Selfhood and Consciousness: A Non-Philosopher's Guide to Epistemology, Noemics, and Semiotics (and Other Important Things Besides) [Entries Beginning with "M/N/O"]
Copyright Notice: This material was written and published in Wales by Derek J. Smith (Chartered Engineer). It forms part of a multifile e-learning resource, and subject only to acknowledging Derek J. Smith's rights under international copyright law to be identified as author may be freely downloaded and printed off in single complete copies solely for the purposes of private study and/or review. Commercial exploitation rights are reserved. The remote hyperlinks have been selected for the academic appropriacy of their contents; they were free of offensive and litigious content when selected, and will be periodically checked to have remained so. Copyright © 2006-2018, Derek J. Smith.
First published online 13:00 GMT 28th February 2006, Copyright Derek J. Smith (Chartered Engineer). This version [2.0 - copyright] 09:00 BST 5th July 2018.
BUT UNDER CONSTANT EXTENSION AND CORRECTION, SO CHECK AGAIN SOON
G.3 - The Glossary Proper (Entries M to O)
M: See case, M.
Mach Band Illusion: See consciousness, Mach's theory of.
Mach, Ernst: [Czech physicist (1838-1916).] [Click for external biography] Although best remembered for his achievements as a physicist, Mach contributed significantly both to the philosophy of science and to the psychology of perception. [See now consciousness, Mach's theory of.]
Machine Code: In everyday computer jargon, "machine code" is a generic reference to machine instructions, perhaps a just an instruction or two, meaningless in isolation, perhaps a more functionally discernible routine within a program, perhaps a program in its entirety, or perhaps an entire suite of related programs.
Machine Consciousness: The idea that one can make a machine which is conscious of the world has always been a major theme within mental philosophy. The classical myths, for example, are full of inanimate things coming to life [cf. animism], and the ancient Greeks were avid builders of automata [see separate fact sheet]. The modern age of speculation was ushered in by the arch-materialist Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679), whose cognitive science is presented in the opening chapters of "Leviathan" (Hobbes, 1651/1914). This classic opens with a materialist stand which earned its author the opprobrium of Puritan and Catholic alike: "For seeing life is but a motion of limbs, the beginning whereof is some principal part within; why may we not say that all Automata (engines that move themselves by springs and wheels as doth a watch) have an artificial life? For what is the heart but a spring; and the nerves, but so many strings ....." (Hobbes, 1651/1914, p1).
ASIDE: Descartes said much the same - for examples see consciousness, Descartes' theory of. It is also what the arch-mechanist Julien La Mettrie had in mind when he gave "L'Homme Machine" the following second subtitle: "The different states of the soul are shown to be co-relative to those of the body" (La Mettrie, 1750, titles).
Coming right up to date, machine consciousness is nowadays an application area within the broader science of artificial intelligence (AI). Amongst the sceptics, Selmer Bringsjord doubts that machines will ever be that clever. In his book "What Robots Can and Can't Be" (Bringsjord, 1992), he argues that the Turing Test is pretty much a side issue. He identifies a number of factors - principally free will - "necessary for personhood" (p2). "Robots," he predicts, "will get very flashy, [but] they'll never be people" (p6). McGinn (1987) identifies two immediate problems: not only are there the traditional difficulties defining consciousness, but we also need to be clear about what we mean by "machine". He insists that a machine would need to be able to think, feel, perceive, will, create, and imagine before we could class it as lifelike, but that there is no theoretical barrier. "All that is required," he argues, "is an intelligence of sufficient ingenuity and know-how" (p281). Unfortunately, we do not yet know what the critical property of the artefact might be, although "supervenience assures us that the brain has some property which confers consciousness upon it" (ibid.). McGinn concludes that you do not need to be biologically alive in order to possess consciousness, but that it helps if your artefact has to behave like a living thing "of a certain sophistication" (p283). In other words, a conscious machine would need an embodied intelligence for without this it would never be able to develop the necessary subjectivity (and subjectivity, note, includes the ability to experience what it was like to be a conscious machine). It would, in short, need a phenomenology of its own. More recently, Birnbacher (1995) has put his finger neatly on the problem: when asked whether artificial consciousness is possible, he suggests that we should reply that it all depends what you mean by artificial and consciousness (p489).
Machine Instruction: In the context of computer science, machine instructions tell the Control Unit what to do. They consist (always) of a relatively short binary code known as an "op code", usually (but not invariably) followed by one or more binary codes to be used in the resulting operation. The additional codes are called "operands", and may either (a) fully specify a data value (a number or a letter-string, say) in an absolute sense, or else (b) state the "address" where that data value may be found elsewhere in the machine. The fully specified data values are known as "immediate" values, and the others as "variables". The full repertoire of instructions available to a given machine is known as its "instruction set". Fodor puts this relationship rather neatly .....
"The critical property of the machine language of computers is that its formulae can be paired directly with the computationally relevant physical states of the machine in such a fashion that the operations the machine performs respect the semantic constraints on formulae in the machine code" (Fodor, 1975, p67).
Machine Translation (MT): For a detailed history of this application area, see Section 4.1 of the companion resource.
"Magic Echo": Dennett's (1999) delightfully poetic term for inner speech.
Mahler, Margaret: [Hungarian (later American) psychoanalyst (1897-1985).] [Click for external biography] Mahler is noteworthy in the context of the present glossary for her work on separation-individuation and the often-underestimated deep significance of its failures.
Main, Mary: [American developmental psychologist (?).] [No convenient biography] Mary Main is noteworthy in the context of the present glossary for her work on attachment and metacognitive monitoring therein.
Major Depressive Disorder: This is one of the three DSM-IV disorder groups under the category header of depressive disorders. It presents as a sequence of major depressive episodes, each of at least two weeks duration, characterised by extreme dysphoria accompanied by a variable package of lesser indicators. The lesser signs include catatonia, aggression, avoidance behaviour, unusual eating behaviour, distractibility, hallucinations, impulsivity, and memory impairment.
Major Depressive Episode: An episode of dysphoria, clinically severe enough, and complete with enough secondary indicators, to warrant consideration of a diagnosis of major depressive disorder.
Malingering: [See firstly differential diagnosis, psychiatric.] Malingering in the everyday sense of the term is a clinical sign used in the differential diagnosis of all disorders, both psychiatric and medical. This is because the "feigning of symptoms" (First, Frances, and Pincus, 1995, p172) needs to be carefully investigated whenever "legal, financial, and other benefits [avoiding military service, perhaps - Ed.]" (ibid.) might accrue from a misdiagnosis. Malingering should not, however, be allowed to conceal the genuinely psychiatric factitious disorders.
Malinowski, Bronislaw Kasper: [Polish cultural anthropologist (1884-1942).] [Click for external biography] Malinoswki is noteworthy in the context of the present glossary for his work on identity, comparative approaches to.
Managerial Knowledge Units: [See firstly frontal lobe syndrome, planning, and script execution.] This is Grafman's (1989) term for cognitive structures in the frontal lobes which coordinate lesser blocks of memory into meaningful sequences [1994 press release]. It is more or less synonymous, therefore, with the terms action schema and script. It has recently been described as a category of script-like structures "with a beginning and an end and a hierarchical organisation going from more abstract [.....] to more concrete levels" (Chevignard et al, 2000/2003 online), and highly susceptible to frontal lobe lesions.
Mania: [See firstly differential diagnosis, psychiatric.] In everyday English, mania is "mental derangement characterised by great excitement, extravagant delusions and hallucinations, and, in its acute stage, by great violence" (O.E.D.). In psychology the same basic definition applies, only there is then a much greater emphasis on the role of mania in reflecting what might be going on at the interface of our emotional and intellectual selves. As such, mania becomes both the primary diagnostic variable for an entire cluster of mental health disorders under the DSM-IV, and a major source of theoretical insight to those interested in more philosophical issues such as the mind-brain problem. Clinically, mania and its companion construct hypomania are signs used in the differential diagnosis of-and-within the various bipolar disorders. The DSM-IV lists (p357) a number of important subfactors within mania, namely that the patient's mood should be (a) elevated, (b) expansive, and (c) irritable. There will also normally be inflated self-esteem verging on grandiosity, a decreased need for sleep, and a certain "pressure of speech" [cf. logorrhoea].
Manifest Anxiety Scale (MAS): See anxiety, manifest.
Manifold: [See firstly figure-ground.] In everyday English, the word "manifold" is most commonly seen as an adjective meaning "varied or diverse in appearance, form, or character [.....] numerous and varied; of many kinds or varieties" (O.E.D.). Within mental philosophy, however, the word is used as a derived noun, translating Kant's use of Mannigfaltige, to refer to the many objects presenting themselves in an external scene, the point being that the basic task of perception is to make sense of such complexity. A manifold is thus whatever is there to be analysed, in all its ontic granularity, each granule with its own behavioural trajectory. [See now manifold, synthetic unity of.]
ASIDE: Metaphorically speaking, one can detect the problems of the Kantian manifold in an Air Traffic Controller's radar screen. A modern screen display enables many items, some moving, some not, to be tracked separately against a stable perceptual background [Skyguide, the Swiss air traffic people, have a specimen radar display available online - check it out]. We have only to arrange for the background to be itself moving (as would be the case if the installation in question were aboard an aircraft carrier at sea), and we may simulate all the problems of life-like perception.
Manifold, Synthetic Unity of: [See firstly scene analysis in general, and manifold in particular.] This is Kant's term for the quality of belonging together of the separate items currently making up a given perceptual scene, thus .....
"What is first given to us is appearance. When appearance is combined with conciousness, it is called perception. [.....] But because every experience contains a manifold, so that different perceptions are in themselves encountered in the mind sporadically and individually, these perceptions need to be given a combination that in sense itself they cannot have. Hence there is in us an active power to synthesise this manifold. This power we call imagination; and the act that it performs directly on perceptions I call apprehension" (Kant, Critique, 1781; Pluhar translation, pp167-168).
Mannigfaltige: [German = "various, manifold, diverse, multifarious" (C.G.D.).] See manifold.
Mannikin Test: [See firstly executive function and dysexecutive syndrome.] ENTRY TO FOLLOW
Many-To-One Relationship: See relationship, many-to-one.
Marburg School: This is the name given to a school of neo-Kantian philosophers founded by Cohen at the University of Marburg, Germany, in the 1870s, and including in its numbers Cassirer and Natorp.
Margaret: See multiple personality disorder.
Marginal Co-Data: This is Husserl's term for the contents of the "outlying zone of apprehension" (Ideas, p125), within which perception proper, as a focalising process [our term] takes place. [See now the notion of database currency as a metaphoric mechanism of "keeping tags on" these marginal contents.]
Marginal Zone: See marginal co-data.
Marie: See case, Marie.
Marty, Anton: [Swiss mental philosopher (1847-1914).] [No suitable Internet biography available, but there is more than enough for beginners in Smith (1994/2007 online)] Marty is noteworthy in the context of the present glossary for his late-19th century work on what we know today as the theory of speech acts.
Mary Reynolds: See case, Mary Reynolds.
Mary's Room: This is Jackson's (1982) thought experiment on the topic of qualia. Jackson asks you to imagine "color scientist" Mary, who has learned everything there is to know about the physiology of colour vision, but who has lived all her life in a black-and-white environment full of black-and-white books and a black-and-white TV. Participants in the thought experiment are then asked to judge what changes in Mary's mind when finally she is allowed to leave the room and see colour for herself for the first time. For his own part, Jackson believes she will immediately learn something new, namely what it is like to experience colours, and this, in turn, implies that there is more to absolute knowledge than physical information could possibly provide. Dennett, on the other hand, challenges the logical integrity of the argument. His view is that if Mary had not already worked out what it was eventually going to be like seeing a colour, then she could not properly be classed as knowing all there was to know about colour science!
MAS: See anxiety, manifest.
Masking: [See firstly learning disabilities.] In the context of learning disabilities, Smith (1991) warns that clients often deploy a type of psychological defense mechanism known as "masking" in order to deflect attention from their disabilities. Consider .....
"People with learning disabilities adopt these masks to save what self-esteem they can. The masks deflect attention from their disabilities and let them hide, or avoid performing in, their weak areas. Such masks are destructive because they allow people to avoid coming to terms with their learning disabilities" (Smith, 1991, p43).
There seems to have been little research to date on the similarities between masking as a defense mechanism and the whole issue of personae in the building of personality and self identity.
Mass Hysteria: See hysteria, epidemic.
Massive Modularity: [See firstly modularity.] This is Sperber's (1994/2007 online) notion of a cognitive system built up from modules ranging in size from large and specific cognitive domains (such as mathematical skill) at the top, all the way down to individual concepts at the bottom. Here is the core proposal [citations omitted] .....
"Taking for granted that domain-specific dispositions are an important feature of human cognition, three questions arise: (1) To what extent are these domain-specific dispositions based on truly autonomous mental mechanisms or 'modules', as opposed to being domain-specific articulations and deployments of more domain-general abilities? (2) What is the degree of specialisation of these dispositions, or equivalently what is the size of the relevant domains? Are we talking of very general domains such as naive psychology and naive physics, or also of much more specialised dispositions such as cheater-detection or fear of snakes? (3) Assuming that there are mental modules, how much of the mind, and which aspects of it, are domain-specific and modular? As a tentative answer to these three questions, I proposed in some detail an extremist thesis, that of 'massive modularity'. [.....] I was arguing that domain-specific abilities were subserved by genuine modules, that modules came in all format and sizes, including micro-modules the size of a concept, and that the mind was modular through and through" (Sperber, 1994).
Sperber offered this suggestion as a speculative alternative to the then-predominant "Fodorian" approach, namely that a relatively small array of "informationally encapsulated" modules is coordinated by a single overarching higher-order (but non-modular) process. Unfortunately, the term modularity permits so many interpretations that it is difficult to make progress [Sperber notes no less than five "levels" of analysis and discussion here]. Massive modularity has been a major topic of debate ever since Sperber's paper, although the problems of definition continue to cause problems. For example, Carruthers (2006/2007 online) has recently warned that there is no generally accepted understanding of "what a massively modular model of the mind is", and notes both "weak" and "strong" notions of what the word "module" actually involves. The weak definition carries the sense of mind component, but little more than that. The strong definition, on the other hand, implies "a domain-specific innately-specified processing system, with its own proprietary transducers, and delivering 'shallow' (non-conceptual) outputs". Carruthers refers to strong modules as "Fodor modules", because they possess the defining characteristics originally suggested in Fodor's (1983) seminal paper on the subject.
ASIDE: Our own position on modularity has been shaped by our experience as a database designer in the British computing industry in the 1980s, and is grounded on the observation that computers are and always have been spatially (or "physically") distributed, even in the lowliest system [readers unfamiliar with the terms "CPU", "registers", "logic unit", or "bus" may care to glance at the companion resource on the "general purpose" computer before proceeding]. This physical distribution is then conflated with the functional distribution to be seen in the serially stored sequences of machine instructions we know as "computer programs" [readers unfamiliar with either the notion of a program's "structure", or the "Jackson diagrams" by which that structure is represented graphically, will find the Wikipedia entry on "Jackson structured programming" gently informative - take me there]. The early computer systems simply trickled each functionally modular sequence of instructions one by one through the maze of structurally modular electronics, and, given sufficient programming skill and serviceable electronics, this double contrivance delivered usable output. Gradually, however, the size and complexity of both types of architecture - the functional and the structural - started to creep upwards, until by the late 1950s the ability of programmers to cope with the functional side of things started to fall behind the number crunching power of the circuitry available. One way around this problem was to separate out the logical and the physical aspects of the design. The logical designers looked at what needed to be done in principle, recording their findings in a standard format, and then the physical designers concentrated on how to "implement" what the logical designers had passed them. [The cognitive scientist David Marr was making precisely the same point when he emphasised the need for independent study of the "computational principles" of an information processing system (Marr, 1982).] UNFORTUNATELY, THE CROSS-MAPPING OF THE LOGICAL AND THE PHYSICAL HARDLY EVER FOLLOWS A ONE-TO-ONE PATTERN, and it is this decidedly inconvenient truth which accounts for most of the confusion noted by Carruthers above. For example, Carruthers himself describes the separately purchasable components of a modular hi-fi system as "dissociable functional components", when that is exactly what they are not - they are dissociable structural components first and foremost [in Carruthers' hi-fi, for instance, the sound delivery system (a discrete function) would be implemented in an array of many physical modules (cables, speakers, etc.)]. For a longer discussion of how to integrate the logical and physical aspects of system design, see the companion resource on "Data Modelling".
Materialism: [See firstly mind-brain debate.] [a.k.a. physicalism.] "Materialism" is one of the two possible monist positions in the mind-brain debate (the other being Idealism), and is, in the eyes of some commentators, "an absurdity" (Eccles, 1987, p293). Specifically, it is the notion that the laws of the brain, once they have been finally and fully established, will be able to explain not just the workings of the brain, but those of the mind as well. Since such an explanation would do away with the need for an immortal soul, Hamilton (1865) immediately points to the theological impact implicit in this position, arguing that "[if] intelligence is only a product of matter, only a reflex of organization, such a doctrine [.....] would positively warrant the atheist in denying [God's] existence" (Sir William Hamilton, p.p. Mansell and Veitch, 1865, p31). It may reassure the devout, therefore, to learn that no workable Materialist explanation has yet been devised, and that Materialism remains just another matter of personal faith. However, since the nature of any age's Materialist explanations must always be rooted in that age's grasp of the laws of science as they know them (and in the metaphors inspired thereby), and since those laws are themselves a moving target, it is best to review the topic historically, and we do this in a separate entry entitled Materialism and underlying mechanism.
Materialism and Underlying Mechanism:
"Then began the true work of the magician. The head was fastened upon a pedestal of marble. Clockwork was placed inside of it. Wires were attached to the tongue, the eyeballs, and other parts of the image. These were carried to mysterious jars of chemicals hidden away in a dark closet. Everything was done with care, strictly according to the directions given in the manuscript" (Baldwin, 1905/2007 online, p36).
[See firstly Materialism and its onward link to the mind-brain debate.] This entry presents the most important Materialist theories of the mind set against the timeline of practical invention. The story begins before Plato, but comes right up to date with modern research into robotics and artificial consciousness. The content is organised into five broad historical eras, as follows .....
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1. Classical Materialism: We have to thank the Greek philosopher Anaximander (fl. ca. 570 BCE) for the notion that there might be common laws of matter and life (Wikipedia), and we have to thank Leucippus and Democritus for the Atomist notion of some final microscopic unit of matter. However, those ideas alone did not constitute a Materialist theory of the mind, because matter, thus conceived, just sits there, waiting for our inherent animism to elevate it to the status of mental equal. It is therefore no surprise that classical views of the relationship between body and soul [see soul, tripartite] were never overly concerned with the possibility that matter built soul, seeing it instead as merely giving something which already existed somewhere to reside. To see matter as the mechanism of soul required, firstly, some prior notion of mechanism; some appreciation of matter in motion .....
ASIDE: Readers unfamiliar with the terms Reductionism and explanatory gap should read the dedicated entries thereon before proceeding, because mechanisms routinely acquire emergent properties, and emergent properties can be surprisingly difficult to reconcile with what is known about their parts. When considering what makes a good holistic explanation of a system, Sherwood (1966) relates how both James Clerk Maxwell and Kenneth Craik had an eye for that system's "particular go", that is to say, they would try to explain in as few words as possible how the mechanism moved within itself, given the nature of its parts, to perform its higher-order function. Unfortunately, when it comes to the mind, this is precisely the sort of explanation which, thanks largely to the problems of phenomenal awareness and subjectivity, continues to elude us.
It follows that before we can judge how good a particular Materialist theory of mind is, we need some historical feel for the timeline of mechanical invention. We will then be able to judge the theory against the natural metaphors for mind which were available at the time. We start the ball rolling with the tension-powered catapult [image and specification], an invention attributed to Dionysus of Syracuse in about 360 BCE. This was the first of history's "siege engines", and we have selected it because it represented a quantum leap in design complexity. Earlier inventions had had few moving internal parts, but now, in addition to the main structure of trunnion and throwing arm, there were tensioners, ratchets, a torsion module, a trigger mechanism, and so on. In other words, the battle catapult was a system with inner logic and had parts which rated as subsystems in their own right, not as mere components [for the formal distinction between system and subsystem, see the companion glossary on "Systems Theory"]. It is no coincidence, we submit, that the first workable "Materialist" suggestions on the mind-brain problem came within years of Dionysus' invention .....
MATERIALIST THEORY #1: The Greek notion of the tripartite soul is far from being a Materialist theory of mind, but the treatment given to memory within the tripartite scheme actually comes quite close to it. Plato's Theaetetus, for example, offers us the metaphor of memory as a wax block into which our experiences are impressed, and in which impressed form they are stored. Consider (a long passage, heavily abridged) .....
"SOC[RATES]: Now I want you to suppose, for the sake of argument, that we have in our souls a block of wax [.....]. We make impressions upon this of everything we wish to remember [.....]; we hold the wax under our perceptions and thoughts and take a stamp from them, in the way in which we take the imprints of signet rings. Whatever is impressed upon the wax we remember and know so long as the image remains in the wax [.....]. In some men, the wax in the soul is deep and abundant [.....]. Men with such souls learn easily" (Plato, Theaetetus, §191c-e/§194d; Levett translation, p67/p70).
The material, in other words, served a mental purpose, but was less than full ideation. Ideation was something for the immaterial soul to take care of, as indeed was volition. To move of your own accord was to be alive, and this, Plato reasoned, could only be a property of the non-material.
Moving on a generation, one of Aristotle's claims to fame was that he served as mentor for a time to a young Alexander the Great [details]. In hindsight, there is no little irony in this, for as Alexander began pushing Greek imperial boundaries out across three continents, the focus of science and philosophy moved with him, ending up on the other side of the Mediterranean, on the Nile delta at Alexandria. The Academy which Plato had created in 387 BCE [details] lost its reputation as the place to study to "the Museum", the library set up to grace the new city. Thereafter, if a subject was worth knowing you could study it at Alexandria, under such luminaries as Ctesibius, Erasistratus, Herophilus, and Eratosthenes. One of the subjects on the Museum curriculum was the "design technology" of its day, that is to say, the study of mechanism, especially if that mechanism could be relied upon to attract the research funding of its day. Mechanics therefore became the science of siege-engines, automatic doors, garden statuary, and theatrical display. Anything, indeed, that the ingenuity of the students could think of. As a result, it was not long before there was born at Alexandria the craft of automaton-maker .....
ASIDE: Readers who have not already seen the entry for automata should check it out before proceeding. We shall be dealing at some length with this particular topic because automata are a major recurring theme in the history of cognitive science, and it helps to know exactly why. The most famous of the Greek automaton-makers were Ctesibius (the Thomas Edison of his day, by all accounts), Philon of Byzantium (who would have been at his productive peak around 250-240 BCE, and whose writings describe artifacts he himself may have had a designer's hand in), and Heron of Alexandria (who wrote some 300 years later, and ought therefore to be regarded more as archivist-practitioner than originator).
Now the point about automata is that they have a very specific allure. They initiate their own movement, and self-initiated movement is a very compelling property for a species as keen as ours is to attribute mentality to inanimate matter. Movement makes the illusions born of our inherent animism very convincing. It gives them an instant and enduring Dasein of their own. This, in turn, makes automata a powerful weapon in the hands of anybody "with a palpable design upon us" [this wonderful phrase is from George Steiner], and nobody ever has a more palpable design upon us than the priesthood .....
ASIDE: We need at this juncture to recall that there had been a flourishing business in the sale of quasi-religious "favours" in Egypt since the earliest Pharaonic dynasties some three millennia previously, and a parallel tradition of oracular mysticism in Greece at sites like Delphi. The explanation, we believe, is clear - the greater an individual's fear of the unknown, the more that individual will pay for a belief system which tells him/her that everything is going to be OK. Massive temples mean equally massive promises in areas such as personal immortality, financial wellbeing, and sexual or military prowess. The fact that the ruins of these temples still dominate the skylines from Stonehenge to Karnak to this day, confirms the power of such promises to command a truly massive investment. As to the precise rituals themselves, interested readers may care to divert for a moment to the story of Alexander the Great's personal consultation with the Oracle of Ammon at Siwa[h], a temple at a remote oasis south-west of Alexandria. A number of Roman historians give brief but revealing accounts of this visit [read these accounts].
So it was very much in the priesthood's interest to play upon the fear-factor in the human psyche, and that - candidly - meant resorting to trickery and sleight of hand. Ritual works best when it is both seductive and scary, and so those responsible for delivering it would have needed as much chemistry as they could get their hands on, anything, indeed, which phosphoresced, spontaneously combusted, sparked, bubbled, gave off coloured smoke, and so on. The priests would also have been practical phoneticians, experts at the physics of reeds and sounding boxes and resonance, so that they could punctuate their ritual with all sorts of eery sound effects. Heyl (1964) assures us that both the head of the Jackal God and the bust of Re-Harmakhis had hidden speaking tubes leading to their mouths, and Spence (1915) adds that "every roguery of priestcraft" was practised in Egyptian temples.
2. Dark Age and Early Renaissance Materialism: As things turned out, it was the priest-magician caste who were responsible for just about the only real area of scientific advance over the next thousand years, namely the primitive branch of chemistry now referred to rather dismissively as alchemy. Chemistry was simultaneously science and magic in those days (it was the "shock and awe" of the Arthurian Age, if you like), and the alchemists were the inspiration for the now-popular image of the Magi as rather inscrutable wise men, and of Myrddyn (Merlin) as the archetypal special-relationship aide to kings and generals. In short, the better your retort-and-crucible skills and the more ruthlessly you applied them, the further you could climb the ladder of success, even to the very top, witness Hildebrand (Pope Gregory VII, pontiff 1073-1085), with his alchemical penchant for "shaking lightning out of his sleeve" [tell me this story].
ASIDE: We strongly recommend MIT historian Bruce Mazlish on this subject. He has studied the interplay of humankind and its technology over the millennia, and identifies a number of "discontinuities" - periods of major reworkings of our understanding of ourselves and our world. The "hermetic tradition" underlying Western science was one of only four such discontinuities ever, and alchemy was "the Hermetic tradition par excellence" (Mazlish, 1993) [buy this book]. Hellemans and Bunch's (1988) Timetables of Science provides some pointers on when the change really kicked in. Their timelines of astronomical, medical, and physical discoveries show that Arabian and Chinese advances for the 9th to the 12th centuries, inclusive, outnumbered European by about four-to-one. The Europeans then pulled themselves up to level-pegging during the 13th century, and by the 14th century had turned the four-to-one ratio round into their favour! As to why this might be, see Section 2.3 of our "Education Timeline", and note how many Western European universities came on stream in the 13th century! It is also worth briefly reviewing what sort of non-chemical inventions were appearing in Europe and the by-now-Muslim Near East around this time, especially those where improved wood- or metal-working skills were allowing smaller, more internally sophisticated, end-products. Here are some illustrative dates [for reasons which will eventually become apparent, the inclusion of a number of musical instruments and clockwork devices is far from coincidental] .....
Ninth Century: The crank winding handle (earlier in the Far East); the hot stone smoothing "iron".
Tenth Century: The pocket sundial; distillation of alcohol.
Eleventh Century: The crossbow (France, ca. 1050). The "hurdy-gurdy" also dates from this period. This is a stringed instrument, much like a modern violin but with a winding handle at the blunt end. This crank drives an internal disc, which "bows" the strings continuously from below rather than intermittently from above, thus producing a continuous "drone" to accompany a main melody fingered from above. The first organ keyboard appeared at Magdeburg Cathedral towards the end of the 11th century.
Twelfth Century: The magnetic compass (1182; earlier in the Far East).
Thirteenth Century: 1253 - the decimal system; 1260 - Strasbourg cathedral organ [complete "with automations" (source)]; 1280 the spinning wheel.
Fourteenth Century: 1310 - European weight-and-escapement clocks; 1340 - the blast furnace; 1347 - the cannon (earlier in the Far East); 1391 - the astrolabe.
Nor had Hildebrand been the first alchemist-pope. One Gerbert d'Aurillac, later to become Pope Sylvester II (pontiff 999-1003), is known to have travelled widely in his early ecclesiastical career, and is rumoured to have acquired various hermetic secrets and skills, which he used to win friends and see off rivals. One of these devices was a so-called "oracular bust", a head-and-shoulders automaton, something between an innocent amusement and a clockwork Delphic oracle. However, there are few hard facts to go on, so we can only presume (if the thing existed at all) (a) that it was no more complex than the modern penny arcade attraction [image], and (b) that it derived its impact thanks to the showmanship of the magus in question.
ASIDE: The Internet is awash with reminders that the alchemists actually had two uses for their famed "philosopher's stone", not just the "transmutation" of base metals into gold. The second, and often overlooked, search was for the secret of immortality [check it out], and the interest in automata may well derive from this.
