A New Mechanics of the Mind?

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Abstract

Reviews the book, Extending Mechanics to Minds: The Mechanical Foundations of Psychology and Economics by Jon Doyle (see record 2006-10537-000). Rational mechanics is the term traditionally used for Newtonian mechanics, and contemporary rational mechanics is an elaboration of classical mechanics. The concepts of rational mechanics include force, mass, momentum, and others familiar from high school and undergraduate physics courses. However, they are applied in novel ways. Doyle believes that psychology is impoverished because it has not been able to take advantage of developments in mechanics. This is because of the manner in which we have, since Descartes, distinguished between minds and bodies. Doyle's aim in this book, is to show that the concepts of mechanics apply equally well to both mind and body. This entails neither a downgrading of the mental to the status of the physical nor an upgrading of machines to the status of the mental. Doyle is adamant that he is not applying mechanical concepts to the mind by analogy. Rather, the mathematics of mechanics enables the use of concepts such as force, mass, and momentum in “meaningful, true or false, nonmetaphorical statements about psychological and economic systems” (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2007 APA, all rights reserved)

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