Biology / An elementary 5-dimensional model applied in different sciences

Ethology - Behavior patterns of animals

Some notes to Konrad Lorenz’s book "On Aggression"

1. Aggression, the main theme of the book, is by Lorenz regarded as one of four fundamental drives. This view may however be questioned.
    Basically, aggression is here proposed to have its root in the division of life on single individuals, in the "principle of individualization" – and to arise from the conflict between the primary binding entirety force within one individual and the same force between individuals of narrower or wider range, ultimately with a common origin.
   More about aggression below.

2. The concept "instincts" has been replaced by the word ground plans. Lorenz uses the term "drive". He describes behavior patterns of mostly birds and fishes as less or more ritualized motor patterns and in terms of directions, which are interpreted in terms of affects. It invites a comparison with the pure geometrical views in the dimension model.
   With the hypothesis here that such an elementary structure of rules is a factor underlying the processes of mutations and ’natural selection’, the primary dimensional aspects and forces from inorganic levels can be seen as more and more "charged" with mental meaning and "motives" on superposed levels of life.

3. The eye and cortex
of the brain analyze visual impressions into simple geometrical elements and direction of motions and combine these elements to complex pictures in the sensory system:

   Fig Eth-1

There are for instance cells sensible for direction of linear structures, others sensible for round forms, others for curves, convex or concave, others for straight lines in different angles, others for motions of geometrical elements in certain directions. (Cf. in the model: direction outwards/inwards, radial/circular structure, concave/convex, lines, motions.)
   Hence, inherited characters in behavior patterns can be suspected as a correspondence in the motor circuits of the nervous system – with motions as structural elements.

Nest building at reproduction:
Nest building appears as the most typical center – anticenter structure, a polarization of the whole, dimension degree (d-degree) 5, in poles 0 and 00 in our model – either it concerns a cavity in the sea bottom, a cave or hole or a bird’s nest.
   The offspring is the center pole as embryos in relation to the adult and to the nest or hole, a picture of anticenter in the dimension of space. The parents get the role of primary complementary counterpart and anticenter to the offspring: protecting, brooding. Cf. mouthbreeders among fishes or the bear mother bent around sucking cubs.

   Fig Eth-2-201-1

When feeding the offspring (of birds or mammals) the outer geometry between the individuals is inward, convergent direction of parents towards the center in the young and the outward, divergent direction of the youngsters’ open mouth gaps:

   Fig Eth-3-201-2

Within each individual as a whole the directions are reversed: outwards from the feeding parent, inwards the mouth of eating youngsters. However, only at identification. This could be translated to parents feeding themselves, their inner emptiness after the birth of the offspring.
   When there is no identification, the youngsters can be pecked to death, other mothers eat them up. The inward direction of the parent takes the form of aggression.; "that something" in the parent’s nest seems perceived as if it had stolen the parent’s own center, its real source for a self.
   Identification could be described as passing through the underlying level as binding force according to postulated definitions in the dimension model. For birds it’s the youngsters’ chirps that activate this communication canal, but Lorenz describes the chirps as signals for inhibition of aggression.

   Fig Eth-4-201-3

5. Territories:
The surrounding are of course the opposite, complementary pole for each living organism, its anticenter on the most underlying level. For animals that uphold territories, these means preserves, a "pantry" – in this sense a parallel for instance to the yolk in a bird’s egg.
   Many species of fishes have the need for a territory only during the reproduction period, a demarcation as of an invisible cell membrane.
   The bigger entity: individual – own environment in uphold of a preserve could be said to have a similarity too on the microscopic level of fertilization with the completion of a haploid sex cell to a diploid, self-sufficient one. (Cf. certain insects where the females eat up their male mates!)

