For mentalsymmetry
  • cisadmin April 2012
    Transferred from the introduction category:

    1) I checked through the research of all the profs in philosophy of mind at UBC. Nothing in common with what I am doing. 

    2) From what I understand, I'm an not sure that continental philosophy would be any better. (Though I am willing to be corrected.) The problem 
    is that my topic is philosophy but my method is not. In other words, I  am looking at philosophy in order to find clues about how the mind 
    functions. For instance, when Kant  says that the mind imposes a 
    structure of space and time upon events, then I interpret that in terms 
    of cognitive modules: There is a cognitive module that does spatial 
    processing and a cognitive module that does sequential processing.

    3) My knowledge of neurology is quite good (better than my philosophy). I
    went through 200 books and a few thousand papers in order to learn 
    neurology back in the 80s and I have been keeping up reasonably well 
    with the imaging stuff. Here is a summary I put together about a year ago. And, yes, I do know the main differences between human, monkey, and rat brains. 

    4) As for my methodology, I discuss that in the introduction to my book,
    including the matter of extrapolating from neurology. You can read that
    for free by just clicking on the cover of the book at Amazon.com. And, 
    please don't tell me that what I have done is impossible without looking
    at what I have done. 


  • SimonSimon April 2012
    Hi again mentalsymmetry,

    Generally when advancing a new theory academics either publish a book with a well known academic publisher (CUP or OUP are two examples) or if they cannot do this they tend to publish a stream of papers that develop their theory piece by piece. If you have had problems finding a publisher I would definitely consider breaking your theory down into components that you could get published in peer reviewed journals such as S&CB. I will however caution that if you do not hold a faculty position at a university you will have to work quite hard to get a paper to the expected standard (or find an academic to collaborate with). Mind you getting a faculty position is not an insurmountable obstacle. For instance Mary Midgley didn't publish her first book until she was 59 and other famous philosophers (Wittgenstein and Nietzsche as examples) had rather interesting career trajectories!

    If you are really serious about making a mark in a subject it's probably important that you knuckle down and get at least a masters from a known university. For instance I am a biochemist but am keen to have a voice in the philosophy/ethics arena so have spent the last eight years studying part-time for first a degree in philosophy and now a masters in research ethics. It's a pain to do but is necessary to gain a platform! In your area perhaps a good course to start with is the following third year module from the OU. I did it a couple of years ago and found it brilliant:

  • GavinM April 2012
    Hi again Mentalsymmetry,

    I meant no offence nor to imply what you have done is "impossible" - I was simply giving comment (and as I pointed out myself without having ready your book) from my own experience of doing neuroscience.

    Thanks for the link to your summary. I am interested in your first diagram. Can you give me some definitions for the terms you have overlaid on the brain (server, teacher, perceiver, mercy). And am I right in assuming that these are localised in reality over the areas you have placed the words or is it just a figurative diagram?

    The point I was trying to make about the animals is not so much looking at the differences but the similarities. If you present a theory that assigns specific personality traits and higher thoughts to regions and structures in the brain your theory should also take into account to what degree they will assist in other similar brains. And also how they exist in brains that exhibit similar kinds of behaviours but have radically different underlying architectures (invertebrate brains).

    You also appear to be underplaying the cognitive abilities of animals as
    well. A number of vertebrates have are also been shown to be capable of
    creating their own internal worlds and placing themselves within them
    in the same manner as humans do, most notably through self-recognition
    in mirror tests.

    I would again second Simon and see if you can
    break down your work into parts and get it reviewed and published
    somewhere. You have clearly put work and thought into it so it'd be
    worth the effort.
  • Thanks for checking out the neurology link. Those are the labels which I give to the seven cognitive modules. Actually, those seven labels are the one part of the model which came from someone else. Back in the 1970s, the concept of 'motivational insights' from Romans 12 was popular, and that is where those labels originally come from. (You mean the Bible actually says something? Apparently yes.)

