Tuesday, 29 November 2011

How Universal Is The Mind?

If someone asked you to describe the psychological aspects of personhood, what would you say? Chances are, you'd describe things like thought, memory, problem-solving, reasoning, maybe emotion. In other words, you probably list the major headings of a cognitive psychology text-book. In cognitive psychology, we seem to take it for granted that these are, objectively, the primary components of "the mind" (even if you reject a mind/body dualism, you probably accept some notion that there are psychological processes similar to the ones listed above). I've posted previously about whether the distinction between cognitive and non-cognitive even makes sense. But, here, I want to think about the universality of the "mind" concept and its relationship to the modern view of cognition.

In fact, this conception of the mind is heavily influenced by a particular (Western) cultural background. Other cultures assign different characteristics and abilities to the psychological aspects of personhood. Wierzbicka (2005) delves into this problem in detail. She argues that speakers of a particular language make assumptions about what must be universal based on their own ability to imagine doing without a certain concept. Important cross-cultural differences in meaning become lost in translation. For instance, Piaget’s “The moral judgment of the child” was translated to English by substituting the French “juste” with the English “fair.” So, English readers think they are reading about the development of fairness in children, when this was not the author’s intention.

Translation is a deep problem, but it is often ignored in psychology. Generalisations about cognition must be made in some language, but, language is specific to particular cultures. Our choice of language, then, inevitably will bias how we talk about cognition across cultures.
“If we uncritically formulate some hypothetical universals in one particular natural language, for example, English, we run the risk of distorting them by imposing on them the perspective embedded in that particular language; and the same applies to our description of cultural differences” (Wierzbicka, 2005; p. 257).

So, back to the mind and our current view of cognition. Cross-linguistic research shows that, generally speaking, every culture has a folk model of a person consisting of visible and invisible (psychological)  aspects (Wierzbicka, 2005). While there is agreement that the visible part of the person refers to the body, there is considerable variation in how different cultures think about the invisible (psychological) part. In the West, and, specifically, in the English-speaking West, the psychological aspect of personhood is closely related to the concept of "the mind" and the modern view of cognition.But, how universal is this conception? How do speakers of other languages think about the psychological aspect of personhood?

In Korean, the concept "maum" replaces the concept "mind". "Maum" has no English counterpart, but is sometimes translated as "heart". Apparently, "maum" is the "seat of emotions, motivation, and "goodness" in a human being" (Wierzbicka, 2005; p. 271). Intellect and cognitive functions are captured by the Korean "meli" (head). But, "maum" is clearly the counterpart to "mind" in terms of the psychological part of the person. For example, there are tons of Korean books about "maum" and body in the same way that there are English texts on "mind" and body.

The Japanese have yet another concept for the invisible part of the person - "kokoro"."Kokoro" is a "seat of emotion, and also, a source of culturally valued attention to, and empathy with, other people" (Wierzbicka, 2005; p. 272). To illustrate the contrast between "kokoro" and "mind", Wierzbicka gives the following example: A Japanese television programme proclaims, "The 21st century should be the age of kokoro. Let's make a point of meeting with other people" (Hasada, 2000: 110). If an English speaker declared the 21st century to be "the age of the mind" then "meeting with other people" probably would not be a priority - thinking and knowing would be. In contrast to the Korean "maum", "kokoro" is not associated with will and motivation ("hara" meaning belly serves this purpose in Japanese). But, "hara" is not associated with the psychological component of the body, the way "kokoro" is. In other words, "maum" is all about motivation and "kokoro" is all about feelings and "mind" is all about thinking.

Interestingly, Russia, which kind of sits between East and West uses "dusa" as the counterpart to the psychological part of the person. "Dusa" is often translated as "soul", but also sometimes as "heart" or "mind." "Dusa" is associated with feelings, morality, and spirituality. The "dusa" is responsible for the ability to connect with other people. This meaning seems to lie somewhat more with the Eastern conception than with the highly cognitive concept of "mind."