Gerbert's "talking head" experiment was replicated, albeit to less spectacularly successful effect, by the English theologian-scholar Robert Grosseteste some time in the early-to-mid 1200s, and then again a generation later by one of Grosseteste's students, the monk-alchemist Roger Bacon (he who had brought the latest in battlefield alchemy - gunpowder - to Europe from the East). The story runs that he had somehow come by an ancient Arabic manuscript which contained the secret whereby "dead metal" could be given "tongue". He translated this manuscript as best he could, and, together with a colleague named Bungay, set about making a talking brass head. To cut a long story short, the two men succeeded, but - through sheer exhaustion - were out of the room when the thing finally spoke!
ASIDE: The legend of Bacon's brass head entered popular history thanks to Robert Greene's play "Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay" (1589). Baldwin's (1905) embellished re-telling of the tale is online [take me there]. 21st century talking heads look like this: they, too, mostly tell us what we want to hear.
But we have saved the best story for last, for nowhere is the mediaeval ambivalence on the science-sorcery issue better seen than in the case of the Dominican Friar Albertus Magnus, world authority in his time on such sciences as physics, astronomy, and biology. Tutor of the young Thomas Aquinas in 1243, Albertus became Regent of Studies of the Dominican Order in Cologne in 1248, and during the next 30 years wrote books on just about every subject under the sun, including a 1250 treatise entitled "On Animals", in which he presented the results of a series of practical dissection studies. He also (so the stories go) spent his spare time building a speaking automaton. Unfortunately, there are light and dark reports of everything Albertus did, and not least of the story of his automaton. On the one hand, we have the orthodox Catholic Encyclopaedia version of the tale, which tells how Albertus built only a relatively innocent animated doll, capable of artificial phonation. On the other hand, there is a darker version of the story, in which he communed with "angels from the underworld" and used "materials unknown to this world" to build a speaking, thinking, android, complete with a soul. Even the name of the mysterious automaton changes from account to account, being Barbiton in some and Android in others. However, both versions of the story more or less agree that Aquinas entered Albertus's workshop one day on an unannounced visit, and was so surprised at being spoken to by a doll that he decided it must be Satanic, and smashed it to pieces.
ASIDE: No doubt this is a heavily dramatised and much exaggerated tale of a small-scale (but deadly serious) techno-philosophical endeavour. Albertus was an expert in the cognitive science of his day, and would have known as much about speech synthesis, mediaeval style, as Gerbert had done, and considerably more about how to pre-program and mechanise its delivery. Our own guess is that he would have combined the established Alexandrian art of mechanical pre-programming with the newer hurdy-gurdy and/or vox humana organ-pipe technology [for a quick introduction to the science of organ stops, click here]. And he would have had his own textbook of dissections to fall back on whenever the search for the secrets of artificial life needed inspiration from the real thing.
Now lest we be accused of wandering seriously off-topic, the history of the talking head is now the official prehistory of artificial intelligence. For example Owen Holland, of the University of Essex, gave a paper at the April 2000 Tucson consciousness conference entitled "Engineering Artificial Consciousness: You Will Be There When The Brass Head Speaks", in which he reminded us of Warren McCulloch's ten commandments of artificial intelligence, the tenth of which was not to let your attention wander [check them out]!
3. Late Renaissance and Enlightenment Materialism: The beginning of the Renaissance proper has been dated with perhaps a touch too much precision to 29th May 1453. Here is the argument .....
"One way to date the beginning of the Renaissance is from May 29, 1453, the day the Turks captured the city of Constantinople and many Greek-speaking scholars escaped to the West. The scholars brought with them classical manuscripts in Greek along with the ability to translate the ancient writings into Latin, the common language of learning in Europe at the time" (Hellemans and Bunch, 1988, p90).
The upshot was that the availability of knowledge across Europe started to improve, and as it became more available it became more reliable into the bargain, as many established disagreements were resolved by direct empirical investigation. In 1473, for example, Avicenna's Canon of Medicine was published in Milan, in 1512 Hieronymus of Brunswik published a textbook treatise on chemical distillation and its uses, in 1543 Vesalius gave scholars a reliable neuroanatomy to work with, in 1581 Galileo began a six-decade adventure in practical experimentation, and in 1590 John Napier started work on his system of logarithms. And, as an inspiration to them all, there were Leonardo da Vinci's visions of a future based on technology. Da Vinci's sketches - designs for helicopters, submarines, etc. - are well known, and include, from around 1495, a sketch for a humanoid robot .....
ASIDE: Da Vinci's 1495 design was partly constructed in 2002 by the roboticist Mark Rosheim, and Rosheim (2006) [buy this book] contains pictures and details of the cam-and-follower escapements by which the actions of the android can be pre-programmed (a technique which did for analog control what the Bouchon-Falcon-Jacquard system would do for digital control three centuries later - see below). The biomedical engineers at the University of Connecticut are also on the case [tell me about this].
In fact, Da Vinci has two claims to a place on the timeline leading to modern cognitive science. Some time around 1500, he also sketched a design for an adding machine built of interlinked, rotating, digit-wheels [image]. It is not known whether he actually built a machine to go with this design, but Guatelli's (1968) facsimile has since confirmed its practicability [tell me this story]. Similarly, in 1623 one Wilhelm Schickard is reported to have built a "calculating clock" capable of adding and subtracting six-digit numbers, but again no specimen of the machine exists, and again there has been a 20th century facsimile [image]. More complete details have survived from 1642, when the 19-year French mathematician Blaise Pascal developed the Pascaline .....
ASIDE: In modern techno-parlance, the Pascaline has to be classed as a "da Vinci clone". It consisted of a set of geared counter wheels with a "tens carry" system, and could record an eight-digit running total. A number was inserted by rotating the appropriate "column" wheel (units, tens, hundreds, etc.) with a stylus, and then added to by onward rotation by cognate column from right to left. The carry system would take care of turning as many as necessary of the dials to the left of the one being moved manually [for pictures and a more detailed description, click here].
So by the mid-17th century, the time was ripe for someone to bring together the Gerbert-Grossteste-Albertus tradition of the talking android and the da Vinci-Schickard-Pascal tradition of calculating clockwork, because what you would get if you could do this would be both a rudimentary science of robotics and some priceless new insights on the ultimate nature of the biological mind. Specifically, you would have provided the materialistically minded thinkers of that age with arguably their greatest ever inspiration, for if fabricated automata were so clever then perhaps we were all fabrications - fabrications of nature.
And so automata suddenly became the quintessential test case in the Materialism debate.
ASIDE: Readers unfamiliar with Descartes' writings should have a quick look at the entry for consciousness, Descartes' theory of before proceeding.
It was Descartes, the class-defining dualist, who fired the opening shots in the "human automaton" debate by identifying the "pores" [= synapses], "tubules", and "spirits" [= neurotransmitters] of the brain (Descartes, 1637, 1647). Unfortunately, delays in publication forced upon him by his church meant that Descartes was unable to take part personally in the ensuing debate, and Hobbes was therefore able to put the monist case first .....
MATERIALIST THEORY #2: Hobbes opened his "Leviathan" (Hobbes, 1651/1914) with the assertion that life was "but a motion of limbs", that the heart was "but a spring", that the nerves were "but so many strings", and that the joints were "but so many wheels" (Leviathan, p1). He then reviewed the main mental systems - the senses, imagination, thought, the "passions", etc., etc. - seeking out the material basis of each. In the event, however, he offered little specific description of the mechanisms responsible, giving us merely a Materialism born of vague presumption. The attention to detail in Descartes' Treatise therefore puts Hobbes to shame in this respect.
There followed a century-long "academic bare knuckles" debate in which the Cartesians slugged it out with the Hobbesians. In Britain, this debate was led by Hobbes personally, until his death in 1679, and was then taken up by the founding fathers of the Royal Society - the likes of Boyle, Hooke, Wren, Willis. On the Continent, it was led by the Rationalists Spinoza and Leibniz. For indicative arguments, see the Leibniz-Bayle and Leibniz-Boyle debates.
ASIDE: Readers who have not already come across the Leibniz Mill thought experiment should visit that entry as well, while the Leibniz moment is upon them. Note that Leibniz actually knew more about mechanism (and therefore its limitations) than most philosophers, having developed a crank-driven "stepped drum" of Pascal's calculating machine in 1674. This was capable of multiplication by repeated addition, went under the name machina arithmetica, and the experience of turning a pile of cogwheels into a higher-order but still unthinking entity must certainly have inspired the mill metaphor.
Then came a rather damning critique of Materialism by Bishop George Berkeley, one of the three "great men" of British Empiricism. Berkeley was responsible in 1710 for resurrecting the classical challenge about what was matter anyway. He pointed out that what we experienced as matter bore little resemblance to the real thing (whatever that was) [for more on this issue, see the entry for reality].
4. Early Industrial Materialism: Leibniz died in 1716, two years after his "mill" had reduced a lifetime of philosophising to a straight-to-the-point five-minute thought experiment. His death was followed in short order by two particularly noteworthy inventions, both now centrally relevant to cognitive science. The first of these was the idea of the punched card program. This clever piece of technology seems to have come more or less simultaneously from Basile Bouchon in 1725 (using continuous punched paper) and Jean Philippe Falcon in 1728 (using punched slats), the prepunching serving to codify the pattern of the weave in advance [see images of both systems]. The mass production of any repeating woven pattern thus became simple once the appropriate slats had been produced.
ASIDE: Bouchon was the son of an organ maker, and may well have inherited some of the old Greek automatic control skills from his father's workshop. Falcon's machine is on display in the Museum of Arts and Crafts in Paris. In 1805, another French weaver - Joseph Jacquard - improved Falcon's system [for technical details, see Section 3 of our e-paper on "Short-Term Memory Subtypes in Computing and Artificial Intelligence (Part 1)"], enabling continuous loops of up to 24,000 instruction cards to be put together. The Falcon-Jacquard system is cited as standard in histories of computing, because it reduced a repetitive human craft to an essentially numerical process, it brought numerical control to a manufacturing industry, and it involved programming as we nowadays understand it.
The second important invention was a labour-saving device from the wind-milling industry. It was the brainchild of one Edward Lee in 1745, and it made it possible to re-align mills automatically as the direction of the wind veered from moment to moment. The mechanism consisted of a small "fan-tail" rotor mounted at the rear of the mill cap, set at a horizontal right angle to the main sails [image]. As long as the wind struck the main sails directly, the fan-tail stood idle. When the wind veered to one side or the other, however, the fan-tail started to rotate one way or the other, and drove gears which cranked the mill cap back into the wind again, whereupon the fan-tail fell idle again, of course. When the wind came from the right, the mill turned to the right - of its own accord - and when the wind came from the left, the mill turned to the left - of its own accord. The fan-tail was thus an instantiation of what we know today as a "negative feedback control loop", the principle it followed was that now known as "homeostasis", and the science it inspired was that eventually named "la cybernétique". Coincidentally, even as the millers were sitting back to enjoy their new-found leisure-time, across the Channel in France the ink was still drying on the early chapters of the third of our Materialist theories .....
MATERIALIST THEORY #3: History now recognises La Mettrie's (1747/1750) L'Homme Machine ("Man the Machine") as continuing in the Hobbesian tradition. Here, in his own words, is the essence of La Mettrie's scheme .....
"But since all the faculties of the soul depend to such a degree on the proper organization of the brain and of the whole body, that apparently they are but this organization itself, the soul is clearly an enlightened machine. For finally, even if man alone had received a share of natural law, would he be any less a machine for that? A few more wheels, a few more springs than in the most perfect animals, the brain proportionally nearer the heart and for this very reason receiving more blood - any one of a number of unknown causes might always produce this delicate conscience so easily wounded, this remorse which is no more foreign to matter than to thought, and in a word all the differences that are supposed to exist here. Could the organism then suffice for everything? Once more, yes; since thought visibly develops with our organs, why should not the matter of which they are composed be susceptible of remorse also, when once it has acquired, with time, the faculty of feeling? The soul is therefore but an empty word, of which no one has any idea, and which an enlightened man should only use to signify the part in us that thinks" (bold highlighting added).
Not surprisingly, La Mettrie's work simply re-polarised the dualist-monist debate, to the extent that there was no longer any debate - you either believed that humans were mechanisms or you did not. Like left versus right in politics, you voted with your viscera, not with your head. Nor were there even any reliable data for the genuinely undecided to fall back on, because when you operationalised or simulated thought it ceased to be thought [Leibniz's mill again]. Automata, for example, were still manifestly just expensive puppets, and there was no decisive test case to swing doubters one way or the other; the "pilot of the soul" remained as elusive as it had been two thousand years beforehand. Immaterialists of all persuasion simply rubbed their hands with glee and smiled their I-told-you-sos. And then came Kant, with an entire - and still unresolved - dimension to the problem of mind, and a British amateur engineer named Charles Babbage, with an entire - and still evolving - dimension to the problem of brain.
5. Modern Materialism: Two more or less simultaneous publications, one at cognitive science's philosophical brow and the other at its physiological heart, set off the close of the 18th century as being qualitatively different to the close of the 17th. The first of these publications was a microscopic analysis of the mind presented by the philosopher Immanuel Kant in his Critique of Pure Reason (Kant, 1781/1787), and its importance stems from its emphasis on the complexities of phenomenology [for more on which, see the entry for consciousness, Kant's theory of]. The second epoch-defining publication was Galvani's (1791) "De Viribus Electricitatis", a report into the fundamentally electrical nature of nervous transmission. This ground-breaking research demonstrated in essence that the muscle tissue of a "dead" animal could be caused to twitch by the application of an electric current. Taken together, Kant's Critique and Galvani's readily replicable laboratory demonstration threw a whole new light on the central problem of mental philosophy. Henceforward, anyone wanting to be a successful Materialist would have to become not just a successful phenomenologist [no mean feat], but a skilled physiologist into the bargain. Indeed, Kant's phenomenology and Galvani's "animal electricity" stand as the first two of four 19th century sciences which have now been taken under the cognitive science umbrella. The third of these new sciences was neuropsychology .....
ASIDE: Neurology is what physicians are doing every time they use the routine neurological examination to assess the extent of the injuries to a patient's nervous system. As such, it is an application area which goes back to Hippocrates and beyond. If you specialise in neurology, going out of your way to acquire the very latest in assessments and treatments, then you become a neurologist. Neuropsychology, by contrast, is barely medicine at all, in the accepted sense of the word. Where neurology is medicine of the brain, neuropsychology sets out to assess and repair the mind, and since nobody has yet decided how the mind works neuropsychologists have to do nine parts mental philosophy for every one part hard neuroscience. Neuropsychology is what neurologists used to do as an adjunct to the neurology, but now leave to allied professionals. Freud, for example, managed to be a neurologist, a neuropsychologist, and a psychiatrist, but the sheer volume of modern knowledge would have forced him to specialise. It is also necessary nowadays to distinguish between clinical and theoretical neuropsychology. Clinical neuropsychology is the use in psychiatry, criminology, speech and language therapy, etc., of neuropsychologically inspired psychometric assessments and the construction of theoretically grounded remediation techniques and approaches, whilst cognitive neuropsychology attempts to provide those bodies of clinicians and practitioners with the necessary theoretical underpinning, not least on the mind-brain debate and the localisation of function debate.
Among the leading neurologists of the early 19th century, we have Sir Charles Bell in Britain and Francois Magendie in France. Bell published "New Anatomy of the Brain" in 1811. In it he analysed the organisation of the spinal cord and proposed a fundamental distinction between sensory and motor functions. The motor tracts, he claimed, ran ventrally within the cord. Magendie confirmed Bell's analysis in 1822, and demonstrated also that the sensory tracts ran dorsally. This combination of principles has since become known as the "Bell-Magendie Law".
ASIDE: To see a simple schematic diagram of the dorsal ascending and ventral descending pathways, click here. To see a more detailed cross-section through the spinal cord, showing the component tracts, click here.
The most important early physician-neuropsychologists was Marie-Jean-Pierre Flourens. Flourens had been following the early localisation of function debate, and came to the opinion that it would never be possible to localise brain function precisely. In his view, many of its functions were far too complex and all-embracing to pin down in this way. Flourens' position comes out well in the following quotation .....
"Each part of the nervous system  has a proper function; and that is what makes it a distinct part: but the activity of each of these parts affects the activities of all the others; and that is what makes them parts of a particular system. [What matters] is the way each distinct part of this system contributes to the common activity" (Flourens, 1824; modern neuropsychology is still vigorously debating this very issue, which remains to be resolved).
The fourth major area - as if the first three were not genius enough - was the birth of computing.
ASIDE: We have covered the history of computing in considerable detail elsewhere, so to avoid pointless duplication, we refer readers to Sections 3 and 6 of our e-resource "Short-Term Memory Subtypes in Computing and Artificial Intelligence (Part 1)". Suffice it here to note that working mechanical computers date from the mid-19th century and the data processing industry from the 1890s.
Given the accelerating pace of discovery, it is not surprising that the 19th century brought a succession of fresh opinions on the Mind-Brain debate, and the first definitive history of Materialism (Lange, 1866). One of the fresh minds was Büchner (1879), who likened the momentary direction of the mind to the geometric resultant of a number of force vectors in mechanics. Sadly, his explanation of the "particular go" of the resulting system remained as vague an appeal to consensus as ever, thus .....
"A spirit without body is as unimaginable as electricity or magnetism without metallic or other substances on which these forces act. The animal soul is a product of external influences, without which it would never have been called into existence [..... and w]ith the decay and dissolution of its material dissolution of its material substratum, through which alone it has acquired a conscious existence and become a person [.....] the spirit must cease to exist" (Büchner, 1879, Force and Matter, p196; quoted in Hamilton, p276; our emphasis).
The second half of the 19th century also saw the Golden Age of neuropsychology, with contributions from Broca, Wernicke, Hughlings Jackson, Meinert, Kussmaul, and Freud. But then, in 1896, the goalposts moved again! This time the key development happened in a small laboratory at the Paris Natural History Museum, where one Antoine Becquerel was checking through the museum's stock of mineral samples to see if he could find any which naturally emitted the then-recently-reported x-rays. He found no x-rays, but chanced instead upon the fact that compounds of uranium were capable of exposing photographic plates despite their protective wrapping. It took only weeks of follow-up experimentation to demonstrate that this particular type of matter was giving off some form of penetrating "radiation", and in less than a decade it had become apparent that some atoms were not a-tomic [i.e. indivisible] at all: already provisionally named "radio-active" by the Curies, they were disintegrating before your eyes! Max Planck had even named the unit of this decay, choosing the term "quantum" to express its step-wise regularity (Planck, 1900). So here again we had our confidence in the fundamental reliability of matter shaken. Not only could it never be directly seen, but it was in any event little more than a nuclear soup in a state of constant flux, even to the extent that Popper (1977) was able to suggest abandoning "the idea of a substance or essence" (p7) altogether. Then in the 1970s it occurred to consciousness theorists that perhaps they should seek the "particular go" of the mind could be found by taking the reductionist approach down to sub-atomic levels .....
MATERIALIST THEORY #4: Just as the atomistic theory of the mind came along just after the atomistic theory of physics [See Theory #1 above], so too with the sub-atomic theory of the mind and the sub-atomic theory of physics. Scaruffi (2006 online) credits the original notion to the biologist Alfred Lotka as early as 1924. Lotka, he explains, saw control of otherwise random quantal release as the essence of an information processing system. Writing at the height of the Behaviourist era, however, few psychologists paid much attention to Lotka's speculation, and as the role of ion transport systems in neurotransmission emerged over the ensuing half century, quantum physics was overshadowed in favour of the more conventional electrochemistry. The next step in Scaruffi's telling of the story was the physicist Evan Walker's "synaptic tunnelling" model (Walker, 1977, 2000), which posits an as-yet-undemonstrated role for quantum physics in determining when a given synapse is ready to transmit. Similar proposals were made in the 1980s by Frölich (e.g., 1986) and Marshall (1989), this time relying on a quantum effect known as "Bose-Einstein condensation". The potential value of all these proposed mechanisms is that they address the brain at the level of the individual "flip-flop", however, since this is the sort of extreme reductionist approach which created the explanatory gap in the first place, we doubt it is very like to close it. In other words, while quantum physics may eventually allow one to state the "particular go" of the brain, it will not, we suspect, add much to our understanding of the mind. Nevertheless, the notion is still being heavily promoted - click here to see a brief review of the competing proposals.
The 1980s also saw a proliferation of "-isms" in the mind-brain debate, as cognitive scientists tried to decide where they really did stand on the issue. Not content with a simple choice between Materialism and Immaterialism, they added "Emergentism", "Emergent Dualism", "Psychophysical Parallelism", "Epiphenomenalism", and others too numerous to mention.
ASIDE: As an impressionable non-philosopher, we remember being quite taken by Central State Materialism when we first read about it, and have given details of this in a separate entry, q.v.
We close with one final look at automata, because they, too, have come a long way. Check out this image, for example. That was Johnny Five, from the 1986 movie "Short Circuit". He looks bright enough, sure, but - like Gerbert's talking head [above] - he was worked almost entirely by remote control! He was literally too good to be true. Now take a look at Kismet, one of a range of state-of-the-art research projects being carried out at MIT. Kismet and Johnny Five look like cousins, but Kismet is for real - it has much more going on inside. It can, for example, mimic a number of human emotional expressions (especially those involving eyebrows). Then there is the Honda-Kawasaki ASIMO [image]. It can walk, has colour vision, face recognition, gesture recognition, and speech, and can even obey simple commands, but it has little intelligence, and no volition [= free will] at all! QRIO [image] is Sony's answer to ASIMO. It can do most things ASIMO can do, but has better hand and finger control. There is even a famous publicity image of four identical QRIOs playing Ave Maria on hand-bells, as a party-piece [show me]! Nowadays we even have robots made only out of spots of light on a display screen. Here's just such a "software agent" - a virtual android with lots of intelligence and no complicated mechanical bits at all, just a lot of pre-formed binary; not unlike one of Bouchon's weaving patterns, in fact, save that the method of delivery of the final image involves less wool! She's an "avatar", the BBC's Ananova, virtual newsreader and prototype "cyberbabe".
ASIDE: Avatars are already at work in the service of humankind. For their clinical use in the treatment of autistic spectrum disorders, see the entry for the AS Interactive project.
And what of the future? Well eventually the brass head will speak, do not doubt it, and when it does there will be no danger of it going unnoticed [it may well be kept under the cloak of military secrecy, but that is a different issue]. What we shall not know, however, is what to do with it when it does speak. What, in other words, will it be? A servant? A God? An idol? A weapon of mass destruction? That, perhaps, is when the real philosophy is going to be needed, so we had better give the very last word to the immaterialist, Theodore Christlieb (Modern Doubt, 1874, p156) .....
"In good sooth, the materialists are the most dangerous enemies of progress the world has ever seen"
MATS: See Mehrabian Achieving Tendency Scale.
Mature Defenses: See defense mechanisms.
May, Rollo: [American existentialist psychologist (1909-1994).] [Click for external biography] We touch briefly upon May's work in the entries for aggression, humanistic theory and and aggression, psychodynamic theory and.
Maze Following (Visual): [See firstly executive function and dysexecutive syndrome.] ENTRY TO FOLLOW
MBCT: See mindfulness-based cognitive therapy.
MBSR: See mindfulness-based stress reduction.
MBTI: See Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.
McCullough's Ten Commandments: See materialism and underlying mechanism (2) and the onward link.
McDougall, William: [British (later American) psychologist (1871-1938).] [Click for external biography] McDougall is noteworthy in the context of the present glossary for his work on aggression, institutionalisation of.
MCST: See Wisconsin Card Sorting Test.
Mead, George Herbert: [American social psychologist (1863-1931).] [Click for external biography] Mead is noteworthy in the context of the present glossary for his work on self.
Meadow, Sir Samuel Roy: [British paediatrician (1933-).] [Click for external biography] Meadow is noteworthy in the context of the present glossary for his work on Munchausen syndrome by proxy and sudden infant death syndrome.
Meadow's Syndrome: See Munchausen syndrome by proxy.
Meaning: Meaning is "that which is intended to be or actually is expressed or indicated [.....] Of language, a sentence, word, etc.: the signification, sense, import [.....] The intended sense of (a person's) words" (O.E.D.). More analytically, it is that which a symbol signifies, or a proposition predicates. When that meaning can be expressed verbally, it will present as a number of related propositions, combining to produce upon demand a dictionary definition of a target word. It is thus what the Greek philosophers termed logos, and needs to be rendered as "account of" or "formula for" (Lawson-Tancred, 1986, p117). A serious philosophical problem then arises, namely that the full significance of a concept is coloured by a potentially limitless number of onward associations, thanks to the network nature of our semantic memories. For example, the nub of the dictionary definition of "pen" is that it is "a writing tool" (O.E.D.), although what this definition does not include (and never could cover, because it would need to be tailored personally to each individual reader's specific past history) are the associations which "pen" might bring to mind. This is what Titchener (1910) had in mind when he wrote: "One mental process is the meaning of another mental process if it is that other's context" (p367) [it is also worth noting en passant that the essential individuality of meaning is the central tenet of Personal Construct Theory]. William James drew attention to the problem that the meaning of any thought was always going to be "one of those evanescent and 'transitive' facts of mind which introspection cannot [reach]" (James, 1890, pI.472).
Mehrabian, Albert: [American psychologist.] [Homepage] Mehrabian is noteworthy in the context of the present glossary for his work on body language and the Mehrabian Achieving Tendency Scale.
Meinong, Alexius: [Austrian philosopher-psychologist (1853-1920).] [Click for external biography] Meinong studied under Brentano at Vienna, before going on to establish the Graz Psychological Institute in 1894. His emphasis on the need for empirical support during psychological theorizing helped psychology consolidate its then-recently-acquired status as a science. His most influential early works were "On Assumptions" (Meinong, 1902, 1910/1983) and "On Gegenstandstheory" (Meinong, 1904). [See now consciousness, Meinong's theory of.]
Memory for Gist: [See firstly gist and Bartlett (1932).] Understanding a complex narrative or a technical argument requires what the man in the street would call "grasping" or "getting the gist" of a very deep message; what Bartlett (1932) called the "bare outline" (p75) or "the general form, or scheme, or plan" (p83) behind the words. [Compare story memory and Thorndike (1977).]
Memory Impairment: Memory dysfunction is a major element in differential diagnosis under DSM-IV, and - to be judged pathological - must be "sufficiently severe so as to be clinically significant" (First, Frances, and Pincus, 1995, p83).
Memory Span: A memory test in which subjects are presented with strings of test items for short term rehearsal. Performance levels off in normals as soon as the string exceeds about seven items in length, and is one of the first abilities to fail following neurological trauma.
Memory, Physiological versus Functional Types: Just as there are many types of building but only a few types of brick, cognitive science can identify many functional types of knowledge but only three underlying physical memory types, that is to say, memory types which can be pinned down to concrete anatomical or physiological structures and/or processes. The three recognised physical memory types are as follows .....
Structural - Long-Term Memory (LTM): This type of memory derives ultimately from networks of neurons wired together by physical neural fibres and organised into "processing modules". It supports a large number of conditioning and knowledge types, and, although it takes some time to establish itself, is then relatively durable. The adjective "long" indicates a lifespan between an hour or two and several decades.
Electrical - Short-Term Memory (STM): This type of memory contains transient knowledge, that is to say, information on its way into, or out of, LTM. Physiologically it derives from momentary fluctuations in ionic electrical potential - both spiked and graded - within neurons, whilst psychologically it accounts for the momentary contents of the cognitive system, and, presumably, of the small fraction thereof which is our consciousness. The adjective "short" indicates a lifespan between say a few milliseconds and, say, two or three seconds, although "reverberatory" feedback within or between modules might, on occasion, artificially extend this.
Electrochemical - Medium-Term Memory (not usually abbreviated): This type of memory does not contain any knowledge at all, but rather maintains pointers (sometimes called "tags") to recently activated points within LTM. Biologically this "touch-and-glow" ability derives from synaptic sensitisation processes such as "calcium switching" and "second messenger" neurotransmission, and psychologically it is the key to interfacing the electrical and the structural aspects of memory, and thus maintaining the continuity and coherence of thought. The adjective "medium" indicates a period between, say, two or three seconds and one or two hours. [See under protein kinase studies in the body of this glossary.]
As for the functional memory types which the physical systems combine to provide our minds with, non-psychologists may find it useful to begin by looking up perceptual memory, episodic memory, and semantic memory, and newcomers to neuroscience should familiarise themselves firstly with neuroanatomy, and then move on to neurotransmission and synapse.
Memory Trace: Same as engram (which use).
Mental Capacity Act, 2005: This Act states that every adult has the right to make his or her own decisions and must be assumed to have capacity to do so unless it is proved otherwise. They also have the right to be supported in enforcing that decision, even if the outcome seems unwise.
Mental Model: This is the received modern term for the accumulation of long-term memory structures, most probably of all possible memory types, which documents the layout of the external world. The concept has been very heavily influenced by the work of Philip Johnson-Laird, Stuart Professor of Psychology at Princeton University. Johnson-Laird wrote his first major papers on the subject in the early 1980s (Johnson-Laird, 1981; 1983), however the term goes back at least to the 1940s, thus .....
"[While] as a rule mere objects evoke, in themselves, little response, anything which in the light of our previous knowledge puzzles us or defeats our insight or suggests new possibilities may evoke a very definite response. We want then to find some scheme in which our various experiences combine to produce patterns in us [..... which .....] can become developed to the point where their relevance to one another becomes functional; in consciousness this is indicated by ideas 'striking' us . We then have a mental model of a possible event in the external world ....." (Craik, undated pre-1945, in Sherwood, 1966, p72.)
