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The central question of the Open Institute of Mind (OIoM)
What is the mind?
This question is the central question in the OIoM. The central question acts as the foundation to the guiding questions that unfold in the form of “fields of research” when asking the question “what is the mind?” Examples of such fields are Biology, Psychology, Neuroscience, theories of mind such as Computationalism, Reductive Materialism, Identity Theory and any other that attempts to answer the question “what is the mind?” The central question enquires into:
“the kind of understanding of being that somehow operates and leads to determining what the mind is in any given field.”
The history of science and technology, and the study of the mind in particular, have already unfolded. Correspondingly, we have plenty of research and theories dealing with the mind. Research is grouped into “theories of mind (ToM)” as in a form of listing. Each field unfolds from an understanding of what the mind is even if incomplete or still to be worked out fully. A possible (not exhaustive or decisive) list is given here:
- The computational theory of mind: “the human mindis an information processing systemand cognition and consciousness together are a form of computation – Wikipedia Entry”.
- Philosophy of mind (in general): “the field of philosophy that seeks to address the ontology, nature, and relationship of the mind to the body including the metaphysics of the mind, the hard problem of consciousness and the explanatory gap. Others like physicalism-materialism, behaviorism or functionalism might claim that there is no gap”.
- Physicalist theories of mind: “everything is physical: there is nothing over and above the physical. For example, the identity theory of mind holds that states and processes of the mind are identical to states and processes of the brain. The identity theory of mind is to the effect that these experiences just arebrain processes, not merely correlated with brain processes”.
- Existence of a gap in the physical laws or lack of data: “either an explanatory gap between the fundamental laws of physics or the lack of data, i.e. a deficiency in our collecting enough data, explain our deficiency in explaining what the mind and consciousness are”.
Determining what the mind is as a field
Disclosing what the human mind is in fields of research or theories leads us to the “determination of what the mind is”. This is what we seemingly seek. Nevertheless, any determining occurs with a kind of understanding of being that is claimed to be, by resting on the assumption that it is, because it “is”. More formally:
“The positing of “determinations” regarding what the mind is, even when we claim that the unfolding that rests upon them is not complete or necessarily completely correct, is “valid” somewhere in what sphere we know not(1).”
The above sentence poses an embarrassment at bottom. Unless we accept this embarrassment as present, we are simply ignoring it and passing over it as a practicality. When we then find a subjectivity-objectivity problematic, a problem of fundamental definition, or any other, we are not justified in saying that 1) solving such problematics is the solution to the main problem of the mind or that 2) it is just an invention of a theory that should be ignored and therefore simply spurious.
The advance of science and technology is seen as “beneficial” in general. It is clear however that power masks its intentions by disguising them as generally “beneficial” even when working against the interests of the general public.
It should not be surprising that the tendency to regulate society takes on extreme forms in fields that advance and thrive based on economic growth by even determining growth itself. In this sense, technology occupies a privileged position: in technology, as the practical application of knowledge, power structures find a particularly suitable hiding place in the names of advance, education and enhancer of general well-being. This tendency will be rooting in and will be playing a crucial role in the development of Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and Automation. The central question of the institute is “what is the mind?”
While the OIoM is meant to be an institute of science and technology, its central question is not technological. The central question of the institute is: “what is the mind?” and
the central question is placed with a view to opening up and disclosing the possibilities of the “mind” and the unfolding of the question that centres on the mind rather than as a means to a product.
It should be clear that “the central question” itself has no “power” as it does not produce anything. That is, it has no immediate sellable results for the industry. The guiding question is only a guide, that, to be sure, is itself set into motion by the simple motivation and understanding that might lead us to deploying and guiding technology for the “benefit of all”. In this way, the question closes a circle in the “enigma” that revolves around “power” and “benefit” by involving working against and supporting at the same time the terms “benefit” and “beneficial” . Seemingly, through the erratic use of this term “beneficial” we are to find a guide. The guide is provided by the aim of technology involving that which can never be a menace but disclosure. When this view is at stake, the term “benefit” is at stake in its primitive and intended meaning. That a general suspicion in society is that advances in technology are not necessarily improving our lives, but rather act in detriment to our lives, sometimes even claiming that we might have to compete with machines in order to survive, should suffice to attest that our claims regarding an inconspicuous control of technology and its advances by power structures is legitimate. In summary, as the central guide of the institute has no “power” it can be easily overruled by power. In this sense our central objective is to protect the question above all. As power structures typically control the deployment of technology and also have control over the future of technology and economy at their disposal, these might hardly welcome this initiative genuinely. As these also have control over the growth of any initiatives, such as the one proposed here, it is also the task of the institute to:
explore the methodologies to protect the central question of the institute while “growing” amongst the bodies that might support it only partially and possibly in disguise.
An introduction to modern logic, mathematics and ontology in relation to the central question of the OIoM:
“Course: Metaphysics”* https://www.udemy.com/metaphysics/
* For access to the course please get in touch ssantos – at – theopeninstituteofmind.org
Our first book on the topic can be found below: