Ch1 L18: Frequency and the hierarchy of meanings

  1. In the quest of meaning, we’ve explored how emotional tags can modulate its importance [1]. Recall some events and try to figure out the most important one. Most likely, it must’ve been the most emotional experience [2].
  2. The duality of life and death [3] has shaped our feelings: we either like or dislike things. These two basic feelings branch into 4 feelings when it comes to an experience.
  1. Pleasure and pain are the first learning tools. The more intense they are, the longer the experience exists in mind. That must be why the punishment was invented: attaching pain to a mistake, hopefully, helps us avoid repeating it [4]. On the other hand, if we enjoy or are rewarded for learning something, we will remember it for a longer period.
  2. In the last two posts, we discussed why we’re reluctant to think [5]. One of the reasons is we get solutions from society. For example, if one of our ancestors entered a cave and never came back, we learned that we shouldn’t go there and we taught the next generation not to do so.
  3. What had happened in the cave? no one knew. we felt strong fear, put the cave in the category of danger and tried to avoid it.
  4. Then generation after generation, people would feel the cave was dangerous. Here, I’d like to use the analogy of phases of matter. Our experiences are random and chaotic like molecules of a gas. Then we try to make them meaningful; so, they are condensed to liquid and if we freeze the meaning, it will turn into a belief.
  5. Going back to our example: for the first generation, the pain was the reason to create a solution: Don’t go into the cave. For the next generations, two factors contributed to consolidate the idea into a belief:
    1. They learned it from those with whom they’ve had strong emotional bonds. That’s why our parents’ teachings seem to last longer.
    2. The number of people who applied the same solution or the times it’s used by one person. 
  6. Frequency is another factor which can affect the hierarchy of meanings. Whether we experience something many times or it’s experienced by many people, quantity is a convincing measure for our brain to accept something. 
  7. Example 13: propaganda is one of the best examples of this effect: a lie can be publicly accepted if it’s broadcasted from many media or tribunes.
  8. We can borrow two words from the terminology of waves. Two of the factors which determine the energy of a wave are its amplitude and frequency [6]. 
  9. We’re gonna discuss beliefs and frequency in the coming posts.

Exercise 18:

  1. Think about the situations in which desire can induce fear or pleasure can create pain and vice versa.


[1] Link to the post about the hierarchy of meanings.

[2] It can be also the most frequent event, what we’re gonna discuss through this post.

[3] Link to the first and the second post.

[4] In my opinion punishment must be done in a way that it wouldn’t lower one’s confidence.

[5] Link to the last two posts: Ch1 L16, Ch1 L17

[6] Link to waves.

[7] The featured image: The Scream


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