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1995 - Volume 16, Number 3, Summer

Consciousness, Thought, and Neurological Integrity
Grant Gillett, University of Otago Medical School
The Journal of Mind and Behavior , Autumn 1995, Volume 16, Number 3, Pages 215-234, ISSN 0271-0137
The problematic features of the cognitive function of patients with brain damage are often taken to indicate that such persons have split or dual consciousness. An intentional or cognitive theory of consciousness which focuses on the structure and contents of conscious experience makes this thesis look quite unattractive. Consciousness is active and directed toward objects and in the human case it shows an internally reflective structure based on the abilities required to grasp and use concepts. On this view, consciousness is a way of referring to the active, integrative, conceptualizing activity of a human thinker in a world of other objects and persons. When we look at consciousness this way and re-examine, in the light of that analysis, the performance of split brain patients, one sees such persons as individuals afflicted with internal difficulties in their information processing capacities but neither as split consciousnesses nor as split minds.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Grant Gillett, M.D., Department of Neurosurgery, Otago University Medical School, P.O. Box 913, Dunedin, New Zealand

Unsolvable Problems, Visual Imagery and Explanatory Satisfaction
Marc F. Krellenstein, New School for Social Research
The Journal of Mind and Behavior , Autumn 1995, Volume 16, Number 3, Pages 235-254, ISSN 0271-0137
It has been suggested that certain problems may be unsolvable because of the mind’s cognitive structure, but we may wonder what problems, and exactly why. The ultimate origin of the universe and the mind-body problem seem to be two such problems. As to why, Colin McGinn has argued that the mind-body problem is unsolvable because any theoretical concepts about the brain will be observation-based and unable to connect to unobservable subjective experience. McGinn’s argument suggests a requirement of imagability — an observation basis — for physical causal explanation that cannot be met for either of these problems. Acausal descriptions may be possible but not the causal analyses that provide the greatest explanatory satisfaction, a psychological phenomenon that seems tied to the strength of the underlying observation basis but is affected by other factors as well.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Marc F. Krellenstein, Ph.D., 32 Duncklee Street, Newton, Massachusetts 02161 or by electronic mail to krellenstein@acm.org

Postmodernity and Consciousness Studies
Stanley Krippner, Saybrook Institute and Michael Winkler, University of Denver
The Journal of Mind and Behavior , Autumn 1995, Volume 16, Number 3, Pages 255-280, ISSN 0271-0137
Among the scientific disciplines to be impacted by postmodernity will be the study of consciousness, not only in theory but in research and practice. Narratives, key aspects of postmodern approaches, are already replacing abstract generalizations in theoretical formulations about such aspects of consciousness as memory and imagination. Research studies, both quantitative and qualitative, can be looked upon as attempts to tell stories that yield new information. The use of narrative in psychotherapy can be seen as the co-construction of life stories by the therapist and the client. Post-modernity requests that scientists question their own assumptions, and learn from non-Western perspectives, alternative conscious states, and narratives of exceptional human experiences. Twenty propositions are offered for a postmodern project in the study of consciousness that would entail utilizing narratives that are embedded in a time and a place – and the constant evaluation and questioning of the usefulness of these narratives.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Stanley Krippner, Saybrook Institute, #300, 450 Pacific Avenue, San Francisco, California 94133

