Spokes 5: The Echoes of the Mind  (Table of Contents) {Notes}

The mind is the means for comprehending the world. Despite exhaustive study throughout history and the benefit of everyone having one, this ethereal organ remains misunderstood.

Spokes 5 explains how the mind casts its persuasive shadow on what we think we are and all we do. Spokes 5 also explores human sociality, describing the building blocks upon which societies are constructed.

From the Introduction:

As an academic discipline, psychology lacks a widely accepted paradigm. Since antiquity, history is littered with various schools of thought about what makes us tick. The discordance continues to this day; awfully peculiar, considering that all the evidence is easily found between the ears.

There are two basic camps of psychology: philosophical and physiological. The rational, philosophic approach employs introspection to plumb the inner depths, taking into account observations and life experiences to discern how the mind works.

In contrast, the empirical approach eschews such rumination as woolly. It supposedly relies solely upon observation. Which is silly. While ostensibly limiting itself to behaviors, philosophy – the study of abstractions – must be applied to make any sense of what has been observed.

The mind, after all, works as a symbolic processor. Trying to understand the mind without reference to abstractions is like trying to apprehend electronics whilst studiously ignoring the flow of electrons.

From the chapter on Emotion:

Emotions express affliative identity. Cognized reaction to an object or situation bifurcates into identification or condemnation. This emotively translates into affinity or repulsion.

Emotions are an evolutionary mechanism for memory retention. A wide variety of animals have been observed exhibiting behaviors that have an emotive basis. It is likely that all organisms have emotions, or at least their analogue.

Human emotions are no different than other animals. Though entrained by different circumstances, they emanate from the same sources: ecological and social interactions.

Throughout life, sensory experience of the world comes with emotive labels attached. These labels provide the index by which memories are formed and learning performed. Biases and decisions are emotional experiences.

From the chapter on The Mind:

The mind is a restless beast, relentlessly seeking entertainment in the entrainment of sensation and thought.

While awake, for the ordinary person, the conscious mind constantly prattles away. Worry is its favorite pastime.

The mind's incessant activity is troubling for 95% of the population. Most people are discomforted in sitting idle, letting their own minds prey upon them.

From the chapter on Mentation:

The mind is the filtering gateway to phenomena construed from a pastiche of perceptions. The dream state shows that the mind fabricates of its own volition. Even in the waking state, what appears as existence is a fabulous multimedia display sewn from ongoing sensations into a consistent fabric.

From the section on Cooperation:

Humans are innately more selfish than selfless. Yet also within human nature are capacities for empathy and morality, which provide the springboard to cooperation.

In the context of altruism, empathy and ethics embrace an irony. While they form the basis for cooperation, they adaptively evolved to benefit the individual that practices them.

Spokes 5 explores the power of the mind. Spokes 6 plumbs the products of civilization and looks down the well from which they have been drawn.