Saturday, July 19, 2008

reading Minsky

The Emotion Machine by Marvin Minsky

Minsky has studied many great writers who have thought deeply about the human mind. Not only contemporary thinkers but he ranges across the centuries (Aristotle, Augustine, Descarte, Darwin, Franklin, Poincare, Freud etc.). Many of the sections of his book begin with quotations and summaries from these writers and then proceed onto Minsky's own independent evaluation of them.

To provide just one example (there are many) in section 7-7 he uses quotations from a book written by Henri Poincare in 1913 as the basis for a discussion and presentation of his own views on a 4 stage model of unconscious processes (preparation, incubation, revelation and evaluation)

In reading Minsky, carefully, I obtain a strong feeling that I am receiving a distillation of some of the best thoughts from the best thinkers in human history from one of the current best thinkers who also happens to be a great writer

As well as that I'm discovering a very plausible view of what the research agenda for our understanding the mind ought to be.

I've been summarising some of it on the learning evolves wiki. In some ways it's a deceptively simple book but quite hard to hold all of it in your mind as an integrated whole.

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