Anticenters = 00-poles debranched and meeting "the other way around" on superposed levels:

Fig Eth-5-202-1

Border between territories as a kind of "circular" structure becomes defined by the relation between opposite forces as two-way directed vector fields around the individuals: in Lorenz’ terminology where the "aggression" outwards turns to "flight" inwards; center = c, anticenter = ac:

      Fig Eth-6-202-2

6. Herd animals versus territory upholding animals:
A first opposition is of course the one between plant-eaters and predatory species. It’s a question of levels of nourishment: plants → ← grass-eaters → ← predators.
   From the viewpoint of nourishment from the environment, predators represent of course as subjects the 0-pole, while the grass-eater victims is only surrounding pantry, as such representing the 00-pole, a plenty – like grass for grass eaters.
   From the viewpoint of individuals and dependence, it’s the reverse: predators represent the superposed level and in that sense a class of lower d-degree, anticenter in relation to those who can live on more fundamental food.
   Spatially it can be seen reflected in the way predators as lions for instance hide at the border of a field with grass-eating herds. Or in the way a group of sharks surround and crowd together a shoal of fishes.

Hunting for food is not by ethologists regarded as aggression, even if implying cruel murder. Hunger is an inward directed component of "self-preservation", similar to certain forms of aggression, but is obviously a more elementary force and a relation between subject and object, not two subjects.
   One aspect is perhaps that during hunting the predator and its fleeing target animal have principally the same direction in outer motion, while "aggression" may be said to imply different kinds of counterdirections.

Fig Eth-7-206

There exists a differentiation too among species with similar nourishment as the one between shoaling fishes and solitary poster-colored fishes. This opposition is in the book explained only in teleological terms, as adaptation to different purposes: uphold of territories should favor spread of the species, while shoals give less risk to be the selected victim.
   Yet, regarding the roots and causes for the differentiation, it seems necessary to count on 2 opposite forces, a binding, integrating force (from 0-pole in our model) that is dominating among shoal fishes, and a polarizing, splitting force (from 00-pole) as dominating among the solitary poster-colored fishes. Cf. among unicellular organisms those forming colonies and those more solitary ones.
   It should be said that Lorenz in other contexts stresses the need of both causal and final (~ teleological) explanations and that these don’t exclude one another.

7. "Aggression":
In point 1 above aggression as such was suggested as arising from the conflict between the entirety force (d-degree 5 in our model) in the individual as a unit and the same entirety force within a group or "the whole" in narrower or wider sense.     

       Fig Eth-08-a

      Fig Eth-08-b

In reality a straightforward conflict often very clearly reveals an urge for depolarization, e.g. in terms of (re-)establish equality, out of the binding force between individual units.

One factor is the need to get confirmed to use a term from modern psychology, from outside, from other subjects - since each individual is always only half of the world. It’s a need for the "I" to get confirmed from others to become saturated to a "self". Cf. children’s need to be seen and rivalry among them.
   Hence, aggression seems to include a need of confrontation, to meet: 0→ ← 0, the same outward directed force of the "I" in others answering their own.

A depolarization between individuals is only indirectly possible. The binding force between the individuals can only be expressed in more or less symbolic behaviors as paralleling (as chromosomes position themselves parallelly for crossover at fertilization), in exchange of food and other rituals.
    The urge for confrontation gets a character of aggression owing to this bar to depolarization, different kinds of "aggressions" are born out of this very conflict.

However, when the divergent force in subjects as saturated "selves" meet the same forces in others, the confrontation actualizes the opposite force repulsion - an anticenter (00) in terms of the dimension model. Position of the selves are at their surfaces, their outer border. Then their inward direction - a primary polarizing force - is brought up to the fore. It's one pole of the self-preservation "instinct", the entirety force within the individual or "we-group". The opponents have both directions outwards/inwards in themselves.
   It implies anti-identification, a pushing away and expelling (either it gets the character of fear or something else, depending on power): 0 ← 00 → 0.

   Fig Eth-9

Biologists often talk about a drive to spread the species, which may be only a name for the geometrically given divergent vectors in subjects as 0-poles seen as an expansive force.
   Cf. animal males’ fights in the time for reproduction, the inward directed force of males.

The demarcation of a "we-group" or of the individual "self", establishing borders as such, with exclusion of some others, may be interpreted as one strategy for solving the underlying conflict between the binding forces on different levels. A more or less conscious limitation of the own world. (For an individual self, this stress of a demarcating border implies anchoring the foothold of his identity at his surface.)
   One expression is of course defense of territories, borders as equivalent with "skin".

8.. "Inhibition":
Lorenz describes the two forces outwards/inwards in our model as aggression and flight and that the "conflict" between these opposite forces leads to behavior patterns seen as inhibition of aggression: the frontal attack restrained by resistance to hurt a ’kin male’ of the same species. Thus halfway between an antiparallel and a parallel relation.