In a larger sense, the fact that there seems to be a universal belief that people consist of visible and invisible aspects explains much of the appeal of cognitive psychology over behaviourism. Cognitive psychology allows us to invoke invisible, internal states as causes of behaviour, which fits nicely with the broad, cultural assumption that the mind causes us to act in certain ways.

To the extent that you agree that the modern conception of "cognition" is strongly related to the Western, English-speaking view of "the mind", it is worth asking what cognitive psychology would look like if it had developed in Japan or Russia. Would text-books have chapter headings on the ability to connect with other people (kokoro) or feelings or morality (dusa) instead of on decision-making and memory? This possibility highlights the potential arbitrariness of how we've carved up the psychological realm - what we take for objective reality is revealed to be shaped by culture and language.



Hasada, Rie (2000). An Exploratory Study of Expression of Emotions in Japanese: Towards a Semantic
Interpretation. Ph.D. thesis, Australian National University..

Wierzbicka, A. (2005). Empirical universals of language as a basis for the study of other human universals and as a tool for exploring cross-cultural differences. Ethos, 33(2), 256-291. 

39 comments:

  1. This is a great post Sabrina. For me, this is why social constructionist approaches need more of our 'attention' in both teaching and research.

    Jenna

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  2. Thanks Jenna. I agree that we could use a heavy dose of social constructivism in our training. In psychology, the idea usually comes up when discussing how children learn how to "do" gender, etc., but we really need to remember than the same processes influence how we pose questions and interpret data.

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  3. "what [might] cognitive psychology ... look like if it had developed in Japan"

    As usual. I'm out of my depths here, but I'll nonetheless speculate that it might look something like the writings of Donald Davidson for whom the interpersonal/intersubjective (kokoro?) is key as opposed to the writings of those influenced by Descartes' focus on the subjective. And we might have been spared the whole problematic concept of "mind" - at least in formal discourse.

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  4. This is an area which we have been studying in the field of history of psychology for some time. I would particularly recommend the work of Kurt Danziger, especially his 1997 work ' Naming the Mind'

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  5. What might psychology have looked like in Japan? I'm not sure. But Miki Takasuna wrote some fascinating discussion of how it got started in Japan (see first link below). Interestingly, because Japan was steeped in Buddhism, many words had to be invented to import western philosophy's problems, and then the public had to be lobbied to take those problems seriously. There was no indigenous vocabulary with which to discuss subjective vs. objective, for example.

    http://www.springerlink.com/content/m3t4quu56p48j088/

    There were a few comments published along with the article. One had speculation about how things might have gone differently if Japan had been influenced by the American philosophy/psychology scene, which had more in line with then-contemporary Japanese culture.

    http://www.springerlink.com/content/l149742h3641141x/

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  6. I'd forgotten about Danziger's book; I even have a copy somewhere!

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  7. It's worth remembering that almost none of the terms used in professional psychology track ordinary usage in English. Generally they take one minor analogical use and expand on it. For example, mind is not always talked about in ordinary usage as if it's a thing at all, let alone an insubstantial thing (see: "out of my mind", "of two minds", "lost my mind", "have it in mind", "can't make up my mind" - "mind" tends to only appear in these sorts of "figures of speech" and isn't actually terribly important to our psychological concepts). Memory is not ordinarily talked about as being storage. Emotions are far more complicated than the mere sensations they're taken to be by psychologists. Mental imagery is not taken literally. Etc. I'm skeptical that the visible/invisible distinction can even be found in English and isn't a projection from philosophy/psychology. Ordinary usage is far more subtle and varied than what you find in psychology.

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  8. This is an excellent post. In my unified approach (http://unifiedtheoryofpsychology.wordpress.com/), all conceptual knowledge systems (e.g., how people conceive of mind) are considered justification systems, which are socially constructed meaning making systems that legitimize and coordinate human action.

    We need this conception of our knowledge systems so we can step outside of the particular justification systems we have developed in and compare them to others.

    That said, of course, not all justification systems are legitimate. Whereas one culture may conceive of mental processes (e.g., feelings) as emanating from the heart, does not mean that they are accurate justification systems. So, while we need to step outside our systems and realize their contextual history, we also need to remember that any system might be erroneous.

