Theory of the values and the superior tendencies

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Alberto E. Fresina

CHAPTER 8 -(pages 125 to 144 of the book of 410)

Index of the chapter:

1. The innate aspect and the acquired aspect
2. The mechanism of values
3. Structure of the basic bipulsions
4. Features of the levels of bipulsions



1. The innate aspect and the acquired aspect

When it is discussed if certain functions or psychic features are innate or acquired, two different problems are usually mingled. On one hand it is the psychic side that is common to all ordinary men of any time and culture. The other thing is what it is different, what it is not same in all ordinary men. It is essential to make this distinction before approaching the problem.

When speaking about the psychological common side in all the ordinary men, we refer, for example, to the fact of having a language, values, opinions, commitments, ideals, certain system of impulses, etc. Here it is not necessary to be so precise in the concept of normality. For our purposes, most human beings of all times and cultures are conceived as physically ordinary men. Under this notion of ordinary men, we find that those functions like morals, language, etc., are common to all of them. In order to develop those functions as such, it is necessary a social mean facilitating them. However, genes "suppose" or "discount" with certainty, that there will be a social mean. Beyond the type of social mean, it is only necessary any socio-cultural mean, with the minimum elements that define it, and that is enough in order to have those abilities developed.

Although such common psychological functions have a necessary development in all times and cultures, it would be inadequate to classify them as innate. The active influence of the socio-cultural mean is something that it can not lack as “material” in order to have them developed. It is not enough that the human organism feeds itself and develops its body so that those abilities arise normally. Therefore, we will not call innate to what is common to all ordinary men, but mechanisms, features or functions of necessary development; that is, it is a “mixture” of what it is universally innate and what it is regular acquired in social life.

Regarding the psychic phenomena which differ among ordinary men, as for example, the different likes, values, interests, ideas, as well as the grade and the differential ways of development of the different functions and qualities of the personality. At this point, it starts the true discussion whether such differences are innate or acquired. But it is clear that those differences, in general terms, are acquired, and depend on the diverse historical, social, cultural, environmental circumstances, together with the entirety of casual circumstances, among which it stands out the group of exclusive social relationships affecting each individual during his life in a peculiar way.

When a child, for example, has more successes than failures in his initial tasks of interaction with reality by pure chance, or he simply receives more approval than disapproval for his acts and initiatives, that aspect can favor the development of certain self-confidence and perseverance to undertake and to conclude new tasks and challenges successfully. While if just for the influence of chance or for certain circumstances, another boy with identical potential abilities has more failures than successes, or more disapproval and social rejection than approval for what he does, that can make him lose trust in himself and develop a tendency to abandon earlier everything he undertakes.

If we apply this to actions involving the use of intellect, we will see that the law of the effect itself (repetition of what it is associated to pleasure and suppression of what it is related to displeasure) will encourage, in the first case, a more intense and frequent activity of reflexes and cerebral circuits that form the thought, because they simply led to the effect of pleasure, and while more positive psychic results are achieved, more intense will be the repetition of nervous ways and reflexes that support reasoning and mental abilities. This means a larger interest and perseverance on this issue, as feature of personality, which it will make the development of such abilities be more powerful. Meanwhile, the same law of effect, in the second case, will encourage the inhibition and blocking of the corresponding cerebral ways, since they led more frequently to displeasure of failure and/or of social rejection. Such situation, repeated thousand of times, can cause by itself, an increasing and an every time wider separation in one and another sense. This way, what it would be initially a tiny and fortuitous imbalance in favor of success or of failure, it may end up in a wide and notorious difference in the grade of development of certain capacities. Such basic influence of the law of effect, in its interaction with conditions and external circumstances surrounding the subject during his development, would be applicable in general to the different orientations and developments of any quality of the personality.

The hastened conclusions of those proclaiming the existence of innate differences of intelligence, for example, apart from being useful for their self-convincing of their "innate superiority" of their own intelligence, in the practice they only perform the function to satisfy the requirements of the dominant ideology, to establish clearly that there is a superior social class with the "natural right" to submit and to exploit the inferior classes, and therefore it makes no sense "to worry" in trying to create conditions of economic and social equality.

But if there was really some advantage of genetic potential on the matter, there are no reasons to believe that, it should be found out, contrary to what it is supposed, in the tribes that are still living under primitive conditions and which are the only ones that could have continued evolving genetically in the last thousand years, through the process of natural selection, the only possible mean.

Apart from the eventual genetic anomalies, there are not important innate differences. It is not the same thing abnormality "downwards" than "upwards". The only argument in order to believe in that, is the easiness of symmetry. The sequential manufactured articles occasionally come out failed, but the rest comes out in a good or normal way and never "superior" for pure magic. An architecture work can be deteriorated in a thousand different ways, throwing it explosives at random, but one is not able to "improve" it by throwing bricks. The innate improvement of the highly complex cerebral functions is only possible through the gradual accumulation of small genetic changes, and in the frame of the permanent action of natural selection.

Although genetic changes in relation to psychological functions really exist and they were indeed a premise in man's evolution, considering the current members of the species, it is something insignificant in comparison with the wide field of influence of the acquired factor. For that reason, we can consider the innate side, as a constant factor, for the practical purposes of the general psychology.

