An out-of-context and old quote from P-4 Referent:
Depression creates a special brain state (a state of mind! ;-)
Our own conception of ourselves is so deeply ridden with misconception and ambiguity and pointlessness — many times we confuse useful, purposeful processes for disease. Supposedly, that’s the case with depression, still mainly categorized under «disease» but now seen to be conceivably useful under certain circumstances.
We have no clue whatsoever about ourselves — but we keep pretending to understand everything.
I’m reading Schoonmaker’s “Worst Poker Enemy” and while generally speaking i love the book, his idea of “rationality” kinda makes me uncomfortable. It might be that i just can’t bring myself to like the Freud-ism underlying the book, but it doesn’t seem to be the case. I think it is just that in order to talk about «rationality» against «irrationality» we have to assume a pretty lot — which is a problem of our whole culture and not of Shoonmaker’s.
Any culture that engages in a enhancement-of-abstraction pathway must necessarily fall trap — and, hopefully, overcome — to the concept of «reason» or something similar, because when you need to think about thinking itself it is easier to assume that thinking must conform to some given clear-cut rules, or that it must follow some preconceived principles, or even that it does use a specific procedure. Meta-explanation is bound to become more important when explanations themselves rise in usefulness, but at the same time simplistic explanations are useful because they are simple. It is likely then that we end up with ideas about «reason» that, in hindsight, are pretty half-backed.
That’s why i like P4’s quote: it pokes a small dose of fun at one of the assumptions that lie at the very heart of our meta-explanations — lie there without really being sound or testable. Namely, that there must be correspondences between brain and mind and whatnot.
Mind you, maybe there are connections. Maybe not. Either way, a «state» is more a thought than a truth, is more an analysis-method than something we neutrally picked out of reality itself. In order to understand a world that is, mostly, continuous, it is pedagogically sound to split it into still “states”. Not that, really, «reality» has a pause button. For all we know it is completely absurd to talk about an «instant» in the sense that you could isolate a given point in time from the rest of reality. It’s just… silly. We got along with the synecdoche, but then aeons latter Einstein had to write a long paper about how physics had to think again about things “happening at the same moment”.
Not to talk of «mind» itself, not only full of assumptions but also any definition more clear than mud.
And a lot of this mess comes form our incapacity to deal with the fact of conscience. We just don’t know what to do with that. So we keep making those long elaborate theories that try to ignore the issue. That’s why i think Freud, despite being basically all Junk (psychobabble), does point to some places we should think of.
Self-accounting is not a prerequisite of thinking. In other words, we might think without knowing how we do it. It actually seems to be the case that it would be easier to A) devise a mechanism that thinks; than B) devise a mechanism that thinks and understands thought.
So we shouldn’t take ourselves so seriously, we shouldn’t assume that our souls are the epitome of existence itself, we shouldn’t find it odd that human beings act in ways that violate such simplistic goals as “maximize profit in the long run” and we shouldn’t puzzle too much that our minds should do strange things and work in mysterious ways — like getting depressed some times.