The title of this post is the title of an interesting and provocative book by Daniel M. Wegner and Kurt Gray. The subtitle of the book is “Who Thinks, What Feels, and Why It Matters.” Dr.Wegner is the creator of the concept of Transactive Memory, which is one of the categories of the Healthymemory Blog. Transactive memory refers to memories of our fellow human beings and to information held in technology. This information can be stored in paper or digitally. I have been an admirer of most of Dr. Wegner’s work, so news of his death was quite disturbing. He died of ALS, better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. This degenerative disease slowly destroyed his ability to walk, to stand, to move, to talk, to eat, and eventually to breathe. Dr. Wegner had only begun writing this book when he was diagnosed. He asked his graduate student, Kurt Gray, to finish the work. Fortunately he did a highly credible job. Should you find these topics to be especially interesting, it is strongly recommended that you read the original book.
The mind is a difficult concept. We only have direct access to our own minds, and even then only a small percentage of our mind (see the healthy memory blog post “Strangers to Ourselves”) So we need to develop models of the minds of our fellow humans. And as there are different types of humans we need to develop models of these different types. Then there are animals, and many different species of animals. There are machines. The different types of minds were developed on the basis of a large scale survey regarding how people thought about other minds. Analyses of these data found that people see minds in terms of two fundamentally factors, sets of mental abilities that were labeled experience and agency. Quotes from “The Mind Club” follow:
“The experience factors captures the ability to have an inner life, to have feeling experiences. It includes the capacities for hunger, fear, pain, pleasure, rage, and desire, as well as personal consciousness, pride, embarrassment, and joy. These facets of mind seemed to capture “what it is like” to have a mind—what psychologists and philosophers often talk about when they discuss the puzzle of consciousness.”
“The agency factor is composed of a different set of mental abilities: self-control, morality, memory, emotion recognition, planning, communication and thought. The theme for these capacities is not sensing and feeling, but rather thinking and doing. The agency factor is made up of the mental abilities that underlie our competence, intelligence, and action. Minds show their agency when they act and accomplish goals.”
Healthy memory apologizes for being so cryptic. The meaning should emerges as each type of mind is discussed. Nine types of mind will be discussed. The first six types of minds are well discussed. The last three are seriously flawed. All this follows in the subsequent healthy memory blogs.
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