The variable psychic phenomena constitute the different ways in which the common psychological mechanisms or  of necessary development may be developed and operated. The explanation of those differential phenomena requires a study centered in the laws of social level as well as in each subject's personal history.

What we have seen so far about the psyche as well as what we will discuss from now on, is referred to the essential mechanisms of the psychic performance, to what it is common to all normal human beings, that is to say to all that undergoes a necessary development. At this point, the interest, concerning this work, is focused on what it would be equivalent to the general anatomy and physiology, but in relation to human psyche.

2. The mechanism of values

We had stated that the activity of the general law is manifested in the different levels of the psychic organization. The first is the reflex level, which is the most basic and essential one. Reflexes form the material for the rest. The second level is the impulses one, which arises out from the organization and regularity of the reflexes activity. Although impulses and their rules explain many psychological phenomena, there are other elements of motivation which also have the presence of impulses, the latter ones are organized and combined in such a complex way that we will not be able to advance in the explanation of human motivations without considering the new and superior qualitative level of the motivational structure: the level of values.

An example already stated is the moral function, that is to say, the double tendency to affirm what is good and to deny what is bad of the own behavior. Those notions (what is good and what is bad, or what is well and wrong) are the absolute values of the mechanism; they constitute the essential elements of moral and are common in any time and culture. What it may vary from a culture to the other or among people of a same culture, is that concrete thing which is considered good or bad. But what it is common everywhere, and what we are talking about, is the moral basic mechanic, made up of the double tendency to make good things and to avoid bad things. Such mechanism, beyond the relative values or the variable behaviors that may be considered as good or bad, is the same for any culture. This relationship is valid for all the mechanisms of values. For example, what it is considered beautiful in a culture, it can be ugly or reluctant in another. However, in both cultures, it exists the same essential function that is the aesthetic mechanism to affirm what is beautiful and to deny what is ugly.

Moral bipulsion

The mechanisms of values consist in two clearly distinguishable pulsions or tendencies. One is guided to achieve the positive value and the other one is in charge of avoiding or restraining the negative value (or disvalue). We will identify these double tendencies with the name of: bipulsions. Thus, the double tendency to make good things and to avoid bad things is the moral bipulsion.

Absolute values are the ones that define the bipulsion, they are the organizing nucleus of the bipulsions level; around them, the operation of impulses forming them are ordered.

The impulses that are organized around those absolute values, allowing the movement of the moral bipulsion, are the following ones:

The two “heads” are the ones of approval (and its part of self-approval) that pushes to make what is good, and the conservation one that avoids what is bad.

The relief imp. also participates, since the moral pain is something one would like to finish with, and it encourages to make what is good or to abandon a behavior, attitude or posture conceived as bad or wrong.

The joy one can set the desire of achieving an outstanding personal performance. Here, the approval one adds its forces when wishing the deep pleasure of pride and recognition for the positive performance (what is good).

The mediator imp., like the "joker" of motivation, is also present looking for mean-goals and purpose-goals that the other impulses set. In this case, if the good thing is to finish a task efficiently, the impulse will be present in each partial step of the behavior, guided to that final good act.

Another impulse interested in making what is good can be the recovery one. Let’s suppose that the state of normal social acceptance is what one has lost and wants to recuperate. At this point, we are not speaking about the social approval act, but of a normal steady condition that is the “basic esteem” or acceptance as a member of the group. Such an acceptance is an affectively neuter condition that, when being present, does not produce either pleasure or displeasure; but when it is not present, the nec. of its recovery arises. In order to reestablish such a basic acceptance, the subject has to do what is good and not to repeat his negative acts.

A last interested impulse in making what is good and avoiding what is bad, is frequently the sexual one. Since a condition for the more personal acceptance is the good social performance in general, and since that more personal acceptance, when coming from subjects of the opposite sex, also means a more sexual acceptance on many occasions, that impulse also contributes in order to make the subject be interested in carrying out outstanding or positive acts and in avoiding bad acts or acts that are worthless for the one who values them. Here the good act is a mean-goal of the sexual imp.*

* The performance of good or positive behaviors, like a factor for the major sexual acceptance, means a natural use of the motivational energy of the sexual impulse, so that it adds its forces to the interest for the continuous performance of favorable actions for the survival of the tribe. Among positive or good behaviors, we can mention specially the outstanding acts during the social work of the tribe. This way, natural selection that as we know aimed the survival of social organisms that were more efficient in the work, chose those in which even the motivational force of the own sexual imp. also pushed towards the best performance.

Thus, we can mention seven impulses making up the double tendency to affirm what is good and to deny what is bad of the own behavior. Such impulses, together with notions or organizing concepts of what is good and what is bad, form the structure of moral bipulsion. From the seven, the fundamental ones are the two heads: approval and conservation. Instead, the other ones are less important and usually revolving or unstable in their structural presence of bipulsion.

The double tendency to make what is good and to deny what is bad, is not out of the general law; it is just a new way of being manifested. It is always important to have the general law in mind, since it expands to the whole subjectivity, shaping its structure. In order to understand the reasons of intention, first we have “to place” the skeleton of the general law, to situate only what is bound to it, until reconstructing the psyche. That was the order followed by nature when it built up the human motivational structure.

