Nothingness Theory Forum


Applied Nothingness Theory

© 1989 – 2007  Corey Kaup, Kaup Communications – all rights reserved

Table of Contents

Nothingness and Psychosocial Systems


Nothingness and Anxiety/Depression Systems


Comments on Dr. Michael Gazzaniga’s “The Social Brain”

"Taking Back America" - Nothingness Theory Application




Applied Nothingness

Nothingness and Psycho-Social Systems

The Biophysical Substrate

This application employs the point of view that the same force that compels matter to move, motivates human behavior. This idea is an extension of Sigmund Freud’s proposal in “Beyond the Pleasure Principle” that the pull of entropy to return life to death supersedes pain and pleasure as the primary motivator. Nothingness theory traces the root of this dynamic to the tension caused by the separation of space and matter, the rejoining of which resolves their non-uniformity, but eliminates their existence.

Thus the emergence of matter and space from nothingness is birth, the process of returning to nothingness is life, and completion of the return to nothingness is death.

There is a constant tension between the internal organizational unity of a natural system and the environment from which it differentiates itself. When viewed as a natural system, the simplest single celled organism expresses this tension through scales of increasing complexity.

This process begins when long chains of amino acid molecules organize themselves into a membrane enclosing other organic molecules that further differentiate themselves by repeating the encapsulating process. This creates thousands of internal subsystems. The interaction between the subsystems, cell membrane, and external environment become life when a sustainable dynamic equilibrium is achieved, and yields a net gain of energy in the cell.

Human psycho-social systems are scaled-up versions of nerve cell dynamics. Nerve cells can be viewed as a microcosm of social activity resulting from excursions to and from baseline equilibrium. Every nerve impulse occurs because some external force enables the nerve cell to temporarily achieve equilibrium of the charged fluids (electrolytes) on either side of the cell membrane.

In the resting state, positive ions are in a standoff on either side of the cell membrane. Neurotransmitters can cause the exterior ions to become negative, thereby allowing the positively charged electrolyte to exit the cell membrane and equalize the charge across it. This elicits a chain reaction of charge-canceling flow, which continues along the axon and dendrites causing a release of neurotransmitters to adjacent cells. Until the cell’s ion pump restores a charge/pressure gradient across the membrane, the cell cannot participate in nerve conduction. This “refractory” period is a moment of local equilibrium at the opposite end of the nerve cell's charged state.

From the nerve cell’s point of view, it is a single-cell creature that has evolved to survive by being stimulated by electro-chemical imbalances. It adjusts its shape and chemistry to maximize interactivity with other nerve cells because they are the source of balancing stimuli. The oscillating pattern of charge and discharge among nerve networks generates the particular behavior of a particular organism. Human thought results as an aggregate of this nerve cell activity in the brain.

All human behavior is therefore motivated by the electro-chemical dance of nerve cells leaving and returning to states of dynamic equilibrium. Every thought, action, and feeling is brought about to resolve excursions from the relative unity of a resting state.

The ultimate human variation of this mind/brain system, discovered by Dr. Michael Gazzaniga in the early 1980s, is located in the left hemisphere of the brain. Dubbed “the Interpreter” by Dr. Gazzaniga, it makes up a story about all the patterns of behavior going on in the brain over time and calls the protagonist “self”. This story is used to unify the disparate activity of trillions of internal organisms with each other, and between those organisms and the external environment.

This software makes human beings the dominant creatures on earth. Knowing this helps us understand why we are driven to fight and die for an idea. We are ideas. What I know and believe is literally me. Every human being is therefore faced with the task of unifying itself with groups of people, each one of whom has a unique system of beliefs. As with adjacent nerve cells, humans adjust behavior to maximize interactivity with other humans.

Our main tool for achieving these social connections is language. Most communication between humans serves to negotiate social interconnection. Detecting and dealing with social incongruity is such an important evolutionary advance in humans that we are rewarded with the most powerful stimulus for achieving it – laughter. As seen on a special single-point electroencephalogram, the same brain mechanism that responds when an apple is shown after a series of oranges, responds to the punch line of a joke.

Compared to other animals, human beings are not well equipped to survive the natural environment via physical means. Our survival advantage comes from the ability to organize well-coordinated social groups and to project the consequences of any action through time. This is achieved through a fluid and infinitely flexible system of spoken language. In this light, it is not surprising that almost eighty percent of human conversation throughout the world is in some form of social negotiation (like gossip, story-telling or joke-telling).

The same force that drives people to resolve conflicts, resolves life with death. It is an immutable physical force. All systems by their very existence disturb equilibrium. Living systems are no exception. They are compelled to return to the relative nonexistence from which they came. Therefore, all physical and mental behavior serves to unify a system with its environment. Because a system is defined as elements interacting with each other and delineated from their surroundings, total unity with the environment – the system’s surroundings - constitutes systemic nonexistence - death.