Mental Philosophy: See philosophy, mental.
Mental Verbs: A relatively small class of verbs describing the basic metacognitive states and operations of the mind, whose study is central both to modern cognitive philosophy and many branches of paediatric and adult clinical psychology. Specifically, "we may call those verbs mental that express propositional attitudes like believing, intending, desiring, hoping, knowing, perceiving, noticing, remembering, and so on" (Davidson, 1970, p83). [For examples, see the separate entries for mental verbs (factive) and mental verbs (non-factive).]
Mental Verbs (Factive): [See firstly mental verbs.] "A term used in the classification of verbs, referring to a verb which takes a complement clause, and where the speaker presupposes the truth of the proposition expressed in that clause. For example, know, agree, realise, etc. are 'factive verbs' (or 'factives'): in She knows that the cat is in the garden, the speaker presupposes that the cat is in the garden" (Crystal, 2003, p175). Such verbs appear in normal development from around two years of age, beginning with "to know" and "to think". As classified by Kiparsky and Kiparsky (1970), the factives are one of the two main types of mental verbs (the other being mental verbs (non-factive)).
Mental Verbs (Non-Factive): [Sometimes "contrafactive".] [See firstly mental verbs (factive).] As classified by Kiparsky and Kiparsky (1970), the non-factives are one of the two main types of mental verbs (the other being mental verbs (factive)). They are mental verbs describing indefinite states of mind such as "to suspect", "to doubt", "to wish", "to pretend", and "to imagine".
Mentalese: See language of thought.
Mereological Supervenience: [See firstly supervenience.] Mereological supervenience is "the doctrine that the character of a whole is supervenient upon the properties and relationships holding for its parts" (Kim, 1993, p113). Kim goes on to point out (a) that this sort of supervenience will always have to cross two domains by definition, "one domain consisting of wholes, and another consisting of their parts" (Ibid.), and (b) that we still have a lot of work to do in deciphering how this sort of supervenience works in practice [although the possibility of biological semaphores and busy pins offers some grounds for early optimism here.]
Mesmer, Franz: [Austrian physician (1734-1815).] [Click for external biography] See Mesmerism.
Mesmerism: This is the at-the-time-popular name for the system of hypnosis devised as a experimental medical treatment by Mesmer in the 1770s. The system involved attaching magnets to patients and then having them swallow preparations containing iron. Mesmer claimed improvements for a number of ailments, and attributed these to a mysterious property which he named "animal magnetism". He published his technique in "Mémoire sur la Découverte du Magnétisme Animal" (Mesmer, 1779), but a commission of investigation set up by King Louis XVI concluded in 1784 that there was no true physical influence at work, merely the effects of suggestion.
Metabolic Pumping: [See firstly random molecular movement.] Our bodies are made up of billions of cells, each one surrounded by a porous cell membrane. The passing of chemicals across these membranes due to osmosis is a significant biological problem because if steps were not taken to prevent it, the cytoplasm within the cell would either gain fluid from its surroundings (thereby becoming diluted, even to the point of splitting the cell membrane open), or else lose fluid to its surroundings (thereby becoming thickened and unable to carry out its normal metabolic tasks). Now evolution seems to have solved the problem of porous membranes in a number of ways. For example, one method was to keep the concentration of the cytoplasm and its surrounding fluids equal. Another was to use thicker membranes, such as when Schwann cells provide a myelin sheath to the axons of myelinated neurons. However, the most sophisticated method of all was to develop pores in the cell wall capable of chemically forcing the unwanted particles back out again as they invaded (or the wanted ones back in again as they escaped). This process consumes energy, however, for which reason it is known as metabolic pumping. A metabolic pump is thus a device within the cell membrane which picks up particles from one side of the membrane and actively transports them to the other. Provided it is pumping in the right direction, it can be used to counteract the effects of osmosis. It is conventional to specify the particle concerned when the pump is named. The neuron's sodium pump, for example, pushes sodium ions outwards so as to counteract the natural inflow due to random molecular movement. Dean (1941) has been credited with having first suggested active metabolic pumping of sodium ions in this way.
Metacognition: [Literally, "cognition after or about cognition".] In its broadest sense, "metacognition" is the act of turning the focus of one's mental faculties onto those mental faculties themselves. It is thus "thinking about thinking", or "knowing about knowing", or "making judgments about judgments", as when we say "I am certain of my facts", or "It's taking me longer to remember things nowadays". The term started to become popular in the late 1970s, following its introduction by Flavell (1976). The underlying construct, however, is far older, being seen in many (probably all) of the early theories of consciousness and self. Here are a few examples from elsewhere in this glossary .....
consciousness, Aristotle's theory of - see the notion of aesthesis koine and the problem of infinite regress.
consciousness, Brentano's theory of - see the notions of Wahrnehmung and Beobachtung.
consciousness, Hegel's theory of - see Hegel's point about the mind possessing an individuality which knows its own individuality.
consciousness, Kant's theory of - see Kant's point about the Ich Denke.
Flavell (1979) defines metacognitive knowledge as "that segment of your (a child's, an adult's) stored world knowledge that has to do with people as cognitive creatures" (p906), and he sees successful cognitive monitoring as requiring the interaction of such knowledge with a succession of appropriate experiences. The notion of metacognition as a sort of mental quality controller - that there was a discrete skill in a mind watching itself at work - was then turned into a formal theory of clinical practice in the work of Mary Main (Main and Goldwyn, 1984, et seq.) [for more on which see the separate entry for metacognitive monitoring]. Coming right up to date, metacognition remains one of the hot topics of modern cognitive science, not least because it is one of the principal functional areas for those developing the next generation of artificial minds. WHERE TO NEXT: For more on the classical problems of explaining cognition EITHER continue with the Kant link above OR address many of the same problems in consciousness, Heidegger's theory of, OR come right up-to-date with consciousness, Dretske's theory of. For more on the underlying mechanisms, see meta-representation. For more on the clinical relevance of (defects in) metacognition, see metacognitive monitoring. For more on artificial mind, see false belief test, artificial intelligence and.
Metacognitive Monitoring: [See firstly metacognition and attachment, personality disorders and.] This is the hypothetical higher order control process behind Main and Goldwyn's (1984) notion that "the quality of the infant's attachment to the parent" appears to be significantly related (a) to "the adult's reconstruction of his or her attachment history", and (b) to "the child's later representation of self and others" (Main, 1991, p127). Main and Goldwyn (1984) had been studying the "intergenerational effect" in child abuse [for more on which, see toxic parenting and cognitive deficit] and had noted that there was still "much to learn about the specific mechanism" (p204) of transmission. Here is a description of the problem they faced .....
"From the time of its first discovery, the child abuse syndrome has been associated with a history of the parent's own experience of abuse in childhood [citations]. An early report described a pattern of three generations of child-battering in some families studied, and a pattern of child neglect or child battering crossing at least two generations in other families [citation]. [.....] Studies of the child-rearing histories of abusive parents converge, in sum, to reveal 'a consistent pattern of aggressive, physically punitive, childhood experiences' [citation]" (Main and Goldwyn, 1984, p204).
Main and Goldwyn therefore turned their research gaze onto the "behavioural resemblance" between abused children and their abusing parents, and at whether this indicated causally important differences between the abusing and the non-abusing sectors of the population at large. They began by reviewing the "largely discouraging or contradictory" (p205) literature on the subject, noting as follows .....
"Seemingly, only two conclusions could be drawn. These were, first, that abusing parents suffer a general difficulty with the control of aggression, one which extends beyond the episodes of abuse of a particular child [citations]. Second, abusing parents tend to be both personally and socially isolated from the rest of the community and from extended family resources [citations] [, much of it] self-imposed" (Main and Goldwyn, 1984, p205)
They then found precisely the sort of strong behavioural resemblances they had set out to find .....
"[We] found several aspects of a mother's failure to integrate her past experiences significantly related to her infant's avoidance. If a mother insisted that she was unable to recall her childhood, her infant was significantly likely to avoid her. If a mother idealised her rejecting mother, her infant was also likely to avoid her. But if the mother expressed resentment and anger toward her mother during the interview, and if she was coherent regarding her own feelings and experiences surrounding attachment, her infant was unlikely to avoid her. Thus the child's avoidance of its mother as assessed in infancy bore a systematic relationship to the mother's efforts to describe her own childhood experiences, and particularly to apparent distortions in mother's cognitive processes. These points can be illustrated through an attention to particular cases. One mother [.....] described her mother as 'a good one' and said they had a fine relationship. When asked what she had done when upset in childhood, she answered that she had usually run outside. She also recalled an episode in which she had broken her hand but had been afraid to tell her mother, for fear she would be angry. She received a high score for frequency of insisting she could not remember her childhood, a high score for rejection by her mother, and a high score for idealisation of her mother. Her infant was extremely avoidant of her" (p214; emphasis added).
Main (1991) explains that the relationship between a person's behaviour and their attachment history is highly complex, and adapts Bowlby's (1973) "internal mental model" as describing the accumulated conceptualisations of the self and the world within which it exists. She then notes as follows .....
"Pressed to describe and evaluate their attachment experiences and relations, insecure individuals frequently present a jumble of contradictory thoughts, feelings, and intentions which can only loosely be described as a 'model'" (p132).
In order to account for this sort of "incoherence of ideation regarding attachment" (p132), Bowlby admitted the possibility of "multiple models", including unconscious ones, even if that meant taking different interpretations of given aspects of reality. Main offers the inherently contradictory examples of both fearing and hoping that one's father might leave home, and both approving and disapproving of the quality of one's mother's mothering. She then identifies in the debate over childhood representation the same sort of distinction which Kant had had in mind when distinguishing the noumenon from the phenomenon. Young children, she points out routinely fail to distinguish "'reality' (which can never be directly comprehended)" (p134) from "our limited and diverse representational grasp of that 'reality'" (ibid.). She then presents her core argument, as follows .....
"The regulation of cognition, or metacognitive monitoring, includes planning activities, monitoring them, and checking outcomes. It necessarily includes the self-regulation of knowledge which should occur when the thinker becomes aware of contradictions between presently held ideas, a state which ideally ought to lead to cognitive reorganisation [citations]. [.....] In contrast to the regulation of cognition, knowledge about cognition refers to second-order cognition [rather] than the representation itself. Thus the simple proposition, 'I am an unworthy person' is not an example of metacognition, whereas the thought that 'I am a person who thinks that I am an unworthy person rather frequently' is a second-order representation and an example of metacognitive knowledge. Metacognitive knowledge is described by Brown et al [(1983)] as 'relatively stable, statable, often fallible, and late-developing information that human thinkers have about their own cognitive processes and those of others'. It is, in fact, only when learners have acquired some appreciation of the fallible nature of knowledge that they can consider their own cognitive processes as objects of reflection" (p134).
Main believes that this important ability to "step back" in order to consider one's own cognitive processes may appear as young as three years of age, but appears in "most (but not all)" (p134) by age six years. She also adopts Markman's (1984) "dual-coding deficit hypothesis". This holds that young children, working as they do to a simple model of reality, are poorly equipped to fit one item into two categories (as with the item <man> who is both a <father> and a <doctor>). Having ensured that these notions are fresh in her readers' minds, Main then reports her experience with a group of six-year-old children who had been interviewed regarding their understanding as to the nature of thought. Main had hypothesised that insecure children would have difficulty understanding the private nature of thought. She had studied 15 subjects, 9 secure, 3 insecure-avoidant, and 3 insecure-ambivalent, and reported provisionally as follows .....
"All of the children who were secure or avoidant with mother gave reasonable answers to questions regarding the nature and privacy of thought. Most children gave adequate responses to the first question (what is a thought), and all located thoughts in their brain, mind, or heads. [Asked if] they had [recurrent thoughts], most children gave cursory answers and said no. Avoidant children were restricted in their answers and apparently in their interest, while the secure children were more often thoughtful, fluid, and engaged. [.....] In keeping with our hypothesis, we found that all three of the insecure-ambivalent children (and no others) stated that others knew what they were thinking when they could not see them ('my mom ... she's psychic ... she knows I'm thinking she wouldn't be so mean'), and that they themselves had the same powers ('I'm psychic too')" (Main, 1991, pp147-148).
Here are some specimen responses .....
Insecure-Avoidant: "Do other people know what you are thinking when they can't see you? [.....] They might, if they couldn't see me, if I was lost, they might know that I was thinking that I wanted to go home. Do you know what other people are thinking when you can't see them? No" (Main, 1991, p149).
Insecure-Ambivalent: "Do other people know what you are thinking when they can't see you? Mmhm. Yes. They know what I'm thinking. Who? Somebody. I promised not to tell. [.....] How do they know? Easy. I think of them and then they think of me. Do you know what other people are thinking when you can't see them? Yes. Who? I can't tell. Do you know what thoughts look like? Yeah, they're big and round" (ibid.).
Secure: "What is a thought? You think like, uh, you think like something's gonna happen and you don't know. You think but you don't know. Where are thoughts? Thoughts are in your head. [.....] Do other people know what you are thinking when they can't see you? No [.....]. Do you know what other people are thinking when you can't see them? No. Maybe they aren't even thinking. That's a possibility. (Laughs) That's what I THOUGHT. That they might not be thinking. Do you know what thoughts look like? I don't know. Like movies? Maybe. What else do thoughts look like? Like teeny little things (gestures to show how tiny, closing thumb and forefinger), and there's all these teeny little things and like those are all the things in the whole wide world. All those tiny things you can think of" (ibid.).
Main and Hesse (1990) have considered how easy it is for parents' unresolved traumatic experiences to corrupt their own children's attachment experiences. They speculated that both frightening and frightened behaviour on the part of a parent can very quickly have a pathological effect on the way an infant learns to experience and handle its own emotions, thus .....
"We suggest that a parent suffering from unresolved mourning may still be frightened by her loss experiences. As a result, she may display an anxiety that could in turn be frightening to her infant" (Main and Hesse, 1990, p174).
To help establish how that anxiety might be communicated, Main and Hesse conducted a further analysis of their data, and noted the following three behavioural channels, "each of which seems to us likely to frighten an infant, either by being directly threatening or by indicating fright on the part of the parent" (p175).
ASIDE: Readers who are unfamiliar with the rich variety of options available for non-verbal communication should check out Section 3.2 of the companion resource "Communication and the Naked Ape" before proceeding. Note especially the use of non-verbal "back-channels" as mechanisms for delivering the constant feedback necessary for effective conversation.
Here are Main and Hesse's three pathogenic communicative behaviours .....
Unusual Vocal Patterns: The first "side channel" of anxiety-communication is the human voice, not for the words it produces, but for the intonation with which it produces them, thus .....
"These include: (1) simultaneous voicing and de-voicing intonation (especially during greeting [.....]) leading to an ominous, or 'haunted', tone or effect. Thus the parent may greet the infant with a simultaneously voiced and de-voiced 'Hi'. This is a breathy, extended, falling intonation which can be recreated by saying 'Hi' while pulling in on the diaphragm. (2) Parent's voice has sudden marked drop in intonation to deep or low pitch. When marked, such changes are startling, especially when the speaker is a woman whose pitch and intonation suddenly seem to belong to a male speaker" (Main and Hesse, 1990, p175).
Unusual Movement Patterns: The second side channel is the movement which accompanies speech, thus .....
"These include: (1) parent suddenly moves object or own face very close to infant's face ('looming'). (2) Parent's movements or postures are part of a pursuit sequence. (3) Parent presents conflicting signals by, for example, calling infant while standing [in] a threatening posture. (4) Unpredictable invasions of the infant's personal space, as the parent's hands suddenly sliding from behind or across the infant's face or throat. (5) Parent's handling [suggests] extreme timidity. (6) Parent is extremely responsive to any indications of rejection on the part of the infant" (op. cit., p175).
Unusual Speech Content: The third pathogenic communicative behaviour is gross inappropriacy of content, as illustrated on the following extract .....
"These include: (1) parent implies that infant's actions could have harmful consequences - (a) 'You'll kill that little (stuffed) bear if you do that!' (b) 'Uuuohh! (Frightened intake of breath as infant moves toy car across bare floor.) Gonna have an accident! Everybody's gonna get killed!' (2) Sudden initiation of games with a frightening speech content, if accompanied by an unusual, frightening, pattern of movement and intonation - 'I'm gonna get you!' (3) Direct indications of fear of the infant, as, for example, backing away from the infant while directing the infant not to follow in a stammering, apprehensive voice - 'Don't follow, d-don't'" (op. cit., p176).
WHERE TO NEXT: Worryingly, there is no single body of theory capable of commenting on the above. The pathogenic behaviours described certainly seem to be "bad habits" rather than deliberate attempts to frighten or do harm, so the generic treatment would be to try to develop better social and communication skills on the part of the parent [for more on which, see the entry for social skills training]. However, the possibility (indeed probability) remains that the problem is deeper, even, than that - specifically, with a parental cognitive deficit, perhaps, and/or personality defect. Worse still, it is not possible to engage theoretically with the interaction of deep (i.e., pre-verbal) parental motivation and surface parental speech without getting to grips with two major topics in linguistic philosophy, namely pragmatics and speech acts, and these are both highly abstract and highly technical theoretical areas. Note also the functions of "mirroring" and "shaping" in normal early mother-child interaction, and reflect upon the role played by such simple behaviours in the formation of thought and self.
Metacontrol: In the context of the lateralisation of function debate, this is Levy and Trevarthen's (1976) term for the phenomenon of hemispheric dominance [see consciousness, Gazzaniga's theory of], and implies that one hemisphere is elevated to be "a controller of controllers" on the grounds that it would be impractical to have two equal "minds" in one body. More generally, the term can safely be applied to any vertically related pair of modules in a control hierarchy.
Metaphysics: [Greek meta = "after/beyond", with phusika = "natural things".] Metaphysics is "that branch of speculative inquiry which treats of the first principles of things, including such concepts as being, substance, essence, time, space, cause, identity, etc.; theoretical philosophy as the ultimate science of Being and Knowing" (O.E.D.). Alternatively, "metaphysics is concerned with basic questions about the nature of reality: what caused the universe? what is the nature of space and time? are all events caused? ....." (Kitcher, 1996, xxvii). As such, Metaphysics is the title of one of Aristotle's surviving classics, and the primary source-work for Aristotelian "first philosophy", being so-called because it is discusses the physics beyond physics, that is to say, the science of the not-readily-demonstratable truth. In Book Alpha of this compound work, Aristotle dwells on what might constitute a philosophically complete explanation of causation, and concludes that with most natural phenomena you have to recognise four different avenues of causation, as follows .....
"There are four basic ways in which one thing can cause another. It can be its cause by providing the form that it realises, by being the matter from which it is made, by being the source of the process that leads to its coming to be, or by being that for the sake of which the thing is produced. In any actual case of causal explanation it is vital to distinguish these four kinds of causation" (Aristotle, ca. 350 BCE, The Metaphysics [Lawson-Tancred Translation], p11).
In Book Beta, Aristotle takes these "four causes" and derives no less than 15 "puzzles", which, taken together, delineate the proper scope of metaphysics. The remainder of the work is then an exploration, with argument and example versus counter-argument and counter-example, but no final resolution. Here are the 15 puzzles, as laid out in Lawson-Tancred's (1998) editorial introduction .....
Puzzle #1: The question here is whether there is a single science of the aforementioned four causes, or several such sciences.
Puzzle #2: The question here is whether the same science covers the studies of logic and substance.
Puzzle #3: The question here is whether there is a single science of "sensible" and "supra-sensible" substances.
Puzzle #4: The question here is whether the science of substance is also the science of the properties of substance.
Puzzle #5: The question here is whether there are only sensible substances or also supra-sensible ones.
Puzzle #6: The question here is whether the "principles of entities" consist of "the material elements of which they are composed or the genera to which they belong" (p53).
Puzzle #7: If the answer to Puzzle #6 is "genera", then the further question is whether we are talking "primary genera" or "ultimate genera".
Puzzle #8: The question here is whether there is "something over and above particular individuals" (p54).
Puzzle #9: The question here is whether principles have "formal or numerical unity" (p54).
Puzzle #10: The question here is whether the principles of perishable and imperishable things are the same or different.
Puzzle #11: The question here is whether "one and being" are "per se substances".
Puzzle #12: The question here is whether numbers, bodies, surfaces, and points are all substances.
Puzzle #13: The question here is whether it is necessary to allow Forms in addition to entities.
Puzzle #14: The question here is whether principles themselves "have being" as a potentiality before they appear in actuality.
Puzzle #15: The question here is whether principles are universal or particular.
Meta-Representation: [See firstly representation.] A meta-representation is a representation of a representation. The term comes from Rutgers University's Zenon W. Pylyshyn (Pylyshyn, 1978), but the underlying principles are also seen in Miller, Kessel, and Flavell's (1970) notion of the sort of "recursive" representation needed by people thinking about people thinking about people, etc. Pylyshyn (1978) offers the following example statements .....
"I know that snow is white."
"I know that X knows that snow is white."
"I know that X knows that Y knows that snow is white."
ASIDE: Scott (2006 online) warns that there is a far-reaching difference of emphasis between these two definitions. He begins by taking as an example of a first-order belief, the proposition "Melissa believes that her dog is dead". For this to mean anything, he argues, requires that two separate mental representations be in place, namely (a) the substantive proposition "My dog is dead", and (b) some sort of "true" code. The second-order belief "Anne believes that Melissa believes that her dog is dead" is admittedly more complex, and yet despite the fact that it is a second-order belief it does NOT require a second-order representation to process it. It requires only "a representation of Melissa's mental state of believing". This implies (rather counter-intuitively) that Anne will be aware of Melissa's belief while Melissa herself is not! So it is the "belief states" which present the processing and storage load, not the representations as such.
To cut a long story short, it appears that meta-representation is a biologically fragile ability, and can fail, resulting in impaired social interactions as set out in the entry for mind-reading and the onward links.
Method of Repeated Production: This is a memory test in which subjects are presented with test stimuli and required to reproduce them from memory after a series of intervals. Wulf (1922) used this method to investigate progressive changes in the memory trace for simple visual shapes, and Bartlett (1932) used it to investigate progressive changes in memory for narrative. [Compare method of serial reproduction.]
Method of Savings: This is a powerful but complex memory measure dating back to Ebbinghaus (1885). The subject is firstly trained to criterion on the learning task in question. Learning is then discontinued for a period, as a result of which some forgetting will take place. At the end of this period, the subject is retrained to the original criterion. The number of retraining trials, however, is less than it would have been had there been no initial training (because some learning survived the delay period). Retraining measures (or "relearning" measures, or "savings") can thus be used to measure both the amount of initial learning and the speed of its loss.
Method of Serial Reproduction: This is a memory test in which subjects are presented with test stimuli and required to reproduce them from memory after an interval. This reproduction is then used as the test stimulus for a second subject, whose output is used as the stimulus for the third subject, and so on. Bartlett (1932) used this method to investigate progressive changes in memory for narrative. [Compare method of repeated production.]
Metzinger, Thomas: [German philosopher (1958-).] [Home Page] Thomas Metzinger is arguably the most interdisciplinary mental philosopher since Leibniz, and speaks with authority not only on matters phenomenological, but also on just about every other aspect of cognitive science as well.
ASIDE: One can readily list eight supersciences with at least a passing contribution to make to cognitive science, namely mental philosophy, cultural anthropology, physical anthropology, zoology, neuroscience, psychology, computer science, and theoretical linguistics. In turn, these supersciences have discrete disciplines within them (social versus cognitive versus developmental psychology, for example). It is therefore a tribute to Metzinger's energy that the only discipline we see little or no mention of in his writings is computer science's own private version of epistemology, that is to say, database design.
Meynert, Theodor Hermann: [Austrian neurologist (1833-1892).] [Click for external biography] Meynert graduated as a physician in 1861, and specialised in psychiatric medicine, being appointed professor of nervous diseases at the University of Vienna in 1873. He did much to attract up-and-coming clinician-theorists such as Wernicke and Freud, and established such an international reputation that William James adopted "the Meynert scheme" in his Principles of Psychology (James, 1890, pI.26). Fancher (2002/2006 online) assesses Meynert's importance as follows .....
"According to [Meynert's] model the cortex is the anatomical substrate of mind, with specific cells in the sensory and motor areas representing specific ideas and memories. The specific cells are potentially interconnected in a vast network by means of 'association fibres,' the bulk of whose substance lies in the frontal lobes. After two cells have been simultaneously excited (equivalent to the simultaneous arousal or two ideas), an association fibre opens up between them. With each subsequent simultaneou excitation, it opens up further. This provides the anatomical basis for the association of ideas; after an association fibre has opened up it provides a pathway by which excitation in one center can flow directly to the other. A 'train of thought' is simply the consequence of excitation flowing through a series of cortical cells that have been associated because of previous simultaneous excitations. Every person, of course, has a unique pattern of experience and so develops a unique pattern of cortical associations that represent his memories. These associations are the anatomical substrate of a person's 'individuality,' and Meynert referred to them collectively as the ego (German Ich)" (Fancher, 2002/2006 online).
Michotte, Albert: [Belgian psychologist (1881-1965).] [Click for external biography] See causality.
Mill, James: [British Associationist philosopher (1773-1836).] [Click for external biography] See Associationism.
Mill, John Stuart: [British Utilitarianist philosopher (1806-1873).] [Click for external biography] See ratiocination.
Mill, Leibniz's: See Leibniz's mill.
Miller, Neal E.: [American psychologist (1909-2002).] [Click for external biography] Miller is noteworthy in the context of the present glossary for his work on aggression, frustration and, as well as for more or less single-handedly constructing the science of biofeedback.
Miller, George A.: [American psychologist (1920-).] [Click for external biography] Miller [academic homepage] is noteworthy in the context of the present glossary for having established the cognitivist perspective with his 1955 paper "The Magical Number Seven" (Miller, 1956). [See also chunking.]
Mimesis: [(Adjectival form "mimetic") Greek <μιμησις> (now acceptable as technical English) = "imitation".] See image.
Mimema[ta]: [Greek = "the thing[s] imitated" (from mimesis).] [See firstly image.] A mimema is "the result of an activity [the Greeks] named mimesis" (Sörbom, 2002/2006 online). Mimemata are things to be perceived, but not real ones. Mimemata thus include, but are not limited to, pictorial representations. Here is how Sörbom (2002/2006 online) explains this at-first-sight confusing distinction .....
"When the Greeks of the classical period wanted to characterise the basic nature of painting and sculpture, poetry and music, dance and theatre, i.e., things we today call works of art, most of them agreed that such things were mimemata [.....], the result of an activity they named mimesis. [.....] Traditionally the English word 'imitation' is used, although inadequately, to translate the Greek word mimesis and the philosophical discussion of the behaviour denoted by mimesis is commonly called 'the theory of imitation'. [..... However,] several words were used more or less synonymously as, for instance, mimema (imitation), eikon (image), homoioma (likeness)" (Sörbom, 2002/2006 online).
"The basic distinction for the ancient theory of mimesis was that between mimemata and real things. For example, a house is a real thing whereas a painting or a sculpture representing a house is a mimema, a thing which looks like a house but is not a house. [.....] The mimema as a thing is a sort of vehicle for 'man-made dreams produced for those who are awake', as Plato suggestively formulates it (Sophist, 266c). Neither the dream nor the mimema is a real thing" (ibid.).
Mind: In everyday usage, one's "mind" is "the seat of a person's consciousness, thoughts, volitions, and feelings; the system of cognitive and emotional phenomena and powers that constitutes the subjective being of a person" (O.E.D.). This definition fits well with Descartes' (1642) observation that mind was "that substance in which thought immediately resides" (Descartes, Objections and Replies, §161/6; Haldane and Ross translation, p254), but it lacks scientific precision [because if we go on to ask what "thought" is, we reply - too circularly for comfort - that it is what the mind "does"]. The word itself comes from the Latin mens via its inflected form mentis, and is theoretically useful to the extent that it brings together into a single lexeme all facets of mental function [the Greek philosophers had used the separate terms nous, oiesis, psuche, etc., to chart much the same territory; the Germans Gemüt, Sinn, Kopf, Geist, Seele, etc.]. Mediaeval and Renaissance Western philosophers tended (if they knew what was good for them) to follow the church's official line, that is to say, they adopted St. Thomas Aquinas's Vatican-approved form of the Greek writings. The 17th century then divided its effort between the Aristotelianism of the British Empiricists and the Platonism of the Continental Rationalists [see the separate entries for the details]. John Locke, for example, expressed the Empiricist position on mind, as follows .....
"'Clear and distinct ideas' are terms which, though familiar and frequent in men's mouths, I have reason to think every one who uses does not perfectly understand. [.....] I have therefore, in most places, chose to put 'determinate' ir 'determined', instead of 'clear' and 'distinct' [.....]. By these denominations, I mean some object in the mind, and consequently determined, i.e., such as it is there seen and perceived to be" (Locke, nominally 1690, prefatory notes to the sixth edition of On the Human Understanding [Sir John Lubbock Edition], xv).