    Gregg

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  9. @scientism, good point!

    I really like some of the new stuff coming out of plain language philosophy and folk philosophy. Daniel Hutto's stuff is razor sharp in pointing out that the standard use of mental terms (in English) does not provide any special support for cognitive psychology's interpretation of the mind. Additionally, he thinks standard use does provide a perfectly coherent system, but that is a very different discussion.

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  10. Skimming the few pages of Daniziger's book available at google books reminded me of scheme-content duality*. A google of (scheme-content, danziger, kant) yielded one hit, viz, "The Formation of Reason" by David Bakhurst (2011). It's oriented toward phil of education, but the first chapter (available online at address below) has a discussion of perspectives on mind per Wittgenstein, Davidson, and McDowell that might be of interest (and definitely is to me as I'm struggling with works by each of them at present).

    http://media.wiley.com/product_data/excerpt/95/14443390/1444339095-94.pdf

    *Apparently a Kantian idea that (roughly - my third hand understanding) one can view experience as a sensory stream that has to be broken up into meaningful pieces (content, or per Kant, intuitions) in accordance with a conceptual scheme for "cognitive processing". One example of a conceptual scheme is a language, an association of content (pieces of the experiential stream) with words. Different cultures -> different languages -> different schemes. (Although I think Davidson argues that in principle all must be mutually translatable one to another.)

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  11. scientism, yes, there is a divergence in meaning between terms in ordinary language and within psychology/philosophy. Actually, the Wierzbicka paper I cite is based on common language research and the visible/invisible distinction is found within language groups that have nothing like philosophy or psychology. This distinction runs deep. But, yes, as you point out, there are substantial mind metaphors in English. Wierzbicka's work, and the whole notion of a semantic primitive, requires only that there be a stable conception of the invisible part of the person found in all languages. Whether the word or words used to refer to this part also have additional meanings is tangential to the point (according to this literature).

    The post is more concerned with ordinary usage colouring scientific usage. Although our technical use of the word memory diverges from the common sense of the word, psychologists still primarily treat memory as a thing, rather than a process and I think this tendency is inherited from the fact that memory is noun. We do have a common word that treats memory as a process (remembering), but this is not used in psychology. In fact, the nominalisation of memory is so entrenched that psychologists prefer "recall memory" and "recognition memory" to the simpler terms "recalling" and "recognising".

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  12. psychologists still primarily treat memory as a thing, rather than a process [, a] tendency ... inherited from the fact that ["memory" is a] noun

    I don't see this. As I read Kandel's "In Search of Memory", a "memory" is a neural configuration, which is indeed "a thing" and thus appropriately the referent of a noun. Such a configuration presumably includes motor neurons, in which case it would seem that preferable terminology would be something like "stimulating" (or perhaps "activating" if one wants to think in terms of latent processes), whereas "recalling" (computer-ese) and "recognizing" (homunculus-ese) would seem especially misleading.

    My view of "mental" activity is built on this view being essentially accurate, so if it isn't I'd very much appreciate corrective inputs.

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  13. Well the complicating factor there is that neuroscience is thoroughly infected with cognitive psychology, so it has invested time in looking for the objects of cognition such as memory. So Kandel treating memory as a neural configuration is not independent of the cognitive assumption; if cognitive psychology was interesting in 'recalling' and not 'recall memory' his search may have looked very different.

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  14. In terms of memory, all we know for certain is that how we behave is clearly dependent on previous experiences. This includes the experience we have of thinking about something from the past. To explain this behaviour, cognitive psychologists invoked the unobservable construct of 'memory' (a behaviourist is more likely to invoke 'learning' and pin the explanation on observable phenomena).

    Saying that a memory is equal to a pattern of neural activation is problematic. Andrew cited that paper about lobster digestion that showed that the same functional outcome could be caused by hundreds of thousands of neural configurations. Modern neuroscience lacks the resolution to figure out how many neural configurations might underpin a conscious 'memory' in humans.