What he describes in terms of "aggression", "inhibition" and "redirection" with the emphasis on directions may as well be read in terms of relations between outward and inward directions as forces and their appearance as derived forces in different angle steps of lower d-degrees, this using aspects from the dimension model.

The author stresses that this inhibition and reorientation of aggression are equally active forces as the aggression itself. Yet, he regards them as a new "independent" force, an independence it has not in our model.
   It may in this model be described as a step from the antiparallel angle in d-degree 4 to the perpendicular one of d-degree 3, a purely dimensional geometry underlying this motor patterns.

Broadside display of males to impress on the "rival" is one typical example:
- 4th d-degree: Antiparallel confrontation in males’ duels for instance.
- 3rd d-degree: Broadside display, impressing: body at straight angle to the confrontation axis and the adversary. In our model it’s the assumed angle of "90o" in d-degree 3, (according to Lorenz it’s "possibly" half a turn away from the antagonist, motivated by a reaction to flee.)


Fig Eth-10-203-1

(Sketches to the right in this figure a try to illustrate further steps: "reorientation" and paralleling in positions, see below.)

Already in males’ antiparallel, frontal threatening positions as at dueling, in their demonstration of strength, a potential perpendicular axis is marked.
   In mouthbreeders for instance the frontal attack is braked at the same time as they increase their cross-section and covers of gills and other flaps of skin are spread out.
   Males of fallow deer in frontal meeting wave their heads laterally.


Fig Eth-11-203-2

In the broadside exhibition the whole body position has been turned to perpendicular. It’s a demonstration of size but could also illustrate an excluding wall, a border.

The lateral coordinate axis in these "inhibiting" relations corresponds obviously with the same development of inhibiting networks in the nervous system, through lateral connections via intermediate nerve cells.
   The motor cortex of the human brain is said to fill mostly inhibiting functions, while deeper centers send the primary motor signals. It shows on the factor of inward direction in inhibiting behaviors - departing from anticenter – as cortex in relation to the deeper centers.

9. "Redirection":
This redirected behavior appears when there already is some kind of bond between two individuals, as between mates. Compare the sexual complementarity out of a polarization from an underlying unity.
   One example: At threat, a male in a species of Cichlids swims first straight on towards the antagonist and turns then to broadside display.
   When the fish instead swims "expressly" past the other individual, a mate, and shows the broadside-impressing behavior, it symbolizes that the partner is not the target for attack but somebody else in the fish’s movement direction. Inhibition of aggression has gone one step further – possible to interpret as in a new angle, closer to what here is called paralleling as a certain degree of identification.

   Fig Eth-12-204

This reorientation behavior has later got the role of what is called a ceremonial greeting.

10. Paralleling– Personal bonds:
Personal bonds are only found among species of bony fishes, birds and mammals. Hence, it appears as a step in faculties following with the evolution of new classes within subphylum Vertebrates.
   In the examples that Lorenz gives on behaviors where personal bonds between individuals or within a group have been developed, both factors of confrontation direction to a center, → 0 ← and directions outwards, ← 00 →, appear, possible to interpret as two-way direction as of d-degree 4 in our model: <=========>. Yet divided a) in different moments, b) different parts of the bodies. It results in a partial paralleling of motions, in triumph ceremonies but also in common threats towards some more or less specified excluded "others".

In the confrontation (meeting) moment, → 0 ←, wild ducks the male turns his head backwards from his mate the more he gets sexually excited, that is to say parallel to her direction of movement.
   In what is called "ritualized inciting" the female meets the mate frontally but the head is turned threatening backwards over the shoulder towards the "enemies" as showing the mate which others to attack, i.e. in the same direction as that of the mate.

We have in these examples the opposition between body and head. The opposite directions "inwards" of the mates’ bodies could be said to express the complementary, sexual polarity, while the heads backwards as "outwards" from this center expresses an identification, a common center.

The two-way direction of personal bonds is further polarized in different moments In the confrontation which define a common center, ? 0 ?, the behavior becomes transformed to a greeting ceremony but only before or after moments of anti-identification with others, a "reoriented" aggression of threatening in Lorenz's description.

