Minds from Agents

Recently, I came across this SEED article, Divide Midns, Specious Souls; which has this deliciously anti-religious, pro-science quote:

Within the wide range of works arranged along the axis of soulism, from Life After Death: The Evidence, by Dinesh D’Souza, to Absence of Mind, by Marilynne Robinson, it is clear there is very little understanding of the brain. In fact, to advance their ideas, these authors have to be almost completely unaware of neurology and neuroscience.

I don’t know nearly as much cognitive science as I should, mostly because the school system completely avoids the edifying motto “Know Thyself”. What I have learned has been purely motivated by my own curiosity and experience. To that end I’d like to elucidate why I think this article’s above quote is spot-on.

One of my friends has been diagnosed with Schizophrenia. Which is, despite it’s outward manifestations, is a brain disorder, not a psychological one. I strongly suspect that the disorder arises from a breakdown of one (or more) of the mental agents responsible for maintaining the illusion of a unified mind.

I conjecture that a normally functioning brain is still composed of many different opinions, desires, wishes and goals, all in a trade-off war for satisfaction. If the agent responsible for weighing these differences breaks down, then the illusion of a unified mind can also break down. This is exactly the behavior that you’d expect if the brain were the hardware that runs a ‘Society of Mind‘.

For those that are willing to look, there is a mountain of evidence from behavioral psychology and cognitive science that supports the view that I have from studying computer science: The brain is hardware that runs the software of the mind. The mind (what some wish to promote to a soul) simply doesn’t survive damage to the hardware of the brain. And if you think otherwise, you are deluding yourself. You are, in fact, a self-referencing software loop.