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On the origin of Mind

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Associated texts:
Synopsis - a brief keyword summary chapter by chapter.
Applying Otoom - an example of what the model can do.
Paper "How the mind works: the principle dynamics in the bio- and non-bio version" - the technical details underpinning the work and the computer model.
Parallels - a list of events or research findings confirming the model since its completion.
Basic Charter - the Otoom equivalent of a Bill of Rights.
The social Europe: a formal view - originally written upon invitation to the European Commission's Dialogue Workshops.
OtoomCM - the associated computer model.
OMo - an adaptation of the computer model, driving a point in 3D space.
OWorm - an adaptation of the computer model, driving an artificial worm.
OCTAM - the latest version, with input from web cam and microphone, and output to speakers and the screen. It forms part of a guide into nonlinearity.
opposition - the problems with a work such as this one.

The title is a reference to Darwin's "On the Origin of Species". Just as Darwin used the underlying functionality of biological systems to illustrate his concept of evolution, so does this book describe the functional elements as they emerge from the neuronal dynamics forming larger and larger clusters. The reason for the choice is touched upon in the first chapter and is revisited in chapter 9. The work itself and the conceptualisation it represents are from now on referred to by its acronym, Otoom.

The work is structured around two basic formats.

Firstly a top-down approach, which makes an explanation easier to start with because we are used to observe articulations first and deduce their meanings later. Therefore I have used a number of philosophies as chapter-by-chapter background and reverse-engineered them in order to guide the reader through the significant principles of the kind of structures one encounters. Mostly, these philosophies are explicitly written tracts (hence the title of Part I - 'The Stated') and so can be examined in considerable detail. Since they also contribute to Western thinking (at least from a European perspective) they can equally be used to demonstrate the unfolding of sophistication not only in the intellectual arena but also in the life of Western societies as they were and are deployed.

The structures that emerge in the course of the explanations are shown to be consistent; they can be seen as fundamental building blocks which occur over and over again regardless of the philosophy under focus. They are also interdependent and form functional modules of ever increasing complexity. As their specific natures are drawn out during the chapters, for every example from a philosophy references are made to more every-day versions in order to demonstrate their sheer commonality. Every so often I have included small exercises readers can try for themselves ('mind games' one could call them).

So, Part I serves as an initial guide to the workings of the mind from a functional perspective while at the same time applying such a formalism to a picture of European/Western style thinking.

Part II takes a bottom-up approach. Having acquired an appropriate conceptual tool set it is now possible to start with the dynamics of the brain's neurons (so far as they are known today) and from there move into the higher realm of the mind, in other words the emergent product of the neurons' dynamics. It is a quite different system, hence requires different conceptualisations, but is made possible by having gone through Part I.

Just as before the functionalities of the mind are deconstructed into finer and finer detail, so are we now putting the fundamental workings together to form ever larger complexes. Because we start from the neuronal configurations and move through regions mostly labeled the 'subconscious' the title of Part II is 'The Unstated'.

Once the complexity has been built up one can observe similar principles on a larger scale, in other words society. Therefore societal processes, whether daily dynamics or the construction of ideologies, are shown and discussed. These can be confronting to some people, depending on their particular situatedness. When it comes to the usage of the mind and intelligent systems in general, an analytical knowledge about possible mental landscapes is essential.

By now the reader is familiar with the functional layout of human intellectual behaviour, and so it is possible to conjecture about the future for humanity, the last chapter proper.

Over the recent years we witnessed a number of societal developments that could be described as reconfigurations of more traditional frameworks. Forms of clustering, such as the EU and Asian trade pacts, military/political alliances, or re-interpretations of reality through religion, are contrasted by decompositions of the kind seen in governmental institutions or more broadly based communal arrangements. They all demonstrate the inertia of cultural familiarity on one hand and the inevitable demands of changing societal scales. A formal set of descriptors, covering the single mind as well as society, makes at least the definition of a problem possible.

Understanding the dynamics of cognitive behaviour, at whatever scale and in whatever demographic, enables the observer to identify constructive as well as degenerative trends in society - just as thought structures within an individual can have a positive or negative influence. In this context it is important to note that Otoom does not identify in terms of any culture, religion, or moralism. Information is derived from the functional aspects of affinitive domains, and the validity of either is a function of their own characteristics and those of their environment.

Traditionally the analysis of society had been the domain of philosophy and politics. Because of the inherent ambiguity of such frameworks the examination could never have been objective as well as comprehensive. Particularly with respect to European and/or Western culture, the challenges it faces from disparate demographics need to be understood in terms of the reality those represent. Science cannot remain detached any longer, keeping in mind that no civilisation has lasted forever.

The book can be purchased.

© Martin Wurzinger - see Terms of Use