Punishment and Reward in Limited Awareness

In classical (Pavlovian) and operant (Skinner) conditioning, a subject learns to behave in a certain way through a system of punishments and rewards. In nature, an individual interacts with their environment in this way and learns how to adapt.

I must assume I can create wholeness within limitations. That’s to believe that if I do, have, and/or be enough limitation, I’ll achieve wholeness. That’s a world of hope. And a paradox!

I feel motivated to seek for and to validate more separateness. In the mastery of separateness I might then be initiated into the experience of wholeness. My service to my intention meant I could get a sense of wholeness as a reward.

Options

My only options in this dimension of separateness are how to defend it. Yet, I must seek separation to find wholeness by comparing them. Since I cannot attain the unattainable – I’ll settle for a substitute – an illusion of wholeness.

What if all that – environment, systems, and conditioning – is within me. As the perceiver of my universe, I might act/react as conditioner of my own behaviors. I may be more in charge of my world of limited awareness than I once thought!

I wonder if I develop much of my definition of wholeness by trial and error. Another way to learn is by observation, which allows for choice by association.

Trial and error development sounds a lot like conditioning. Freud observed that we tend to seek pleasure and avoid or escape pain. That’s a perfect setup for conditioning by punishment and reward in a system of learning by trial and error.

When I behave in compliance with my conditioning, I feel good – I get a dopamine blast as a reward, I feel whole. Conversely, I suffer a punishment for misbehaviors and feel separate.

Who applies that punishment or reward? Nature? My society? What if it is my own intention?

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