Friday, February 4, 2011

The opacity of the mind

We like to think that we know our own minds—that they are transparent to introspection. We do not, and they are not. Oliver Sacks describes one of the consequences of a cerebral hemorrhage for one patient:

She could count ("one, two, three, four, five...") as a sequence, but could not say individual numbers or count backward. (Sacks O. 2010. The Mind's Eye. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. p. 37.)

Who, introspecting, would think this even possible?

(For more of the impossible, see the second section of my How can we know anything at all?)

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