..... whereas the Rationalist Gottfried Leibniz saw it as the faculty to reason with the material available to it, expressing himself thus in this scholarly response to Locke .....
"From this it appears that necessary truths, such as we find in pure mathematics and particularly in arithmetic and geometry, must have principles whose proof does not depend on instances nor, consequently, on the testimony of the senses, even though without the senses it would never occur to us to think of them. [.....] Logic also abounds in such truths [.....] and so the proof of them can only come from inner principles, which are described as innate. It would indeed be wrong to think that we can easily read these eternal laws of reason in the soul [.....] but it is enough that they can be discovered within us by dint of attention: the senses give the occasion, and the results of experiments also serve to corroborate reason, somewhat as checks in arithmetic help us to avoid errors of calculation in long chains of reasoning. While men are capable of demonstrative knowledge, beasts, so far as one can judge, never manage to form necessary propositions, since the faculty by which they make thought sequences is something lower than the reason that occurs in men. Beasts' thought sequences are just like those of simple empirics who maintain that what has happened once will happen again in [similar circumstances], although that does not enable them to judge whether the same reasons are at work. [.....] The thought sequences of beasts are only a shadow of reasoning, that is, they are nothing but a connection in the imagination - a passage from one image to another. [.....] For only reason is capable of establishing reliable rules" (Leibniz, 1704/1764, New Essays on the Human Understanding [Remnant and Bennett (1996) edition], §§50-51).
The Empiricist-Rationalist stand-off continued until Immanuel Kant led a late-18th century drive for a compromise "Positivist" position, in which both Locke and Leibniz were equally taken to task for telling less than the whole story. For Kant, the mind both received sensations and then experienced as a result "pure intuitions", and could use both as material of and for reasoning, thus [a long extract, heavily abridged] .....
"The effect of an object on our capacity for presentation, insofar as we are affected by the object, is sensation. Intuition that refers to the object through sensation is called empirical intuition. The undetermined object of an empirical intuition is called appearance. [.....] All presentations in which nothing is found that belongs to sensation I call pure (in the transcendental sense of the term). Accordingly, the pure form of sensible intuitions generally [..... is called] pure intuition. Thus, if from the presentation of a body I separate what the understanding thinks in it [.....] I am still left with something from this empirical intuition, namely extension and shape. [.....] There must, therefore, be a science of [.....] transcendental aesthetic [..... in which] we shall, first of all, isolate sensibility, by separating from it everything that the understanding through its concepts thinks (in connection) with it, so that nothing other than empirical intuition will remain. Second, we shall also segregate from sensibility everything that belongs to sensation, so that nothing will remain but pure intuition [..... of] space and time" (Kant, 1781/1789, Critique [Pluhar Translation], pp72-75; bold emphasis added).
For our own part, we like the mid-19th century stance taken by James Mill in his "Analysis of the Phenomena of the Human Mind" (Mill, 1869), in that (despite its very clear title) this work has no chapter (nor, indeed, lesser section) devoted to the mind. Instead, the word "mind" is used to give a one-syllable handle onto a range of lesser aspects of mentation, and you are required to focus from the outset on the various outward displays of mind, not the thing itself, "observing them one at a time with sufficient care", deriving "empirical generalisations of limited compass, but of great value for practice", and very carefully noting (and learning from) those occasions when these generalisations fail, due to our lack of understanding, to fit together (op. cit., vii). Mill takes account of Locke's sensations and ideas as one major subset of these phenomena, but then includes chapters in turn on "consciousness", "imagination", "abstraction", "belief", "ratiocination" [= "reasoning"], and "the will". This was also the era in which three new branches of psychological science emerged more or less simultaneously, as follows .....
1. Neuropsychology: This line of enquiry studies the effects of brain injury or disease upon the various phenomena of mind - see the companion resource for an introductory timeline [start at Broca (1861) for the short form of the story].
2. Clinical Psychology: This line of enquiry reflects a sudden fascination with what went on in the world's lunatic asylums - see the entry for hysteria for some illustrative detail.
3. The Unconscious: See the entry for unconscious, the for some illustrative detail.
When we get to the 20th century the situation becomes even more complicated, because we have by then started to treat theoretical mental philosophy as "philosophy", and experimental mental philosophy as "psychology". On the philosophical side of things, the British, increasingly represented by Bertrand Russell, followed Mill [see, for example, Russell's (1921) The Analysis of Mind], the Germans followed Kant's phenomenological tradition via Husserl and Meinong to Heidegger, and the Americans toyed with the Pragmatism of the Chicago School. With psychology as experimental science, the British gathered around Myers and later Bartlett at Cambridge and concentrated on applied psychology, the Germans gave us the Gestalt School, and the Americans entered their "Behaviourist period". Then, in the 1950s, came the so-called "cognitive revolution" [nicely reviewed in 2003 by Princeton's revolutionary-in-chief, George A. Miller - see Miller (2003/2007 online)], although it would still be another two decades before a flurry of works agreed that the mind had been regained as a topic of study, and that the "psych" was back in psychology.
ASIDE: Interested readers could do a lot worse than begin with Holt's (1964) "The Return of the Ostracised", in which he charted the return of imagery, move on to Joynson's (1972) "The Return of Mind", and then follow up with Howard Gardner's "The Quest for Mind" (Gardner, 1973), Colin Blakemore's "Mechanics of the Mind" (Blakemore, 1977), and later works such as Richard Gregory's "Mind in Science" (Gregory, 1981), Marvin Minsky's "The Society of Mind" (Minsky, 1985), and Gardner's own follow-up work, "The Mind's New Science" (Gardner, 1985).
Modern research has added at least three major new avenues of enquiry into mind, as follows [numbering continues from the previous indent, to indicate that these are additional, not replacement, areas of interest] .....
4. Artificial Intelligence Studies: This line of enquiry studies machine simulations of such cognitive phenomena as translation, semantics, gaming, machine learning and problem-solving, robotics, and artificial consciousness, and dates from the birth of the electronic computer in the late 1940s. We have covered it in considerable detail elsewhere [for the early years, see Section 4 of "Short-Term Memory (Part 4)", and for the more recent years see Section 1.10 to 1.13 and 3.5 to 3.13 of "Short-Term Memory (Part 5)"].
5. Functional Neuroimaging: This line of enquiry studies the correlations between more-or-less controlled mental activity and more-or-less externally detectable brain activity. It came on-stream in the 1980s with the PET and rCBF techniques of functional tomography, and has improved in resolution, both spatial and temporal, ever since. The modern method of choice is fMRI [click for technical details].
6. "Cognitive Palaeontology": This line of argument attempts to reverse engineer the belief systems of extinct hominids from the physically more enduring data to be found in the fossil record. Schmidt (1934/1936) showed what could be achieved here [see the mention in the entry for identity, comparative approaches to], but we shall provisionally date the modern science to Etienne Patté's (1960) "Les Hommes Préhistoriques et la Religion", although it was later works such as Mithen's (1996) "The Prehistory of the Mind" which have really popularised the new science.
[See now mind-brain problem.]
Mindblindness: This is Baron-Cohen's (1997) term for a defect in an individual's powers of mental modelling specifically for the minds (and needs etc.) of other people, which single defect, as such, is seen as constituting the root cause of all three facets of Wing's triad on all autistic spectrum disorders. Mindblindness is thus one of the best available examples of the cognitive deficit approach to the understanding of mental abnormality, and it achieves its often devastating pathological effect from the fact that it disrupts our species' ability for mind-reading. In short, it impairs our social understanding. [For the more detailed history of this topic, see theory of mind theory of autism.]
"Is [death] not just the separation of soul and body?"
(Plato, Phaedo, §64c; Jowett translation, p112).
[See firstly soul, tripartite.] This is the name given to the confrontation between those who believe mind and soul are two different things and those who believe they ultimately share an explanation (and a host of positions in between). The fundamental issue is whether that which we experience at first hand as the workings of our mind (i.e. our perceptions, emotions, memories, insights, etc.) might conceivably be supported by the "two fistfuls of porridge" (Taylor, 1991) which is our brain. The problems are then (a) that we do not have experiential access to most of what goes on in our mind (to borrow one useful current phrase, most of that lower activity is "transparent" to our introspections), (b) that even when introspection is successful it is by definition impossible for it to be independently validated, and (c) that we are not yet good enough engineers to fathom out the brain's operating principles [that which James Clerk Maxwell in the 19th century and Kenneth Craik in the 20th liked to call "the 'go' of it" (Sherwood, 1966)]. Or to put it another way, there is a lot of mind which never experiences anything, but just goes happily about its work. As a result, there have always been fundamentally different competing views on the mind-brain relationship, as introduced by the separate entry for dualisms or monisms. Russell (1921) offers a concise definition, thus .....
"Those who maintain that mind is the reality and matter an evil dream are called 'idealists' [.....]. Those who argue that matter is the reality and mind a mere property of protoplasm are called 'materialists'. [..... Unfortunately,] the stuff of which the world of our experience is composed is, in my belief, neither mind nor matter, but something more primitive than either" (p10).
Mindfulness: This is Kabat-Zinn's (1990) term for the continuum of self knowledge and control along which individuals can improve once they have learned (if necessary under the guidance of a psychotherapist) to support their awareness of their own mental processes with an appropriate package of attentional control skills. Kabat-Zinn marketed the construct and his particular package of "mindfulness training" techniques as the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction regime, a subvariant form of cognitive behavioural therapy.
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR): This is Kabat-Zinn's (1990/2003) variant form of mindfulness training (itself a subvariant of cognitive behavioural therapy). It is "an eight-session course that teaches participants to become more aware of their mental processes and to develop attentional control" (Smith, 2004, p423).
Mindfulness Training (MT): [See firstly mindfulness.] This is the generic term for modern psychotherapeutic systems based on the construct of mindfulness [see, for example, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy and mindfulness-based stress reduction]. Smith (2004) highlights MT's core clinical strategies this way .....
"Superficially, MT may seem to conflict with CBT. Metacognitive theory seems to suggest that because people with emotional disorders self-focus a great deal and this worsens their distress, MT might make matters worse. In fact, many people self-focus in unhelpful ways (self-critically, or persistently trying to solve the insoluble) when emotionally distressed, and MT helps them to become aware of this, helping them to disengage from self-focusing and to alter how they self-focus towards acceptance and kindness rather than self-criticism and rumination. Another apparent tension between MT and CBT is that in cognitive therapy clients learn how to 'fix' things (e.g., to modify 'automatic thoughts). In MT there is no 'fixing', rather they are simply taught to become aware of such thoughts, neither trying to change them nor act on them" (p424).
Mindness: This is Llinás' (1987) notion of a "high-level awareness, including self-awareness" (p356) which allows "complex goal-directed interactions between a living organism and its environment" (p339). [See now how Llinás uses mindness in defending his own brand of physicalism.]
Mind-Reading: This is Humphrey's (1984) term for socially directed cognition, that is to say, cognition which is in some way responsive to the mental states of others, and which is capable, consequently, of using that information to plan more effective interactions with those others. Mind-reading skills, in other words, help you get your own way! Mind-reading is a powerful and far-reaching cognitive skill, as the following scenarios will demonstrate .....
(1) You give a gesture of encouragement to a harassed colleague at a particularly stressful business meeting, because you know what they are thinking and are sympathetic to what they are feeling. Why? Team spirit, perhaps; or because that colleague is your only supporter in a forthcoming issue of contention.
(2) You shortly need to borrow your neighbour's lawnmower, but remember that you still have to return the ladder he lent you the other week. You therefore make a point of expansively returning the ladder, complete with a posy of flowers for his wife.
In each of these scenarios, there is a central and critical cognitive requirement, namely that you should have room enough in your personal mental model of the world not just for other people as tangible things but for their mental states as well! As to the necessary mechanisms, Whiten (1996) warns very forcefully that mind-reading "is not telepathy" (p277), but depends rather on a complex mix of observations of another's behaviour in a prevailing context. Moreover, the mechanisms responsible - whatever they eventually turn out to be - need to be available to animals and non-verbal humans, and should not therefore be overspecified! [See now theory of mind.]
"Mind Stuff": See res cogitans.
Mind Within Mind: See consciousness, Dennett's theory of and the entry for inner speech.
Mine-ness: This is one of the three philosophically interesting aspects of the first-person perspective identified by Metzinger (2003, 2005b) (the others being selfhood and perspectivalness). Metzinger uses the term to refer to the phenomenological aspects of internality, that is to say, to "the consciously experienced quality of 'inwardness' accompanying bodily sensations" (Metzinger, 2003, p267), and sees it as requiring a "prereflexive sense of ownership" (ibid.), and as manifesting itself "continuously, automatically, and independently of any high-level cognitive operations" (ibid.).
Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE): The MMSE is a quick bedside screening test for higher cognitive functions. For details of questions and scoring, click here. Note the ten short questions addressing orientation to time and place.
Minimum Stimulus Current: In the context of neurotransmission, this is the smallest continuous stimulation required to exceed the action potential threshold.
Minute Perceptions: ["Minute" as in "small". See firstly aesthesis, phenomenal awareness, and ideation.] This (more strictly its French equivalent, petites perceptions) is Leibniz's (1704/1765, New Essays on the Human Understanding) term for a grade of perceptual content part-way between the full phenomenal awareness of something [a state he referred to as "apperception"] and the raw sensory input. New Essays was prepared in the period 1703 to 1704 as a corrective response to the first (in 1700) French translation of Locke's (1690) Essays Concerning the Human Understanding, but its publication was delayed because no sooner had it been completed than Locke died. Only some time after Leibniz's own death (in 1716) did scholars collate and release the manuscript (in 1765). Later scholars have retranslated and re-edited the work. Here, from the 1951 Wiener edition is Leibniz's introduction of the target term [which he invoked in the context of a broader discussion of the relationship between perception and consciousness] .....
"Furthermore, there are a thousand indications which lead us to think that there are at every moment numberless perceptions in us, but without apperception and without reflection; that is to say, changes in the soul itself of which we are not conscious, because the impressions are either too slight or in too great a number or too even, so that they have nothing to distinguish them one from the other; but joined to others, they do not fail to produce their effect and to make themselves felt at least confusedly in the mass. Thus it is that custom causes us not to take notice of the motion of a mill or of a waterfall when we have lived near them for some time. It is not that the motion does not always strike our organs, and that something does not enter the soul which responds to it [.....]; but these impressions [.....], being destitute of the charms of novelty, are not strong enough to attract our attention and our memory, attached as they are to objects more engrossing. For all attention requires memory, [..... even when] we let [present perceptions] pass without reflection and even without being noticed; but if some one calls our attention to them immediately afterwards and makes us notice, for example, some noise which was just heard, we remember it and are conscious of having had at the time some feeling of it. Thus they were perceptions of which we were not immediately conscious, apperception only coming in this case from the warning received after some interval, small though it may be. And to judge still better of the minute perceptions which we are unable to distinguish in the crowd, I am accustomed to make use of the example of the roar or noise of the sea which strikes one when on the shore. To hear this noise as one does it would be necessary to hear the parts which compose the whole, that is to say, the noise of each wave, although each of these little noises only makes itself known in the confused collection of all the others together, that is to say, in the roar itself, and would not be noticed if the wave which makes it was alone" (Leibniz, 1704/1764, New Essays on the Human Understanding [Wiener edition, 1951, pp374-375], §53-54; bold emphasis added); the more complete Remnant and Bennett (1996) translation maintains the above sense].
ASIDE: Note the above reference to mills, an allusion which Leibniz went on to repeat in his 1714 Monadology [see the entry for Leibniz's mill]. It may or may not be relevant that the author had spent some time around 1679 as consultant mining engineer to Duke Johann Friedrich of Brunswick, during which period he experimented with a mine drainage pumping system powered by windmills.
It is worth noting, in passing, that Leibniz had already observed 20 years earlier that the roar of the sea was a complex perception built out of an accumulation of simpler perceptions. Here is how he described this phenomenon in his Discourse on Metaphysics .....
"We can also see that the perceptions of our senses, even when clear, must necessarily contain some confused feeling. For [our body] receives the impressions of all the others, and although our senses bear relations to everything, it is not possible for our soul to attend to everything in all of its particulars. Thus our confused feelings are the result of a variety of perceptions which is indeed infinite - very like the confused murmur a person hears when approaching the sea-shore, which comes from the putting together of the reverberations of innumerable waves. For if several perceptions do not come together to make one, and there is no one which stands out above all the others, and if they all make impressions which are more or less equally strong and equally capable of catching its attention, the soul can only perceive them confusedly" (Leibniz, 1686, Discourse on Metaphysics [Woolhouse and Francks (1998) edition, pp85-86], §33; bold emphasis added).
Returning to New Essays, Leibniz continues .....
"These minutes (petites) perceptions are then of greater influence because of their consequences than is thought. It is they which form I know not what, these tastes, these images of the sensible qualities, clear in the mass but confused in the parts, these impressions which surrounding bodies make upon us, [etc.]. It may even be said that in consequence of these minute perceptions the present is big with the future and laden with the past [..... They] indicate also and constitute the identity of the individual, who is characterised by the traces or expressions which they preserve of the preceding states of this individual, in making the connection with his present state" (Leibniz, 1704/1764, New Essays on the Human Understanding [Wiener edition, 1951, p376], §55; bold emphasis added).
WHERE TO NEXT: Gennaro (1999/2007 online) has recently revisited Leibniz's mental philosophy, noting that minute perceptions allow "mentality" without consciousness, and then incorporating this notion into the modern debate over higher-order thought. Leibniz thus deserves to be included in any history of the unconscious. As for the closing remark about minute perceptions being involved in the machinery of human identity, it is possible that Leibniz was here following the same train of thought as Husserl had been with his notion of marginal co-data. This possibility is further discussed in the entry for identity, Leibniz's approach to.
Mirror Neuron: [See firstly action schema and mental model.] This is Rizzolatti et al's (various from 1996) notion of a localised neural system which is selectively responsive to commonalities of behaviour between a host animal and other animals (or objects) in that host animal's perceptual environment. Such neural systems were first identified by implanted electrode recording from the brains of macaque monkeys, but have now been tentatively located non-invasively in humans as well [see Winerman (2005/2007 online) for a review of the methodologies]. For the brain to behave in this way, there has to be some sort of overlap between the neural subsystem for one's personal action schemas and the subsystem for coding the behaviour of others in our mental model of the world. Hurley (e.g., 2005) refers to the extent of this putative overlap as a "shared circuit".
Mirror Self-Recognition Test: [See firstly efference copy and reafference.] This is a simple test paradigm devised by Gallup (1970), and much used since. In the simplest form of the paradigm, a sleeping subject (adult, child, animal) is marked on the face with a spot of coloured paint and then its behaviour closely observed when exposed to a mirror upon awakening. The received argument is that if the subject touches the spot on its actual face when seeing its reflected face, it must (a) know where in space parts of its body it has never directly seen are, (b) know that the image it is looking at is a mimetic first-person (i.e., a mirror-image of itself) rather than a substantive second-person (i.e., an actual other), and (c) know how to plan and execute smooth hand and arm movements, where the visual efference copy and reafference aspects of the processing will need to be duly mirror-inverted.
Mitochondrion: (Pl: Mitochondria.) This is a sausage-shaped organelle of which several hundred may be present in a given cell. It acts as the cell's "powerhouse", that is to say, it is where the energy source adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is stored pending demand.
MMSE: See Mini Mental State Examination.
Mnemonic: In both everyday and technical English, a "mnemonic" is an encoding strategy for enhancing memory performance.
Modal Model of Memory (MMM): A consensus (hence "modal") approach to memory theory which emerged during the 1960s, and which was most clearly expounded by Atkinson and Shiffrin (1971). The MMM treats memory phenomena as beginning with sensory memory, advancing to STM, and consolidating to LTM, and as being supported along the way by such processes as rehearsal and encoding. The approach eventually lost popularity in the mid-1970s, due to competition from Working Memory Theory.
Mode (1/2): (1) [See firstly idea, complex.] Within mental philosophy, a mode is one of Locke's three subclasses of complex idea (the others being substance and relation), thus: "'Modes' I call such complex ideas which, however compounded, contain not in them the supposition of subsisting by themselves, but are considered as dependences on or affections of substances; such are the ideas signified by the words 'triangle, gratitude, murder', etc." (Locke, 1690, p109). (2) Within engineering design, a mode is one of several optional ways of functioning in a system where relative structural simplicity has been achieved by designing apart the required functional complexity into distinct applications, mapped separately into the hardware. Such systems thus have a number of "modes" of operation, each dealing with a particular functional application. The resulting structural simplicity brings size and cost benefits, but there is a trade-off cost in terms of longer familiarisation periods and reduced ease of control. Modes of this sort are not new. One everyday example is that of the shift key on the modern computer keyboard, an arrangement inherited from late 19th century typewriters in which a mode selection toggle-key is used to switch the main key array from lower case mode TO UPPER CASE MODE and BACK again ON dEmAnD.
WHERE TO NEXT: Mode theory acquires perhaps its greatest practical relevance when particular designs push operator skills to their limits. It is regularly invoked, for example, in the literature on forensic ergonomics - the science of avoidable disasters- as detailed in the entry for mode error.
Mode Error: [See firstly mode (2).] In the context of the forensic ergonomics of avoidable disasters, the term "mode error" refers to a mismatch between the actual mode setting on a control system and that of the mental model of said system in the mind of its present operator(s). This is the situation in which the operators believe the system is in one mode, and therefore responding in one particular way, when in fact it is in a different mode. In such circumstances as these, the system is not just effectively disconnected from its controls, but will remain so unless and until the operator(s) eventually realise what is going on - if, indeed, their error does not kill them first .....
EXAMPLES: Here is an example of the present authoR CONTINUING TO TYPE IN LOWERCASE WHILE HIS HARDWARE HAD ACCIDENTALLY SWITCHED ITSELF INTO UPPER CASE MODE. An error of scarcely greater complexity caused the Air Inter air disaster, Strasbourg, France, in 1992, in which 87 people died [see case, Strasbourg A320 Air Disaster, 1992 for details].
Mode error of this sort is a major risk in modern highly computerised control systems, and its avoidance in a major design problem for the design engineers and cognitive ergonomists involved.
Modified Card Sorting Test (MCST): See Wisconsin Card Sorting Test.
Modularity: Modular processing is a system design philosophy which insists that the best way to cope with unavoidable complexity is for like to be located with like. Where the system in question is an information processing system, the modularity philosophy needs to be applied both to the content and its processing. Metaphorically speaking, for example, there would be "modularity of content" in a university which had its science library on a different campus to its humanities library, and there would be "modularity of processing" in a library which had one clerk trained up for cataloguing accessions and another for supporting literature searching. In the computer industry, processing is invariably less troublesome when it is separated into functionally dedicated clusters, or "modules", each capable of operating more or less in isolation. Modularity is relevant in the current context, because it is a common belief that similar considerations apply to cognitive science, where the computer in question is the nervous system. Jerry Fodor - one of the main theorists on this issue - defines a module as an "'informationally encapsulated' cognitive facility" (Fodor, 1987, p25) [readers unfamiliar with this term should spend five minutes on the separate entry before proceeding]. As demonstrated in any of the large psycholinguistic models [show me one], there is a significant amount of modularity in the human communication system, and it is the vulnerability of these modules to partial damage which causes clinical communication syndromes to occur in such amazing variety. Shanon (1988) reviewed the three key elements of the Fodorian module, namely domain-specificity, limited central access, and informational encapsulation, and although he is generally sympathetic to the Fodorian notion that perceptual systems fit this description whilst central systems do not, he notes, even so, that there are exceptions both ways. With central processing, for example, he notes a degree of modularity where there should be none. Thus .....
"At first blush it seems that it makes no sense to speak of modularity in the central processes. Fodor gives enough good functional reasons why processes should be nondenominational and unencapsulated. [..... Yet that] characterisation of central modularity is based on considerations of principle and follows a perspective which may be characterised as philosophical rather than psychological. [.....] Specifically, the respect by which the said properties apply to the system may be context-dependent, and the system may thus exhibit patterns of local modularity [note this term - Ed.]. It is here that the contrast between the philosophical and psychological perspective is apparent. Whereas for Fodor informational encapsulation that is context-dependent and varies with time is demonstrative of non-modularity [.....], the perpective proposed here suggests, by contrast, that it be taken as indicative of possible modularity [.....]. This I say not because I deny the patterns of non-modularity, but because what I deem important is the dynamics of mind, and this dynamics consists, inter alia, of the changing of the boundaries of modularity [see sidenote below] Thus, in proposing the attribution of modularity to central processes I am not arguing against the (probably true) claim that anything can, in principle, be made unencapsulated. Rather, I propose to change perspective and instead of looking at the ever-present possibility of non-encapsulation consider the actual and potential patterns of encapsulation" (Shanon, 1988, pp340-341; emphasis added).
In Shanon's subsequent discussion of domain specificity and informational encapsulation he notes a number of central "mental islands" (p342), such as prejudices in the attitudinal system, the object-specific response tendencies discussed in such great detail by object-relations theorists, and even the "segregation of the split personality" (p343). He concludes as follows .....
"By way of exemplifying the rigidity of Fodor's perspective let me note his likening of the central system of the mind to a Sears catalog [an indexed body of detail - Ed.], hence his appraisal that it is not worthy of scientific investigation. Fodor searches for well-defined structures and when he does not discover them he concludes that there is only one big mess. Yet between fixed nicely formalisable structures and a Sears catalog (assuming for the sake of discussion that it is a total mess, which in all likelihood it is not) there are intermediate states of affairs" (Shanon, 1988, p348).
ASIDE: Note Shanon's observation that there is probably more to the nature of an indexed set of entities than might at first glance meet the eye, and then see the entry for database. Note also the issue of the "boundaries of modularity" changing dynamically, because this is precisely the sort of momentary reorganisation of resources suggested by Calvin (1983) in his analysis of throwing accuracy - see the companion précis for details.
For their part, Marslen-Wilson and Tyler (1987) have analysed the modularity of human language processing, where Fodorian modules abound everywhere other than in the central semantic system [see, for example, Ellis (1982), Ellis and Young (1988), Kay, Lesser and Coltheart (1992), and Coltheart, Curtis, Atkins, and Haller (1993)]. However, like Shanon, they are concerned that the modularity hypothesis "gives the wrong kind of account" (p37) of language processing, because the boundaries of its known components "do not neatly coincide" (ibid.). One of the big mysteries, for example, is the sheer speed with which the final "interpreted meaning" (p38) of a given input is computed. The possible explanation, they submit, is that the admittedly modular input systems "encroach" into "processing territories reserved for central processes" (p38). They critically examined Fodor's criteria of modularity and report weaknesses in each, before concluding as follows .....
"The facts of psycholinguistic performance simply do not support the rigid dichotomy between the domains of the syntactic and the non-syntactic that is the central claim of the modularity thesis. The thesis is seductive, entertaining, perhaps even heuristically useful. But as a basis for the construction of explanatory theories of human psycholinguistic performance it is, we believe, fundamentally misleading. It misconstrues the nature of the problem that is set for us by the extraordinary speed and immediacy of on-line language comprehension, and it invites us to accept, as a solution to this problem, a view of the organisation of the language-processing system that obscures rather than clarifies the questions we now need to be asking" (Marslen-Wilson and Tyler, 1987, pp61-62).
[See now massive modularity. BREAKING RESEARCH: For more on the potential role of "abnormal connectivity" in preventing or degrading the maximal integration of multi-modular cognitive processing, see also functional connectivity and its onward links.]
Molyneux Question: In one of the most famous thought experiments of all time, one William Molyneux, asked the British Empiricist philosopher John Locke about the perceptual abilities of a blind man suddenly made able to see. The specific question was whether that blind man would be able, using his new but inexperienced sense of sight alone, to tell a sphere from a cube in a confrontational naming task. But this is such a long story that we have placed it in a separate file, so if you want to know the answer, you'll have to click here.
Monad: In archaic erudite English, a "monad" is "(1) the number one, unity" (O.E.D.). The word was therefore a natural choice for any philosopher theorising about an ultimate structure for matter, and in this more specific sense it has been defined as "(2) An ultimate unit of being; an absolutely simple entity. Chiefly used with reference to the philosophy of Leibniz" (ibid.). Leibniz used the word in his 1686 Discourse on Metaphysics when attempting to explain "the great mystery of the union of the soul and the body" [see the entry for incarnation], but reserved his most sustained analysis for his 1714 Monadology. He began with a basic definition, as follows .....
"The monad, of which we will be speaking here, is nothing but a simple substance, which enters into composites, simple, meaning without parts. And there must be simple substances, because there are composites; for the composite is nothing but a collection of, or aggregatum, of simples. Now, in that which has no parts, neither extension, nor shape, nor divisibility is possible. And so monads are the true atoms of nature; in a word, the elements of things" (Leibniz, 1714, Monadology [Woolhouse and Francks (1998) Edition, p268], §1-3).
He went on to argue that monads have qualities (§8) [compare entity and attribute], are by definition different from each other (§9), and can exist in different states (§13). He then, less safely in our opinion, argued that state changes involved processes of "perception" and "appetition", by virtue of which he was able, famously, to declared that the human soul was itself a form of monad (§19), to be distinguished from lesser animate and inanimate monads only by the quality of its memories and its reasonings (§§20-37). He then diverted to theological issues for a number of paragraphs (§§38-62), before concluding as follows .....
