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Metaphors of the Mind

Uploaded by palma on Oct 12, 2000

Sam Vaknin's Psychology, Philosophy, Economics and Foreign Affairs Web Sites


The brain (and, by implication, the Mind) has been compared to the latest technological innovation in every generation. The computer metaphor is now in vogue. Computer hardware metaphors were replaced by software metaphors and, lately, by (neuronal) network metaphors. Such attempts to understand by comparison are common in every field of human knowledge. Architects and mathematicians have lately come up with the structural concept of "tensegrity" to explain the phenomenon of life. The tendency of humans to see patterns and structures everywhere (even where there are none) is well documented and probably has its survival value added.

Another trend is to discount these metaphors as erroneous, irrelevant, or deceptively misleading. Yet, these metaphors are generated by the same Mind that is to be described by them. The entities or processes to which the brain is compared are also "brain-children", the results of "brain-storming", conceived by "minds". What is a computer, a software application, a communications network if not a (material) representation of cerebral events?

In other words, a necessary and sufficient connection must exist between ANYTHING created by humans and the minds of humans. Even a gas pump must have a "mind-correlate". It is also conceivable that representations of the "non-human" parts of the Universe exist in our minds, whether a-priori (not deriving from experience) or a-posteriori (dependent upon experience). This "correlation", "emulation", "simulation", "representation" (in short : close connection) between the "excretions", "output", "spin-offs", "products" of the human mind and the human mind itself - is a key to understanding it.

This claim is an instance of a much broader category of claims: that we can learn about the artist by his art, about a creator by his creation, and generally: about the origin by any of its derivatives, inheritors, successors, products and similes.

This general contention is especially strong when the origin and the product share the same nature. If the origin is human (father) and the product is human (child) - there is an enormous amount of data to be safely and certainly derived from the product and these data will surely apply to the origin. The closer the origin and the product - the more we can learn about the origin. The computer is a "thinking machine" (however limited, simulated, recursive and mechanical). Similarly, the brain is a "thinking machine" (admittedly much more agile, versatile, non-linear,...

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Uploaded by:   palma

Date:   10/12/2000

Category:   The Human Brain

Length:   8 pages (1,786 words)

Views:   1849

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