The basic bipulsions would be six, and then they would divide and combine among themselves, shaping other new ones.

Aesthetics bipulsion

The absolute values are: what is beautiful and what it is ugly. The aesthetic pleasure-displeasure are those in which the subject has a passive or contemplative attitude of stimulus. It is the reception of pleasant or unpleasant stimulus through senses or imagination that are synthesized or gathered by the notions of beautiful or ugly.

Fantasies, "dreams" and memories are included in the aesthetic pleasure or displeasure that take place in the scope of imagination or mental representation. Even the mental representation of the object of satisfaction of an impulse, or of any pleasant situation, is an aesthetic pleasure in our approach. The pleasure to revive or to recreate in mind a concrete pleasant situation lived before, would also be aesthetic.

To sum up, the aesthetic pleasure or displeasure are produced by the single contemplation or passive perception of stimulus, and where the affirmation of pleasant stimulus (what is beautiful) and denial of unpleasant stimulus (what is ugly) are purposes in themselves.

The aesthetic bipulsion is the double tendency to affirm what is beautiful and to deny what is ugly. Those absolute values gather the guiding pleasures of impulses as well as the light pleasures and displeasures of general guiding that do not surround the nucleus of impulses, but they only advance useful or harmful situations for life in general that appear under those notions of beautiful or ugly.

The function of the bipulsion is to guide the organism in order to get closer to adapting or useful situations and to drift apart from what is harmful.

Guiding pleasures and displeasures constitute a large system of secondary ways to the entrance of pleasure and displeasure. Although they are a lot, they are not more than slight reactions of pleasure or displeasure. That whole system of accessory ways of entrance to pleasure and displeasure is mainly in charge of the four impulses that directly represent the general law. The joy and continuation impulses are in charge of affirming the guiding pleasures, and the relief and conservation ones are responsible for the denial of the guiding displeasures. Impulses corresponding to the guiding pleasures surrounding the satisfaction nucleus, are added to these four. This is, the occasional presence, in the bipulsion of impulses that support pleasures related to the nucleus of satisfaction, the ones taking place not only at concrete or sensorial level but also at mental images and fantasies level, they appear as the positive value of the aesthetic bipulsion (what is beautiful).

Apart from the impulses that are in charge of guiding pleasures and displeasures, the aesthetic bipulsion is also formed with other impulses. One is the curiosity one, present in the interest and the admiration to contemplate what is beautiful. Another is the recovery one, which sustains the contemplative or aesthetic pleasure in order to recuperate a "missing" stimulus in the perceptual field. It also has its role in memories. Another important impulse is the variation one. What is new and varied usually appears as beautiful.

Regarding aesthetic pleasure reactions produced by music, dance, poetry, etc., they would be at first, general guiding pleasures. But they would be mainly based on the movement of imagination and the flow of mental representations that those facts stimulate (impulses’ guiding pleasures, and concrete satisfaction of the impulses of curiosity, of variation and others that act naturally in the symbolic field and that they are part of the aesthetic bipulsion).

Those artistic expressions have utility for life and they are only understood when they are focused on the survival of the group. All entertainment or amusement activity that constitutes a meeting element, will be always favorable for the survival of the social organism. One tribe whose individuals live separate one from the other, and only meet when an urgent situation appears, will be under worse conditions to survive than another one whose members have been gathered for a longer time, sharing their experiences. Such meeting elements sharing leisure moments, make the group be united and prepared to face efficiently any unforeseen situation. On the other hand, they favor the continuous communication and integrated performance of the tribe. Those meeting elements allow the closest spiritual unity and more mutual knowledge as well as the "synchronization" of the individuals' mood. In fact, a tribe would have more advantages when its members maintain a solid physical and spiritual union compared to another one lacking it. For that reason, all the elements favoring the physical and spiritual unity are automatically useful for survival. That situation aims the tribe to work as an authentic social, integrated and coherent organism. A social organism like that, will be surely rescued by natural selection. Therefore, the aesthetic pleasure for artistic activities would mainly fulfill that function.

In the treatment of bipulsions, it will be necessary to keep in mind all the time, that their adapting utility comes out from the function that they had for the survival of the social organism as a whole. At impulses level, many of these bipulsions were explained in their adapting function, from its utility for the isolated individual's survival. Now, it is the opposite. Bipulsions are the product of the natural selection of tribes. Their utility for survival is just explained taking into account the vision of the group.

The period of human evolution in which bipulsions were developed, would comprise about two or three million years, from certain group or flock of anthropomorphous simians until the "last genetic mutation" from which man and the genuinely human society appeared (homo sapiens sapiens). This latter issue, according to anthropological data, would have happened about fifty thousand years ago*. Although it is impossible to determine that exact point, at least it is something we can do in our representation. For that reason, we will move forward and will take that primitive human tribe, enclosing it in an imaginary circle. We will call that tribe, from which all of us come, as it was the only one which survived over the rest of the tribes similar to that one, generalizing its type:primary social organism. All we will develop in relation to the essential and necessary tendencies of human motivation, will have the basis of the function that fulfilled each of them in the primary social organism.