It is obviously insufficient for me to say that the reason I love you is that I am trying not to exist. Between my birth and death, I have a life unique to me for all time. The detailed reason that the unique me loves the unique you is infinitely complex. Love however, ultimately serves the same purpose for everyone – to intimately connect us to each other in the strongest way, thereby conceptually unifying us.

Hate serves a similar purpose. I hate you because you are different from me in a way that challenges my belief system. To unify you with me, I must either force you to be like me or eliminate you. This is why both murder and suicide are irresistible to certain people who lack the tools to achieve deep social connections. It is also a source of war. War is often the result of the failure to negotiate common ground between societal groups. Killing and capturing is a form of unification in this context.

The reason war does not work as well as social negotiation is that it restricts social systems to the beliefs and needs of one over the other. It encloses social systems in a feedback loop of limited interaction. The more rigid the ideology and control, the more vulnerable the system to breaking into fragments and disappearing from existence. Diversity of ideas in societal systems is equivalent to biodiversity in ecology.

Nothingness and Anxiety/Depression Systems

Depression is an essential evolutionary survival tool. The small mammals from which we are directly descended survived the dinosaur period by being able to suppress fight-or-flight responses. If you are small and live in the woods or rainforest, the ability to keep perfectly still may make you invisible to predators. Depression is the mechanism that suppresses the action that can get you killed.

If, on the other hand, you live on an open plane and graze for a living, vigilance and instant fight-or-flight response is essential at all times. Panic and anxiety are the source of this survival advantage.

These two systems increase intensity in the presence of each other. The more anxious you are, the more depression it takes to suppress your fight-or-flight reaction. The more depressed you are, the more anxiety it takes to get you moving. In humans, this can become an infinitely complex entanglement because these systems are linked to all the other sub-motivators in the virtual world created by the “Interpreter” module of the human brain. Included in this virtual world are all the sub-motivators we call emotions.

Emotions are mediated by interaction with each other and the inhibitory processes known as thought. The frontal lobes of the brain serve to channel and sift the raw energy of constant emotional output. Part of this sorting and channeling activity is based on stimuli coming in from the external environment. When things are working properly, the brain inhibits action in a pattern commensurate with positive interaction with environmental circumstances.

Learning is an example of this inhibitory process. Learning is the process of selectively eliminating information generated by the brain in the context of environmental feedback. For example, infants constantly blurt out every possible basic sound from which words are constructed. Eventually the reaction of mother and father cause the removal of non-meaningful combinations so that only combinations pertinent to the immediate environmental language are left. This is an emergent property of the evolutionary processes inherent in natural systems as they exchange disordered complexity for ordered complexity (see “Constrained Infinity” and “Complexity” in General Nothingness Theory).

Insanity is an example of failure of the brain mediators to modify output via environmental stimuli. Human beings are a product of the summation of patterns output by the brain/mind modules and interactions with the external environment made by the “Interpreter” module. If there is a breakdown of the mechanisms that update the brain with information from the outside, certain output modules go unchecked. The “Interpreter” is then forced to make up a story explaining the incorrect information it is unknowingly receiving.

The most extreme example of unmediated brain/mind output is dreaming. This is the default state of human consciousness. In this light, dreaming is not as mysterious as wakeful consciousness. Wakeful consciousness is the ultimate mystery.

Depression/anxiety systems become pathological when they are not sufficiently modified by external updates. All emotion systems survive through constant output. It is the job of the thought systems in the frontal lobes along with the conductor of the symphony – the “Interpreter” – to control, modify and channel this constant output in a way that results in positive resonance with the external environment.

In humans, anxiety/depression systems are fundamental survival mechanisms providing an essential role similar to that of pain/pleasure systems. In infancy and young childhood, humans create the foundation on which we build a model of the world and its realities. We are this model. As I create the world and universe in which my body represents me, the foundation for my model is modified most significantly by the strongest anxiety/depression, pain/pleasure, and sorrow/joy producing events of my early childhood. This foundation shapes my interpretation of every event for the rest of my life.

Like all brain/mind modules, anxiety/depression systems are composed of a physical substrate (nerve networks), distinct and consistent electrochemical behavior (of the network), and self-organizing properties susceptible to modification by interaction with other modules (network to network interaction).


- to be continued -


Comments on Dr. Michael Gazzaniga's “The Social Brain”

Only humans are subjective. Some of the higher mammals have logic, memory and sophisticated abstract thought processes, but none of them have a history. They cannot be the subjects of their own lives because they do not have a timeline on which to place the characters. The human mind, by contrast, views itself as being in the midst of an unfolding story in which it is the main character. It interprets its own behavior and that of the external environment in this context.