    Equating memory with a pattern of activation is also problematic because it doesn't explain how that activation is achieved. Presumably these patterns don't just spontaneously activate. For 'memory' to be of any use, these patterns of activation would have to be more likely in some situations than others. How does this come about? To answer this question requires a return to process - to remembering. How is it that things in the environment influence our brains in a way that selectively activate useful information from the past? How does this activation change over time and across contexts? These are questions of process. Plenty of research addresses such questions but it tends to crop up in the process oriented domain of 'learning' rather than the object oriented domain of 'memory'. The language influences the science. The point is that a static, object-based notion of memory is not in itself useful for explaining how past experiences influence current behaviour.

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  15. Sabrina -

    As I suspected, beyond slight differences in terminology, we're pretty well aligned. However, I do have a couple of quibbles.

    all we know for certain is that how we behave is clearly dependent on previous experiences

    This seems a bit misleading. I infer from Kandel's book is that there is actually a good bit known about the neurophysiological mechanisms of memory, at least at the intra- and inter-cellular level. Perhaps my referring to that as "neural configuration" was misleading. I gather from Andrew's comment that he assumed I was addressing a much higher level of configuration. At Kandel's level (and for his "subjects", which were decidedly non-cognitive), I don't see how confirmation-bias on the part of psychologists could figure in.

    the same functional outcome could be caused by hundreds of thousands of neural configurations

    I don't see why this poses a problem if one is merely speculating at a high architectural level where one has to take a black-box approach. Of course, you need to have some appreciation of how things work a level or two lower so that your input-output assumptions aren't totally unrealistic.

    I basically agree with everything in your last paragraph. Perhaps in the present context, this comment will make more sense:

    http://psychsciencenotes.blogspot.com/2011/08/whats-difference-between-perception-and.html?showComment=1313522821464#c8758206236648802735

    Starting with the fourth paragraph, this was my speculation about how some of the "processes" to which you allude might work.

    FWIW, I continue to like my "matched filter" model for your "networks". For example, it might explain "slips of the tongue". An input might be close enough to the input to which a filter is matched that it activates the "remembered" response, notwithstanding that the response is actually inappropriate for the actual input. It might also explain how we can respond to inputs that we have not previously experienced. A new input might excite multiple filters the outputs of which would be synthesized into a (hopefully) appropriate response. Details, of course, TBD (to be determined).

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  16. Excellent blog post on a fascinating subject; sails a little close to the Sapir/Whorf notion of language as a determinant of perception, but worth reading alongside Deutscher's (rather long-winded) take from a linguist's perspective on some parallel issues of perception. (Deutscher G (2010) Through the Language Glass London; Arrow)

    And more generally, Hofstede's venerable work on five dimensions of culture also gives a complementary angle (http://geert-hofstede.com/website/)

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  17. Hi James,

    I struggled a bit with whether to qualify this post with a mention of universalism vs relativism, but I decided to leave that issue aside for now. I'm not making strong claims about how language determines thought, but there is sufficient evidence to say with confidence that language influences thought. You may have come across this in the Economist a while back, but here's a nice summary of the issue by Boroditsky: http://www.economist.com/debate/overview/190

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  18. Hi Charles,

    Yes, I agree with you on the first point. There is indeed a lot of fascinating memory research happening that focuses on the cellular level and the operation of these smaller scale systems is indeed much better understood than the operation of more complex human memories.

    The idea that we can understand and describe cognitive processes without caring too much about implementation depends on a key assumption: that we are information processing devices. If this is the case then indeed, higher order functional descriptions can be assumed to overlay a number of different specific physical implementations.

    I don't think we are information processing devices and from some of your comments on that previous post, it doesn't sound like you are too on board with the IP approach either (for example, the discrete input -> process -> output nature of IP is at odds with continuously evolving systems). If we don't do IP then specific physical implementation matters.

    My disagreement with the IP approach is also why I continue to prefer the network view (in the old post) and the process view of memory (in this post) over the matched filter view that you describe. As far as I can tell, filter matching requires input (some pattern of activation), stored info (filter), and process (comparison) to achieve appropriate behavioural output.