* Lambert David. El hombre prehistórico. Editorial EDAF. Madrid 1988 ("The pre-historic man ")

Coming back to the aesthetic bipulsion, another of its functions and perhaps the most important one, is to complement the moral bipulsion. We have already talked about the good or bad act, from the point of view of the author of that behavior. Now we will look at the good or bad behavior from the point of view of the members of the group that are observers of the other people's behavior.

Observers undergo a aesthetic, contemplative pleasure when perceiving a positive action of a partner. On the contrary, they feel a aesthetic displeasure when observing bad behavior. Therefore, for the observer, the other people's good behavior is beautiful and the bad one is ugly, unpleasant for perception. The aesthetic pleasure in the other people's good behavior is followed by the fraternal imp. that moves the observer to gratify the author of the behavior with an approval or congratulation. On the other hand, one subject’s bad behavior produces a aesthetic displeasure in the eventual observer This moves the aggression imp., reason why some “damage” (displeasure) will be caused to the author, by means of a disapproving gesture or a refusal.

Although the aesthetic bipulsion comprises infinity of stimuli (unconditioned and conditioned) falling under its scope: beautiful-ugly, an important portion of that spectrum is exhibited in the pleasure or displeasure that other people's behaviors provoke.

That piece of the aesthetic bipulsion comprising psychic reactions in front of other people's good or bad behaviors, plus the external answers to approve or disapprove the author, are an important part of those “materials” that form the following bipulsion.

Ethical bipulsion

Ethics, as we know, is the discipline about moral. For that reason, ethical bipulsion will be for us, the one for the incidental observer of the other’s moral behavior; whereas the moral bipulsion is the one of the author of the behavior. That is to say, the same person has both bipulsions. Under one circumstance, he will be moved by his moral bipulsion, when he tries to do something good. But in another case, he will be the observer of the other people's behavior, working out his ethical bipulsion.

Ethical bipulsion is formed, firstly, by the aesthetic pleasure-displeasure in front of the other people's behavior, together with the fraternal and aggression impulses that are joined by approving or disapproving the author respectively. Therefore, this bipulsion has two phases. The first one is the inner reaction of aesthetic pleasure or displeasure for the other’s behavior; and the second one, the external answer of approval or disapproval towards the author of the behavior, including the eventual material prize or punishment, as extreme answers of the fraternal and aggression impulses respectively.

The presence of the communication imp. is frequent in that second phase, when one feels the nec. to tell the other about the own unconformity that his action produced (reproach, criticism) together with disapproval. The communication imp. is also present in the nec. to tell the author of the behavior about the pleasure felt by what he did, together with the approval act.

The absolute values of bipulsion are: other people's good behavior - other people's bad behavior. Such absolute ethical values are looked for and avoided by the subject respectively, by means of the “encouragement”, recommendations, threats, etc. Even, the answers of approval or disapproval of the second phase may have the purpose respectively of encouraging the person who receives it, “to continue like that”, or of influencing him so that he will not repeat the behavior again.

 The first ethical phase not only includes the aesthetic pleasure or displeasure for the other’s behavior, but also the material benefit or damages (and/or moral) that the behavior of a subject has for the observer, or for the observer group, provoke a concrete pleasure or displeasure in them. The perception of personal or group damage involving what another person has made, causes displeasure in the damaged person. Then, the second ethical phase will be the answer of condemnatory disapproval towards the author. On the contrary, when the action of a member of the group benefits the observers, these ones will feel pleasure for what the subject has made, and this will make the second phase be an affectionate recognition towards the author.

In general, the material benefit or damage that a subject’s action produces for the group or tribe is what turns a behavior into a good or bad one. That is to say, thanks to the association of behavior with the concrete material benefit or damage, it will produce aesthetic pleasure or displeasure in the observer. It would be the following mechanism. If somebody carries out any behavior and that behavior produces a material benefit for the tribe, such fact will cause pleasure or happiness in the group. Then, the new performance of that behavior will be pleasant by itself for the observer, although it may not produce a direct benefit, it is associated to the benefit and for that reason it is well considered. On the contrary, if an individual’s action has the effect to harm the material or concrete interests of the tribe, such behavior and all the similar ones will cause, afterwards, unpleasantness in front of the observers. This displeasure, conditional to that gender of harmful behaviors, will become autonomous in its ability to produce contemplative or aesthetic displeasure in the observer.

Undoubtedly, the fact that behaviors associated in origin to the material benefit or damage for the tribe acquire autonomy in their capacity to produce aesthetic or contemplative pleasure or displeasure in the observer, is something adapting or useful for the survival of the group. In that way, each of the subjects has a stable and relative autonomous conditioning that makes pleasure or displeasure be produced spontaneously in order to see the positive or negative behavior of another one. At the same time, the moral bipulsion of the person who carries out the behavior looking for the approval pleasure and avoiding the disapproval displeasure, will be adjusted to that social ethical delimitation of what is good or bad to do. All this situation makes that the actions of each one tend to be objectively regulated and guided to what it is beneficial for the tribe, at the same time behaviors related to the material harm for the group, are avoided.

