Re: Is the Brain the Way?

From: HARNAD Stevan (
Date: Tue Feb 27 1996 - 16:46:48 GMT

> From: "Naden, Christopher" <>
> Date: Tue, 27 Feb 1996 13:15:09 +0000 (GMT)
> Many methods of studying the mind
> have validity, even (a step into controversy) introspection. I would
> argue that introspection has value in that through introspective study
> of one's own mind one might conceive hypotheses about the workings of
> the mind which while they could not be substantiated through
> introspection, might lead one to test them through other methods of
> study and might lead to a discovery which would not have been made
> without a chain of action starting with introspective study.

You're quite right on both points: There need'nt be a single way to
study the mind. There may be many; there may be one; there may be none.
That's one of the topics of this course, and we're just getting started.

You're also right about the possibility, in principle, that
introspection could reveal something about the way the mind works that
other ways of testing would prove to be correct. (I was bound to agree
on that one, as I said so explicitly in the last lecture!) However, it
seems to be a fact (until now, anyway), that although introspection
MIGHT have revealed something about the way the mind works that,
although introspection itself could not confirm that it was correct,
was confirmed by other means (e.g., computer modeling) to have been
correct. It MIGHT have; and it still MIGHT. But the fact is that, to
date, it HASN'T. That's why I keep on asking you how you remember
names, recognise objects, add 2 + 2... Introspection does not reveal

The last week of this course will be about "creative cognition":
where new ideas, intellectual discoveries, come from. You COULD say that
every idea that turns out to be true comes from introspection, i.e., you
think of it, then you say it and test it. But that's just as true for
ideas in physics, maths and biology: They all come from your mind. So
surely the explanation of how your mind works will come from your mind
too. The question is: Will you get those ideas by OBSERVING your mind?
For introspection is the observation of what's going on in your mind.
And until now, observing it has not yielded an explanation, just an

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Tue Feb 13 2001 - 16:23:38 GMT