Computers, Persons, and the Chinese Room.
Part 2: The Man Who Understood
This paper is a follow-up of the first part of the persons reply to the Chinese Room
Argument. The first part claims that the mental properties of the person appearing in
that argument are what matter to whether computational cognitive science is true. This
paper tries to discern what those mental properties are by applying a series of hypothetical
psychological and strengthened Turing tests to the person, and argues that the results
support the thesis that the Man performing the computations characteristic of understanding
Chinese actually understands Chinese. The supposition that the Man does not understand
Chinese has gone virtually unquestioned in this foundational debate. The persons reply
acknowledges the intuitive power behind that supposition, but knows that brute intuitions
are not epistemically sacrosanct. Like many intuitions humans have had, and later deposed,
this intuition does not withstand experimental scrutiny. The second part of the persons
reply consequently holds that computational cognitive science is confirmed by the Chinese
Room thought experiment.
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Ricardo Restrepo, Ph.D., Escuela
de Constitucionalismo y Derecho, Instituto de Altos Estudios Nacionales, Av. Amazonas 37-271 y Villalengua, Quito,
Ecuador. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
A Theory of Hemispheric Specialization Based on Cortical Columns
Hemispheric function specialization and associated neuroanatomical characteristics have
been a topic of interest for many years. In this regard, mechanisms of cortical processing
and memory storage have proven elusive. The current paper proposes that a model of
cortical processing based on the column has the potential for explaining laterality of
function and memory. Memory formation is defined as the strengthening of synaptic connections
in any given circuit of cortical columns, while forgetting is defined as weakened
synaptic connections with failure to activate downstream columns in any given circuit.
Following a discussion of the cortical column, it is suggested that speed and quantity of
columnar activation can explain laterality findings. However, several additional aspects
of columnar interaction patterns must be considered to explain the regional differences
within each of the hemispheres. The paper concludes with a discussion of current approaches
that offer a means to test the model's validity.
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Robert A. Moss, Bon Secours St. Francis Hospital, 1 St. Francis Drive, Greenville, South Carolina 29601. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dreaming: Physiological Sources, Biological Functions, Psychological Implications
Dreaming is an enigmatic phenomenon. Although research over the previous fifty years
has increased our knowledge of dreaming significantly, fundamental questions lack definitive
answers. This paper reviews contemporary literature to explore the physiological sources,
biological functions, and psychological implications of dreaming. During rapid eye movement
sleep, the brain generates stimuli. It then processes the internally generated information,
organizes it, and interprets it. The result is a form of mentation called a dream. Divergent
opinions exist about why we dream. It is either an epiphenomenal byproduct or an evolutionary
adaptation, the purpose of which is not entirely known. Psychologically, dreaming
is a cognitive phenomenon. A dream, no less than waking mentation, articulates how an
individual organizes experience and expresses central psychological features. Clinically,
working with dreams in psychotherapy can provide an additional opportunity for psychological
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Matthew Merced, Psy. D., 1429 21st Street, NW, Suite A, Washington, D.C., 20036. Email: email@example.com
Counterfactuals, Belief, and Inquiry by Thought Experiment
The case is presented that counterfactual thinking evolved from trial of action for inquiry
into current problems. Counterfactual thinking is regulated by belief. It is activated automatically
by the belief that there is a problem, and terminated by the belief that a satisfactory
response is found or cannot be found. The evaluation of bad outcomes is a special case,
being one among many classes of problem. The other uses of counterfactual thinking,
including its extension to other applications, and its prevention of repeating the same
mistake, are secondary benefits. This unified view of counterfactual thinking is seen
more clearly with the original definition of counterfactual from philosophy, which allows
the inclusion of future-directed conditionals.
