Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Deep Explanation in Psychology

A response to the annual Middlesex Psychology question:

We aim to understand seven-billion complicated neural networks whose synapses can be modified by external forces. They are connected to a body and can transmit sensations that feel like they come from that part of the body. These neural networks continue to grow for the first five years of their lives. They range in age from zero to one-hundred-years. They communicate with a significant set of other neural networks. Some of which they are in-love with and produce new networks. They develop a sense of self that feels absolutely real and different from anything other than another neural network. Together they create complicated structures and rules for existence.  They now have access to a worldwide communication device. We are one of these networks.

I suspect we could get toward a deep explanation through one of two avenues. We could investigate their structure to see if there are some programmed aspects to their psychology. Alternatively, we could acknowledge the complexity and develop a deep subjective understanding of a small number of them. Maybe there are other avenues but I doubt we could control enough independent variables to get a truly deep understanding.

Nicholas Le Boutillier

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