The dominant material interests, in this case the ones of the tribe as a whole, are the fundamental determinants of what is good and bad. Such values (classification of behaviors into good and bad) rise in the environment with a relative autonomy, but they are at the service of the material interests of the tribe. The latter ones regulate the direction of values, which are maintained or modified as they favor or harm the group interests.

As what is good and bad is related to what is useful and what is harmful for the life of the tribe respectively, it is highly important that each subject feels pleasure when doing what is good and displeasure when carrying out negative acts (moral bipulsion). So that this works, it is also essential the active presence of the ethical bipulsion in all, so that the author will be approved or disapproved. It was also necessary that what is good and what is bad acquired autonomy in their capacity to produce aesthetic pleasure-displeasure in the observer, to make a more dynamic answer towards behaviors. For that reason, the conditioning of contemplative or aesthetic pleasure or displeasure in front of each type of acts, becomes autonomous. That should happen although it is not very clear the relationship of such behaviors with the material benefit or injuries for the group. It is enough with aesthetic pleasure or displeasure before behaviors, since the material interests of the group control that the values-behaviors do not deviate themselves from their correspondence with the common benefit.

Morals and ethics form a natural regulator system that favors positive behaviors (good or approvable acts) during the social work as well as in the rest of the activities, and it organizes the behavior rules of the social relationship, which surround and support the group performance.

Regarding self-approval and self-disapproval, they are the combined activity of ethical and moral bipulsions of the own behavior. The subject is, at the same time, the author and observer of the behavior. Here, the pleasure of self-approval or the displeasure of self-disapproval is automatic after the good or bad own action. That pleasure or displeasure are ethical-moral at the same time. The ethical part is the one of the “I observer”, it is the part that approves or disapproves; and the moral part, that is, the one of the “I author”, is the  approval or disapproval receiver, coming from that automatic ethical mechanism. But both events are practically simultaneous and form the only self-approval or self-disapproval feeling.

From now on, the self-approval and self-disapproval mechanism will not be discussed deeply. We will put it a little aside in order to simplify the task. This is due to the fact that it is always present within the movement of moral bipulsion. That is to say, this bipulsion moves the subject to look for the social approval pleasure when he does what is good, and to avoid social disapproval displeasure when he does what is bad. It is always added to that, the interest for the pleasure of self-approval in front of what is good and to avoid displeasure of self-disapproval for what is bad. Thus, since self-approval and self-disapproval are always included in the movement of moral bipulsion, it is not necessary to remember all the time the added presence of the self-reply towards the own moral behavior. When there is community of values or consent on these issues, as it would be the case in the primary social organism, all that is done for self-approval and to avoid self-disapproval is practically the same than what it is done for approval and to avoid social disapproval. For that reason, it is an extension until the lonely behavior of the same interest in what is good and to deny what is bad in the own behavior is just a reinforcement of the moral bipulsion.

On the other hand, when we refer to self-approval or self-disapproval does not mean that the subject "decides" to grant himself a prize or a punishment, as product of a reflexive elaboration. Although this may happen, it is a spontaneous psychic reaction either reflexive or automatic in front of the own good or bad attitudes. When the subject conceives as good, something of his, an instantaneous and unquestionable pleasure arises (pride, honor). The same happens with the displeasure of what is bad (blame, shame, etc.). We call this self-approval or self-disapproval. They are automatic reactions before the own good or bad actions; they are the first “mechanic” effects of the appearance of such values. Then, social approval or disapproval will unchain similar psychic reactions, although usually in a deeper way and with connotations or affective touches of major significance for the subject.

Intellectual bipulsion

Absolute values are: to understand - not to understand, or cognitive domain - lack of it, knowledge-ignorance. Top impulses that form it are the curiosity and the conservation one. The conservation one is present in all bi-pulsions. It is in charge of avoiding the negative value producing displeasure. The generalized presence of the conservation imp. is a regularity of the bi-pulsions level; it is always forming one of the tops: avoidance of the negative value. Instead, the top impulse that tries to achieve the positive value changes according to the bi-pulsion.

Displeasure caused by the presence of the negative value of the intellectual bi-pulsion is confusion, disorientation, sensation of mental mismanagement of the situation, doubts, loss of the cognitive domain, mental lagoons, chaos in the ideas. All this, as it is unpleasant, is avoided by the conservation imp. On the other hand, the curiosity one tries to know, to domain or to understand the facts, achieving intellectual pleasure.

The moral bipulsion can be joined to the intellectual one, looking for approval by means of knowledge and avoiding disapproval due to the own ignorance; that is to say, it is good to know or to understand and bad not to understand or to ignore. But now, we will just analyze each bipulsion in an isolated way. Later on, we will study the relationships and combinations among them. In that way, intellectual bipulsion is only what we see in a boy’s performance, for example, when he questions something that he does not understand, without any moral interest.

Other impulses participating in the intellectual bipulsion are: the relief one that intends to put an end to the displeasure of bewilderment and confusion; the recovery one that tries to reestablish the habitual cognitive domain of the situation when it has got lost; the joy one may look for the astonishment of certain knowledge; the mediator one, that it would not be necessary to name it, since it is a support of all the goals, reason why it is clearly understood that it is close to the activity of each impulse and bipulsion.