Correspondence concerning this article should be sent to Jonathan Leicester,
62 Rickard Street, Five Dock 2046, NSW, Australia. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Déjà Vu Explained? A Qualitative Perspective
St Augustine first referred to déjà vu in c. 400AD as "false memoriae." However, since the
late nineteenth century, when there was a flurry of research (Wigan, 1844, "the sentiment
of persistence"; Jackson, 1880, "mental diplopia"; Bourdon, 1893, "reconnaissance des
phénomènes nouveaux"; Arnaud, 1896, "fausse memoire"; Bergson, 1908, "souvenir du present"),
the study of déjà vu has largely remained under-researched in mainstream scientific
investigation. This article employs qualitative analysis to examine and explain the theories
of the causes of déjà vu or stimuli characterised by a feeling of familiarity in the
absence of recollection. It also explores a psychological "profile" for the experience of déjà
vu and draws inferences about the physiological "purpose" of déjà vu and the evaluative
dimensions of the phenomenological experience of it. Qualitative analysis reveals that déjà
vu is a commonly occurring normal experience and that while it may be an effect of temporary
over-excitation of hippocampal synaptic transmission, it has a purposeful cognitive
function by acting as an orientation-reflex to spatial-temporal reflection in experients'
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Luke Strongman, Ph. D., Social
Sciences, Open Polytechnic of New Zealand, Private Bag 31914, Lower Hutt, 5040, New Zealand.
Tel: + 64 4 9135936. Email: Luke.Strongman@OpenPolytechnic.ac.nz
The Equilibration of the Self and the Sense of Sublation: Spirituality in Thought, Music, and Meditation
Spirituality is as much a part of everyday experiences, expressed in music, art, or sport, as it
is a part of meditative and other mystical states of consciousness. Three loci of development
are proposed, relating to representational, presentational, and mystical lines: all of these
lines converge on cognitions of spiritual reality, expressed through the mediums of the
lines in question. A graded horizontal and vertical progression in the ensemble of lines
characterises spiritual presence as both the highest expression of any line and as specific
lines of development themselves. Well-confirmed neo-Piagetian dynamics are found to
explain many aspects of spiritual development as well as conventional psychological
development. Sublation is the atemporal condition of spiritual presence on which all lines
converge in their highest forms, which developmental psychology approaches, slightly
paradoxically, through the temporalised progression of ontogeny.
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Edward Dale, Stockton Hall Psychiatric
Hospital, Stockton-on-the-Forest, York, YO32 9UN, England. Email: email@example.com
The Spiritual Gift of Madness: The Failure of Psychiatry and the Rise of the Mad Pride Movement.
Book Author: Seth Farber. Rochester, Vermont: Inner Traditions, 2012, 464 pages, $21.95 softcover.
Reviewed by Richard Gosden, Bingie, NSW Australia
Seth Farber's The Spiritual Gift of Madness: The Failure of Psychiatry and the Rise of
the Mad Pride Movement is a lucidly written and masterful account of an area that is
little understood and rarely researched. The book explores the link between madness
and the urgent need for a movement of cultural renewal.
Farber is deeply worried about the state of the planet. Runaway climate change is
looming and "there is not yet a sense of life and death urgency." Something is missing.
Thinking people, who have been following the succession of scientific pronouncements
over recent years about the need for immediate action to curb global warming, probably
can't help but wonder why we're not already well on the way to solving the problem.
Why can't we make some kind of binding global agreement that will avert the looming
catastrophe? We know the polar ice caps are melting, we know sea levels are rising, we
know it is carbon pollution from burning fossil fuels that is the main problem, we know
that life on earth will soon become progressively more difficult for many species, particularly
humans, and we know how to replace fossil fuel energy with renewable energy.
So what's the problem? Why are we incapable of reaching a international carbon restriction
agreement? Such an agreement would cause only minor inconvenience compared to
the disruption of progressively worsening climate change. Why don't we listen to reason
and why do we still procrastinate?
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Richard Gosden, Ph.D., c/o
Institute of Mind and Behavior, PO Box 522, Village Station, New York, New York 10014. Email: