Re: Introspection and Explanation

From: Dunsdon, Graham (
Date: Tue Feb 11 1997 - 09:36:25 GMT

Alex, my reply to your intriguing comments follows, without the benefit
of having seen Stevan's reply. As I am a first year student too, I was
not surprised to see that you are thinking about what we are asked to
consider as the philosophy of the mind. I have been struck with the
thought that the mind represents that of which we are consciously aware
+ a genetically inspired and common framework within which we
comprehend data (as a member of the human species). This leaves open
the question of the existence in time and space of the unknown and
unknowing - which some say is accessible by emptying the mind of all
knowledge and contemplating that greater 'darkness' - which may be
accessible to humans in times of genius or other great moments. (more
philosophy than psychology I appreciate.)

However, to the extent of my current understanding of cognitive science
it is BECAUSE of the inability of the human mind (or our use of it) to
present to our consciousness a comprehensive and global systems
specification that represents all that constitutes the mind (whatever
that is) that cognitive scientists posit theories in terms of logical
models which can then be used to improve those theories based upon the
knowledge and insights gained as a result. It is, as I see it, an
attempt to penetrate the currently only partially penetrable whole - a
modular(?) approach to some of the problems implicit in your question
of what is the philosophy of the mind. I see no limitations imposed by
cognitive scientists other than what they may achieve with mind as
machine + their observations and reflections as human beings: seeking
to penetrate the 'barriers' of knowing what we do not know in this

As to the integration of mind, brain etc, surely cognitive science is
not saying it refutes a monistic approach, but rather that it considers
it may have found a way into the mind that complements (say)
introspection - which I view (introspectively!) as one and the same

Alex, I await with expectant interest the comments from others in our
PY104 group - my reply is NOT meant to be definitive or all embracing
(how could it be); it is just another person saying what is in their
consciousness as a result of Stevan's lecture + the Green book + my
stored (limited)understanding of the issues that you raise. Where do we
differ and where do we have similar thoughts and feelings?

Dunsdon, Graham.

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