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Energy Spent on Learning - Where Does It Go?

the Emergence Explorer

Questions for the Week of July 9, 2007

Emergence Character Type Babies 9-AI-2

This Week's Questions

[posed by John F.]
  • Where does the energy spent on learning go?
  • Does successful learning create new energy?
  • Does new learning create the desire for more energy?

Do you know?

[Question 1]Where does the energy spent on learning go?
To see, you must first understand what energy is. And how it cycles through several forms, rather than gets created or destroyed. Unfortunately explaining this idea could easily take a whole book. Thus I can only give you the briefest of outlines. Starting with that, in the material world sense of the word "thing," there is no such thing as "energy." Energy is not a thing.

So what is it then? Energy is actually a way to refer to the state in which things are in. What I'm saying is, things are either energized or they not energized. Or they are in some state in between.

The problem arises when we talk about energy as if it is a literal thing. As opposed to that it is a state in which things can be. And while some may see this as mere semantics, in truth this unseen difference causes no end of misunderstandings. Including about learning.

So how would I use this word then? Simple. I would use it to refer to being energized or not. And what does being energized mean? It means that a thing is organized in such a way as that it can dissipate rapidly. In fact, the more potential a thing has to dissipate rapidly, the more we call this thing "an energy source." Moreover, the more rapid this potential "disintegration," the more potent we see this energy as being.

So is this all there is to it? Is energy simply the meaning we give to concentrated patterns which potentially dissipate rapidly?

Yes. This it is. And to see this idea as true, simply consider what we used to think of raw petroleum before we knew it would burn. Or what we thought of sunlight before we understood solar power? Or what we though of water before we knew it could turn wheels. Or what we thought of wind before the same thing.

Before we knew these things would dissipate rapidly, we failed to see them as energy sources. And after we learned how to make them dissipate rapidly, we began to covet them to no end.

Applying this to learning, when you attempt to learn something, it, of course, takes energy. And if you fail to learn something, then you simply dissipate energy. But if you do learn something, you reorganize part of you. How? By focusing and reorganizing what you know into a more compact and tightly patterned knowledge.

Thus, to answer your question as to where the energy spent on learning goes, the answer depends on whether you learn something from this. If you don't, then you've simply dissipated your existing energy. And if you do, you've reorganized yourself in such a way as to compact and intensify what you know. Which is just another way to say you've become more energized.

[Question 2] Does successful learning create new energy?
Yes. However, we do not always have access to this energy. This depends on our being able to access this new learning.

For instance, say you learn how to tie a knot but this know is useful only when sailing. The day you learn to tie this knot, you will feel an increased sense of being energized.

Afterwards though, say in a week or two and considering you've not gone sailing? In this case, while you have indeed reorganized what you know, you'll likely not feel much about this.

In a way, this is similar to how we once felt about petroleum before we knew it was an energy source. Or coal. Or uranium, in fact. These things all can be said to be highly energized. However, with no known way to get them to rapidly dissipate, this energy remains inaccessible.

[Question 3] Does new learning create the desire for more energy?
In many cases, yes, it does. However, this desire is not always directly for more energy. More often, we feel a desire to gain more knowledge or power.

Of course, when I say "gain more knowledge or power," this time, I am really talking semantics. Why? Because knowledge is power in the right situation. And power is being energized.

In the end, what I spoke about in your first question is the main to know here. The idea that there is no such thing as "energy." Rather, things get energized.

[Question 4] Although feeling disconnected is a norm within human nature, isn't this time just lost time?
Actually, this is one of the more important questions Emergence Personality Theory answers. So is being disconnected valueless? In other words, as you ask, is it lost time?

No. It is not lost time, John. However, because you may be unable to access this time, it may feel like lost time to you.

Contrast this with the different ways we can see vacations. Some folks see them as down time whereas others cannot quite grasp their purpose. Why not? Because to them, in order to have value, the time must accomplish something.

Here again, when I use the phrase accomplish something, I'm referring to something we can later "access." Why? Because in our way of defining energy, unless we get something out of what we do, we see it as a waste of energy.

Here, my favorite way of accessing this value is to see down time, even lost time, as the time we need in order to recreate what we lose through work. Which is way when we express this in the more commonly used way, we call this, "recreation." Recreating what we lose through work.

So is being disconnected the same?

As an experience, certainly not. However, if this wasn't built into our natures, we'd quickly burn out and disintegrate. Partly from being vulnerable to injury, but mostly due to overuse. We'd literally overwork ourselves.

[Question 5] How can we ever truly see another's point of view when at best we are merely connecting through our mental pictures?
John, this is one of the deepest questions a human being could ever ask. Moreover I'm not surprised that it is you who is asking it. A man who on a bad day cannot be shallow.

So how can we truly see another's point of view if we cannot literally see what they see? The literal answer? We can't? But the pragmatic answer? It rarely matters. Why not? Because most of what we communicate is non verbal. Something like 55%. Which means what exactly? Which means that while we frequently do struggle to at another's point of view, somehow we manage to do pretty well. Especially when you consider how much we can love each other at times.

Now to see this, consider how you deeply can love your less than year old son and still be mostly unable to exchange view points. Does it matter in the end? A little, I'm sure. But in the larger scheme of things, not really.

Life is a lot like this example. Maybe not at the motor vehicle office when you want to kill the clerk. Nor when you're arguing with the utility bill rep who is telling you something totally absurd. But with those who matter the most like your year old son?

Deep question, John. Thanks for asking it.

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