| What do you imagine when you think about the mind? |
While the mind may not be a physical object, it could possibly adhere to the same basic design principles as physical matter. In the physical universe of matter, atoms give rise to molecules which give rise to cells. In the cognitive universe of the mind, perceptual representations give rise to associative representations which give rise to conceptual representations. By describing these cognitive representations as images, we can illustrate how the mind may work as an emergent system.
Perception: Making Sense of the World
Representations of patterns of physical relationships
When we look at the world, we aren’t actually seeing it. What we’re “seeing” is a representation in our mind — our perception — of what it looks like. Continuously informed by our senses, these perceptual representations function like images that are dynamically updated every moment.
Association: Connecting with the Past
Representations of patterns of temporal relationships
When we remember the past, we aren’t literally experiencing it again. We’re “experiencing” a representation of the perceptions which are associated with a previous moment in time. This associative representation functions like a self-organizing collage or montage of stored images.
Conception: Reorganizing Ideas
Representations of patterns of linguistic relationships
When we understand a word, we aren’t simply comprehending a specific definition of it. We “comprehending” our conception of what the word refers to, which is our representation of the word’s associations with other words, experiences, and sensations. Organized around the way words are used in language, a conceptual representation functions like the theme of a curated collection of stored images.
Interpretation: Seeing the Bigger Picture
Representations of patterns of narrative relationships
When we understand the meaning of a story, we aren’t just translating words in sentences. We “translating” an interpretation of our conceptions of the words and their holistic network of relationships. This interpretative representation functions like a puzzle image pieced together by a mosaic of component images.