Thursday, October 02, 2008

minsky 1: Falling in Love

Overview of Chapter 1 of The Emotion Machine (summary, online draft, buy)

This chapter introduces a framework to think about the mind.

An attempt is going to be made to explain things that we take for granted, such as, perception, our comprehension of words, our preference for certain feelings.

Many words used to describe emotions and psychology are suitcase words, which have vague or multiple meanings. At strategic moments in this book Minsky introduces new words of his own because our current vocabulary often unintentionally serves to obscure the real workings of the mind

Some mind myths are critiqued. We don't have a single "logical" or "rational" Way to Think. Logic says nothing about which assumptions we begin with. There are dozens of different Ways to Think. We don't have a single Self but multiple models of Self.

The purpose of Minsky's lampooning of love is to point out that with love and some other emotions it is as though a switch has been thrown and a different program has started to run. It's an illustration of one of our many Ways to Think.

Quite a lot of infant behaviour can be explained by IF-then-DO reaction rules

With deliberate, calculated vagueness Minsky conceives of the mind as a cloud of resources. Different resources are activated for different Ways to Think and / or different emotional states.

During our childhood years our brains go through multiple stages of growth. Minsky conjectures that at least six levels of mental procedures will summarise his main ideas about how the human mind is organised

These ideas are explained in more detail in subsequent chapters

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