Spiritual bipulsion

We know that the concept: spiritual, apart from being very imprecise, has connotations that, in general, are contrary to the materialistic conception that distinguishes the science. But instead of rejecting or denying the concept itself, we will give it “location” and a clear sense in the reality of the psyche.

Spiritual pleasure, for our approach, will be the pleasure of the fraternal impulse. Therefore, the positive value of bipulsion is the perception of a beneficial fact for the O.M.F.I. (object of mechanism of fraternal identification). Thus, favorable facts for the O.M.F.I. produce spiritual pleasure. Spiritual displeasure occurs when a harmful fact for the O.M.F.I. takes place. Here, it is not about the unique nec. of the fraternal imp., but mainly it is about the fear that something negative happens to the object of identification. A fact implying something bad for the O.M.F.I. causes spiritual pain. For that reason, the conservation imp. responds with fear before the threat of the spiritual pain for any distress that may happen to the loved entity. This will push the avoidance behavior that it will do its best to impede the harmful fact for the O.M.F.I.

Then, the top impulses of the spiritual bipulsion are: fraternal imp. and again, the conservation one. The absolute values are:  what is good or positive for the O.M.F.I. – what is bad or negative for the O.M.F.I. Such facts produce spiritual pleasure or displeasure respectively. Therefore, the subject's behavior is moved by bipulsion trying to get what it is beneficial for the O.M.F.I. and/or to avoid harmful facts for him. That O.M.F.I., under natural conditions, is fundamentally the tribe and each one of its members. The spiritual bipulsion always tries to avoid the negative facts in the tribe and to achieve what is good for it.

The concepts or notions of what is good and bad or right and wrong, have two fundamental senses. One is the moral one, where it is expressed what is meritorious or approvable and what is non-meritorious or non-approvable respectively. The other is the one referred to the current layout, and they mean respectively what is beneficial or favorable and what is harmful or unfavorable in general.

Apart from top impulses, other imp. are added strengthening the double tendency for the benefit of the tribe and for the avoidance of its harm. One is the relief one. The spiritual suffering for a painful situation of a relative, for example, makes the relief imp. achieve the welfare of that one. That fact will only relief the own spiritual suffering.

The spiritual joy also exists, consisting on the deep pleasure of the fraternal imp. for something especially good for the O.M.F.I. Therefore, the joy imp. settles its desire in the achievement of its maximum spiritual pleasure, and for that, it encourages behavior to create favorable situations for the O.M.F.I. (conditions of happiness for the tribe, etc.).

The recovery imp., on the other hand, is present when one tries to recover, for example, a partner’s health, or the security of the tribe when it has got lost.

The aggression imp. is also included in the spiritual bipulsion. That one encourages to fight against everything threatening the welfare of the tribe; that is to say, what is negative attempting against the welfare of the tribe is in itself a good fact for it. That aggression is moved by the spiritual bipulsion. It is the same love to the tribe, the one that sustains the occasional hate towards what attempts against its welfare. Therefore, spiritual bipulsion does not only operate on the basis of the M.F.I., but in some occasions the M. F. A. (mechanism of fraternal anti-identification) is covering those “backs”, reinforcing the tendency for the benefit of the tribe.

Spiritual bipulsion is included, many times, as psychic component of the first phase of the ethical bipulsion. When the other people's behavior implies a benefit for the O.M.F.I of the observer, the latter one feels a spiritual pleasure moving the approbatory or gratitude answer towards the author; and when certain other people's act harms the O.M.F.I. of that observer, a spiritual displeasure is provoked in him, in front of that behavior, making the non-approving, rejection or condemnation answer be activated.

Anticipatory bipulsion

The central values are: success and failure.

We had stated that the achievement of the goal (mean or purpose) that some impulse sets up, causes the “happiness for the achievement” as pleasure or satisfaction of the mediator imp. We also observed that when the achievement of the goal fails, the frustration displeasure takes place. The conservation imp. avoids such displeasure. For that reason, we had deduced that not only the mediator imp. is a reinforcement for the goals of the other impulses, but also the conservation one as it is always present trying to avoid frustration, it becomes a general support for the achievement of the goals of the other impulses. In this function, the conservation imp. tends to the “denial of the denial” in the achievement of the goal. That is to say, frustration implies the denial of the achievement. For that reason, the conservation imp., which is only interested in avoiding frustration in this case, looks for the achievement, but not for the achievement in itself as mediator, but as denial of the frustration pain.

Apart from success-failure, there are other reasons of anticipatory happiness or displeasure that would be accessory or secondary values of bipulsion, example: the announcement that something good or bad will happen, generates a reaction of anticipatory happiness or displeasure respectively. The success-mistake are also secondary values of bipulsion, and they usually refer to the partial steps of what it will finish in a success or failure.

Anticipatory psychic reactions can be divided into four basic types that are adjusted to the four possible results or essential effects of the fight between the general law and the opponent forces. Such results, as we remember, were: affirmation of pleasure; denial of this; affirmation of displeasure; denial of this. From the four types of anticipatory reactions, two are pleasant and two are unpleasant. The pleasant ones announce the favorable results to the general law: 1 - happiness for the announcement of a pleasant future fact. 2 - happiness for the announcement of the denial or future absence of something unpleasant that will not happen as it was expected or feared. Then, the two classes of anticipatory unpleasant reactions are those predicting the unfavorable results for the general law: 1 – annoyance for the announcement of something unpleasant coming next. 2 - uneasiness for the announcement of the denial or future absence of a pleasant fact that it will not take place as expected.