    I have yet to encounter a decent explanation for how a comparison process between two patterns can be achieved neurally. Comparison can obviously be achieved functionally, but my bet is that this functional behaviour is not accomplished via information processing.

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  19. There's a lovely survey of some of the many ways in which the mind is described in different cultures in Lillard's (1998) paper:

    Lillard, A. (1998). Ethnopsychologies: Cultural variations in theories of mind. Psychological Bulletin, 123(1), 3-32.

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  20. Sabrina -

    I didn't mean to imply that one can ignore implementation - after all, I'm assuming some details about the behavior of neurons. I only meant that (fortunately for me) it isn't necessary to understand that process all the way down to the level of proteins transiting permeable cell membranes. And as I've noted before, "information" is a problematic word for me since neither of the two uses with which I'm familiar - the quotidian use as news or facts and the technical (Shannon) use - seems applicable to my concept of the processing. So, I don't know what "not caring too much about implementation depends on a key assumption: that we are IP devices" means or whether it applies to my hypothetical "processing".

    In any event, I assume that how sensory input is processed depends on whether the required response is real-time adaptive - eg, catching a fly ball - or not - eg, responding to a simple verbal input ("How are you?" "Fine, thanks.") In the former case, clearly the "discrete input->process->output" model in inapplicable. But for the latter, a discrete "stored" response model does seem adequate. And even in more complex casual conversation, we also typically completely "process" a discrete aural input before producing a discrete verbal response, and such responses are often to some extent "canned".

    My assumption is that learning experiences essentially "grow" networks - the kind I take it you envision - by the process of brain plasticity: creating and/or changing networks of sensory and motor neurons that can be stimulated by sensory inputs that are similar to those experienced during the learning phase to produce effectively "stored" motor responses. For relatively straightforward repetitive actions this seems a reasonable model, and my term "matched filter" was meant only to apply to that sort of simple network. But I wouldn't describe the processing in general as comparison or pattern matching since it is obviously much more complex. Eg, it is "adaptive" both in the sense of constantly evolving in response to new learning experiences and in the sense of being context-dependent, so that integrating potential responses from multiple networks into a single response is required.

    I'm trying to imagine how seemingly "cognitive" tasks might be reduced to actions that while extremely complex can nevertheless be viewed as essentially mechanical stimulus-response behavior. The last couple of paragraphs of this interview with someone who - unlike me - has actual expertise seems to suggest that having such an objective might not be completely off-base:

    http://www.3ammagazine.com/3am/mind-reader/

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  21. Technically, there is no direct translation for the word mind in french, we usually use the capitalized word spirit.

    Although we can describe or know what mind is, we are unable to describe it atomically through a single concept

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  22. english is too clunky for neuroscience .. sanskrit is far more sophisticated ... makes distinctions that english cannot ... using english slows down research to a tremendous degree

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  23. I recently wrote a blog about a related topic. In Pāli and Sanskrit - ancient Indian languages - there is no collective term for emotions. They do have words for all of the basic emotions and some others, but they do not think of them as a category distinct from thought. I have yet to think through all of the implications of this observation but clearly the ancient Indian view on psychology must have been very different to ours.

    Contra your last commenter @gregory I would say that Sanskrit has all the same problems as English and yet more, since it is a dead language with no new terms added for some centuries. Knowledge has progressed in that time. It is true that there are some distinctions that have words in Sanskrit that we do not make in English, but these are inevitably linked to theology and/or metaphysics which make using them extremely complex to understand or use. English on the other hand is an extremely flexible language, which welcomes neologisms with open arms and I suggest that English has had precisely the opposite effect that gregory suggests - the openness or flexibility of English has allowed progress.

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  24. Hi Charles,

    There is a lot going on in your comments, so I'm just referring to things that you said in the first comment here.