"The body belonging to a monad, which is either its entelechy or its soul, makes up together with an entelechy what we can call a living thing, and together with a soul what we call an animal. Now that body of a living thing or animal is always organic, because [.....]. Thus every organic body of a living being is a kind of divine machine or natural automaton, which infinitely surpasses any artificial automaton, because a man-made machine is not a machine in every one of its parts. [.....] But nature's machines - living bodies, that is - are machines even in their smallest parts, right down to infinity. [.....] And we can see from this that there is a world of creatures - of living things and animals, entelechies, and souls - in the smallest part of matter" (op.cit., p277, §63-65).
[For a fuller introduction to this topic, see §56 of Weber's History of Philosophy (Weber, 1908/2007 online, courtesy of the University of Idaho). See also and compare entelechy.]
Monism: [See firstly dualisms or monisms.] A "monism" is a "one-truth" theoretical position in the mind-brain debate, that is to say, one which claims that the laws of the mind and the laws of the brain are fundamentally one and the same. There are a number of discrete sub-orientations under this heading, claiming either (a) that the laws of the mind are the only real truth (in which case your monism is an idealism), or (b) that the laws of your brain are the only real truth (in which case your monism is a physicalism), or (c) that we are really not too sure (in which case you are probably going to be a monist one day, but are either an epiphenomenalist, identity theorist, or emergentist, for the time being). William James brought the dualism debate centre stage by referring very disparagingly to "mind stuff" theory, which he characterized as theories that mental states "are composite in structure, made up of smaller states conjoined" (James, 1890, pI.145). Llinás (1987) makes much the same point this way .....
"I for one, as a monist, consider 'mindness' to be but one of several global physiological computational states that the brain can generate. An example of another global physiological state, in which 'mindness' is not apparent, is that known as 'being asleep' and yet another is known as dreaming [.....] Among the above, the 'mindness state' allows complex goal-directed interactions between a living organism and its environment" (Llinás, 1987, p339).
More recently, Velmans (2005) has referred to all the two-stuff theories as "substance dualism" because they are constantly pitting "material stuff" against "soul or spirit" stuff.
Mood: In everyday English, mood is "a frame of mind or state of feelings; one's humour, temper, or disposition at a particular time" (O.E.D.). In psychology the same basic definition applies, only there is then a much greater emphasis on the role of mood in reflecting what goes on at the interface of our emotional and intellectual selves. As such, mood is the primary diagnostic variable for an entire cluster of mental health disorders. It is also (like mania) a major source of theoretical insight to those interested in more philosophical issues such as the mind-brain problem. Clinically, a patient's mood is a sign used in the differential diagnosis of-and-within the various mood disorders recognised by the DSM-IV. As for the underlying theory, Bollas (1987) relates moods back to his theory of the transformational object, as follows .....
"In brief, moods are psychic phenomena which serve important unconscious functions. Like the dream, a mood has a kind of necessary autistic structure to it: people who are in a mood, like persons who are asleep, are inside a special state where a temporal element is at play. They will emerge, like the dreamer, after the spell is over. Some moods, particularly those that form part of a person's character, are occasions for the expression of a conservative object - that disowned internal self state that has been preserved intact during childhood. When a person goes 'into' a mood, he becomes that child self who was refused expression in relation to his parents for one reason or another. Consequently moods are often the existential registers of the moment of a breakdown between a child and his parents, and they partly indicate the parent's own developmental arrest [.....]. What had been a self experience in the child, one that could have been integrated into the child's continuing self development, was rejected by the parents, who failed to perform adequately as ordinary 'transformational objects', so that a self state was destined to be frozen by the child into what I have called a conservative object - subsequently represented only through moods" (Bollas, 1987, pp115-116; bold emphasis added).
To explain how he sees the whole thing working, he introduces the term "mood space" (p99), a cognitive structure he profiles as keeping its owner less than totally available for self-other interaction, often, indeed, with the tacit acceptance of the mood in question by the other(s) in question. [See now mood stabilisers.]
Mood Disorders: This is the DSM-IV category cluster for disorders where mood dysfunction is the primary diagnostic indicator. It consists of two header categories, namely depressive disorders (three disorders) and bipolar disorders (six disorders).
Mood Reactivity: [See firstly differential diagnosis, psychiatric.] Mood reactivity is a clinical sign used in the differential diagnosis of-and-within the various depressive disorders, especially atypical depression. It refers to the ability of some types of dysphoria to flip temporarily to euphoria in response to an enjoyable life event experience, or vice versa in response to a painful one.
Mood Space: See Bollas's (1987) contribution to the entry for mood.
Morphe: [Greek = "form, shape".] See substance.
Mother Archetype: See archetype.
Motivation Questionnaire (MQ): See personality, motivation and.
Motor Hierarchy: The ability to initiate voluntary physical behaviour is known as "praxis", and (because anything voluntary involves what we like to refer to as "the will") praxis has been a traditionally difficult area for the cognitive theorist. For one thing, there is the philosophical problem that nobody knows what the will actually is, and for another, there is also the technical problem of explaining how ideas (i.e. thoughts, images, or intentions) might be retrieved from some initially timeless representational state - a structural memory trace of some sort - and converted into a time-sequenced succession of behaviours. This latter is the problem of motor sequence, and it has been around for some time, having been stated very forcefully by Lashley (1951) in a paper entitled "The Problem of Serial Order in Behaviour". The standard explanation is that the motor memory for a particular piece of behaviour is capable (a) of being reactivated as a single unit whenever its performance is required, and (b) of having its component movements reactivated one by one. This sort of motor memory is conventionally referred to as a "motor schema", and the point about motor schemas is that by definition they are organised hierarchically. There are at least two layers of control in this hierarchy, because it must always start with the act of volition, and always end with the muscles. Additional layers of organisation can then be inserted between the top and the bottom, according to the demands of the explanation at hand, with Weiss (1941) going for no less than six "levels" in his model. [For more on the motor hierarchies involved in speech production, see Section 4 of our e-paper on "Speech Errors".]
Motor Schema: A motor schema is a long term memory structure capable of being accessed as a whole, and then executed in parts. It is the "representation of a to-be-performed movement" (Gallistel, 1980, p368). This implies that the memory trace has a start and a finish, so to speak, unlike the memory traces for visual form, say, where reactivation is all or nothing at any given point in time. The term originated with Head (1926), was refined by Bartlett (1932), and was made popular within motor theory by Schmidt (1975). Drawing on earlier work by Pew (1966, 1974), Schmidt saw schemas as bringing together four different types of information into a single motor memory, namely (a) the current state of one's body in space, (b) what is to be achieved by a given movement, (c) what feedback is to be expected during its execution, and (d) how successfully it meets its aim.
MPD: See multiple personality disorder.
MPH: See methylphenidate.
MQ: See personality, motivation and.
MSBP: See Munchausen syndrome by proxy.
MT: See machine translation or mindfulness training according to context.
Müller, Friedrich Max: [German linguistic philosopher (1823-1900).] [Click for external biography]
Müller, Johannes Peter: [German physiologist (1801-1858).] [Click for external biography] See psychophysics.
Multiple Errands Tests: [See firstly executive function and dysexecutive syndrome.] The Multiple Errands Test is a simple test of the integrity of the planning-execution components of human executive function, and, as such, is commonly included as a frontal battery test. The test was developed by Shallice and Burgess (1991), and involves taking the patient to a convenient shopping mall, having previously briefed him/her with eight tasks. Six of the tasks are shopping list tasks such as "buy a brown loaf", and the seventh is to be back at a nominated rendezvous point after 15 minutes. The eighth task is to obtain and write down four complex facts [such as the name of the shop most likely to sell the most expensive item, or a particular bank exchange rate]., and requires the subject to [Compare Six Elements Test.]
Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD): [See firstly personality.] This is the notion of an abnormally constructed mind, in which the conceptualisation of personal identity has failed to reduce to a single serviceable persona. It is a mind in which the horizontal layering - that which places the unconscious, the preconscious, and consciousness in ascending order, for example - is divided again vertically into two (or more) relatively self-contained independent domains [for more on this, see Stern (2002) in the entry for dissociative identity disorder]. The name given to this vertical compartmentalisation is "dissociation", and one common outcome is a "multi-yolker" of a soul, so to speak, a single mind capable of flicking from persona to persona whenever some secret trigger is pulled or some old discomfort looms anew. The notion of multiple personality first appeared in folklore and literature, in works such as Robert Louis Stevenson's "Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde" (1886). The formal scientific literature opened with a case reported by Paracelsus in 1646, Gmelin added another in 1791, and Rush (possibly the only psychiatrist ever to sign a Declaration of Independence?) another in 1812. Mitchell (1816) reported the case of Mary Reynolds, who would switch from a melancholy and shy personality to one which was "buoyant" and "fond of company" every few weeks from her late teens to her mid-thirties, whereupon she stayed in her sociable self until her death at age 61 years. Then there were Despine's (1840) Estelle (then aged 15 years), who was paralysed in one self but mobile in another, and Azam's (1887) Félida X, whose two personalities were so equally balanced that they both considered themselves the rightful host! The early two-personae reports were followed by higher-order multiples. For example, one of Janet's early career cases while he was at Le Havre was Léonie (at least three personae) .....
ASIDE: Ellenberger (1994) explains that when Janet presented Léonie at a case conference in 1885, the session chair, Charcot, was so impressed that he arranged for Janet to join him at the Salpêtrière in Paris, where he was conducting his ground-breaking investigations into hysteria.
Prince (1906) reported on case Christine Beauchamp (four personae) [in fact, it was Prince who helped establish the term "dissociation" in the literature, using it in the title of his paper]. Prince (1917) reported on one Dora Fisher (three personae, capable of changing up to 50 times a day as the alters got exhausted), and Thigpen and Cleckley (1957) reported on Eve (initially two personae, with a third emerging during treatment). More recent high-profile cases include Schreiber's (1973) case Sybil Dorsett (a 16-yolker!), Schoenewolf's (1991) case Jennifer (seven personae), and Cameron West (24!!).
ASIDE: Cameron West is something of an MPD celebrity, in fact - check out his website
As to the aetiology of MPD, Putnam (1989) believes he knows at least one of the underlying causes, thus [a long passage, heavily abridged] .....
"The linkage between childhood trauma and MPD has slowly emerged in the clinical literature over the last 100 years, although this association is obvious to any clinician who has worked with several cases. [.....] Starting in the early 1900s, a few reports implicated traumatic life experiences, such as a parental death, in the development of MPD [citations]. Goddard (1926) was the first to mention sexual abuse in connection with his case; however, he strongly implied that he did not believe his patient's report of incest, which he considered a 'hallucinosis incestus patris' [.....]. Morselli's (1930) patient, Elena F, recovered memories of her father's incestuous assaults during the course of violent abreactions in therapy. These memories were later confirmed by independent sources [citation]. Taylor and Martin (1944), in their review of MPD [.....], noted the role of 'severe conflicts' in the origin of MPD, but did not elaborate. [.....] The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) survey of 100 MPD cases found that 97% of all MPD patients reported experiencing significant trauma in childhood [citation]. Incest was the most commonly reported trauma (68%), but other forms of sexual abuse, physical abuse, and a variety of forms of emotional abuse were reported. [.....] Sexual abuse is the most frequently reported type of childhood trauma in MPD patients [and t]he most commonly reported form of sexual abuse is incest [citations]. In most instances, this is father-daughter incest or stepfather-stepdaughter incest [.....]" (Putnam, 1989, pp46-48).
Hedges adds .....
"The vast majority of reported cases are women [80-90%]. The chief aetiological hypothesis is exposure to overwhelming experiences in early childhood, usually of a violent, intrusive sexual nature. The supposed early traumas are often reported as some form of incest perpetrated by an older male, though mothers or other women are frequently named as co- or passive collaborators. [.....] In the earlier literature persons with multiple personalities are generally spoken of as being exceptionally intelligent with IQs often estimated to exceed 130 [.....] High intelligence has sometimes been postulated as a key factor which kept the person from becoming seriously psychotic" (1994/2006 online)
Putnam then offers a "developmental model" of multiple personality. His basic proposal is that "the potential for multiple personalities" (p51) is in all of us, and that it is one of the tasks of normal development to "consolidate" what is there into "an integrated sense of self" (ibid.). Depression is the single most common presenting symptom, with sudden mood swings. The typical "host" personality is characterised by low self-esteem, is overwhelmed, and anhedonic, possibly accompanied by difficulty in concentrating, fatigue, sexual difficulties, and crying spells (ibid.). Rejection is an especial problem, thus .....
"Multiples are exquisitely sensitive to any form of rejection and will often perceive it where none is intended. Responses [.....] may include self-mutilation, suicide attempts, fugue episodes, and missed sessions. [Indeed,] many multiples will repeatedly force the therapist into acceptance-rejection situations as part of the testing that goes on in therapy. The basis for this sensitivity lies in an MPD patient's past history. To be an abused child is to be profoundly rejected by the people who are supposed to love and care for the child. Many multiples report creating personalities whose function was to be pleasing to their abusers in an effort to reduce the rejection and abandonment to which they were subjected. [.....] Rejection by an important person may also have been a prelude to an abusive episode. In some cases, one parent's rejection would signal the other parent that that parent could now do what he or she wished. This sensitivity to rejection is often compounded by later experiences in adult life. Many multiples have experienced important relationships ending painfully and unexpectedly because of something that they 'did' but were not aware of. A common scenario is for one alter to sabotage the relationships of the host or another alter" (Putnam, 1989, pp172-173; emphases added).
Then there is all the secrecy .....
"The theme of secrecy permeates all therapeutic work with MPD patients. Secrets exist on many levels. Alters keep secrets from the host, from the therapist, and from one another. The secrets involve past experiences and present behaviour. Much of the treatment involves the slow unwrapping of secrets and the processing of their contents. [.....] There are several dynamics between patient and therapist that may be involved in further preventing the patient from revealing secrets [..... However,] the secrets of the past are not the only secrets kept by multiples. In the vast majority of cases, they have continued to live a life of secrets. They have kept their true nature, multiplicity, hidden from others and often from themselves. They have learned to compensate and cover for time loss and its associated inconsistencies in their behaviour. Many multiples lead double and triple lives" (pp173-174; emphasis added).
These secrets can only be worked through once a serviceable relationship has built up between the therapist and the patient. Unfortunately, Putnam warns that every interaction with a multiple is "at some level a test" (p175), usually, directly or indirectly, of their trustworthiness. He also warns (a) that regression is an "almost inevitable" concomitant of any abreaction that may eventually be obtained, and (b) that therapists need to be on the look-out for "recapitulation of the abuse", that is to say, reliving of the events, thus .....
"For example, most sexually abused multiples will have promiscuous alter personalities who set the patients up for traumatic sexual experiences. A common scenario involves a promiscuous personality's picking up an abusive sexual partner and then turning the body over to the frightened and often frigid host at the height of sexual degradation. [.....] The dynamics of re-enactment are complex, but probably include several driving forces. The traditional view is that re-enactment is an attempt at achieving a belated mastery of the trauma [.....]. I believe, however, that a second dynamic is more important in MPD patients: this is the attempt to transfer remembered pain across the amnesic boundaries of the alter personalities. Part of the therapeutic effect of abreaction is the wider sharing of past traumatic experiences" (p179; emphasis added).
In Putnam's experience, therapists also need to beware MPD transference reactions, because these are likely to be "highly complex" (p184), thus .....
"The alter personalities of a multiple  may have semi-independent transference reactions to the therapist [..... ultimately] because many of the alters will have different, semiautonomous reactions to the same stimulus. For example, if a therapist physically touches a multiple, some alters may have a transference experience of the therapist as an important childhood figure who was nurturing and comforting. Simultaneously, other alters may experience the therapist as an abuser or rapist and the touch as extremely aversive. These conflicting transference reactions may be expressed simultaneously, sequentially, or in some combination thereof" (p184; emphasis added).
There is a similar need for a clear head when it comes to countertransference - emotional reactions on the part of the therapist. Thus .....
"Many of the alters of a multiple patient are likely to engender distinct and separate countertransference responses within the therapist. Thus a therapist working with a multiple may simultaneously be aware of hostility toward one alter, sexual feelings toward another, and a wish to hold and nurture a third alter. A therapist may feel pulled one way and then another throughout a session with a multiple, struggling to identify what is going on in the patient as well as within himself or herself. The disorder itself also evokes a variety of responses within a therapist, ranging from fascination to fear" (pp 187-188).
Putnam advises therapists to keep in mind who the patient is, because this can effectively change as the alters roll in and out! Therapy which began on the "host" alter may, at the drop of a hat, need to become therapy of one of its less stable (and differently constructed) fellows! Putnam then explains how abreaction can be induced by either hypnotherapeutic or pharmacological methods, but that, either way, "regression and revivification" are "almost inevitable" (p241) as a result. One of the reasons for this, he suspects, is that since trauma usually occurred during early to middle childhood any alters which formed in order to "absorb" (p241) the trauma will be "frozen" at that age. Activating such alters will automatically present as regression! It is also vital to deal with the abreacted material once it has been awakened. The process here is known as "reintegration" (p246), and calls for careful "integrative psychotherapy" (ibid.), as follows .....
"If traumatic material, relived through abreaction, is not brought into waking conscious awareness within a short time [see note below - Ed.] after the abreactive experience, much of it will be redissociated, re-repressed, or otherwise blocked from conscious recall. The therapist can aid the patient in recalling this highly charged material in a number of ways. The first and perhaps most important intervention is to help the patient organise the material into some sort of coherent form. The attempt to provide a time line  is one example of a therapeutic structural intervention that can help the patient organise the material for future waking recall. This will work with some patients but not all. Different organising structures [.....] may be more useful in some cases. [.....] 'Permission to feel' is also a therapeutic intervention that aids in the integration of affects and somatic sensations. In many instances, painful injuries were inflicted [but] the physical pain from these experiences was dissociated and not fully felt at the time. [.....] The therapist should make every effort to help the patient recover, re-experience, and reintegrate split-off affects and somatic sensations, as these are probably the most potent sources of everyday discomfort and dissociative behaviour" (pp247-248).
ASIDE: Putnam's point about the short window of opportunity is entirely consistent with our own semantic network database approach to mental organisation, wherein we suspect that the long-term consolidation of memory takes place under the control of some sort of biological "database currency" information whose lifespan is measured in hours rather than days.
Finally, Putnam stresses that the general therapeutic thrust should be towards integrating emotional content which had previously been dissociated, even to accepting different alters' accounts as independently true and valid by creating "a larger understanding" (p248). This might be appropriate, for example, if one the alters related the story of the abusive intercourse as "a brutal rape", whilst another described it as "an expression of paternal affection" (p248). For her part, Franklin (1988) warns that MPD is not always totally apparent. Many patients present "covertly", with suppressed or hidden symptoms. She describes one such patient, Margaret, as follows .....
"Eventually, I could distinguish four personalities which were similar in external appearance and only slightly different in voice and facial expression, but were more substantial than her other dissociative states, in that they had a more distinct psychic structure in terms of attitudes, affects, and functions and were more stably present. They were: (1) Her presenting personality, who was depleted, depressed, anxious, confused, subdued and had a soft, low-pitched voice; (2) a hostile personality, who was angry because her parents did not love or care for her properly; (3) a self-assertive, autonomous personality, who allowed her to get her work done; (4) an efficient personality, who had a slightly higher-pitched, brisk and clipped voice and who made definite plans for the future. These personalities sometimes influenced and blended into one another before emerging. She also had a number of personality states that emerged recurrently, but briefly. These states had certain functions or represented identifications or sides of conflicts or embodied certain defenses. A few showed distinct differences in body appearance and facial expression and switched clearly, such as the child states and the mannequin state. The states were (1) a superficial, conventional state, (2) a numb state, (3) a paranoid state, (4) an identification with the abuser state, (5) a hated, rejected state, (6) a superior, snobbish state, (7) a hopeful, positive young adult state, (8) a robot or mannequin state, (9) a defiant, rebellious state, and (10) several child states; a child with positive feelings, a fearful, unloved abandoned child, and a dependent child. M.'s behaviors and affects fluctuated as she changed states. Her states did not seem to be connected to each other, and when she was in one state, she sometimes seemed unaware of the others, but at other times she was co-conscious for more than one state. She was often not aware of her conflicts when each side was expressed by a different alter. Her personality states led her to show many subdued and subtle signs of dissociation throughout her therapy."
The modern DSM-IV classification for MPD is dissociative identity disorder (but see also and compare Allison manifesto) so we continue the core narrative under that heading .....
[BREAKING RESEARCH: For more on the potential role of "abnormal connectivity" in preventing or degrading the maximal integration of multi-modular cognitive processing, see functional connectivity and its onward links.]
WAS THIS A SENSITIVE TOPIC FOR YOU?: If for any reason you have been emotionally affected by any of the issues dealt with in this entry, you will find suitable helpline details in the entry for personality disorders or child abuse as appropriate.
Multiple Personality Disorder and Dissociative Identity Disorder Contrasted: [See firstly the separate entries.] Allison (1996/2006 online) believes he has identified a number of fundamental differences between multiple personality disorder (MPD) and dissociative identity disorder (DID). In what he calls "the Allison Manifesto", he begins by contrasting the two conditions as follows .....
"[MPD] is a real but rare dissociative disorder. Alter-Personalities control the body until integration. The Original Personality cannot have an "identity disorder" since she is never in charge. [DID] is common but different in clinical manifestation from MPD. The Original Personality is in charge of the body except when Alter-Personalities take over. Hence, the Original Personality does have an 'identity disorder.' [Both conditions] will manifest Imaginary Playmates that are misidentified as Alter-Personalities. Also, people without dissociative tendencies can manifest Imaginary Playmates. Such persons do not have a dissociative disorder" (Allison, 1996/2006 online).
What Allison is giving us here is a major systematisation of two complex and overlapping clinical areas with far-reaching repercussions for phenomenology. Specifically, he is taking two of the three classical divisions of the soul and giving us a clinician's eye view of how they are built, how they ought to be integrated, and how - in the disorders named - they sometimes fail to integrate. The two divisions are the "emotional self" and the "intellectual self". He calls the cognitive side "the Essence". Now the reason this all matters so much is that these two basic types of self are prone to "separate by a process called dissociation", and dissociation, as we have argued elsewhere, is the process of semantic network construction put into reverse. A disassociated self cannot truly be understood, we submit, unless the processes of putting it together in the first place are understood. Indeed, if we follow this argument to its logical conclusion, if the secret of semantic network construction is to have a comprehensive data model, then a dissociated mind is that same data model, but with corrupt or missing data model relationships. Allison's argument then continues .....
"Artificial Dissociation of the Essence from the Emotional Self can occur during hypnosis in highly hypnotizable experimental subjects. [.....] Dissociation occurred naturally in patients with MPD before the age of seven, when they perceived a life threatening situation. The Essence's primary duty is to preserve the life of the individual. Therefore it dissociates from the Emotional Self when such a situation occurs. This is the first dissociation to occur in a person who then develops MPD. Until age seven, the child's mind is not mature enough to cope with such a danger without needing to flee. Since physical flight is usually impossible, she flees inside her mind. To be able to have MPD, a person must be a Stanford Grade V+ hypnotizable person. In the family of a child with MPD, the parents are polarized. From the child's point of view, the roles of the parents are being reversed constantly. The child is the sole target of abuse by the caretakers, and the other children are treated fairly. Family secrets are implanted in the child with MPD. This keeps the abuse ongoing" (Allison, 1996/2006 online; emphasis added).
What happens next is shrouded in the mysteries of self and personality, and Allison assigns a key role to what he calls the "inner self helper" (ISH). The argument is so important that we reproduce it in two paragraphs, the first relating to MPD and the second to DID .....
"In MPD, the first dissociation is the Essence separating from the Emotional Self. The Essence then takes on the assignment of Inner Self Helper (ISH), and the Emotional Self is sent into hiding. The ISH makes all Alter-Personalities, the first being one of many False Front Alter-Personalities. Then others are made in this order: Persecutors, Helpers, Identifiers, and Disabled. The ISH makes all Alter-Personalities from the potential characteristics of the Original Personality. Therefore, there is a limit to the number of Alter-Personalities which can be made. When a client with MPD claims to have hundreds of Alter-Personalities, most are Imaginary Playmates, as the ISH has a limited supply of personality traits available. The ISH cannot create more than 70 Alter-Personalities per person. Therapy is done only with Persecutor Alter-Personalities to reform them into Helpers. All of the reformed Persecutor Alter-Personalities are then layered onto the Emotional Self. That process is called Psychological Integration. Then the ISH reverts back to being the Essence. [.....] After the Emotional Self has gone through the same experiences she did not handle while dissociated, the Essence will reintegrate into her, in a process called Spiritual Integration. This is the final healing step" (Allison, 1996/2006 online).
"Dissociation also occurs naturally in DID patients, when they have a need for protection from a perceived assault after the age of seven. The personality is mature enough to stay in executive control of the body. However, she has not learned to protect herself from assault. The Essence makes Alter-Personalities to protect the body. In a person with DID, the Essence has not dissociated. A small number of Alter-Personalities are created by dissociation to deal with specific stressful situations. Therapy consists of teaching the patient to handle these problems. This makes the Alter-Personalities obsolete. The Emotional Self makes the Imaginary Playmates out of human feelings. Their behavior is unpredictable. They change over time and are either inside or outside the physical body. Imaginary Playmates do not have amnestic barriers as do Alter-Personalities. Imaginary Playmates can be used to exact revenge. In contrast, Persecutor Alter-Personalities are angry at the actual abusers, and they will focus that anger at them or others who mimic their behavior. Since Imaginary Playmates are made by the Emotional Self, they must be destroyed by the Emotional Self. Imaginary Playmates can be made by anyone. To confuse imagination with dissociation causes understandable skepticism regarding the dissociative process" (ibid.).
Allison then provides us with a valuable basis for the comparison of MPD and DID, in which he distinguishes the two conditions on 15 separate criteria, as follows .....
#1 Age of Onset: MPD = before seventh birthday; DID = Age seven or older.
#2 Setting: MPD = parental home; DID = Parental home, community, school.
#3 Reason: MPD = " Physical survival after sexual, physical, and/or emotional assault by primary caretaker(s)"; DID = " Need to protect self from an abuser; Birth Personality unable to defend self" (emphasis added).
#4 First Dissociated Entity: MPD = " Essence, in savior role of Inner Self Helper (ISH)"; DID = " Defensive alter-personality ".
#5 Second Dissociated Entity: MPD = " False-front alter-personality designed by ISH to placate abuser(s)"; DID = " Often none. If any, another defensive alter-personality from another assault".
#6 Role of Original Personality: MPD = " Abdicates executive control of body until allowed out by ISH in therapy during adulthood "; DID = "Stays in executive control of body ".
#7 Personality Seeking Therapy: MPD = Latest false-front alter-personality; DID = "Birth Personality ".
#8 Types of Alter-Personalities: MPD = False-fronts, persecutors, rescuers, handicapped, identifiers; DID = Hostile protectors (from beatings); Sexually aggressive ones (from rapes).
#9 Number of Alter-Personalities: MPD = Many -- 10 to 60 frequently; DID = Few, frequently only one.
#10 Suicide Risk: MPD = High, frequently hospitalized for suicide prevention; DID = Low, unless incarcerated and feeling hopeless & helpless.
#11 Therapy Plan: MPD = [external reference given]; DID = Individualized, based on reason for creation of the alter-personality.
#12 Role of ISH in Said Therapy: MPD = Co-therapist; DID = None; No ISH exists, only the patient's non-dissociated Essence!
#13 Major Elements in Therapy: MPD = Hypnotic age regression with abreaction, reframing, acceptance, and discharge; DID = Coping skill training to make the alter-personality unnecessary in today's world (assertiveness training, occupational training, supportive psychotherapy).
#14 Integration Process: MPD = First Psychological Integration of all alter-personalities into the Original Personality, then Spiritual Integration of the Original Personality with the ISH; DID = As Birth Personality learns to do for himself what the alter-personality has done for him since childhood, alter-personality atrophies from disuse.
#15 Therapy While Incarcerated: MPD = not theoretically an option; DID = good.
Multiple Self-Organisation: See multiple personality.
Multi-Programming: [Computing Term.] As applications of computer electronics became ever more sophisticated during the 1950s, one of the main problems to emerge was that the speed and capacity of the resulting computer hardware started to exceed that which could practically be used by computer programs needing to read from or write to data files [given that this is a much slower process than computation pure and simple]. It therefore made sense to allow several programs "simultaneous" access to a given machine, with each program vacating the CPU during its slower input-output operations. This arrangement is known as "multiprogramming". In one particular early machine's case, up to 16 programs could be managed concurrently, and it was left to the job execution logic to sort out their relative priority [for more of the detail here, see Section 1.2 of the companion resource]. The idea of several programs competing with each other for limited resources has since become popular in modern theories of biological attention and high level motor control, especially those of the Norman-Shallice type. For specific examples, click here or here. [Compare multi-tasking.]