Success and failure, which are considered as the central values of bipulsion, are directed fundamentally around pleasant future facts that are expected with the achievement of the goal. The happiness for the success is the psychic reaction that is anticipated to the pleasant facts implied in that achievement; and sadness for the failure is the feeling responding to the announcement of the denial or future absence of such pleasant facts.

Top impulses of anticipatory bipulsion are: the mediator that looks for the happiness of the success in the goal achievement, and the conservation one which is in charge of avoiding the failure displeasure in the behavior guided to that achievement.

Success-failure are always empty in themselves. They can never be looked for or avoided independently from what they support. They always depend on the purpose they have through the goal. Such content is what makes sense to the success and failure. For that reason, it would be an absurd to say, for example, that there is a “tendency to success”, without explaining what it makes reference to. What one always looks for are “Things” in which one desires to be successful. The anticipatory bipulsion is a general reinforcement, but without the least motivational autonomy.

Besides top impulses (mediator and conservation), there are others forming the bipulsion. The aggression one is present when the behavior that tends to the achievement of the goal, finds an obstacle opposing it. This way, the aggressive nec. or anger towards the frustrating obstacle reinforce the power of the behavior tending to the achievement. The joy imp. also settles its desire in success. At this stage, this impulse is highly interested in the joy of gladness (deep happiness). All those impulses are simultaneously satisfied in the joy of success. On one hand, we find the particular happiness of the mediator imp. On the other hand, the sudden easiness of the conservation imp., that perceives the denial of the risk of the frustration pain. Then, the pleasure of the aggression imp. is also combined with success, whereas the achievement of the goal implies having beaten the obstacle; it means to have destroyed its frustrating power, what is captured by the impulse, whose satisfaction mixes up in the unique pleasure of joy. Other impulses that may be interested in success, are those of rest and of variation. When these ones “perceive” that they will not be able to satisfy tiredness and weariness respectively, until the goal is not achieved, their directed tendencies help the others to look for success “right away”.

3. Structure of the basic bipulsions

Summing up, we have the following basic bipulsions:



The thick line means that the element from which the arrow arises is a fundamental component of the bipulsion that was pointed out. The thin line means that it is a non- fundamental component, which the bipulsion does not depend on to operate with normality.

In the outline of the ethical bipulsion, we find that the psychic reaction of pleasure or displeasure for other people's good or bad behavior (first ethical phase) can be formed as follows: 1 - by the absolute values of aesthetic bipulsion. That is to say, the good behavior is beautiful for the observer and the bad one is ugly or unpleasant to be perceived. 2 - by the  psychic reaction in the observer because of the benefit or damage (specially material) that other people's behavior causes. 3 - by the absolute values of the spiritual bipulsion. That is, another person’s good behavior implies a favorable fact for the O.M.F.I. and other people's bad behavior harms the O.M.F.I of the observer..

Thus, ethical pleasure or displeasure, caused by the good or bad behavior of another subject, can be any of the following three types:

1 - It is aesthetic when other people's behavior simply pleases or displeases the person observing it. According to it, the author will be approved or disapproved.

2 – When a person’s performance has a direct benefit or damage in the person of the observer, he will feel the concrete pleasure or displeasure for that cause, approving or disapproving the author.

3 - If other people's behavior favors or harms the O.M.F.I. of the observer, he will experience a spiritual pleasure or displeasure. In other words, if somebody does something that favors our loved beings, for example, we will feel spiritual pleasure because of the fact that something good happens to the O.M.F.I. But if certain action of a subject harms them, the displeasure because of other people's bad behavior will be spiritual. Such reactions will mobilize the second ethical phase, approving or disapproving the author of those facts respectively.

The ethical pleasure or displeasure in the front of other people's behavior are frequently formed by the three things together. This should happen regularly in the tribe. The pleasure for a subject’s good behavior, example: to carry out a fruitful personal labor during common work is spiritual because it implies a benefit for the tribe. It is also a joy advancing a personal and material benefit for the individual observer, as this is included in the benefit for the group. Lastly, it is an aesthetic pleasure, as it is an already conditioned behavior for contemplative pleasure, as it is associated to the common benefit or as an act of special capacity or ability which always generates an aesthetic pleasure in the observer.

Regarding the above outline, we find a relationship of compound-components among the elements from which the arrows and the superior and organized bipulsion arise. That shows us that bipulsions keep on being the impulses forming them. But the organization and combination of the activity of impulses make something qualitatively new arise, with autonomy of laws and performance. The absolute values and the mechanics itself of its global movement organize and rule the activity of the impulses that compose the bipulsion. The simplest analogy in this issue would be present in the relationship that exist among the organs forming an apparatus and the arisen entire apparatus. For example, the activity of the digestive system is not any other thing than the activity of the stomach, pancreas, bowels, etc. However, the global organization of the activity of those organs results in the performance of a unique and coherent apparatus. The same happens regarding bipulsions. The activity of the moral bipulsion, for example, consists on the activity of the approval imp., of conservation, of recovery, etc. But the organization of the activity of such impulses results in the integral performance of the bipulsion, with its own laws or regularities, corresponding to the global configuration of its movement.