In the geese’s triumph ceremonies the necks are normally stretched upwards, i.e. parallelly, after a threat directed outwards another individual or only out in the air (as outward direction, divergence, pole 4b in the dimension model).

      Fig Eth-13

Or the whole flock of geese threatens another group with necks parallelly stretched out. The shared direction marks that the individuals have a kind of common center, a sense of common origin; the behavior seen as a geometrical design of identification.
   In these different moments of behavior we can find a d-degree step 4 - 3, between principally vertical and horizontal directions, between antiparallelity and the polarity circular - radial of d-degree 3. Cf. that the necks of a flock of geese when threatening is described as convergent, convergence from inward direction.

This paralleling of social behavior reveals the integrating force within the individual widened to the whole group, less or more extended in definition and demarcation of what is "the group". A stepwise deeper, more including "We" appears as expression for the underlying binding forces.

The observations that paralleling as marking a common center always seems to demand the activation of an anticenter agrees with the abstract principles of a dimension chain. It could be interpreted as just the divergent urge to confrontation as such, (for virtual new centers).

11. Submissive behaviors - Ranking orders:
Submissive behavior get the function of inhibiting aggression between two adversaries in Lorenz's description. The similar behavior appear as establishing ranking orders in groups.

Submissive, appeasing behavior can according to Lorenz be derived from the "infantile" behaviors of youngsters versus adults but appear also in the mating behavior of females.
   According to him the behavior in its actual form has "nothing to do" with childishness or sexuality. Yet, the complementarity between sexes takes during evolution the outer structural form of inward direction from males (from anticenter, the 00-pole) and the outward direction of females (from center, the 0-pole).

All submissive behaviors imply that the individual turns its weapons away as Lorenz describes them.
   Gull birds turn the vulnerable back of their heads towards the other gull, other animals turn the back parts of their bodies, other their ventral side upwards or just taking a lowered and contracted position. All these different ways to deny confrontation can be interpreted as showing the attitude of a lower, deeper 0-pole in relation to the other individual, thus confirming the other's might.
   We could remember the very first poles of an embryo, the vegetative 0-pole in relation to the animal 00-pole, the ventral side invaginating to inside layers (inducing the neural tube) and in a later step turned to the back part of the body.

Submissive behavior between two individuals and ranking order within a group are both to other strategies (besides demarcation/exclusion) for solving the fundamental conflict between binding forces. They rely on the polarization of 5-dimensional units into complementary poles: a division in opposite but complementary roles, expressed in terms of the dimension model. In this sense it implies a derivation to lower d-degrees of the individuals.

Cf. submissive attitudes with the b-poles from 0-pole in relation to a-poles: outward direction versus inwards, radial structure versus circular, inside or concave versus outside or convex surface, motions from each other versus to each other.

In a ranking system the individuals get mutually opposite roles, "haploid" ones with a biological term, which means roles as halves of their selves. This refers to each special situation and confrontation. The role can of course change towards different other individuals depending on rank.
   Upward – downward directions are marked quite physically as described above, upward direction in submissive behavior, lowered position, turning of the ventral side upwards and such things. While the individual with higher rank takes up the superior position and is turned downwards.
   When the group is threatened, the youngsters representing the 0-pole are gathered inside, in the center, the strongest females or males anticentric around them (as the 00-pole), forming a ring, a periphery as a wall (a surface).

Aggression is said to increase with higher age and rank. One aspect in this is that upward direction corresponds to divergence and therefore at bottom derives from a common center, which represent kinship and affinity. While downward – inward direction from the periphery implies vectors with separate origins and represent the totalitarian (gathering) force, opposite the integrating one.
   The highest in rank gets the role ("liability") of the inward directed component in self-preservation of the group.

A ranking order implies naturally reduction of both parts in the confrontation, of outer or inner sphere of the "selves". A separation however gets inevitably more severe for the upper, dominating part. Cf. Exogastrulation (file Embryology, No. 4.)


(The level of Biology is followed by the level of Psychology.
The authors book "The I and the Ego, Psychogeometry" may be mentioned here, however so far only available in Swedish.)


© Åsa Wohlin
Free to distribute if the source is mentioned.
Texts are mostly extractions from a booklet series, made publicly available in year 2000

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