Multi-Tasking (1/2/3/4/E): [See firstly job execution scheduling and multi-programming.] (1) The term "multi-tasking" first emerged in the computing industry [see preceding entry], and then, by analogy, soon percolated into other important areas of academic interest, such as (2) management science (where it referred to the allocation of more than one task to a given worker), (3) cognitive science (where it refers to the ability of a control system to plan, authorise, and execute with full protective monitoring, more than one series of motor programs simultaneously), as well as (E) into everyday English (where it has become a fancy-sounding phrase for doing more than one thing at a time). Multi-tasking is also relevant within (4) cognitive ergonomics, because when the mechanisms let you down for some reason it invites a state of cognitive overload and can result in mistakes being made - see multi-tasking, human error and, immediately below.
Multi-Tasking, Human Error and: [See firstly multi-tasking.] When computer designers first invented virtual machine operating systems in the early 1960s, the better to support multi-programming applications, they immediately found that there was a strict practical limit to the number of different users who could be accommodated on a given machine before performance as a whole started to deteriorate. What was happening at this tipping point was that the system overhead for "rolling in" [tantamount, as a process, to "re-attending to" in biology] a particular user's subset of machine resources was starting to take up an ever greater proportion of the total available resources. The machine was - in trade parlance - "thrashing", that is to say, getting nowhere; it was so busy taking note of what it had to do next and with what, and it had so many people to do this with, that it had no time left actually to do it. Similar considerations seem to operate in biological information processing systems, where they set the upper limit for the number of concurrently active mental tasks which can productively be handled while multi-tasking.
ASIDE: The exact numerical limit is in fact a function of the size and complexity of the tasks. It might be one major task and a couple of small, non-urgent, tasks, or perhaps two or three medium-sized ones, or perhaps four or five small ones. Computers use the job execution scheduling component of their operating system to sort this out; little is yet known about the equivalent biological mechanisms.
It follows that the forensic study of human disasters needs to cover the possibility of thrashing, and, happily, it already does - although it knows it by the more formal term "cognitive overload". The pivotal paper here is Norman and Bobrow (1975), complete with its distinction between "data-limited" and "resource-limited" mental processes [for details of which, see the companion resource on "Resource Allocation Theory"], and the canonical theory is the Norman-Shallice model of Supervisory Attention. Against this theoretical background, Rubinstein, Meyer, and Evans (2001) stay within the supervisor metaphor by describing the brain's executive control processes as the mind's "inner CEO" [= "Chief Executive Officer"]. They measured the effects of task familiarity on subjects' ability to switch between mathematics tasks of varied complexity, and found as follows .....
"[F]or all types of tasks, subjects lost time when they had to switch from one task to another, and time costs increased with the complexity of the tasks, so it took significantly longer to switch between more complex tasks. Time costs were also greater when subjects switched to tasks that were relatively unfamiliar. They got 'up to speed' faster when they switched to tasks they knew better" (APA Press Release, 2001/2007 online).
ASIDE: Rubinstein et al's "rule activation time" is a subcomponent of overall reaction time (RT), and RT studies are one of experimental psychology's oldest and most highly respected research methodologies. Readers unfamiliar with this particular research tradition should check out the companion resource on "Motor Programming" before proceeding. Note especially Davis's (1957) analysis of the subcomponents of RT, and Smith's (1959) modular layout for a "linear predictor", as a prerequisite of effective "predictive control". For an updating review of this area, see Marois and Ivanoff (2005/2007 online).
David Strayer, Principal Investigator at the Applied Cognition Laboratory, University of Utah [homepage] has been studying the multi-tasking implications of mobile phone use while driving since 2001. His basic concern is as follows .....
"People regularly engage in a wide variety of multitasking activities when they are behind the wheel [..... possibly] trying to make the time spent on the roadway more productive [citation]. Unfortunately, because of the inherent limited capacity of human attention [citations], engaging in these multitasking activities often comes at a cost of diverting attention away from the primary task of driving" (Strayer, Drews, and Crouch, 2006, p381).
In one study, the Utah team found that cellphone distraction produced as "profound" an impairment on driving skills as a blood alcohol concentration of 80 mg/litre [the legal limit for UK drivers is 800 mg/litre - Ed.] (Strayer, Drews, and Crouch, 2006). Here are some specific averages .....
brake reaction time (ms)
maximum braking force
mean following distance (m)
time to collision (s)
These and related data were consistent with the general belief that cell phone use was as prejudicial to road safety as intoxication, although the functional locus of the impairment was not necessarily the same, as now summarised .....
"On the one hand, we found that intoxicated drivers hit the brakes harder, had shorter following distances, and had more trials with TTC values less than 4 s. On the other hand, cell phones drivers had slower reactions, had longer following distances, took longer to recover speed lost following a braking episode, and were involved in more accidents. In the case of the cell phone driver, the impairments appeared to be attributable, in large part, to the diversion of attention from the processing of information necessary for the safe operation of a motor vehicle [.....]. These attention-related deficits are relatively transient (i.e., occurring while the driver is on the cell phone and dissipating relatively quickly after attention is returned to driving)" (op. cit., p388).
Munchausen Syndrome: This is Asher's (1951) term for one of the most conceptually mystifying of the factitious disorders, and one of Feldman's (2004) four "disorders of simulation" (xiii). Its clinical signs [and with Munchausen Syndrome you have to distrust half the signs and all the symptoms] are illustrated by case, Sandra, who duped her doctors into a precautionary double mastectomy because (she claimed) she wanted her husband to divorce her.
ASIDE: We have highlighted the phrase "she claimed" because the whole point about skilled manipulators is that they are just that, skilled manipulators. They are blessed with highly developed theory of mind skills, and have a highly developed sense of "what sounds right" in explaining things away as insignificant. In short, they use words the way chameleons use colour (and not always so benignly either).
Referring to case, Libby and case, Rhonda, Feldman (2004) contrasts Munchausen pathology with other forms of factitious disorder, as follows .....
"In Munchausen syndrome, material needs, as well as burning psychological problems, can motivate a patient's behaviour. [.....] Libby was primarily a Munchausen patient, not a malingerer. She was motivated principally by her emotional needs rather than tangible reward. [..... On the other hand,] Rhonda's deceptions were multi-faceted and lasting, [indicating] factitious disorder but not [its] most severe subtype, Munchausen syndrome. Feigned illness was not all there was to her life; in addition, she stayed in the same town and avoided any hospitalisations [.....]. Unfortunately, like most factitious disorder and Munchausen patients, she refused to admit to the deceptions; therefore, she could not be treated for her true ailment, factitious disorder. Libby and Rhonda suffered from additional mental disorders. The most important one - one that is seen in the majority of cases of factitious disorder and Munchausen syndrome - is borderline personality disorder. [.....] As both of these patients carried out their disease portrayals, they flitted around medical professionals like moths around a flame, taking risks and manipulating others as borderline patients typically do. Libby surrounded herself with counsellors and therapists; Rhonda found a mentor who would become mother, sister, best friend, and guardian angel" (Feldman, 2004, pp10-11; emphasis added).
[For additional scenarios, see Aleem and Ajarim (1995/2006 online). See then and compare Munchausen syndrome by proxy.]
Munchausen Syndrome by Internet: [See firstly Munchausen syndrome.] This is Feldman's (2004) term for Munchausen Syndrome delivered in or over cyberspace, that is to say, using Internet "chat rooms" or the like, mobile telephony, or any other modern electronic device.
Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy (MSBP/MBP): [See firstly Munchausen syndrome.] [A.k.a. "Meadow's syndrome".] This is Meadow's (1977, 1982) term for probably the most sinister disorder of simulation, one in which a psychologically disturbed mother (or equivalent long-term caregiver) either fakes clinical signs in a child in her care [see case, Kay (Meadow, 1977)] or else commits potentially lethal assault upon them [see case, Kathy Bush] . MSBP thus constitutes the legally critical point at which "factitious disorder becomes abuse" (Feldman, 2004).
ASIDE: Readers who are not already fully familiar with what is involved in MSBP should check out the introductory cases mentioned above before proceeding. A comprehensive case database is maintained by the Asher Meadow Centre [visit now] for those who disbelieve the introductories.
Apolo (1999/2006 online) lists the following clinical signs as being readily (and regularly) feigned or covertly induced, frequently over many months .....
apnea [= stopping breathing]; cardiac arrhythmia; glycosuria; haematuria [= blood traces in urine]; haemoptysis [= spitting blood]; hypoglycaemia; infection; oral bleeding; poisoning (either by overdose or forced feeding), induced seizures; vomiting
Concerned that a large number of MSBP cases were still being overlooked, Apolo also reminded clinicians of the seven most indicative circumstantial symptoms and signs, as follows .....
MSBP Circumstance #1: That the pathology is both unexplained and persistent.
MSBP Circumstance #2: That the child is healthy in other respects.
MSBP Circumstance #3: That both symptoms and signs are puzzling.
MSBP Circumstance #4: That the pathology does not occur when the child is separated from the carer(s). [Feldman (2004) calls this the "positive separation test".]
MSBP Circumstance #5: That the core pathology has only ever been directly witnessed by the carer(s).
MSBP Circumstance #6: That the carer(s) routinely decline offers of respite time away from the child.
MSBP Circumstance #7: That carers seem strangely less deeply worried about the prognosis than the clinicans.
The legal position in the UK is currently [December 2006] in a state of some disarray following case, Sir Roy Meadow and case, David Southall. The situation in the US is as follows .....
"MBP is not a mental illness even though the behaviours and motivations are similar to factitious disorder, which is a mental illness. The critical difference is in who is harmed: oneself (factitious disorder) or someone else (MBP). [.....] Being homicidal does not qualify as an emotional ailment. However, being suicidal does. By aiming her deceptions at her child, not herself, the MBP perpetrator unmasks herself as a perpetrator, not a patient. Her actions constitute abuse, not mental disease. [In the US,] MBP maltreatment falls decisively under the criteria contained in the Federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act of 1974. This Act defines child abuse and neglect as 'the physical or mental injury, sexual abuse, negligent treatment, or maltreatment, of a child under the age of 18 by a person who is responsible for the child's welfare, under circumstances which indicate that the child's health or welfare is harmed or threatened thereby'. [.....] The main types of abuse are emotional, physical, and sexual; neglect is categorised as physical or emotional" (Feldman, 2004, p122).
As to prevalence .....
"A conservative estimate is that there are 1200 new cases of MBP reported per year in the United States. Documented cases of MBP have come from more than 20 countries throughout the world and have appeared in at least 10 languages. The continued recognition of MBP proves that MBP is not simply a theory or a behaviour confined to Western societies, but a pattern of actions constituting a specific kind of maltreatment of international dimensions. The last point warrants emphasis because groups have arisen that deny the very existence of [MBP]. Their membership consists of individuals who are understandably bitter about having been falsely accused and have important points to make about situations in which the risk of misdiagnosis is heightened. However, it appears also to include actual perpetrators who grasp the brass ring these groups offer to conceal their crimes. Perpetrators who align themselves with the groups insist upon their innocence and present themselves as victims who are being punished for having the courage to speak out against physician incompetence. The group members often target key professionals who have attempted to build awareness about MBP. In an effort to destroy reputations, they have collected and publicised personal information about these professionals and have sent threatening e-mails" (Feldman, 2004, p123).
As to the underlying motivation, the jury is still out. Feldman insists that MSBP is a crime rather than an illness, but recognises that it is "often accompanied by emotional or psychological disorders" (p127). Similarly, Schreier and Libow (1993) describe MSBP mothers as essentially unwanted or uncared for; as victims themselves, of emotional neglect. Feldman summarises this very messy situation as follows .....
"MBP perpetrators are motivated by an intense desire for emotional gratification. [They] may simply adore the attention MBP produces for them. Having an ill child brings them a certain kind of misguided status. Their child's illness is their claim to fame, and they bask in accolades from medical caregivers or the community about their devoted parenting. [.....] The child's illness may bring about a closer relationship between the parents. Arguments cease and the parents unit when faced with the common adversity of a sickly child. This closeness may suit the mother, who sustains it by keeping the child ill. [.....] MBP maltreatment allows the perpetrators to express rage not only towards their children but also toward those whom they see as responsible for their dissatisfying lot in life. For instance, they may blame their own parents, who will be predictably distraught that their grandchildren have perplexing ailments and who can therefore be 'punished' by ensuring that the child is never cured. [..... Others] find gratification in manipulating high-status professionals, such as doctors, and prestigious institutions" (Feldman, 2004, p133).
Munchausen, Baron Hieronymus Karl Friedrich von: [German aristocrat-soldier-adventurer (1720-1797).] [Click for external biography] Von Munchausen is noteworthy in the context of the present glossary for having earned his living in later life by writing a magazine column in which he somewhat embellished his life adventures, thus rather unfairly bringing upon himself a reputation today as a class-defining liar and braggard, a reputation which did not escape Asher (1951) when he was searching for a name for the crime-cum-clinical-disorder which we now know as Munchausen syndrome.
Murray, Henry A.: [American psychologist (1893-1988).] [Click for external biography] Murray is noteworthy in the context of the present glossary for his work on personality, motivation and and the Thematic Apperception Test.
Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI): The MBTI is a psychometric package for the assessment of Jungian personality types. It was pioneered by the psychometrician Katharine C. Briggs, in the early 1900s, before being upgraded in the 1920s to incorporate Jung's (1921) schematisation of psychological types. It was then further developed by Briggs' daughter Isabel Briggs Myers, before being deployed as an assessment package in the 1940s. It was formally published as a testing instrument in 1962. In her introduction to the 1981 edition of the package, McCaulley (1981) explains how it requires only four basic personality dimensions, as follows .....
Dimension E-I: The extremes here are Extraversion (E) and Introversion (I), according to whether a person is primarily interested in "the outer world of actions, objects, and persons" or "the inner world of concepts and ideas" (McCaulley, 1981, p298; emphasis added).
Dimension S-N: The extremes here are Sensing (S) and Intuition (N), according to whether a person "prefers" to perceive "the immediate real practical facts of experience and life" or else "the possibilities, relationships, and meanings of experiences" (Ibid.).
Dimension T-F: The extremes here are Thinking (T) and Feeling (F), according to whether a person makes decisions "objectively, impersonally, considering causes of events and where decisions may lead" or else "subjectively and personally, weighing values of choices and how they matter to others" (Ibid.).
Dimension J-P: The extremes here are Judgment (J) and Perception (P), according to whether a person prefers to live "in a decisive, planned, and orderly way, aiming to regulate and control events" or else in "a spontaneous flexible way, aiming to understand life and adapt to it" (Ibid.).
Since these four dimensions are held to be effectively "orthogonal" (i.e. they are free to vary independently of each other), any one person's type may be identified by scoring it on the four dimensional codes which most describe him or her. Moreover, since the four dimensions are also dichotomous, this gives us 24, or 16, different Jungian types. These are conventionally shown in the literature as four-letter acronyms such as ESTJ, where each letter takes one of the two possible values for the dimension in question. There are many online tutorials on the 16 MBTI types [we recommend this one for starters], to which further reference can be made, if interested.
Myers, Isabel Briggs: [American psychometrician (1897-1979).] [Click for external biography] See Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.
Naive Realism: [See firstly Realism.] This is both a major philosophical orientation and a jumping-off point for a wider philosophical adventure. The orientation is that already presented in G.2, and is here explained in other words, courtesy of Wikipedia .....
"Naïve realism is the common sense theory of perception. Most people, until they start thinking philosophically, are naïve realists. This theory is also known as “direct realism” or “common sense realism”. Naïve realism holds that the view of the world that we derive from our senses is to be taken at face value: there are objects out there in the world, and those objects have the properties that they appear to us to have. If I have an experience as of a large apple tree, then that’s because there’s a large apple tree in front of me. If the apples on the tree appear to me to be red, then that’s because there are objects in front of me, apples, that have the property redness; simple" (Wikipedia).
The philosophical adventure is then that the everyday intuitive account of perception does not actually hold a lot of water, thus .....
"Plausible though naïve realism may be, it has serious problems, among which is the problem of the variability of perception. The same object may appear differently to different people, or to the same person at different times. The apples may appear to be red in the daytime, but at dusk they are a shade of grey. If naïve realism is to be taken seriously, and colours are out there in the world, then apples regularly change colour depending on how much light is around them. It is much more plausible, though, to think that the apples are the same as they ever were, that all that has changed is our experience of them" (Wikipedia).
One way or another, the bulk of this glossary is concerned with going beyond the common sense understanding of perception, but readers interested in going straight in at the deep end will find no better place to start than with the entry for consciousness, Kant's theory of.
Narcissism: In everyday English, to be "narcissistic" is to have an overly inflated opinion of one's own worth. The word was taken from the proper name Narcissus, a Greek mythological character renowned for having fallen in love with his own reflection [full story]. It was used in this sense, for example, in Rousseau's 1752 play Narcissus, or Self Love, and was thus a natural choice of term for 19th century psychiatrists looking for a descriptor for a class of personality disorder characterised by a pathological lack of humility in interpersonal relationships and leading to impossible demands being made on the behaviour and affections of others. [See now narcissistic personality disorder.]
Narcissistic Personality Disorder: [See firstly narcissism.] This is one of the eleven DSM-IV disorder groups under the category header of personality disorders. Its essential feature is "a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration, and lack of empathy that begins in early adulthood and is present in a variety of contexts" (DSM-IV-TR, 2000, p714). Their "grandiose sense of self-importance" may manifest itself in their inflating their accomplishments and being generally boastful, and in assuming that others share in that approval. Their lack of empathy shows itself in difficulty (a) recognising, and (b) responding to, the feelings of others. In addition .....
"These individuals are often envious of others or believe that others are envious of them (Criterion 8). [.....] They may harshly devalue the contributions of others [..... and] often display snobbish, disdainful, or patronising attitudes (Criterion 9)" (op. cit., p715).
To the extent that poor self-esteem is an underlying factor in NPD, such individuals are also very sensitive to criticism or defeat, and they may respond to such setbacks with "disdain, rage, or defiant counterattack" (ibid.). For this reason, Vaknin (2003/2007 online) rather neatly nicknames NPD "malignant self love". The rage and counterattack aspect of the condition also leads it to be a cause of abuse, deserving, even, a category of its own. For more on this side of things, see narcissitic rage.
Narcissistic Rage: [See firstly narcissistic personality disorder.] This is Heinz Kohut's (e.g., 1972) term for a common and highly distinctive emotional and behavioural correlate of narcissistic personality disorder, namely uncontrollable and socially disruptive temper tantrums, occasioned by a perceived slight and of variable intensity from mild annoyance to the most extreme fury. Kohut explains this darker side of the narcissistic individual by tracing their adult narcissism back to a serious pathology in childhood ego development. The critical failure takes place in the individual's "selfobjects" [one word, note]. Chessick explains his thinking here .....
"The concept of selfobject was introduced by Kohut to help distinguish between object relations and object love. The small child has object relations but not object love. The child relates to others as selfobjects, in which the object is experienced as part of the self and having no life of its own. There are two kinds of selfobjects: those who respond to, confirm, and mirror the child's sense of greatness and perfection, and those to whom the child can look up and with whom the child can merge. Selfobjects of the second category provide an image of calmness and omnipotence which can be borrowed to provide narcissistic equilibrium" (Chessick, 1985, p118).
The key process is called "mirroring", and involves the developing child carefully and continually monitoring its caregivers for signs of approval or otherwise (using them, in this vitally important respect, as "mirrors"). If a child fails to get enough mirroring - and this can only be the fault of its caregivers - then the narcissism which is normal at age two to five years fails to be replaced by a more humble post-Oedipal organisation, and is instead "split off" from reality and repressed. Here is Chessick again .....
"Kohut flatly disagrees with the hypothesis that there is an inherent human aggressive drive which is only thinly protected by the veneer of civilisation and accounts for the outbreak of war. In his view human aggression arises in its most dangerous form out of narcissistic rage, which in turn is a disintegration or by-product as a consequence of the profound disappointment in self-objects. The narcissistically vulnerable individual responds to actual or anticipated narcissistic injury with shamefaced withdrawal or with narcissistic rage [.....] The whole problem of 'preventive attack' and the boundless wish for revenge [.....] becomes understandable as a situation in which narcissistic rage actually enslaves the ego. Even the smallest narcissistic wounds can produce the most astonishing demonstrations of narcissistic rage in individuals who are narcissistically vulnerable" (Chessick, 1985, pp136-137).
Vaknin (commercial website) reminds us that narcissistic rage can be either "explosive", that is to say, immediate and obvious, or "pernicious", in which "the narcissist sulks, gives the silent treatment, and is plotting how to punish the aggressor", and goes so far as to blame narcissistic rage for a surprisingly high proportion of domestic abuse. Taking a wider view of the phenomenon, Wolf (2001/2007 online) goes so far as to implicate narcissistic rage in war, where it interacts with a dimension he calls "group helplessness", thus .....
"Perhaps the hottest spots of narcissistic rage these weeks are in the Middle East. Both peoples, the Palestinians and the Israelis, feel relatively powerless and helpless vis-a-vis the other side [.....]. Both sides seem to have adopted the view that through increasing violence they can destroy the other's will and power to fight [.....] Of course, as anyone can see, that does not work. On the contrary, the increasing violence only increases the experience of helplessness with an increase in narcissistic rage on both sides" (op. cit., e4).
WAS THIS A SENSITIVE TOPIC FOR YOU?: If for any reason you have been emotionally affected by any of the issues dealt with in this entry, you will find suitable helpline details in the entries for child abuse and infanticide and/or partner abuse and/or toxic caring. The Narcissistic Abuse website might also be of specific interest and value.
Narrated Self: See self, narrated.
National Heroes, Psychodynamic Theory and:
"And when she could hide him [= Moses] no longer she took for him a basket made of bulrushes, and daubed it with bitumen and pitch; and she put the child in it and placed it among the reeds at the river's brink" (Exodus, 2:3).
"Tarchetius delivered them [= Romulus and Remus] to one Teratius, with orders to destroy them. But instead of that, he exposed them by a river side, where a she wolf came and gave them suck" (Plutarch).
As has been repeatedly noted elsewhere [see, for example, the entries for aggression, institutionalisation of and identity, comparative approaches to], 19th century cultural anthropologists were fully aware that there were interesting commonalities of myth between geographically separate cultures. There was, however, no deep psychological theory to explain why this should be so until the opening years of the 20th century, when theorists such as Jung and Rank started to develop psychodynamic interpretations of human belief systems. One of the most fascinating analyses is that provided by Rank in a book entitled The Myth of the Birth of the Hero (Rank, 1909/1914). Rank's substantive point was that the biblical story of Moses' concealment and discovery repeats itself - mutatis mutandis - in a suspiciously large number of the world's belief systems [listed in the first textual extract below]. As described at second hand in Moses and Monotheism (Freud, 1939/1964), the key and common elements of all these stories seem to be as follows .....
- the child is of aristocratic or royal parentage
- its conception is "preceded by difficulties" (p10)
- its birth is presaged by a prophecy (dreamed or oracular) to the effect that the child will somehow grow to threaten its father [we may take the story of Oedipus the Tyrant as typical here]
- the child is therefore ordered put to death .....
- ..... only to be rescued by humble surrogate parents (human or animal) and brought up in a place of safety
- once the child has grown up, he rediscovers his true parents and takes revenge on his father-
Moses was not even the first to get the bulrush treatment. Consider .....
"The oldest of the historical figures to whom this myth of birth is attached is Sargon of Agade, the founder of Babylon (c. 2800 BC[E]). For us in particular it will not be without interest to quote the account of it, which is attributed to him himself: 'Sargon, the mighty King, the King of Agade am I. My mother was a Vestal, my father I knew not, while my father's brother dwelt in the mountains. In my city, Azupirani, which lies on the bank of the Euphrates, my mother, the Vestal, conceived me. Secretly she bore me. She laid me in a coffer made of reeds, closed my doorway with pitch, and let me down into the river, which did not drown me. The river carried me to Akki, the drawer of water. Akki, the drawer of water, brought me up as his own son [and so on, in like vein]. The names most familiar to us in the series which begins with Sargon of Agade are Moses, Cyrus, and Romulus. But in addition to these Rank [..... includes] Oedipus, Karna, Paris, Telephos, Perseus, Heracles, Gilgamesh, Amphion and Zethos, and others" (Freud, 1939/1964, Moses and Monotheism (Part 1) [Standard Edition, Volume 23], p11; bold emphasis added).
Freud's own take on this commonality of myth was that the secret driving factor was human sexuality itself, and specifically the tensions of love and hate which made up the Oedipus complex, thus .....
"A hero is someone who has had the courage to rebel against his father and has in the end vicariously overcome him. Our myth traces this struggle back as far as the individual's prehistory, for it represents him as being born against his father's will and rescued despite his father's evil intention. The exposure in a casket is an unmistakable symbolic representation of birth: the casket is the womb and the water is the amniotic fluid. The parent-child relationship is represented in countless dreams by pulling out of the water or rescuing from the water. When a people's imagination attaches the myth of birth which we are discussing to an outstanding figure, it is intending in that way to recognise him as a hero [.....]. In fact, however, the source of the whole poetic fiction is what is known as a child's 'family romance', in which the son reacts to a change in his emotional relation to his parents and in particular to his father. A child's earliest years are dominated by an enormous overvaluation of his father [.....]. Later, under the influence of rivalry and of disappointment in real life, the child begins to detach himself from his parents and to adopt a critical attitude towards his father. Thus the two families in the myth - the aristocratic one and the humble one - are both of them reflections of the child's own family" (op.cit., p12; bold emphasis added).
And again .....
"Let us, therefore, take it for granted that a great man influences his fellow-men in two ways: by his personality and by the idea which he puts forward. That idea may stress some ancient wishful image of the masses, or it may point out a new wishful aim to them, or it may cast its spell over them in some other way. [.....] We know that in the mass of mankind there is a powerful need for an authority who can be admired, before whom one bows down, by whom one is ruled and perhaps even ill-treated. We have learnt from the psychology of individual men what the origin is of this need of the masses. It is a longing for the father felt by everyone from his childhood onwards, for the same father whom the hero of legend boasts he has become. And now it may begin to dawn on us that all the characteristics with which we equipped the great man are paternal characteristics, and that the essence of great men for which we vainly searched lies in this conformity. The decisiveness of thought, the strength of will, the energy of action, are part of the picture of the father" (op. cit., p109; bold emphasis added).
Natorp, Paul Gerhard: [German neo-Kantian philosopher (1854-1924).] [Click for external biography] Natorp firstly studied, and then taught, philosophy at the University of Marburg, Germany, specialising in Plato's Theory of Ideas. He put that knowledge to work in Platos Ideenlehre ("Plato's Theory of Ideas") (Natorp, 1903), and is credited by Husserl (1913, p208) with having been responsible for the distinction between awareness [Bewusstheit] and intuition [Anschauung].
ASIDE: It is possible that Husserl may not have been aware in 1913 of Freud's (1896) "Letters to Fliess", because this correspondence was not commonly available until the Masson collation in 1985. In one of these letters, Freud sketches a five-layer model of the stages of perception, with Bewusstsein as the highest level [check this out].
One of the key points of Natorp's philosophy is that thinking is always "thinking an object" (Kim, 2003 online), but that by the time it takes place that object has become a non-sensible thing! The secret to this is as follows .....
"..... a very crucial distinction must be made between two levels of phenomenality and of objectivity, which for the purposes of this article shall be called 'first-order' and 'second-order.' A first-order phenomenon is the psychic, subjective appearance that Natorp tacitly acknowledge has a basis in sensibility, and which he calls the 'Phänomen letzter Instanz' or the 'phenomenon of final authority' (Natorp 1887: 273, 274; 1913b: 192); this first-order phenomenon is a 'Vorstellung,' or 'representation,' [.....] The question now is: what makes the second-order phenomenon a bona fide objectivity, in contrast to the first-order phenomenon? Whereas the first-order phenomena constitute private, lived subjectivity, not open to prediction or even adequate description, Natorp's answer is that the second-order object is constructed in accordance with laws of thinking, which as laws are in their very nature objective, i.e., universally valid for any thinker. Therefore objects (Gegenstände) lawfully determined will in principle be rationally transparent to any other thinker, i.e., 'objective' (objektiv, gegenständlich)" (Kim, 2003 online, p6).
Natural Experiment: [See firstly experimental method.] This is the name given to a naturally occurring event which can be scientifically studied as if it had been deliberately arranged. Its value lies in the fact that many scientifically important variables - the effects of an earthquake, say - are simply beyond control, and so cannot be "manipulated" in the strict sense that ("true") experimenters like to manipulate their independent variables. So what they do instead, is take measurements in advance of the happenstance event and then wait patiently for it to happen so that they can regard it as manipulated. For a more detailed introduction to this topic, see the longer entry in the companion Research Methods Glossary.
Needle Map: See perception, Marr's theory of.
Negative Self-Schema: See self-schema, negative.
Neisser, Ulric: [American cognitive psychologist (1928-).] [Home Page] See the separate entries for self, conceptual, self, ecological, self, extended, self, interpersonal, and self, private.