On the other hand, we have seen that aesthetic and spiritual bipulsions are part of the ethical bipulsion. What we have to keep in mind at this point is the accumulative part of the aesthetic or spiritual essence, which is also ethical. Thus, an aesthetic or spiritual pleasure produced by the perception of other people's good behavior is apart from an aesthetic or spiritual, an ethical pleasure. The fact that this pleasure is ethical does not mean that it is not aesthetic or spiritual in its essence, anymore. It is about the ethical form of the aesthetic or spiritual pleasure or displeasure. The aesthetic or spiritual pleasure or displeasure are also ethical when their appearance coincides with other people's behavior perceived by the notion or subjective reception of a good or bad action.

4. Features of the levels of bipulsions

The bipulsions we have seen are the basic or essential ones. The others which are formed later and that will be discussed in the following chapter, entail their presence.

Let's see some regularities of the bipulsions operation. A constant element we find in all is the presence of the conservation imp. (fear - D.T. - easiness) in one of the tops. Such  impulse is always avoiding the negative value leading to displeasure. The joy imp. (desire - D.T. - pleasant fact) may be also considered as regular, since it goes next to the top impulse which looks for the pleasure of the positive value.

Another regularity of the level of bipulsions is the presence of the opponent values that constitute the new organizing nucleus of the level. In the former level, the nucleus were: nec.-satisfaction. Now, instead: positive value - negative value. Nevertheless, in both cases, it is about the way in which general pleasure or displeasure occurs. If we focus the general law from the level of impulses, this one will be something like "the general impulse", where displeasure is the general nec. and pleasure, the general satisfaction. But if we consider the general law from the level of bipulsions, it will be appreciated how the "general bipulsion" and displeasure will be the general negative value and pleasure, the general positive value.

At the level of impulses, the partial tendency to deny or to put an end to the nec. and the one of looking for satisfaction, can not be separated. There, a single managed tendency acts, comprising inseparably both things. Instead, in bipulsions, we can find a separation of their two partial pulsions. Motivation may have a quite defined strengthening when looking for the positive value or in the avoidance of the negative one. In many cases, one tries to avoid the bad thing for example, strengthening the presence of the conservation imp. which tries to deny the moral displeasure carrying out a bad behavior. However, the merger of both pulsions is also frequent, as the same behavior tends to achieve simultaneously the positive value and to avoid the negative one.

In this approach, there is a space for neutrality between what is positive and what is negative. For example, in the case of the moral bipulsion, doing what it "corresponds" or what it is "expectable" would be that neuter action which is neither good nor bad, but it is rather something normal. Sometimes it is said that a behavior is good, when in fact it is only non-bad or neuter. The true good behavior is the one that stands out as such. For that reason, most behaviors are morally neuter. Then, quite a few ones are highlighted because they are good receiving approval, and others appear as bad provoking disapproval.

The range of reactions of pleasure-displeasure included during the activity of one bipulsion is complex, because each bipulsion is made up of several impulses. But their distribution and organization are so accurate, that it aims the coherence of the double movement guided to the achievement of the positive value and to the avoidance of the negative one. from all those pleasure-displeasure reactions, the main ones and those that we are more interested in, are the opponent nucleus of pleasure-displeasure implied in the appearance of the positive or negative values. Both top impulses are about this. In the example of the moral bipulsion, the approval imp. tries to achieve the positive value and the moral pleasure which is supposed, and the conservation one is in charge of avoiding the moral pain produced by the negative value.

At this level, the mechanism: nec. - D.T. – satisfaction is not relevant anymore as a lineal sequence, characteristic of the level of impulses. Although superior necessities of bipulsions always entail the essence of the necs. of impulses, and although pleasure of positive values may only be based on the entrance ways to the pleasure of impulses, the movement of these new tendencies of motivation responds to the own demands of its performance. Those ways of pleasure or displeasure are only considered as the psychic-motivational materials out of which they are composed of. But pleasure-displeasure appear with the new shade of the type of the corresponding value: aesthetic, moral, spiritual, intellectual, ethical pleasure or displeasure, or happiness for success and feeling of failure. The entranceways to pleasure or displeasure of impulses are under this new order, which acquires autonomy in the integral dynamics of its performance. Impulses and their basic mechanics: nec. - D.T. - satisfaction only persist as component elements, that is to say, in the same way that the reflex activity persists even in its more underlying essence.

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© Author: Alberto E. Fresina
Title: "The Laws of Psyche"
Title of the original Spanish Version:
"Las Leyes del Psiquismo"
Fundar Editorial
Printed in Mendoza, Argentina
I.S.B.N. 987-97020-9-3
Mendoza, 14th July, 1999
Copyright registered at the National Copyright Bureau in 1988, and at the Argentine Book Camera in 1999, year of its publication.
Translated by Ana El kassir with the collaboration of Marcela Berenguer
Characteristic of the original copy in Spanish: Number of pages: 426; measures: 5.9 x 8.27 x 1 inch; weight: 1.2lb.

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