This part of the human mind was discovered and isolated by Dr. Michael Gazzaniga during his experimental attempts to find out if there were side effects from severing the Corpus Colosum (the cable of nerves connecting the right and left hemispheres of the brain). He called this uniquely human brain module “The Interpreter”.

In his landmark book “The Social Brain”, he showed how the human brain is actually a society of brain/mind modules. They are distributed asymmetrically about the right and left hemispheres and interact to construct a pattern of responses to stimuli commensurate with survival. The “Interpreter” ascribes this behavior to its “self”.

Rather than experiencing the environment directly, the human brain creates a virtual world in which the self is hero/protagonist. All human perception involves screening and interpreting stimuli. The Interpreter module attempts to unify the aggregate interpretations of hundreds of brain/mind modules by encapsulating them in an ongoing story about itself. It does this by assigning meaning and reason to events over time. This is human thought. It is the human version of consciousness. It is the tip of an infinite iceberg.


- to be continued

"Taking Back America" - Nothingness Theory Application


This document was created as an addendum to my eBook "Taking Back America - An Immediate Solution to America's Economic, Political and Environmental Crises" It explains the logic and philosophy used in finding the solution.

Nothingness Theory frames and clarifies the role of physical laws and principles in the evolution of natural systems. In particular, it identifies universal patterns of behavior in natural systems enabling structural analysis across system types. Applying this tool, one can illustrate for example, the connection between circulation in thermodynamic, socioeconomic, and political systems.


It is observed in Nothingness Theory that all motion is the result of excursion to and from equilibrium. This is based on evidence that the universe emerged from a perfect state of equilibrium (nothingness) via the "Big Bang", and is heading inexorably to this same state via entropy.

It is further observed that all natural systems exhibit this behavior. This means that attraction-to-equilibrium is present as a universal attractor and thus an underlying source of motion. Since motion is energy, the subject of energy-efficiency must involve understanding and taking advantage of the influence of attraction-to-equilibrium in natural systems.

To apply this to managing energy-flow in a thermodynamic system one must examine how excursion to and from equilibrium is expressed in that system. This applies to all systems of complex flow, including the flow of goods and services in an economic system, and the flow of power and influence in politics.

In the case of efficient use of energy, thermodynamic systems are the main target for analysis. Weather systems, for example, express excursion to and from equilibrium via the motion of air, water, heat, and electromagnetic radiation.

This flow in natural systems is circulatory. Even a seemingly perfect linear motion is only the segment of an arc. The earth is curved, space/time is curved, and the universe is defined by expanding curvature. The vortex is nature’s pathway for summing these multiple scales of circulation in complex natural systems to achieve low energy equilibrium.

To capture flow therefore, look to the periphery and master circulation. The eye of a hurricane is the very definition of stillness while its walls express the chaotic violence of unstoppable motion. The periphery of a building for example, would be its walls, floors, ceilings, and roof. These thresholds between the internal and external environment are where significant energetic transactions take place.

The energy strategy is based on evolving systems that flow with Earth’s circulatory systems. In the plan, linked systems of circulation are described for a dwelling, neighborhood, municipality, and nation.

This idea comes from a process in nature known as scalar repetition (self-similarity) and the concomitant topography of scalar independence. The characteristics of a natural system accrue from a cycle of activity interrupting itself. Branching cycles, for example, result in a variety of structures and processes such a rivers, trees, blood vessels, nerves, and lightning.

Thus, our plan identifies a fundamental cycle of motion applied to the accrual of an efficient system of energy transaction, and then scales it up to worldwide functionality. This philosophy is extended to financial processes, where it is noted that the main feature of activity in an economic system is circulation of goods, services, and capital. A concomitant approach is applied for the positive influence of political power.

The effect of this plan is to open the closed loop of energy-supported influence causing wars, economic deterioration, and destruction of the environment. Use of the term "closed loop" purposefully describes a type of destructive circulation. In nature, cycles interrupt and diffuse each other to generate the rich complexity of a living system. Without the moderating forces of diffusion, the closed loop prevents participation in the richness characteristic of life.

To interrupt such a process, it must be deprived of its input energy. The source in this case is centralized wealth and influence flowing from worldwide consumption of fossil fuel and associated survival commodities. The problem is therefore solved when purchase of energy commodities shifts to local sources other than coal and oil. Further: Energy reform works only when it is profitable.


The plan uses this analysis and the application of well-known principles of thermodynamics and advanced materials to circumvent the need for energy stored in the form of coal and oil. It uses an ethical philosophy to tie this technological improvement to the improvement of living conditions for all people while preserving the environment.