August 29, 2007

Thinking about Thinking

When I was a kid I used to associate colors with certain objects or ideas. For example, I always associated left with green and right with red. About a couple of months ago I found a name for this: Synesthesia. Apparently there are enough people in the world who do this that an entire branch cognitive science has sprung up to research it. Anyway, it’s a very broad term and usually fades as a person grows older (it has for me in any case) but it got me to thinking about how little we understand our own minds.

The mind is a marvel of human physiology; it contains memory, perception, emotion, personality, and control over the rest of the body. It is the link between the reality of ideas and the reality of the material flesh. It also continues to link Philosophy and Science (in the field of Psychology) despite modern man’s best attempts to separate everything. According to Descartes it is our relation both to our own existence and to the existence of God.

For a look at someone who is a living example of the potential that is contained within our heads, look over at Stephen Wiltshire’s site. Especially his drawings of Tokyo and Rome both completed all from memory after a short helicopter fly by over the city.

1 comment:

ninepoundhammer said...

This is a fascinating subject. There is a biblical parallel, as well in Mark 8:22-25. Jesus gave a man blind from birth his sight and he said he saw men 'walking as trees.' This is a perceptual disconnect between first-time vision and the brain called agnosia. Someone blind from birth only has concepts of things gathered from his other senses. Therefore, his brain has trouble computing the visual with olfactory or audio, etc.

For example, a blind man knows that it takes six steps to get from his front door to the edge of the porch. When his sight (which he has never had) is given him, his brain cannot synthesise six steps with the visual picture. It takes quite a while to reconcile the two types of information in the brain.