Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Evaluating the 8-Circuit Model

Through his research in developmental psychology and personality theory, Dr. Timothy Leary synthesized a model of different layers of psychological and cognitive activity in human beings, as delineated by the stages of "imprint vulnerability" in developing individuals (cf. Erikson developmental stages: Infant, toddler, preschooler, etc.) This 8-Circuit model finds further expression in the writings of Robert Anton Wilson. He uses this model to describe how individuals come to possess their own unique "reality tunnel," or gloss or world-view, and how individuals and groups interact and communicate (or miscommunicate) with one another through their differing reality tunnels.

The 8-Circuit model gets a bit of currency among students of the Maybe Logic Academy, as a significant tool for parsing events and ideas to better understand how they affect, and are affected by, the psychology and character structure of people.

For example, the 2nd circuit, the Emotional-territorial circuit, deals with mammalian political territorial struggles and personal emotional demands in a group setting. Examples are the top-dog/bottom-dog dynamics in packs of dogs, or a primate habit of resolving territorial disputes by flinging excrement at one another. When watching two human politicians shouting invectives (debating) on television, we can classify their behavior under the 2nd circuit.

Questions sometimes arise as to which of the different layers should be used when analyzing a particular process or idea. Two points could be kept in mind. First, the processes and events that actually happen (i.e. not just our internal representations of those processes and events) have a complex and multi-dimensional nature that becomes simplified as we model them in our knowledge. To ask on which one circuit a particular process occurrs overlooks the multiple layers to which a process relates, as well as the interactions and feedback between layers. Second, but more importantly, we must remind ourselves that "the map is not the territory." The 8-Circuit model only provides a filter for referring to experiential events, and any identification between parts of that model and the actual events being analyzed results from an error on the part of the user.

By way of illustration, if I were to say "Getting into a fight with my parents because I died my hair pink before going to Church is a 2nd-circuit emotional-territorial issue," I ignore both these points and risk semantic confusion. Besides territorial issues of parental authority, we could look at 3rd-circuit semantic issues of symbolic-proficiency and adult-identity formation ("Can I verbally justify my autonomy to die my hair?") and 4th-circuit socio-sexual issues of cultural norms and customs ("This Church is a part of the culture I was raised in, and has certain expectations for appropriate dress/looks"). And none of these different "circuits" is the same thing as what was personally experienced, but hopefully serve as detailed maps for orienting and navigating myself with respect to the experience.

In the past year I constructed two diagrams that combine the 8-Circuit model with other mapping systems, with the aim of finding isomorphisms (or deep structural similarities) between these various systems. My first attempt combines the 8-Circuit model with the Tree of Life of the Hebrew Qabala and with the Chakras of Hindu mysticism. This demonstrates a non-linear, forked and stacked representation of the layers and their interconnections.

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My second attempt combines the 8-Circuit model (and vestiges of my first diagram) with the Open Systems Interconnect model for computer network protocols and with a preliminary model for human communication based on my own research in cybernetics, semiotics and "connectionist" artificial intelligence.

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These organic maps represent past iterations of a running process of developing my own personalized synthesis among a large number of mapping systems including the 8-Circuit model. Every day I re-evaluate these meta-maps, as I come to integrate new experiences into my personal models and to interact with new people and ideas.

Because of the stature of the 8-Circuit model as a diagnostic tool in the Maybe Logic community, I post these ruminations here with the hope that we can further develop our understanding of them as a community.


Bogus Magus said...

Great stuff Metachor. You know I liked your map when I saw it last year...when we discussed maps, and combining systems. I haven't digested your new version yet (saw it on your blog at Vortex Egg).

It seems like a good idea to use this blog to present the main 'themes' that we cover in MLA - and some clues to the jargon, and models, we often use.


Bogus Magus said...

Is it just me? This new Photo upload thing for Blogger doesn't work for me now - either from work of from home.

Did I change a setting? Perhaps I should think of this as a beta test, rather than a finished product.

So I'll have to wait to tweak that indian rope pic. (sigh)

metachor said...

The Blogger photo upload does not work for me currently either. I reverted to using Imageshack. I don't think this occurred because you changed a setting; the issue arises on my other blogs as well.

Bogus Magus said...

Funnily enough I was just going to come in and delete the comment, as image upload is working for me again.

Must have been teething problems, as Blogger say I (we) can have up to 300Mb of pics...

metachor said...

"Teething problems" = hilarious.

(My use of '=' here does not represent a fudge to get around e-prime, but follows computer programming syntax in assinging the value of hilarious to the string "Teething problems". Maybe, haha.)

I double-posted these bits about 8-Circuit and my meta-maps to Vortex Egg as well. In answering someone's comments there, I left a long reply that explains a lot of the Qabala/8-Circuit map more clearly than I have previously. If you are interested.


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