came first. Movement through space required spatial orientation and the interpretation of visual cues. Interpretation of sounds developed later. Language came much later.

In terms of symbol processing, the ability to process visual symbols evolved first.  The ability to process sound symbols evolved later. This is why early writing (6 thousand years ago) involved pictograms. The idea of putting sound symbols together in the form of a word came much later. The ability to process algebraic or mathematical symbols evolved only few centuries ago.

Theories of physics with geometric interpretation are easier to internalize because humans are primarily visual thinkers. The ability to process visual symbols has been passed to our genes and reflected in the structure of our brains. This is similar to having separate graphics processing chips in the computers. We are all equipped with very powerful graphics chips. This is why it is easier to internalize geometric theories.

Since the ability to interpret sound symbols developed later the evolution of that part of our brains is not finished yet. There is room for improvement there.

Similarly the abilities for algebraic thinking and probabilistic thinking are evolving. This is why it is much more difficult to internalize algebraic or probabilistic theories.

Algorithmic thinking

The algorithmic thinking ability of the human mind developed very recently. Human beings did not have a notion of computer programming in the early 20’Th century. Today, almost every high school student learns the basic concepts of computer programming. In the future the number of people who can write computer programs will increase exponentially. Algorithmic thinking will be internalized by human minds.

I was a physicist, I was a programmer, and then I moved on to other things. From my own experience, I find algorithmic thinking difficult to internalize, perhaps as equally difficult to internalize as algebraic and probabilistic thinking. The reason is that the algorithmic thinking has not yet been passed to our genes and reflected in our brains structurally.

Internalization is different than learning

Computer programming is easy to learn, much easier to learn than learning algebra. Similarly, algebra is easier to learn than learning geometry. Learning probability is also much easier than learning advanced geometry. This is interesting! Since geometric thinking has been part of human mind for thousands of years our geometry (mathematics) advanced to very sophisticated levels. This is why it is not easy to be geometer.

Computer programming or algorithmic thinking is easy to learn but difficult to internalize because our hardware (brain) does not have specialized circuitry for it. Geometry, on the other hand, is difficult subject to learn but easier to internalize because our brains have very powerful visual processing abilities.

Internalization is different than learning. When you internalize an idea or theory you gain insights. Learning does not require internalization. You may learn mechanically. You may solve problems by applying your knowledge mechanically but advancing the subject to a new level requires internalization.

Germination

After the internalization of an idea germination takes place. Once the seed of an idea germinates it grows into a model then a theory. The seed may grow into a philosophical system. The seed may grow into a synthesis of spiritual philosophy too.

Comparing internalization to perception, conception and special perception

When the human mind holds an image of the physical stimuli we call it a perception. When the human mind holds a vision of an idea we call it a conception. There is also a special kind of perception. Normally, a perception is formed when the external stimuli get reflected (modeled) by the citta (mind stuff). What happens when a conception is reflected from the endoplasm? An idea enters the human mind from the ‘inside’ and creates mental waves in the citta. These waves are reflected from the boundary or periphery (endoplasm) of the citta. The reflection from the endoplasm is a special kind of perception.

Internalization is different than conception. We internalize an external idea. We integrate the ideas of others into our own identity. Conception is different in the sense that the idea comes from the inside from the depths our supra-mental and spiritual layers of our being.

Parallels with the concept of subjectivation

I see many parallels with the concept of subjectivation. Some of you may remember my first article: A Fundamanetal Principle. I was very excited when that idea came to me: subjectivation is always followed by objectivation.

I actually used the term “internalizing” in that article. In the next 4 years I had other insights and formed a synthesis. I presented a summary of my synthesis in Summary and Definitions of Soul Monism. The synthesis formation process was the outcome of my internalization of Shrii Shrii Anandamurti’s spiritual philosophy.

Internalization is a slow process

My internalization of Shrii Shrii Anandamurti’s spiritual philosophy took 30 years but it was a natural process. I was ready to receive it. Most devotees of Baba internalize his social philosophy first. When you meet the devotees of Baba, they will most probably talk about Neohumanism and PROUT. They are also very enthusiastic about their community service projects. They say that Yoga is 90 percent practice and 10 percent theory. I am sure it is but for some reason I focused on the 10 percent.

Internalization is a type of resonance

We receive ideas from outside all the time. Outside ideas rarely germinate in our mind because they don’t resonate in us. We internalize the ideas that resonate with us. I mentioned the special circuitry in the brain in the context of internalization but obviously the human mind is more than the brain. Many capabilities of the human mind are developed within our lifetime. Our current mental outlook acts as a filter to outside ideas.

Resonance principle applies to conception too

Regarding conception which is the reception of ideas from the inside, the resonance principle is also valid. If the conception does not resonate in your mind it will not be recognized as a conception. You will not be aware of it.

On receptivity

We receive ideas from outside all the time but the ideas from the inside are very rare. Conception is a special type of reception. Conception requires a special kind of tuning. Receptivity is developed by feelings of love towards God.

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About Suresh Emre

I have worked as a physicist at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and the Superconducting Super Collider Laboratory. I am a volunteer for the Renaissance Universal movement. My main goal is to inspire the reader to engage in Self-discovery and expansion of consciousness.
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