    For cognitive psych, IP simply means that we are systems that take input, transform this according to some rule governed process, and then output a response. It is a very old-school computer metaphor of cognition, but it underpins nearly everything that cognitive psych has done for the past 50 years, whether the researchers were aware of it or not. For cognitive psychology, representations are the internal states related to input and psychological processes, like recall, are the things that transform representations into appropriate output. These internal states are meant to be discrete - this was the intention of the architects of this approach and it remains the contention of modern cognitive scientists who are up on their theory (e.g, Dietrich & Markman). While folks like Dietrich and Markman allow that some representations can be continuous, they insist that continuous representations cannot be cognitive (i.e., they can't be the stuff we use for language, decision-making, memory, etc).

    The language examples you provide are interesting. The first thing that jumps out to me is that this is an optimistic picture of how well we use language (or perhaps I am just less fluent than most people!). Stored responses are problematic for language since language is so strongly context-dependent (and I know you acknowledge the importance of context). There is a strong dependancy between someone saying "Hi how are you?" and their conversation partner saying something like "Fine. How are you?" But, it's also easy to break this dependancy in certain contexts. Any stored response model has to account for and specify the rules for generating a response in a particular context. This was the approach taken by early AI language systems (like ELIZA) that are notoriously brittle. There are some nice ways of looking at statistical relationships between different units of language that do a good job capturing certain aspects of language use (notably, the structure), but don't account well for semantics. The inherent fuzziness of semantics and of conceptual ontologies underlying relationships between words makes language extremely difficult to model with anything like a stored response system. Certain results hint at a more dynamic perspective on language use. For example, we are much better at understanding speech than includes "filler" words like "that" and "which" than we are at understanding (semantically equivalent) speech without these elements. This suggests that our comprehension is tied to events unfolding in real time rather than to generation of stored responses for particular contexts. You give the example of listening to discrete inputs and producing a discrete verbal response. But, people don't wait until words or sentences are finished to generate ideas about what is being said or what might be said in return. You can interrupt listeners at various stages and see how both their comprehension and responses vary as a function of time. I would also hesitate to characterise our own speech as "discrete outputs". For example, people will accidentally recombine parts of two words from the same sentence (I am going Shipmas chopping this afternoon). This type of error seems more in line with speech production as a continuous event than as discrete verbal outputs.

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  25. Dear Sabrina, very interesting thoughts,

    I wrote a very short post in my blog about it, after I came into a press article in "cultural neoscience". In summary, when I was a student of water eng science in Japan (6yrs), me and my South American friends in Japan had often faced issues in translating what we really meant to say, and realized that whenever you need to talk with a person who speaks a different language, you should do that in the language of the other person. A great lesson for business man, and teachers dealing within intercultural societies.

    For your ref (if you have some free time):
    -my blog posts:
    http://watertohoku-methods.blogspot.com/2011/05/education-east-vs-west-and-cultural.html
    http://watertohoku-methods.blogspot.com/2011/05/education-watch-your-language-when-word.html
    - press article:
    http://www.newsweek.com/2010/02/17/west-brain-east-brain.html

    Will keep on following your blog, bye.

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  26. The intellect consists of the powers of conceptual thought, propositional speech and volition (will). These powers operate in conjunction with the corporeal powers of the central nervous system and brain--sense perception, memory, and imagination. Nonhuman animals also have brains and minds--the powers sense perception, memory, and imagination. Insofar as we can discern, they do not have any intellectual powers whatsoever. It seems that many nonhuman animals have superior memories and powers of sense perception than we do--and evidence suggests that they have a degree of perceptual thought. We postulate that they have some degree of imagination through observations of them dreaming during sleep. They most definitely have emotions.

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  27. Sabrina -

    Thanks for that lengthy reply. I understand that the vocabulary used in contemporary psychology has a history, but keep in mind that my history isn't in psychology, so I have few preconceptions to overcome. My use of "processing" just means whatever happens between input/stimulus and output/response. I specifically do not mean anything "rule governed" ala digital processing. Similarly with "stored" - no intent to suggest matching input patterns with stored patterns, just that the network will respond to a stimulus excitation with a response that is a function of both its "learned" structure and context information.

