We have already, in the previous section on the temporal cycle, seen how the Anticipation of the Entity Now produces a Potentiality-for-Being, seen how this may be fulfilled or unfulfilled, seen that this is the origin of action and seen the larger relationship that Action plays with regard to the World within which Dasein is manifest. On this page we shall complete the picture of Action as the flip side to the senses, the return trip in the interaction with the World, and the emergence of some higher order functions; the foundations of will and emotion.
The Frontal Cortex
The diagram to the right shows the major landmarks of the frontal cortex. It is important to note that not only are the boundaries at present rather ill defined, mainly functionally speaking, but they are nevertheless quite irrelevant, one needs to only gain an idea of what the major functional regions here are.
As said previously, the primary motor cortex is where the instructions for goal-orientated motor action leave the cortex and travel down through the cerebellum to the peripheral nervous system where they stimulate skeletal muscle contraction to effect purposeful movement within the body. Everything else in the frontal cortex is functioning to make that action (evolutionarily) beneficial for the individual.
The premotor cortex and supplementary motor area are involved in planning and selecting Potentialities to pass onto the primary motor cortex.
The dorsolateral prefrontal cortex is part of the larger structure of the prefrontal cortex, which is the front half of the frontal lobe. It is notable for being the last section of cortex to develop in humans, and, like the remainder of the prefrontal cortex, its functions include organisation and regulation of Action.
Finally, Broca's area is the Action half of the linguistic regions of cortex, the other being Wernicke's area, situated behind the primary auditory cortex in the sensory half. This region shall be largely ignored here as it has a more important role in the next section, on language.
Anticipation of Action: "Will"
Now we are familiar with the key structures, let us see how Interpretation works to produce Action. What is presented to the various connections with the Action half, from the sensory half, are Potentialities-for-Being of the Entities-in-the-World detected by the senses. Of the Entities of the World, the most important to the function of Dasein is the Entity of Self, for in Anticipation of the Entity of Self, Dasein may produce a Potentiality-for-Being of the Self. In every case, as discussed earlier, a Potentiality-for-Being is necessarily in a state of being unfulfilled when initially formed, and in the situation where Dasein forms an unfulfilled Potentiality of the Self it is in a unique position of being able to resolve the Potentiality through its own Action.
Insofar as Dasein has built up a representation of its physical manifestation, its body, as an Entity within itself it may Anticipate what this Entity may do, given the physicality it and the World possess. In simple terms, Anticipation of the Self provides a possibility for movement, for Action, and this is the ultimate source of Action, of "will", that is presented to the primary motor cortex. Accordingly, some parts of the motor cortex and the entire cerebellum are dedicated to translating this abstracted Entity-Potentiality into representative skeletal muscle contraction.
There is a lot more cortex within the frontal lobe, however, and, excluding Broca's area, there are two more functions at work.
Derivative Potentiality Interpretation: "Consideration"
Just as with the information arriving from the senses, to gain a representation of higher order Potentialities one need only to iteratively Interpret the data at hand. Projecting forwards from the motor cortical regions, into the dorsolateral prefrontal cortical regions, is a derivative Potentiality Interpretation stream. With each successive Interpretation, what is produced is a higher order Potentiality representative of the "knock-on" effects of a Potential action. This is the human brain's ability to think beyond the obvious, think beyond the initial Potentiality that most beasts are stuck with. It enables the consideration of the consequences of one's Potential Actions.
The full mechanism by which this works, in terms of Entity Subject and Object, is covered in more detail as it relates to the emergence of Self-awareness and Self-perception in the relevant section.
Finally, to understand how these derivative come to affect the originals, the last function is needed to explain.
Thus far, having received many Potentialities-for-Being from the sensory half, and appended to these with derivative Anticipations, were Dasein to attempt to Act upon all of them the instance would be paralysed by manic, contradictory movement. The final step in the pathway from Potentiality-of-Being of the Self to Action is a permissive Interpretation that judges Potentialities as either "good" or "bad".
Given any selection of Potentialities, Dasein must Select some for Action, and deny others; necessarily a value judgement must be made, but there is no provision for such a notion within the relative ontology it has created. The World, in definition by Dasein, is neither good nor bad. This is where the subcortical structures, the physical body of Dasein and evolutionary hard-wiring come into play. For the corporeal manifestation of Dasein on Earth, water is vital; its daily presence is good, its absence is bad. Likewise, food, shelter, warmth and sex are all good, their converse is bad.
Hence, only from the physical manifestation of Dasein, or external, imposed tutelage, can "good" and "bad" be defined. The cortex receives signals from the body, representative of thirst or hunger or cold, and Interpreting, identifying, them with certain Entities of the World, and therefore certain Potentialities of the Self, the good can be sought out and the bad avoided. Potentialities that lead to perceived good are forwarded to the primary motor cortex, those that lead to perceived bad are not. This Selection Interpretation occurs at the pre-motor cortex and supplementary motor area.
This Selection Interpretation seems to be inherently bound to the derivative Potentiality Interpretation within the human brain. When considering a Potentiality of one's own Action, the instance is always aware on some level of whether such Action is good or bad, which would not be the case should the Selection Interpretation be performed only en route to the primary motor cortex: Thus good and bad are functionally embedded within the more complex Interpretations of the brain.
These processes are all involved in the phenomenon of attention control, where frontal cortical Interpretations are effectively a "fifth limb" and under some degree of explicit control, covered in this section, later on.
Created 21st October 2008
Revised 12th April 2009
Theory Introduction >