A Radical Reversal in Cortical Information Flow as the Mechanism for Human Cognitive Abilities: The Frontal Feedback Model
Raymond A. Noack, San Diego, California
The Journal of Mind and Behavior , Autumn 1995, Volume 16, Number 3, Pages 281-304, ISSN 0271-0137
The paper argues that the rich cognitive abilities of humans are the result of a unique functional system in the human brain which is absent in the nonhuman brain. This “frontal feedback system” is suggested to have evolved in the transition from the great apes to humans and is a product of a reversal in the preferred direction of information flow in the human cortex due to the phylogenetic enlargement of the human frontal lobe. The frontal feedback system forms an autonomous functional unit in the cortex whereby action-schemes in frontal cortices continually create fictitious sensory scenarios in posterior sensory cortices by manipulating the release of sensory representations there. These internal scenarios are created free of environmental constraints and reflect the human’s internal cognitive and language processes. Nonhumans do not have a frontal feedback system and their internal cognitive processes are stimulus-bound. Evidence in support of the proposal is presented and some implications of the frontal feedback model for human experience are discussed.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Raymond A. Noack, c/o Sue T. Parker, Department of Anthropology, Sonoma State University, Rohnert Park, California 94928

Consciousness3 and Gibson’s Concept of Awareness
Thomas Natsoulas, University of California, Davis
The Journal of Mind and Behavior , Autumn 1995, Volume 16, Number 3, Pages 305-328, ISSN 0271-0137
Currently in psychology, after a long hiatus, there exists an accelerating interest in the nature and character of consciousness. As might be expected at this early point in our return to consciousness, much of the relevant discussion among psychologists proceeds at the commonsense level of understanding. However, some psychologies are already moving beyond ordinary thought, and providing one or more technical concepts of consciousness. Such psychologies may be useful in improving psychologists’ conceptual grasp of the referents of our ordinary concepts of consciousness. Among the ordinary concepts of consciousness, probably the most basic one is the concept of consciousness3 (awareness). Among the psychologies that could be helpful is the influential ecological approach developed by James J. Gibson. This article is propaedeutic to putting Gibson’s technical concept of awareness to work in improving the concept of consciousness3. First, features of the latter concept are identified; and then, with this concept firmly in mind, Gibson’s concept of awareness, mainly its perceptual application, is made explicit and discussed with regard to a number of its important features. In both these ways, and others to follow based on the same materials, I hope to contribute to the conceptual sophistication of psychologists as they again seek to address the topic of consciousness.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Thomas Natsoulas, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, University of California, Davis, California 95616-8686

Book Reviews

The Postmodern Brain
Book Author: Gordon Globus. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 1995
Reviewed by Robert E. Haskell, University of New England
The Journal of Mind and Behavior , Autumn 1995, Volume 16, Number 3, Pages 329-332, ISSN 0271-0137
The Postmodern Brain is Volume I of an edited series, Advances in Consciousness Research. At first glance the title Postmodern Brain may seem like a contradiction in terms. But it isn’t. What it is, is a new look at cognition and brain functioning from a postmodern brain science perspective. It is a “must read” for (a) cognitive scientists, (b) humanistic psychologists, and (c) anyone interested in philosophy and theory, though unfortunately I fear only the latter individuals may venture very far past the book’s initial chapters. The book is definitely not bedtime reading; it is however a book on the edge of a new frontier.

Request for reprints should be sent to Robert E. Haskell, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, Department of Social and Behavioral Science, University of New England, Biddeford, Maine 04005; or by e-mail to haskellr@biddeford.com

Darwin’s Dangerous Idea
Book Author: Daniel C. Dennett. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995
Reviewed by Larry R. Vandervert, American Nonlinear Systems
The Journal of Mind and Behavior , Autumn 1995, Volume 16, Number 3, Pages 333-338, ISSN 0271-0137
Dennett believes that Darwin’s idea of natural selection is the best idea that anyone has ever had, “ahead of Newton and Einstein and everyone else” (p. 21). The idea of natural selection appears “dangerous” to many, Dennett suggests, because its blind, mindless process threatens to replace cherished visions of a divine design of human life and mind. Darwin’s idea puts pressure on us to bid a final goodbye to design by gods, minds, Platonic realms, and so forth. This, of course, is not a new idea, but Dennett takes evolutionary design in some interesting new directions.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Larry R. Vandervert, Ph.D., American Nonlinear Systems, West 711 Waverly Place, Spokane, Washington 99205-3271

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