Neo-Kantianism: [See firstly consciousness, Kant's theory of and Marburg School.] Neo-Kantianism was a major force within German philosophical thought between the 1870s and the 1920s and, as the name betrays, draws heavily on Kantian theory. The principal exponents of neo-Kantianism were Cohen, Natorp, and Cassirer.
Network Database: [See firstly database.] The network database is one of the two main types of database to have emerged in the last half century (the other being the flat-file database). Specifically, it is a database built to the guidelines laid down by the US Department of Defence's Conference on Data Systems Languages (CODASYL) in the early 1960s, and therefore based on an implementation of Set Theory using a combination of direct access and chain pointer sets.
Neural Correlates of Consciousness (NCC): [See firstly mind-brain debate.] This is Crick's (1996) term for the neurophysiological mechanism(s) which correlate most closely with the mechanism(s) of mind, if indeed there is/are any. As such, the primary objective of a Reductionist solution to the mind-brain problem is to decipher the NCC. Noë and Thompson (2004) describe this as the search for the "matching content" of mind and brain.
Neural Network: [See firstly Connectionism.] A "neural network" is a non-biological simulation of a biological cell assembly, either (a) simulated "in hardware" using purpose-built electronic circuitry, or (b) simulated "in software". [For further details, see our e-paper on "Connectionism".] CAUTION: Do not get neural networks confused with neuronal networks, which are made out of real neurons. EXCEPTION: Damasio (2002, p50) uses the term "neural network" as a synonym for cell assembly.
Neuroethology: [See firstly ethology.] Although the electrical stimulation of brain tissue had been a recognised research technique since the late 19th century [see, for example, the work of Caton and Ferrier in the companion Neuropsychology Timeline] there was a considerable delay before advances in microtechnology permitted experimentation on individual neurons. This sort of research called for microelectrodes rather than electrodes, not to mention microhandling systems capable of working on living organisms rather than sliced-up dead ones. One breakthrough came with the discovery of the giant axons in the nervous system of the squid (Young, 1936, 1944). These can be up to 1mm across (about fifty times larger than the largest fibres in man) and are perfectly visible to the naked eye. They are thus easy to work with, and many of the modern concepts of neurotransmission derive from early work with the squid. It was against this background that zoologists began to study the brain structures responsible for instinctive behaviours such as locomotion and bird song, etc. Some early studies were carried out in the 1960s, and the new science - "neuroethology" - had become a popular research area by the early 1980s. One of neuroethology's core notions was that of the central pattern generator (CPG), an inherited neural circuit capable of being excited as a unit in response to a precisely specifiable stimulus configuration, and of then discharging over a period of time in a behaviourally distinctive way. CPGs were thus the neural substrate for the expression of unlearned behaviour in the field; the machinery behind Lorenz and Tinbergen's fixed action patterns (FAPs). In a typical early study, Wilson (1961) showed that the CNS of the locust can generate central discharges to the motor neurons of flight in the absence of incoming stimulation. Similarly, Dorsett, Willows, and Hoyle (1969, cited in Hoyle, 1985) identified a chain of neural impulses corresponding to the FAP for the escape swimming of the mollusc Tritonia, and were even able to elicit the same neural response in a dissected brain. Willows and Hoyle (1969) describe the neuronal circuit producing this escape response as consisting of "at least 30 cells" in each pleural ganglion. This, and similar early studies, demonstrated the ability of brains to produce specific behaviours "because there is a specific neural circuit for the production of that behaviour" (Hoyle, 1985, p59).
ASIDE: Note the technical constraint beginning to emerge here. Nowadays it is easy to insert a microelectrode into a single neuron, but it remains difficult to do this to many neurons simultaneously. If you have 30 neurons to monitor, therefore, you have to examine the circuit "bit by bit", building up your overall picture gradually.]
A good early description of how CPGs might work is provided by Kater (1974), following research into the feeding behaviour of the snail Helisoma trivolvis. Kater identifies five "events" making up the full feeding FAP, and sees the problem faced by the nervous system, therefore, as being how (a) to generate and (b) to coordinate these lesser events. Kater postulates a controlling neuronal network situated in the buccal ganglion of the snail's nervous system, and suggests that this consists of three inter-related subsystems as follows:
(a) Protractor Neurons: These are neurons which move the mandibles and the "buccal rasp" into a position ready to pick up food.
(b) Retractor Neurons: These are neurons which move the food back into the buccal cavity prior to swallowing.
(c) Cyberchron Neurons: These are neurons which form "the core of the central program underlying feeding" (p1024). They control the overall timing of the behavioural cycle by alternating the firing of the retractor and protractor neurons. (The name derives from the Greek words kybern - to steer, and chronos - time.)
Allen Selverston is another who has painstakingly analysed invertebrate nervous systems. Using a technique whereby individual neurons can be killed by exposing them to a microbeam of laser light, his team has mapped the neuronal network responsible for the stomach contractions of the Californian spiny lobster (Selverston, Miller, and Wadepuhl, 1983). This is a complex of 30 neurons arranged into two distinct CPGs, one controlling a rapid pumping movement in the pyloric region, and the other controlling the mastication of large food particles by the three internal teeth of the gastric mill region. Each CPG is a network of excitatory and inhibitory neurons so arranged as to output neural bursts of the correct pulse length and frequency. In order to bring all these observations together into a single theoretical framework, Hoyle has formulated what he calls the "orchestration hypothesis". This distinguishes between "command (C) neurons" and "modulator (M) neurons", both of which can issue instructions to a CPG. Command neurons are described as "commanding" the behaviour in question, while the modulator neurons (and there may be several) "fine tune" how it actually appears, and are seen as being sensitive to hormonal factors. Work is active in this area, but again the problem of the complexity of neural circuitry remains to be overcome, and work remains restricted to invertebrates and simple vertebrates (and ideally those with large and well spaced out neurons). Nevertheless typical recent advances are in pushing up the number of neurons which can be analysed (Strumwasser, 1987, cites "about 1000" involved the egg-laying behaviour of Aplysia), and in tracking down the biochemistry of the hormonal events involved (Strumwasser continues by stating the formula of, and successfully synthesising, the egg-laying hormone which modulates the said behaviour).
Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP): This is Bandler and Grinder's (1975) integration of a number of ideas drawn from academic neuroscience and linguistics with Gestalt and other psychotherapy techniques, to create a commercially fielded programme for personal improvement. The technique is sold as the ability "to awaken the Giant within", by making better than average use of the standard mechanisms of communication and behavioural control available to everyone. NLP is nowadays sold as a market-tested integration of training experiences, reflective tutorials, and assessments. Some commentators regard NLP as "pseudoscience", others as "a shrewd commercial formula". [For the fuller debate, click here.]
Neuromarketing: This is the name given to the application of neuroscientific concepts and data to marketing problems in the world of industry and commerce. As such, it is an important branch of applied cognitive psychology, and a testing ground for a number of long-standing psychological theories, not least those of attitude change and behaviour change. It also draws heavily on the older theories of mental philosophy and the psychology of the self, and the latest thinking in the field of identification. [For further details, see Carmichael (2004/2007 online).]
Neuron, Non-Spiking: Type of neuron whose normal mode of operation involves transmitting graded potentials only (rather than action potentials) during decremental propagation.
Neuronal Group: See consciousness, Edelman and Tononi's theory of.
Neuronal Network: A network of neurons. Same thing as cell assembly. NOT A NEURAL NETWORK!!
Neuroplasm: A neuron's cytoplasm.
Neuroses, Oedipal Theory of: See Oedipal theory.
Neuroses, Seduction Theory of: See Seduction theory.
Neurotic Defenses: [See firstly defense mechanisms.]
Neurotransmission: Reduced to basics, there are actually three ways for chemicals to leave a given cell, namely (a) by simple diffusion through the cell membrane, (b) by passing out through pores in the cell membrane such as the sodium ion channel (possibly - but not necessarily - helped on their way by metabolic pumping), or (c) by exocytosis, the releasing of synaptic vesicles of concentrated agent. The major mechanism as far as the synapse is concerned is exocytosis, where the agent in question is the neurotransmitter substance, and the point of exit is the pre-synaptic side of the synaptic cleft. The vesicles themselves are originally formed by "budding off" the Golgi apparatus as soon as sufficient new agent has been synthesised. They then migrate cell-internally though the cytoplasm to the synaptic button. Once there, they are sensitive to calcium ion concentration changes. Specifically, as an action potential arrives at the synaptic button it depolarises the cell membrane. This opens voltage-gated calcium channels and allows calcium ions from the interstitial fluid to flood into the cytoplasm, forming - as Levitan and Kaczmarek (1991) colourfully describe them - miniature "volcanos of calcium" (p159) on the inner surface of the cell membrane. This sudden arrival of calcium ions somehow renders the vesicle membrane more compatible with the cell membrane, and this causes both membranes suddenly to coalesce [as when a champagne bubble ceases to exist upon reaching the surface], thus spilling the vesicle's contents out into the synaptic cleft, where the molecules (not the vesicles any more) now migrate cell-externally to the adjacent cell. As for what happens within the post-synaptic neuron, the key concepts are those of binding and receptor sites. Phrased simply, the neurotransmitter molecules now bind with (that is to say, fit onto) suitably shaped molecules in the surface of that membrane. These receiving molecules are known as receptors. [Compare poros.]
Neurotransmitter: [See firstly neurotransmission.] The contents of the synaptic vesicles released from the pre-synaptic neuron into the synaptic cleft. These chemicals induce a post-synaptic potential in the receiving neuron.
Niederland, William G.: [German (American from 1940) psychoanalyst (1904-1993).] [Click for external biography] Niederland is noteworthy in the context of the present glossary for his work on survivor syndrome.
NLP: See neurolinguistic programming.
NMDA: See N-methyl-D-aspartate.
N-Methyl-D-Aspartate (NMDA): NMDA is the most common of the glutamatergic neurotransmitters. Grosjean and Tsai (2007) have recently attributed a serious cognitive deficit to a dysregulation of the NMDA system - see the sidenote at the end of the entry for borderline personality disorder.
Node of Ranvier: This is the received name for the microscopic spaces between adjacent Schwann cell sheaths on a myelinated axon [picture], which, by reinstating ion flow across the axonal membrane (prevented elsewhere on the axon by its myelin sheath), are the only points on such an axon where an action potential can occur. [See now saltatory conduction.]
Noema: [(pl. noemata) <νοημα(τα)> Greek = "thought, purpose, design; understanding, mind" (O.C.G.D.).] [See firstly intentionality.] This classical Greek word for phenomenally focussed ideation was specifically applied to philosophy by Husserl (1913), because he needed a word for a more immediate form of perceptual understanding than full intentionality, and he chose noema for the reasons set out below .....
"[Intentional] experience is the consciousness of something [.....] and so we can ask what can be said on essential lines concerning this 'of something'. Every intentional experience, thanks to its noetic phase, is noetic, it is its essential nature to harbour in itself a 'meaning' of some sort. [.....] Corresponding at all points to the manifold data of the real (reellen) noetic content, there is a variety of data displayable in really pure  intuition, and in a correlative 'noematic content', or briefly 'noema' [.....]. Perception, for instance, has its noema, and at the base of this its perceptual meaning" (Husserl, Ideas, pp237-238; bold emphasis added).
Noematic Core: Alternative translation of noematic nucleus.
Noematic Field: See consciousness, Husserl's theory of.
Noematic Nucleus: See consciousness, Husserl's theory of.
Noematical: This word means "originating, or existing, in thought, or in the mind alone; noetic" (O.E.D.).
Noemics / Noesis / Noetic: See the pump-priming definitions in G.2.
Noetic Phenomenology: See phenomenology, noetic.
Non-Decremental Propagation: Propagation whereby an action potential at one point on a cell membrane induces a full action potential either (a) at an immediately adjacent point in the neural membrane, or (b) some way off at the next node of Ranvier. Because each action potential consumes metabolic energy, its power does not decrement (= decrease) with distance. [Compare decremental propagation.]
Non-Existent Objects: See consciousness, Meinong's theory of.
Non-Verbal Communication: This is the generic name for the range of gestural, postural, facial, and phonological communication channels which humans have inherited from their evolutionary past and which can assist, and at times even totally replace, spoken language as a medium of human expression and comprehension [for a fuller discussion of the mechanisms and issues at work here, see Section 3 of our e-resource "Communication and the Naked Ape". See also prosody in the present glossary.]
Norman-Shallice Model (of Supervisory Attentional Function): This is perhaps the most popular modern model of the biological control hierarchy. Structurally, it is a three-layer/five-box control hierarchy (similar to Craik, 1945) sculpted on top of a sixth box containing the schema selection process. This latter process is characterised as relying as much on inhibitory mechanisms as upon excitatory, so that the momentary salience of one motor program comes in large part from a carefully synchronised lack of "contention" from all the others (Shallice, 1982, p200). McCarthy and Warrington (1990) provide a useful summary of the model's key points, as follows .....
"Norman and Shallice (1980) and Shallice (1982) have adopted a computational information-processing approach to modelling disorders of 'executive' functions. Norman and Shallice took as their starting point the distinction between habitual and novel action routines [and] suggested that the selection and integration of these two classes of action were based on different principles. Norman and Shallice proposed that control over the sequencing and integration of the components required for complex but well-established patterns of behaviour is mediated by hierarchically organised 'schemas' or motor representations [.....]. In driving to work the highest level of the schema might be a comparatively abstract representation of the route. Such high-level schemas can call up subordinate 'programs' or subroutines; thus 'driving to work' will have component schemas including at the lowest level instructions to muscles to press pedals and turn the steering wheel. Norman and Shallice suggested that under many conditions we can function on "auto pilot", selecting and integrating cognitive or behavioural skills on the basis of established schemata. Once a schema has been triggered it 'competes' for dominance and control of action by a process of inhibiting other schemas which would be likely to conflict with it [.....] (a process which they termed contention scheduling). When one needs to suppress an automatically attractive alternative source of stimulation, to plan novel solutions to problems, or to change flexibly from one pattern of behaviour to another, the selection of schemas on the basis of the strength of their initial activation might be disastrous. Norman and Shallice argued that, under these circumstances, the selection of schemas was modulated by the operation of a supervisory attentional system [which] can provide a boost to a schema's level of activation, thereby enabling it to 'get ahead' in the competition for dominance despite starting from a handicapped position" (McCarthy and Warrington, 1990, pp362-363; bold emphasis added).
More recently, Shallice and Burgess (1996) have discussed the possibility that the Supervisory System itself "can be fractionated into different subprocesses" (p1405). The supervisory system concept is central (a) to human problem solving, and (b) to the deterioration of same following brain injury. [For further details, see Norman (1990) and our e-papers on Resource Allocation Theory and Mode Error in System Control.]
Noumena: See noumenon.
Noumenon: [(Pl. noumena).] A noumenon is "an object of purely intellectual intuition, devoid of all phenomenal attributes" (O.E.D.). Alternatively, it is "a basic reality underlying observable phenomena" (Wikipedia). The noumenon is Kant's notion of that which logically precedes the phenomenon, and which cannot therefore be consciously known. They are instead grasped [our word, chosen here to imply a less conscious form of knowing than knowing] "transcendentally". Consider .....
"By Kant's view, we can By Kant's view, we can make sense out of phenomena in these various ways, but can never directly know the noumena, the "things-in-themselves," the actual objects and dynamics of the natural world. In other words, by Kant's Critique, our minds may attempt to correlate in useful ways, perhaps even closely accurate ways, with the structure and order of the universe, but cannot know these "things" directly. Rather, we must infer the extent to which thoughts correspond with things by our further observations of the manifestations of those things that can be seen, heard, touched, smelled, tasted, and/or measured in some way by instrumentation, that is, of phenomena" (Wikipedia).
Nous / Nous: [Pronounce to rhyme with "mouse".] See noemics, noema, etc.
Nous Praktikos: [See firstly nous.] This is one of Aristotle's two basic types of knowledge (the other being nous theoretikos). For the reasons set out in the companion entry, which see, nous praktikos may loosely be regarded as the classical equivalent of the modern procedural knowledge and motor skill rolled together.
Nous Theoretikos: [See firstly nous.] In Classical Greek this phrase means, approximately, "an intellect which, like a god, looks out over the world and reflects upon what it sees", but this definition really only means anything if prior consideration has been given to the phrase bios theoretikos, Aristotle's term for perfection in life. Aristotle pondered this particular issue in both Ethics and De Anima, and saw the key to perfection as one's ability to take a god's perspective on the universe and on humankind's position within it. And because the Greek word for god was theos, this godlike way of thinking was described by the adjective theoretikos, precisely as we use the word "theoretical" in English today for the presumptuously godlike act of trying to understand how things work. It is for this reason that the Greek bios theoretikos has traditionally been translated as "life of contemplation". In other words, the nous theoretikos describes the sort of mental information processing seen in a person practising a bios theoretikos. Here are two indicative extracts from the Ethics, the first from Aristotle himself, and the second from one of his editors .....
"But if a living being is deprived of action, and still further of production, what is left but contemplation? It follows, then, that the activity of God, which is supremely happy, must be a form of contemplation; and therefore among human activities that which is most akin to God's will be the happiest" (Aristotle, Ethics [1976 Thompson-Tredennick Translation; Barnes Edition]; Book 10, §1178b, p333).
"The Aristotelian contemplator is a man who already acquired knowledge; and what he is contemplating is precisely this knowledge already present in his mind. Contemplation is something like a review or survey of existing knowledge: the contemplator is engaged in the orderly inspection of truth which he already possesses; his task consists in bringing them forward from the recesses of his mind, and arranging them fittingly in the full light of his consciousness. [..... So the] Aristotelian contemplator with a penchant for geometry will first read Euclid (or prove for himself the theorems which Euclid contains) and then gaze inwardly on the orderly array of theorems and deductions in his mind [..... and] by contemplation he brings his knowledge once again to the forefront of his mind" (Barnes, 1976, pp38-39; bold emphasis added).
So why does nous theoretikos matter? Well to start with, because it contrasts with nous praktikos, an intellect which is deed-related rather than thought-related and which therefore merely serves its owner's day-to-day non-intellectual needs. Then again because it complements the set of nous-related intellectual skills proposed by Peters (1967) in his lexicon of Greek philosophical terms [not least episteme, aisthesis, doxa, dianoia, nous pathetikos, and nous poietikos]. And finally (and most importantly, given the context of the present glossary), because nous theoretikos remains an active notion within modern cognitive science where it conveys the same basic notion as the modern propositional knowledge (nous praktikos being a combination of procedural knowledge and motor skill).
Nuclear Membrane: This is the outer surface of the cell nucleus, that is to say, the layer which confines the nucleoplasm. Outside the nuclear membrane there is cytoplasm. It is a two-layered molecular structure, namely a bimolecular lipid layer (lacking the outer "sandwich" of protein layers which characterises the cell membrane).
Nuclear Self: See self, nuclear.
Nuclear System: See Freud's Project.
Nucleolus: (Pl: Nucleoli.) This is a small spherical shaped structure, of which one or more may be present within the nucleus. It consists mainly of RNA, and is where ribosomes are first created (that is to say, prior to their migrating out into the cytoplasm and making their way to the walls of the endoplasmic reticulum).
Nucleoplasm: This is the fluid medium of the cell nucleus. It contains the nucleoli and the chromosomes. [Compare cytoplasm and interstitial fluid.]
Nucleus: This is physically and functionally the central component of the cell. It is a near-spherical structure, containing the nucleoplasm, the nucleoli, and the chromosomes, and is bounded by the nuclear membrane. Most cells have a single nucleus, although muscle cells have several and red blood cells have none.
Null Set: In the context of set-structured network databases, a "null" set is a set which presently has no members, and whose chain pointer therefore points back to itself.
Nutritative Soul: See soul, nutritative.
Nymphomania: See hypersexuality.
OAT: See Object Alternation Test.
OAT-PE: See Object Alternation Test.
o-Awareness: See object-awareness.
Object (E/1/2/3): In everyday English, the noun "object" is confusingly adept at switching its meaning at the drop of a hat between object-as-physical-external-thing [e.g., "I believe that the sun exists and is not a figment of my imagination"], object-as-current-focus-of-mentation, real or imaginary [e.g., "I have in mind the sun / the Minotaur"], and object as behavioural-end-purpose [e.g., "My object in all this is to ....."]. Those hearing or seeing the word manage remarkably successfully to stay on top of this confusion by adjusting their interpretation automatically to the context in which the word had been used. In mental philosophy, however, this supportive context can often be obscure, and so the precise meaning of the word is easier to miss. Worse, the everyday complexities noted above are further distorted by conflicting theoretical usages of the term, not least the following .....
(1) Object, Perceptual: As used in the mental philosophy of aesthesis, the word "object" connotes a thing in its everyday sense, that is to say, it is substance possessed of a form. In this sense, Kant, for example, happily used Objekt and Gegenstand within the same sentence for the English "object" (e.g., Critique, p147), whilst for Husserl an object was the "determinable X in the noematic sense" (p337). [Compare object concept.]
(2) Object, Psychodynamic: As used in psychodynamic theory, an "object" is "that to which a subject relates" (Daniels, 2007 online), be it animate or inanimate, concrete or abstract. It is a percept [i.e., an object (1)] whose relevance to the person in question is such that it warrants tracking through time. Indeed, it is this quality of having something known about it which makes such objects presences on the mental stage in the Baars-ian sense [see consciousness, Baars' theory of]. Objects of this sort are the content matter of the branch of psychodynamic theory known as "Object Relations Theory", which now see. [Compare object, transformational.]
(3) Object, Data Encapsulating: As used in computer science, an "object" is the core concept in what has come to be known as the "object-oriented" approach to computer programming [see now object-oriented computing]. Khoshafian and Abnous (1990) introduce the history as follows .....
"..... in the late 1950s, one problem found when developing large FORTRAN programs was that variable names would conflict in different parts of a program. [.....] The designers of the language ALGOL decided to provide barriers to separate variable names within program segments. This gave birth to the Begin ..... End blocks in ALGOL 60 [Citation]. Since the variable names appearing within a block are known only to that block, their use will not conflict with the use of the same variable name in other blocks of the program. This was a first attempt at providing protection or encapsulation within a programming language. Block structures are now widely used in a variety of languages. [//] In the early 1960s, the designers of the language SIMULA-67 [Citation] took the block concept one step further, and introduced the concept of an object [thus laying] the foundation of object-oriented languages and some of the object-oriented terminology"(Khoshafian and Abnous, 1990, p11).
Object Alternation Test (OAT): This is a test first devised for use with animals (e.g., Pribram and Mishkin, 1956) and then adapted for use with humans (Freedman, 1990). It requires the integration of short-term visual memory and simple rule learning. The patient is seated in front of two black "plaques", either, both, or neither of which can be used to cover over a small object such as a coin. The patient thus has to learn the rule, but can perseverate with said rule once it has been established. The perseveration score may be abbreviated to OAT-PE. Poor performance on the OAT is usually associated with lesions of orbitofrontal cortex (Freedman, 1990).
Object-Awareness: [Or "o-awareness", for short.] This is one of the three subtypes of awareness suggested by Dretske (e.g., 1997) [the others being fact awareness and property awareness]. For further details, see consciousness, Dretske's theory of.
Object, Bad: [See firstly object (2).] This is Klein's (e.g., 1935) basic notion of any object from the outside world which, by failing to satisfy one of an infant's basic impulses fully enough or quickly enough becomes more or less instantly an instrument of frustration rather than an instrument of satisfaction. Here is Klein herself on both the phenomenon and its underlying psychodynamic mechanisms .....
"The development of the infant is governed by the mechanisms of introjection and projection. From the beginning the ego introjects objects 'good' and 'bad', for both of which its mother's breast is the prototype - for good objects when the child obtains it and for bad when it fails him. But it is because the baby projects its own aggression on to these objects that it feels them to be 'bad' and not only in that they frustrate its desires: the child conceives of them as actually dangerous - persecutors who it fears will devour it [etc.] Hence quite little children pass through anxiety situations (and react to them with defense mechanisms), the content of which is comparable to that of the psychoses of adults" (Klein, 1935/1986), pp116-117).
As the infant grows older, conflicts between good and bad objects go on to shape its emerging personality, not least by creating various habitual recourses to different defense mechanisms - denial, expulsion, and projection, being especially important. Klein suggests, for example, that manic states are based on a misuse of the mechanism of denial, and characterised by a "sense of omnipotence" (p133) developed to control bad objects. Marginally more pathological sequences of psychodynamic events underlie the schizoid defenses. Here is Klein (1946/1986) on the topic of "schizoid object relations" .....
"To summarise now some of the disturbed object relations which are found in schizoid personalities: the violent splitting of the self and excessive projection have the effect that the person towards whom this process is directed is felt as a persecutor. Since the destructive and hated part of the self which is split off and projected is felt as a danger to the loved object and therefore gives rise to guilt, this process of projection in some ways also implies a deflection of guilt from the self on to the other person. Guilt has, however, not been done away with, and the deflected guilt is felt as an unconscious responsibility for the people who have become representatives of the aggressive part of the self. Another typical feature of schizoid object relations is their narcissistic nature which derives from the infantile introjective and projective processes. For, as I suggested earlier, when the ego ideal is projected into another person, this person becomes predominantly loved and admired because he contains the good parts of the self. Similarly, the relation to another person on the basis of projecting bad parts of the self into him is of a narcissistic nature, because in this case as well the object strongly represents one part of the self. Both these types of narcissistic relation to an object often show strong obsessional features. The impulse to control other people is, as we know, an essential element in obsessional neurosis [and] can to some extent be explained by a deflected drive to control parts of the self. When these parts have been projected excessively into another person, they can only be controlled by controlling the other person. One root of obsessional mechanisms may thus be found in the particular identification which results from infantile projective processes" (Klein, 1946/1986, p187; emphasis added).
Armstrong-Perlman (1994) reminds us that bad objects persist into adult life, where they serve to predispose people towards corrosive and unsuccessful relationships. Thus .....
"With these patients, one often finds a history of detachment or even active rejection of others in their erotic relationships. Such people are often significantly high achievers [but] as resources for others. [.....] The currently lost, or about to be lost, others have been objects of desire for these patients. The patients have felt 'real' in these relationships. Yet when they give a history of their relationships, one wonders at their blindness. Their object choices seem pathological or perverse. There are indications that the others were or are incapable of reciprocating, or loving, or accepting the patients in the way they desire. The patients have been pursuing alluring but rejecting objects - exciting yet frustrating objects" (Armstrong-Perlman, 1994, p223).
Object Concept: [See firstly object and concept.] In the context of the present glossary, we usually see the term "object concept" as the English rendering of Freud's (1891/1953) Objektvorstellung. The theoretical status of both the words and the underlying notion have been discussed by Rizzuto (1990), and the caution raised that the classical Greek problems with forms still troubled Northern European philosophy late in the 19th century. Cassirer (1929/1957) puts his finger perfectly on the problem, thus .....
"The question of the object has become for Kant a question of validity, of the quid juris [= that which is currently being decided]; but the quid juris of the object cannot be decided before the other question, the quid juris of the concept, has been answered. For the concept is the last and highest stage to which knowledge rises in the progress of the objective consciousness. In the building up of objective knowledge the synthesis of 'apprehension in intuition' and of 'reproduction in the imagination' must be completed by the synthesis of 'recognition in the concept'. To recognise an object means nothing other than to subject the manifold of intuition to a rule which determines it in respect to its order. And the concept is nothing other than the consciousness of such a rule and of the unity that is posited through it" (Cassirer, 1929/2957, p315; emphasis added).
Rizzuto (1990) adds .....
"Philosophically, Freud adheres to the teachings of John Stuart Mill that the object representation does not contain anything else besides the appearance of a 'thing'. [.....] By talking about the appearance of a 'thing', Freud and Mill make a clear distinction between a 'thing' (Ding), a material object, existing in the real world, and its representation, the 'appearance' of an object in the mind. This Objektvorstellung is constructed in the process of perceiving and belongs entirely to the psychic realm. A 'thing' can be there, in front of the viewer as a Gegenstand [.....]. Another way of saying the same in German is Objekt [.....]. For Kant an Objekt is a human construction made out of sensations originating in and referred to an existing thing in factual reality. An object representation is therefore a psychic representation that resembles a 'thing' that is there in the world" (p242).
Object Constancy (1/2): There are two distinct usages of this term in cognitive science, as follows: (1) In perceptual theory, an "object constancy" is the name commonly given to the visual system's capacity to make due allowances for the changes in retinal angles subtended as objects of factually fixed dimensions move away from or towards the eyes. (2) In psychodynamic theory, on the other hand, an "object constancy" is the term used by object relations theorists to describe the enduring quality of particular psychodynamic objects during longitudinal psychosexual development.
Object Fusion: In the context of the present glossary, this is Jacobson's (1964) notion of a process whereby self and object images become effectively one and the same at a particular point in cognitive and psychosexual development. Here is the core proposal .....
"I have repeatedly stated that at first the infant can probably hardly discriminate between his own pleasurable sensations and the objects from which they are derived. Only when the perceptive functions have sufficiently matured can gratifications or frustrations become associated with the object. [.....] Induced by such repeated unpleasurable experiences of frustration and separation from the love object, fantasies of (total) incorporation of the gratifying object begin to arise, expressive of wishes to re-establish the lost unit. This desire probably never ceases to play a part in our emotional life. [.....] These earliest wishful fantasies of merging and being one with the mother (breast) are certainly the foundation on which all object relations as well as all future types of identification are built" (Jacobson, 1964, p39).
