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Is the reason we have few memories before the age of three because we have not had adequate instruction on perceiving the world?

My very first memories seem to come out of a fog and last less then a minute. They seem clear enough but i don't know what happened right before of after. Why?

Also, at first glance they seem to be painful but upon closer inspection before the pain was great happiness or awe. Is dualilty forced on ourselves by ourselves?

Are the teachers of perception really just our own inventions showing us how to experience life?

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    Aug 24 2012: I am still mad at that doctor for slapping me .... what a memory. No. Honestly, I am not qualified but do wish to make a guess. I think that at early ages we are basically in survival mode. We feel pain we cry. We need attention (food, body functions) we cry. We feel safe, happy, secure, we giggle, laugh, smile.

    The body is very busy preparing us for the next steps like growing knees, a plate in the head, developing sight other than fuzzy images, and so forth. There is nothing to make memories yet. If its bad cry ... if it is good smile and giggle. That to me is pure response at the most basic level ... survival much as any animal does.

    By the time we can walk most of the body is in place and then it shifts to a sensory response system. We can start to associate what is causing the pain or the joy and thus developing a recall (memory) or association of do this hurt ... do this feel good ... do this cry and get a change.

    We spend the first years of their lives teaching them to walk and talk ... and the next 15 to 20 telling them to shut up and sit down.

    I am going to invent a puppy that stays at the cute stage forever .... would it work on kids too ..... hummmmm

    All the best.

    • Aug 25 2012: Bob, I don't think anyone is an qualified for stuff like this. What you say makes perfect sense but what if when we are learning the associations we get some of them wrong? What we think should bring us joy really ends up bringing us sorrow but sense it was learner at such an early age we don't realize it.

      If kids stayed in the cute stage we would have no reason to kick them out of the house and our species would die out real fast. Hormones where meant as a trigger to detach ourselves from our kids, but now we keep them around for a few more years to drive us crazy. Hmm, I wonder if this is one of those misassociations...
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        Aug 25 2012: It occurs now. When the learning associations get all mixed up birth has been given to another politician.

        Thanks for the reply. Bob
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    Aug 24 2012: All our experiences, good or bad are perceived in a context, compared to another experience. We don't know what hot is if we don't know feel room temperature, we don't know light if we don't know dark. Maybe the first years of our lives are a period for setting grounds, and establishing our equilibrium. After we know where we stand, we can star experiencing other feelings and situations that are not so "usual", that put us out of balance, and being put out of balance is what we remember.
    It's like perceptive adaptation. You are not constantly aware of the clothes you're wearing, but if something falls on you, you will feel and perceive the change on your skin. Maybe it's how the mind works too.
    • Aug 25 2012: So you are saying our first memories only stand out in our mind because they were something different from the routine experience we were living. This is interesting and makes a lot of sense because a baby's life is very routine. Then when something new and very different happens we form a memory. Then perceiving in context we would compare that first memory to the next and so on until our worldveiw is set.

      Maybe that is why those of us that struggle with life have such a hard time, our brains are hardwired from our first perceptions.
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        Aug 25 2012: Exactly! I strongly believe our first moments on Earth are crucial for our entire life.
  • Aug 23 2012: Brad,
    Very interesting topic...

    Thinking is in full march from the moment you are born. But its working hard trying to piece everything together. Imagine yourself back to this time. No words for anything, just pure observation.. pure perception. without any conceptual thinking. This is an extremely hard thing to do. To observe the world as an adult without conceptual thinking.
    This is actually an esoteric experience that is even spoken of by Jesus when he says "To come into the kingdom of heaven you must become as little children" There is great mystery in this.

    Along the same lines. While your thinking is fully engaged in the act of perceiving the world. Steadily building more and more concepts. ... piecing together "reality" ... As you as a little 2.5 - 3 year old ... one day a light is turned on within you. This light is the discovery of the fact that you too are an "I" This discovery is revealed in the fact that the child from one moment to the next refers to him / herself as "I will do this or that" instead of the child saying " Bobby will have this or that" The child discovers that he / she is an individual among other individuals. This has a connection with your question of why memory begins at around the age of 3 years. This can vary to some degree but generally speaking, most people remember as far back as 3 years or so and not more.

    The birth of the "I" is this remarkable change within the child's consciousness. ... "I" am I ... and no other person on this entire planet can make that claim. The Christ also said "I am" the I am .....
    • Aug 24 2012: Surely the capacity to think is there some time before we are born. Or do you think it is tried to our other senses such as sight and having to breath on our own? How can a sperm and an egg, two non-thinking and unaware things, come together and make a being who can question his own existance?
      • Aug 24 2012: Hi Brad,

        There are a lot of other "forces" "beings" "higher powers" doing some thinking too. Preparing the way. Making things on the physical plane happen according to a universal will. It gets pretty esoteric from this point. TED is perhaps not the right forum...
        • Aug 25 2012: I thought this would tie into some of those videos on here about perception and illusion. Seems they hint at this sort of stuff but never really talk about it.
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    Gail .

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    Aug 23 2012: I personally think that they were terrorized out of us. I have MANY vivid memories of lying in my crib, eating in my high chair, learning to walk, to run, being taken for rides in the baby carriage. But I know the terrors that brought something beautiful to an end.

    I was 4 when my grandfather died. It was only then that I realized that my worldview was incompatible with those around me (though I didn't know words like incompatible yet even if I knew that the concept was present). I found my older sister crying and asked her why. "Because Grandpa's dead!!!" she exclaimed, as if it was stupid to not be crying because he was dead. I told her that yes, he's dead, but he's not really DEAD dead. I mean you can't see him any more but you can be with him any time you want. He's not DEAD dead. She screamed at me to go away.

    I went to my father and asked why he was home from work. He said that his father had died. I told him that Grandpa might be dead, but he's not DEAD dead. I was carried to my bed and told it was time to take a nap. Three months later I was enrolled in Sunday School.

    Until that point, I knew my place in the universe. I was always part of a greater me, that I freely communicated with. But in Sunday School, I learned that I must "pray" to God to be heard, and that god had a son that he had killed to save me from being punished for my sins - sins that I didn't even know I had.

    The following week, I told Mrs. L about what god really is. I was told that I was talking to the devil and must stop right away.

    At the same time, I started kindergarten. The first day we were to stand (with our mommies present) and watch them say the pledge of allegiance. I was horrified. My greater me was telliing me not to. It was insistent.

    But I was told that I MUST stop being a baby and I MUST learn it - and I knew that I would be punished if I didn't.

    the better parts of us are terrified out of us & our survival rests on this in young minds.
    • Aug 24 2012: I only have one clear memory from before i was 3 or so and have never felt i was part of sonething bigger then myself. Nor has religon ever had an impact on me. I have always felt when i die i will be gone and thats that. But that doesnt make any sense either because life had to start somewhere and spawning randomly just dont really cut it. I watched a show where Stephen Hawkins said he thought odds were to great for life to have started on earth and he thought it started else where and was brought here by comets. Why would that make the odds any lower?

      I totally agree with having to conform to what society wants us to be, this is one reason I am not a fan of preschool, at the peril of my head start teaching wife. Weird to not have a memory when you where not in school. I think it is like advertising, the younger they hook you the better.