Careful neurological observation first and then experiments involving subjects with abnormal psychology and neurology has slowly opened a window on the mind and shown us the limits of its introspective exploration. It turns out our self-knowledge is an illusion. We can not simply see the workings of the mind and consciousness from within. The nature of these common phenomenon to which we all have access is just as remote to our knowing and counter-intuitive as the true nature of the physical world as revealed to us by Quantum Mechanics.
We also inherited from 17th Century Rationalism the idea of the separation of mind and body. Again introspection led to the conclusion that the immaterial mind and material body were fundamentally different. In this view the key philosophical problem was how to connect them. But just like the introspection from which it arises this separation of mind and body can now be seen as an illusion. In it's place a theory of Psycho-Neural Identity has arisen. Freed of this illusion we are now able to better understand our true human nature and the proper place of the mind therein.
The mind is stranger than we think. If you think the last is an odd sentence then I submit that feeling is reflective of our inability to think and talk clearly about the mind. In fact most of us spend little time thinking or talking about our minds. Instead we simply use them to think about other things. What has been discovered about the workings of the mind is in some cases unexpected. Here are some examples:
Perceptual Filling InScience has only just begun to study the mind. Psychology in the past century chose largely to ignore it because it was just too difficult to study for a number of reasons:
The Latency of Consciousness
The Privacy of Consciousness
The Subjectiveness of Time
The Chinese Room
The Irreducibility of Consciousness
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Created March 25, 2002,
© 2002, Thomas A. Jonard