Before you read this, you should read the prior post, if you haven’t already. What I say below requires that you have looked at the two tables and the previous discussion.

I do believe that the categorization of the behaviors is consistent with the brand features of the divided-brain-model (very left-hemisphere comment). The idea of self (singular) would signify some unitary being, acting metaphorically like a machine, run by a program that can produce a variety of distinctive behaviors. Distinctive according to some criteria that an observer might use to describe an action, but arising from a common mechanism. One’s persona, the kind of being exhibited over time, is determined by the behavioral category most frequently observed.

Compulsive, for example, might be deemed the persona of someone who rarely deviates from the same pattern of habitual behavior, even if the circumstances would appear to call for some variation. Artistic applies to one who tends to act creatively. and so on. Flourishing depends on striking a proper balance between the two hemispheres and the principle behavior types: routine/habitual and caring. Given the deficit of the latter type due to modern institutions and technology, this requires re-designing mainstream institutions and technologies to promote more right-hemispheric driven behaviors.

The divided-brain-model, besides offering a new path toward flourishing can inform any activity designed to improve behaviors in any of the distinct categories in the two tables. Most of our lives, beginning in childhood, are spent in some form of institutional setting, work, church, family, school, etc. An institution is any entity that is constituted by a set of rules and resources. Games, while usually not seen as institutions, are formed by the same kind of structure. Two elements are the beliefs and norms that guide action. Two others are the kinds of tools available to enable an actor to execute what would be a normal act, and the power structure that allocates the tools and can intervene in the normal flow of action.

Institutions produce “routine” behavior. The actors within the institutions are often named according to the primary routines they execute. Students routinely learn in school. Workers routinely execute a fixed set of tasks. Family roles are similarly named. Martin Heidegger, in developing his phenomenology of being, called this kind of behavior (being), undifferentiated because it was done, in a sense, without being present, simply following a set of rules that had become embedded in the body/brain. With the divided-brain-model, we now know that routine behaviors reflect the dominance of the left hemisphere.

Closely related to routines are habits, the normal behaviors we produce outside of institutions. In a way, we create an institution called myself, containing the beliefs and norms that guide quotidian behavior, the everyday patterns called our habits. Getting up in the morning, having meals, putting on clothes, reading the newspaper are all examples of such (quotidian) habitual behaviors. As it is for routines, we are not “present,” kind of running on automatic. Heidegger also called this class of behaviors, undifferentiated. Most of our time awake is spent in this two categories: routine and habitual. In both of these cases, if asked why we just acted as we did, we would say because it is the normal (right) thing to do, or something like “it works.”

Somewhat related to these modes are what I have called “driven.” They are extra-institutional acts we perform at the behest of somebody or according to some sense of a cultural imperative. The prevalent use of social media by young people fits into this class. The line between driven and habitual is fuzzy because an observer would see similar behavioral patterns. If asked why someone is doing what they are doing, in this case, the answer would be different, something like, “Well everybody is doing it.” Heidegger called this class of behaviors, inauthentic, reflecting the absence of agency. Later he dropped the difference between undifferentiated and inauthentic, reflecting that absence in both cases. Driven behaviors, like routines or habits, result from left-hemisphere primacy.

Continuing with left-hemisphere dominant categories, prejudicial acts are a form of habit that appears improper to an observer of the action, but not to the actor. Such acts results from the same kinds of beliefs and norms that drive habits. All are based on a set of already existing beliefs and norms stored in the left hemisphere. The actor is simply acting on them in the same way that brushing one’s teeth is driven by a cognitive structure already embedded. Prejudice is always a judgment made by an observer; the actor believes he/she was doing the “right” thing. In a sense all actions driven by the left-brain rest on the presuppositions we have accumulated. The difference between habit and prejudice is how those actions are deemed to fit the circumstances. The actor is not “present” in either of these. This is not that the actor bears no responsibility for the act, it refers to the relative absence of right hemisphere producing an awareness of the immediate scene and playing a significant role.

The last two categories in Table 1, solving and resolving, are names given by Russell Ackoff to the actions taken in breakdowns, stoppages in the normal flow of routine or habitual behaviors. Problems, that is, in conventional terms. Resolving corresponds to the left-brain searching for a solution to the problem using some alternative already known to the actor, for example, picking up a spare tool out of the tool box to replace one that has become broken. Solving goes a step further, requiring the actor to do a little “research” to find an alternative, but still limited largely to left-hemisphere processes. (Russell Ackoff, “The art and science of mess management.” Interfaces, Vol. II. No. I. 1981)

That’s enough for one post. I will look at the behaviors created by the right hemisphere in the next post. A few closing comments. If you want to enhance left-brain behaviors, focus is the word. The left brain likes certainty, and that means routines and habits are helped by limiting distractions and providing cues that continue to trigger the desired actions. Deviations interfere with the success of the acts that are supposed to produce a normal, that is expected outcomes. The self that is involved in these categories fits the classic model of the rational, self-interested actor of Adam Smith and classical economics and other human sciences. But, as I will be showing in the next post, there is little in the way of agency involved. The actor is acting out of a script, adding little or nothing. This self is very different from the one that corresponds to right-hemisphere dominance.

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