    So, I don't disagree with anything you say, but I may be envisioning the network's operation as less "cognitive" than you are. My guess is that a casual conversation ("language game") proceeds somewhat like a tennis game - hit, return, hit, return ..., and just as a competent tennis player just makes contextual adjustments to a basic repertoire of "stored" strokes, a competent speaker just makes contextual adjustments to a basic repertoire of "stored" utterances. From that perspective, more "intellectual" conversation is just a difference in the complexity of the network, not in the basic mechanisms.

    I can imagine that semantics is a problem since the whole concept of "meaning" seems rather a mess.

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  28. Part of the issue is that the history of the words matters when you're talking about cognitive things. If you say information processing and mean something different from common usage, it just causes trouble.

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  29. small quibble: I think dusha would be a better transliteration than dusa.

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  30. In Hindi, or rather in Hinduism, there are 3 notions associated with the ‘invisible’ /subjective aspects of a person as compared to the 5 ‘visible’/ objective aspects of a person (body made of panch tatva) ; these 3 aspects are respectively called mann, buddhi and ahankar.
    The first one is closely aligned with Maum of Koreans as in it is where emotions, feelings, motivations, will reside. Mann is frequently translated as mind in english.
    The second is more cognitive in nature. Buddhi is translated as Intellect and it is considered better to be governed by Buddhi than being governed by Mann.
    The third , called Ahankar can be translated to a notion of Self- I, the doer. Here, as contravened by Hinduism, one falsely starts having the notions that one is in control and one is actually doing things – a sense of arrogance/ pride.

    Of course the scriptures exhort one to rise above the 5 matter parts (body) and the 3 subjective parts (mind, intellect and I, the doer sense of self) and identify with atman -which is pure indestructible, unending and unlimited ‘consciousness’.

    I intend to do a fuller blog post on this and will link it here, if possible.
    {comment cross-posted on Mind Hacks blog too}

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  31. Hi Freddy,
    Thanks for the links. I especially enjoyed the "Watch your language!" post as it highlights some critical issues for modern, multicultural classrooms. I've always found translation to be a fascinating problem. For instance, I love reading Russian novels, but I'm curious to know how much of the original meaning of the text I miss by not speaking Russian!

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  32. Marek, thanks for the paper recommendation - it looks really interesting.

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  33. Jayarava, that post you mentioned is very interesting. It does seem like Buddhist scholarship suffers from exactly the same problem as psychology by using common words in technical contexts. Naming constructs like "mind" is challenging enough considering these constructs are created by people, but adding in the problems of polysemy and translation just compound the opportunities for misunderstanding. It seems like engaging with these issues is central to the work you do on your blog - I wonder if you would say this is typical of Buddhist scholarship generally?

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  34. As promised here is the link to my bigger writeup regarding the same: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-fundamental-four/201112/if-psychology-had-indian-heritage

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  35. "Intellect and cognitive functions are captured by the Korean "meli" (head)" tee hee.

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  36. Very interesting post. Have you looked into Julian Jaynes's strange and marvelous book "The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind"? Even if you regard bicameralism as iffy, there's an interesting section on the creation of metaphorical spaces -- body-words that become "containers" for feelings, thoughts, attributes etc. The culturally distinct descriptors of the "invisible" may be related to historical accidents that vary from place to place.

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  37. Also relevant might be Lakoff and Johnson's "Philosophy in the Flesh" looking at, in their formulation, the inevitably metaphorical nature of thought and speech and the ultimate grounding of (almost) all metaphors in our physical experience from embodiment in the world.

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  38. Hi dear i am student of Psychology
    and you know it's a study of mind. so i am finding such nice post that help in my studies. Thanks for sharing it. currently i am study this website this is Psychology.

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  39. Also relevant might be Lakoff and Johnson's "Philosophy in the Flesh" looking at, in their formulation, the inevitably metaphorical nature of thought and speech and the ultimate grounding of (almost) all metaphors in our physical experience from embodiment in the world. psychologists edmonton

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