Object-Oriented DBMS: This is a database created using a DBMS built according to the principles of object-oriented computing.
Object-Oriented Computing: [See firstly object (3).] This is a strategy for maximising the efficiency of computer code by concentrating at all design stages, (but especially that of data analysis and database design) on the content to be processed rather than the act of processing it [compare the act vs content debate in mental philosophy]. Khoshafian and Abnous (1990) introduce this issue as follows .....
"Using conventional techniques, the code generated for a real-world problem consists of first encoding the problem and then transforming the problem into terms of a von Neumann computer language. Object-oriented disciplines and techniques handle the transformation automatically, so the bulk of the code just encodes the problem and the transformation is minimised. In fact, when compared to more conventional (procedural) styles of programming, code reductions ranging from 40% to an order of magnitude have been reported. [Therefore] the object-oriented concepts and tools are enabling technologies that allow real-world problems to be expressed easily and naturally [and] provide better methodologies to construct complex software systems out of modularised reusable software units." (Khoshafian and Abnous, 1990, pp7-8)
Within the computer world, the ideal object is an "encapsulated" (= physically delineated) sequence of machine code within what is otherwise a conventional program, which has been deliberately set up as such by an object-oriented compiler from an equally encapsulated run of source code. The result is a machine instantiation of a real world object, and the fact that it remains encapsulated at machine code level gives it a powerful practical appeal as a means of delivering "re-usable software". Indeed, object orientation "can be loosely described as the software modelling and development (engineering) disciplines that make it easy to construct complex systems from individual components" (Khoshafian and Abnous, 1990, p6; italics original).
Object Permanence: In Piagetian theory, this is the belief, emerging at around age 8-9 months, that objects continue to exist even when they have moved out of sight.
Object Relations Theory: [See firstly object (2).] Object Relations Theory is a derivative of conventional psychodynamic theory which evolved around the middle of the 20th century at the hands of the post-Freudian Melanie Klein, and which was then further developed by the likes of William Fairbairn, Donald Winnicott, Margaret Mahler, Edith Jacobsen, and Otto Kernberg. The defining emphasis of this brand of psychodynamic theory is its emphasis on the knowledge structures of the developing mind, and how well they integrate (a) the infant's growing knowledge of the outside world - perforce its experiences with its primary caregiver(s) - with (b) the emotional forces driving psychosexual development. Object relations theory is thus especially powerful when directed at "the emergence of the preoedipal child from the mother-infant field" (Spruiell, 1977/2006 online). Klee (2001 online) [homepage] once rather vividly put it this way .....
"Early in life, we have little sense of ourselves, or our identity. It is through our relationships with the significant people around us that we take in parts of others (objects) and slowly build a self-structure, which we eventually call a personality. This blueprint of a self-structure is formed early in life out of our relationships with the objects (significant others, and parts of significant others) around us. Once formed, the blueprint can be modified, but our basic tendency is to seek out others (friends, spouses) who will reaffirm those early self-object relationships. It is as if in early childhood we create a script for a drama and then spend the rest of our lives seeking out others to play the parts"
Bollas (1987) reminds us of the contribution of another early Kleinian, Paula Heimann .....
"In the early 1950s Paula Heimann [.....] posed a simple question that became crucial to [.....] the 'British School' of psychoanalysis. When listening to the patient's free associations (or broken speech), and tracing the private logic of sequential association [.....] she asked: 'Who is speaking?' We can say that up until this moment it had always been assumed that the speaker was the patient who had formed a therapeutic alliance with the analyst, and therefore that he was a neutral or working speaker who was reporting inner states of mind. This assumption comprised the classical view of analytic narrative. But Heimann knew that at any one moment in a session a patient could be speaking with the voice of the mother, or the mood of the father, or some fragmented voice of a child self either lived or withheld from life. 'To whom is this person speaking?' Heimann then asked. The unconscious admits no special recognition of the neutrality of the psychoanalyst and, given the unending subtleties of the transference, Heimann realised that at one moment the analysand was speaking to the mother, anticipating the father, or reproaching, exciting, or consoling a child - the child self of infancy, in the midst of separation at age two, in the oedipal phase, or in adolescence" (Bollas, 1987, p1; emphasis added).
Daniels (2007 online) offers a useful web resource on the leading workers in this field and their basic terminology, and Kernberg (1967) shows how the theory can be used to excellent effect in helping us to understand borderline personality disorder. See also the sequence of infant cognitive development proposed by Ryle (1991) in the entry for procedural sequence model.
Object Representation: See object concept.
Object, Self as: [See firstly object relations theory.] The idea that the self is an object (2) built up from other objects is basic to all variants of Kleinian theory. Here is how one modern object relations theorist traces the notion back to one of the pioneers of the genre .....
"In living with borderline, schizoid, and narcissistic character disorders, Winnicott knew that he was immersed in the patient's unconscious reconstruction of a child's environment, and I understand that it was a feature of his technique to adapt himself to the patient's ego defects and characterological biases in order to allow for the transference to evolve without the impingement of a premature use of analytic interpretation. From this experiencing of the early infant environment, the analyst could then interpret the past as it was re-created through the transference. People bear memories of being the mother's and father's object in ego structure, and in the course of a person's object relations he re-presents various positions in the historical theatre of lived experiences between elements of mother, father, and his infant-child self. One idiom of representation is the person's relation to the self as an object, an object relation where the individual may objectify, imagine, analyse, and manage the self through identification with primary others who have been involved in that very task. I find the concept of the relation to the self as an object to be of considerable use to me in my clinical work [..... but] do not think it has been adequately conceptualised" (Bollas, 1987, p41).
[See now object, transformational for more on Bollas' particular approach to object relations, or projective identification for more on the Kleinian view in general.
Object, Transformational: [See firstly object relations theory.] This is Bollas' (1987) notion of a mental object in the Kleinian psychodynamic sense [see object, self as] which - deriving as it does from the primary caregiver - is centrally involved in the emergence of the very earliest ego structures in a growing infant.
ASIDE: By reminding us of the "considerable prematurity of human birth" (p13), Bollas is effectively blaming evolution for much of human mental illness. In species whose young "leave the nest" early in life, the parents have less opportunity to shape not just their growing bodies but their minds as well. By the same token, however, they also have less opportunity to pervert that growth process by inflicting their own inadequacies upon them, or trans-generationally re-infecting them with their own perversions. To use a slightly more recent phrase, they have less opportunity to become toxic parents.
Bollas (1987) begins by delving back through developmental time to "the infant's first subjective experience of the object as a transformational object" (p14), as now explained .....
"A transformational object is experientially identified by the infant with processes that alter self experience. It is an identification that emerges from symbiotic relating, where the first object is 'known' not so much by putting it into an object representation, but as a recurrent experience of being - a more existential as opposed to representational knowing. As the mother helps to integrate the infant's being (instinctual, cognitive, affective, environmental), the rhythms of this process - from unintegration(s) to integration(s) - inform the nature of this 'object' relation rather than the qualities of the object as object. Not yet fully identified as an other, the mother is experienced as a process of transformation, and this feature of early existence lives on in certain forms of object-seeking in adult life, when the object is sought for its function as a signifier of transformation. Thus, in adult life, the quest is not to possess the object; rather the object is pursued in order to surrender to it as a medium that alters the self [.....] Since it is an identification that begins before the mother is mentally represented as an other, it is an object relation that emerges not from desire, but from a perceptual identification of the object with its function: the object as enviro-somatic transformer of the subject. The memory of this early object relation manifests itself in the person's search for an object (a person, place, event, ideology) that promises to transform the self" (Bollas, 1987, p14; emphasis added).
In other words, Bollas sees the mother as constantly altering the infant's experience, without being able to experience that experience for herself (at least neither from the infant's perspective, nor in the infant's very restricted terms). All too often, by accident or malicious intent, the mother simply fails to provide "the facilitating environment" [compare holding environment] necessary to build the infant's ego.
RESEARCH ISSUE: So what forces are at work, then, and in what causal sequence, when the mother is herself less than cognitively adequate? Might it be possible, for example, that something as seemingly innocent as one of the intelligence s-factors, perhaps, might be a key variable here, capable of subtly impoverishing the mother's intellectual input into her child's development? Or that one of the cognitive deficits recognised in the special educational needs arena is capable of damaging not just the parent's job and academic prospects but their ability as parents too [readers unfamiliar with the cognitive deficits approach may care to read up on the feedback theory of schizophrenia [see Frith (1979)], the order of representation theory of autism [see meta-representation], the phonological memory theory of dyslexia [see companion resource, Section 4.4], or the defective functional connectivity theory of toxic parenting and other forms of special educational needs. Might we, in other words, have a potential cognitive deficit explanation of something as psychosexually charged as personality disorder? Even more specifically, might object relations failures in psychodynamic terms be object relations failures also in computational terms?
Bollas goes on to argue that much of our later adult life is spent searching out substitutes for the transformational object, and that the person who then enters psychoanalysis will automatically require the analyst "to experience the patient's inner object world" (p5). This can only be done effectively, he argues, using the process of projective identification [for Bollas' argument here, see that entry]. [See now unthought known.]
Objective (Various Meanings): [CAUTION: In the awkward squad of philosophical terms - words which have been used with so many nuances of meaning over the years that they can obscure rather than clarify the point at hand - the word "objective" is one of the very awkwardest. Use it carefully yourself, therefore, and check that those whose words you may be following have done likewise.] In everyday English, the word "objective" can function either as an adjective ("to be objective"; "to value objective evidence") or as a noun ("to set an objective"). The following variations in usage are presented under their original O.E.D. numbering .....
"(2) Philos. Used of the esistence or nature of a thing as an object of consciousness (as distinguished from an existence or nature termed subjective. [..... (3)] Dealing with, or laying stress upon, that which is external to the mind; treating of outward things or events, rather than inward thoughts or feelings [..... (4)] That is the object of sensation or thought; that is presented or exposed as an object, perceived, apprehended, etc. [.....] (8) Orig. Mil., the point towards which the advance of troops is directed; hence gen. the point aimed at" (O.E.D.).
But as if those complexities were not enough, the word is also commonly encountered in mental philosophy as a straight Anglicisation of the German philosophical term Objektive [pronounce as "ob - yect - Eva"], itself marvellously difficult to pin down [see the entry following]. And worse, because in optics, "the objective" is the outermost lens in a series of lenses (that is to say, the one which actually first receives the light from the object [see explanatory diagram (courtesy of Wikipedia)]), which is precisely the role which the eye plays in the end-to-end process of aesthesis.
Objective Anxiety: See anxiety types.
Objective Idealism: See Idealism, Objective.
Objektiv: [Pl. Objektive.] [German = "objective".] We are concerned in this glossary only with Meinong's (1902/1983) technical usage of this term, which was to name a brief but vitally important (and nearly as poorly understood now as then) transitional stage of perception, during which a particular "object of judgment" was delineated which might not totally equate to the literal contents of the sensory field [for an example and further discussion, see the entry for consciousness, Meinong's theory of]. Meinong's theory of aesthesis has recently been revisited by Sierszulska (2005), who phrases the key assertion as follows .....
"Since objectives are the proper objects intended in acts of judgment and assumption, they are called objects as well, even though they are neither real existing objects, nor do they belong to the general category of objecta" (p40).
See Jacquette (2007 online) for the current state of play.
Objektvorstellung: [German Objekt = "object" + Vorstellung = "concept".] See object concept.
Obsession: In the context of the present glossary, obsessions are "persistent ideas, thoughts, impulses, or images, that are experienced as intrusive and inappropriate and that cause marked anxiety or distress" (DSM-IV, 2000, p437).
Obsessional Neurosis: This is Freud's (1896) notion of a neurosis characterised by clinically significant levels of uncontrolled cognitive content, capable of distorting the behaviour of the patient in question in one or more key areas. The nature of the cognitive content is repetitive and prescriptive - hence the allusion to "obsession" - and the nature of the resulting behavioural distortions is that they are as hauntingly persistent as they are bizarre or idiosyncratic. One of Freud's earliest mentions of obsessional characteristics is in Freud and Breuer (1893-1895), and he returned to the subject in one of his letters to his friend Wilhelm Fliess, as follows .....
"With regard to obsessional neurosis, I have found confirmation that the locality at which the repressed breaks through is the word presentation and not the concept attached to it. (More precisely, the word memory.) Hence the most disparate things are readily united as an obsessional idea under a single word with multiple meanings. [.....] Obsessional ideas frequently are clothed in a characteristic verbal vagueness [see sidenote below - Ed.] in order to permit [.....] multiple deployment" (Freud, letter of 22nd December 1897, Letters to Fliess [Masson (1985), pp287-288]).
ASIDE: Note the observation concerning "verbal vagueness" above, and then compare the notion of "overinclusive thinking" in psychotic patients [start with the entry for cognitive deficit, and then move on to the entry for theory of mind theory of schizophrenia].
Freud's ideas were then presented in greater detail in case, Rat Man (Freud, 1909) [see the separate entry for the gory details], and then summarised as follows in his Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis .....
"Obsessional neurosis [Zwangsneurose] and hysteria are the forms of neurotic illness upon the study of which psychoanalysis was first built [.....]. But obsessional neurosis, in which the puzzling leap from the mental to the physical plays no part, has actually, through the efforts of psychoanalysis, become more perspicuous and familiar to us than hysteria, and we have learned that it displays certain extreme characteristics of the nature of neuroses far more glaringly. Obsessional neurosis is shown in the patient's being occupied with thoughts in which he is in fact not interested, in his being aware of impulses in himself which appear very strange to him, and in his being led to actions the performance of which give him no enjoyment, but which it is quite impossible for him to omit. The thoughts (obsessions) may be senseless in themselves, or merely a matter of indifference to the subject; often they are completely silly, and invariably they are the starting-point of a strenuous mental activity, which exhausts the patient and to which he only surrenders himself most unwillingly" (Freud, Introductory Lectures, 1917/1963, p297; bold emphasis added).
For her part, Melanie Klein saw obsessions as closely related to omnipotence and the "bad" object. WHERE TO NEXT: A number of illustrative clinical cases have been described over the years, for example, case, obsessional (aged 30 years) and case, obsessional (aged 19 years). Obsessional neuroses have been incorporated into the modern psychiatric lexicon under the headings obsessive-compulsive disorder and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: [CAUTION - compare obsessive-compulsive personality disorder.] This is one of the thirteen DSM-IV disorder groups under the category header of anxiety disorders. It is characterised by "recurrent obsessions or compulsions  that are serious enough to be time consuming (i.e., they take more than 1 hour a day) or cause marked distress or significant impairment" (DSM-IV, 2000, pp456-457).
Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder: [CAUTION - compare obsessive-compulsive disorder.] This is one of the eleven DSM-IV disorder groups under the category header of personality disorders.
Occam: See Ockham.
Occurrentness: See Dreyfus, Hubert L.
OCEAN: See personality factors, "Big Five" system of.
Ockham, William of: [British monk-philosopher (1285?-1349?) (a.k.a. Doctor Invincibilis).] [Click for external biography] William of Ockham (sometimes Occam) was a fourteenth century English philosopher, who developed what has since been described as the "rule of ontogenetical economy" (Magnusson, 1990, p1096). "Entities," he wrote, "are not to be multiplied beyond necessity". In other words, when you are faced with explaining the unexplained, the simplest explanations are usually the best.
Oedipus, The Tyrant: <Οιδιπους Τιραννος>
O Zeus, what hast thou willed to do with me! (Oedipus, upon realising his double transgression).
Where are you, children? Come, feel your brother's hands. (Oedipus, to his sister-daughters).
In this Greek tragedy by Sophocles (ca. 428 BCE), the plot revolves around the revelation to King Oedipus of Thebes that he was not as "true a son of his sire" as he had originally believed himself to be. The man Oedipus called "father" - King Polybus of Corinth [a nearby rival state - see map] - was in fact only his adoptive father, having acquired him as an infant-foundling, and having raised him as his own. In fact, Oedipus was the long-lost son of King Laius and Queen Jocasta of Thebes, and the crucial plot twist is that his birth had not been welcomed in the royal palace because Laius had previously been warned by a fortune-teller - an "oracle" - that he would one day perish at the hands of his own son. Laius had accordingly ordered the new-born child put to death by the then-traditional method of exposure upon a hillside, but had been betrayed by the squeamishness of the servant entrusted with this grisliest of tasks.
ASIDE: The manuscript is infuriatingly confused as to what exactly had happened. Laius seems to have personally passed a pin-shackle through the baby's ankles to bind them together [the name Oedipus derives from the "swollen feet" this abuse inflicted upon the infant], and the appointed servant - a royal herdsman - seems at first to have abandoned the child as instructed, only for it to be discovered while still alive by a passing shepherd. A character referred to in the play as "the messenger" (coincidentally, also a shepherd) explains to Oedipus that he got the child from "a herdsman of the king". As with all dark secrets, however, this explanation shifts from one telling to the next [check out the Storr translation text, courtesy of the Internet Classics Archive at MIT]. What does seem agreed is that one or other of the intermediaries had given the baby to Polybus, "a childless man 'til then", as "a gift" (e43). The text is also never entirely clear as to whether Jocasta was party to the abandonment or was told about it after it had happened.
Oedipus duly grew safely to manhood, and all was well [but see Research Issue below]. Then one day he himself consulted an oracle, only to hear it foretold that he would "mate with his own mother and kill his own father". Not overly impressed with either of these ideas, he resolved to distance himself from his "parents", and so set off to seek his fortune elsewhere. On this journey, he ran [as you do] straight into his biological father, Laius. As strangers (but clearly from the same quarrelsome gene-pool), they disagreed over who had right of way at a certain crossroads and in the ensuing fracas Oedipus killed the older man [one up to the oracle]. He then made his way to Thebes [now kingless, remember] where he was able (by outwitting a mythical monster) to win both the vacant throne and - with it - the hand of the widow Queen [his mother, remember [and not just the hand, needless to say, for by his "begetting where he was begot" she would bear him four children]]. An accumulation of events then gradually reveals all these hidden truths to him, and in the bloody denouement [in which, even as a non-clinician, we suspect we see the forces of narcissistic self revenge at work] Jocasta commits suicide and Oedipus puts out his own eyes and is banished from the kingdom.
RESEARCH ISSUE: Oedipus has long been acclaimed as a study in scarring more substantial than those upon his ankles. Jocasta herself relates (e-version, p30) that her child had been "but three days old" when her husband had given him "to be cast away by others on the trackless mountainside". We therefore need to enquire what sort of upbringing the child went through at the hands of Polybus (the adoptive father) and Merope (the adoptive mother) to have turned him into the personality he gradually shows himself to be. What we know, or may strongly suspect, about his genetic parents [Laius and Jocasta] is that the father was a quick-tempered superstitious homosexual rapist, drunkard, and child-abuser, and the mother was quite possibly the sort of woman who submits to, rather than stands up to, the tempers of infanticidal husband (and with suicidal tendencies into the bargain). What we know about the adoptive parents [Polybus and Merope] is that they were probably incapable of having children of their own and kept the fact of the adoption from the child himself. The selected header quotation also surely indicates an unhealthy degree of "externality" in Oedipus's locus of control, in that he blames the Gods for what is probably a simple demonstration of the power of nature over nurture.
[See now Oedipus complex. A number of cognate myths are discussed in the entry for national heroes, psychodynamic theory and.]
Oiesis: [Greek <οιησις> = "opinion" (O.C.G.D.), but in some senses also "human mind".] As we noted in the G2 entry for aesthesis, phenomenal awareness, and ideation, Plato used the word oiesis rather experimentally on occasions, it being a derivative of oida, "I know", and thus a close relative of ειδος. Here are two specimen extracts, the second of which renders the word, in translation, as "human mind" .....
“SOCRATES: [….. Oiesis] seems to express the fact that thinking is the motion (oisis) of the soul towards every thing, toward how each of the things that are really is” (Plato, Cratylus, §420c; Reeve translation, p63).
"..... because it gives the human mind [oiesis] insight [nous] and information [historia] in a rational way ....." (Plato, Phaedrus, §244c; Waterfield translation, p26).
Omnipotence: This is one of the defense mechanisms postulated by psychoanalytic theory, and recognised by the DSM-IV as belonging to the "minor image-distorting" defense level. It involves dealing with emotional conflict "by feeling or acting as if [one] possesses special powers or abilities and is superior to others" (DSM-IV, 2000, p812). The term comes from Melanie Klein, thus .....
"As has already been stated, omnipotence prevails in the early phantasies, both the destructive and the reparative ones, and influences sublimations as well as object relations. Omnipotence, however, is so closely bound up in the unconscious with the sadistic impulses with which it was first associated that the child feels again and again that his attempts at reparation have not succeeded, or will not succeed. His sadistic impulses, he feels, may easily get the better of him. The young child, who cannot sufficiently trust his reparative and constructive feelings, as we have seen, resorts to manic omnipotence. [.....]
All this leads to the need in the child - and for that matter to some extent in the adult also - to repeat certain actions obsessionally (this, in my view, is part of the repetition compulsion); or - the contrasting method - omnipotence and denial are resorted to" (Klein, 1940/1986, pp152-153).
One-To-Many Relationship: See relationship, one-to-many.
One-To-One Relationship: See relationship, one-to-one.
On[ta]: [Greek = "being(s)".] The word on was used in the discussion of reality and appearance in Plato's The Sophist (§244a; Cornford translation, p219). Plato's on is the present participle [the "I am X-ing" form of the standard English verb] of the irregular Greek verb einai, "to be". Cornford (1935) translates this as "the real" or "reality" (p216, footnote) rather than the more straightforward "being", whilst Heidegger rendered it as Seiende for the German marketplace.
Ontic: [See firstly on[ta].] Concerning the ultimate nature of reality. [See, for example, ontic distinctiveness.]
Ontic Distinctiveness: [See firstly ontology.] This is Strawson's (1997) term for a fundamentally different class of reality. He applies it specifically to the issue of whether a self is "an 'ontically distinct' thing" (p425).
Ontology: [See firstly onta.] "The science or study of being; that department of metaphysics which relates to the being or essence of things, or to being in the abstract" (O.E.D.). Heidegger (1927) puts it this way .....
"The task of ontology is to explain Being itself and to make the Being of entities stand out in full relief" (Being and Time, p49).
Operating System: The key to understanding what an operating system is lies in grasping a single basic fact, namely that a high proportion of one's computer software re-uses code already written (often at great cost) elsewhere. It therefore makes sense not just to provide the applications programmers with a library of tried and tested subroutines, but also with a way of accessing these procedures from within a programmer-friendly keying environment. The operating system is the mechanism by which this is all achieved, and its standard functions include interfacing with the operator, managing the library procedures, managing the peripherals, displaying the contents of magnetic media, knowing what filenames have been allocated, knowing where on the available disks it has put each file (and the really clever operating systems are able to store a given file in a number of non-contiguous fragments, so that takes a lot of managing), managing disk I-O, issuing warnings, help, and error messages, keeping track of date and time, and marking same on the filestock so users know how old they are, and last (but by no means least) controlling the execution of end-user programs. Some operating systems are easier to get along with than others. The worst ones are those invented in the days before the general public were allowed to get their hands on computers. The easy to use ones are called "user friendly", and the trend of late has been for them to become more and more user friendly as time goes by. Operating systems are written by "boffins" and maintained by "systems programmers", who (because they are the only ones who understand what they are doing) get paid a lot more than applications programmers. For the view that biological consciousness serves in some way as the mind's operating system, see consciousness, Johnson-Laird's theory of. [See also virtual machine and virtual machine operating system.]
Operation: This is Piagetian theory's term for the basic unit of thinking. Here is how this construct is explained in Piaget (1970) .....
"First of all, an operation is an action that can be internalised; that is, it can be carried out in thought as well as executed materially. Second, it is a reversible action; that is, it can take place in one direction or in the opposite direction. This is not true of all actions. If I smoke my pipe through to the end, I cannot reverse this action [.....] The third characteristic of an operation is that it always supposes some conservation, some invariant. It is of course a transformation, since it is an action, but it is a transformation that does not transform everything at once [.....] The fourth characteristic is that no operation exists alone. Every operation is related to a system of operations, or to a total structure as we call it [.....] a system governed by laws that apply to the system as such, and not only to one or another element in the system" (Genetic Epistemology, pp21-22).
Opinion: [See firstly doxa.] In everyday usage, an opinion is "what one thinks or how one thinks about something" (O.E.D.). Within mental philosophy it becomes an important, but vaguely defined, aspect of thinking, one weapon among many in the mind's armoury of higher cognitive functions. Plato offers the following insight in the Cratylus dialogue .....
"HERMOGENES: What do you think of doxa ('opinion'), and the like? SOCRATES: Doxa ('opinion') either derives from the pursuit (dioxis) the soul engages in when it hunts for the knowledge of how things are, or it derives from the shooting of a bow (toxon). But the latter is more likely. At any rate, 'oiesis' ('thinking') is in harmony with it. It seems to express the fact that thinking is the motion (oisis) of the soul towards every thing, towards how each of the things that are really is" (Plato, Cratylus, §420b; Reeve translation, p63).
Oppositional Defiant Disorder: This is one of the five DSM-IV disorder groups under the category header of attention-deficit and disruptive behaviour disorders. It presents as "an enduring pattern of uncooperative, defiant, and hostile behaviour toward authority figures" (PsychNet-UK), far beyond that normally seen in children and adolescents. You also need to exclude the possibility of a cognitive deficit of the sort described in the entry for Asperger's disorder, where the oppositional defiance - troubling enough though it is - is tangential to the real problem.
Ordinary State of Consciousness (OSC): This is one of the two basic states of consciousness identified by Harner (1980) (the other being the Shamanic state of consciousness).
Organelle: A subcellular structure (or class of structures), such as the Golgi apparatus, the mitochondria, or the ribosomes.
Organoleptic: From the evidence of the senses.
Orienting: Maintaining general everyday awareness. One of the first things to be established in the Routine Neurological Examination is "orientation to time, person, and place". This involves asking such questions as "Do you know where you are, Ethel?", "Can you tell me who the Prime Minister is?", and so on. Orienting can therefore be regarded as one of the all-pervading components of intact and effective executive function, because it helps establish attention in the first instance, and thereafter makes both planning and execution-monitoring more appropriate.
Originär / Originarität: [German = "primordial / primordiality".] See consciousness, Husserl's theory of.
Orthodromic Conduction: The propagation of a neural impulse in the "forwards" direction, that is to say, from a point of stimulation on the axon away from the cell body. The opposite of antidromic conduction.
OSC: See ordinary state of consciousness.
OSI Reference Model: The Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) Reference Model is a set of standards developed by the telecommunications industry during the 1970s and set down formally in Zimmerman (1980). It is a reasonably non-technical overriding guideline, and it recommends a seven-layered analysis for any given communication, with the physical channel (the wire, etc.) consigned to the lowest level, and each layer communicating logically (but not physically) with the matching decoding layer(s) at other node(s). This type of arrangement is known as "peer-to-peer communication" (Gandoff, 1990). The OSI model thus allows information to pass smoothly and progressively down the seven layers of the sending processing hierarchy and just as effortlessly up the seven layers of the receiving processing hierarchy, managing the entire process, and supporting appropriate error detection and recovery processes should difficulties arise. [If interested in the role played by error detection and recovery processes in real time biological control processes, see our comments on "awareness of awareness" in the entry for Central State Materialism. If interested in the detail of the process, see Section 3 of our e-resource on "Shannonian Theory".]
Ousia: [Greek = "being, essence, substance; property" (O.C.G.D.); "substance, existence" (Peters).] This is one of the most important words in classical philosophy because it is not just the first of Aristotle's ten categories and the key to Plato's true being, but it is also the key to Heidegger's notion of Dasein and the effective development of computerised propositional networks! Consider .....
"The noun ουσια is derived from one of the stems used in conjugating the irregular verb ειναι ('to be'); in the Aristotelian tradition it is usually translated as 'substance', though translators of Plato are more likely to write 'essence', 'existence' or 'being'. Heidegger suggests that ουσια is to be thought of as synonymous with the derivative noun παρουσια ('being-at', 'presence')" (Macquarrie and Robinson, 1962, p47 footnote to Heidegger, 1927/1962).
"'Ousia' is a verbal noun from the Greek verb 'to be'. As Aristotle uses the word, it occurs in two distinct grammatical constructions. We can say that x is an ousia - a being, reality, or substance; or we can say that the ousia of x is F, where 'F' answers the 'What is it?' question about x. [.....] On the first use, ousiai are the basic beings there are, whatever these turn out to be. To call something an ousia, in this sense, is to confer basicness [..... as a] primary substance. [.....] In its second use, Aristotle often identifies a thing's ousia with its essence or nature [e.g.]; so let us call this sort of ousia: essence" (Fine, 2003, pp398-399).
[See now data analysis, Dasein, artificial, and entity-relationship diagram.]
Outrider: The Outrider is/was one of the "troops", the alter personalities in case, Truddi Chase.
Overinclusive Thinking: See cognitive deficit.