    There is a clickable version of the main diagram at http://www.mentalsymmetry.com. If you click on the terms, then they are all defined, and if you click further you can see the inherent symmetry between these lists of traits. The beginning of the book also contains a glossary of terms which includes those labels.

    Now to the neurology. As far as I can tell, my model is consistent with neurology, but there are some fundamental things which I have looked for in the literature for years but have not found.

    1) Individual brain differences based upon cognitive style. The research began by looking at cognitive styles. But, I then noticed that the fundamental traits of each cognitive style correspond to the basic function of a brain region--hence the diagram that you refer to. But, everyone has the same physical brain. The only conclusion I could come to is that all cognitive styles have the same cognitive modules but each cognitive style is conscious in a different cognitive module, and this hypothesis has stood the test of time.

    However, this means that there should be minor brain differences between humans based upon cognitive style. The only thing I have found is that the massa intermedia is missing in some humans and the size of the anterior commissure varies substantially between individuals. I would love to tie this down.

    2) Left versus right amygdala. The idea of the amgydala as an emotional processor seems pretty clear. And, we know that the left hemisphere is 'verbal' while the right hemisphere is 'non-verbal'. The concept of verbal emotion versus experiential emotion is a very powerful one which I use to explain all sorts of stuff. I've found some recent papers comparing left and right amygdala which are consistent with my hypothesis, but nothing conclusive. Again, it would be great to nail that down.

    OK, animals. From what I have read, the biggest difference between human and monkey brain is the size of the frontal lobes. In other words, the frontal lobes contain the internal world of thought which makes a human able to construct and mentally live within an internal world. I don't think anyone in neurology would argue with that. Thus, a monkey would have the same seven cognitive modules but this processing would be limited to processing sensory input. (I remember reading one paper where thousands of examples of monkey speech were analyzed, and there was intelligence but not originality.)

    I'm not saying that animals cannot construct aspects of an internal world, but they do not seem to be able to construct an internal world that functions independently of the physical environment. Body image, I believe, is a parietal lobe function, which a monkey could to some extent form, but I don't see a monkey forming a Maslow-like self-actualized concept of self. (But, how many humans are self-actualized today? Consider, for instance, studies connecting lowered frontal lobe activity with ADHD.)

    Plus, animals seem to have cognitive tendencies but not cognitive styles. (Cognitive style appears to be an internal world related thing.)

    One of the main things I remember about rat brains is that the hippocampal formation forms a much larger fraction of the brain. Thus, a rat can learn but it does not form deep structures based upon this learning. Also, the basal ganglia is not as differentiated (if I remember correctly, there is only an entopeduncular nucleus). In the human, the basal ganglia appears to be responsible for the processing of two of the cognitive modules (Exhorter and Contributor) and the evidence for two interrelated mental strategies in the basal ganglia is now really good, though still a little confused (striosomes vs. matrix; Direct vs. indirect.). One sees this contrast clearly illustrated by the deficiency in Parkinson's disease.

    Thus, it appears that the rat brain would not be capable of mental processing such as optimization and  contingency planning, the type of second level planning which a subdivided basal ganglia appears to make possible.

    Invertebrates? Not a clue. I never read anything below the rat and I focused on papers that described the rhesus and the macaque.

    Finally, publishing a paper. Until now, my main goal has been to get my model sufficiently rigorous and refer to at least some of the stuff done by others. I have now finished the book and that provides a sufficient reference point. I think that the next step is to try to get something published. I've started working on something for the cognitive science of religion. However, this model touches so many areas that I'm still finding out new possible connections. For instance, I did not know about the Canadian emphasis on philosophy of mind. 
  • By the way, my kindle version of my book God, Theology & Cognitive Modules will be available as a free download from April 18-20.

    Also, I checked out the course outline for the course mentioned earlier from the Open University.

    Thought and experience: themes in the philosophy of mind

    The material looks very interesting, and I am sure that I would learn something. But, there must be a better way to interact with others than paying 2500 pounds to take an undergrad class when I already have developed a general theory which addresses most of the concepts and written a book on the subject. However, I will try to check out the books which are suggested for preliminary reading.