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Writing: A form of a cognitive mirror.


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Concepts and, therefore, language are primarily a tool of cognition—not of communication, as is usually assumed.

When evaluating a passage I've written, it serves as a cognitive mirror which can be used to introspect via extrospection.

My initial evaluation looked at it as a means of evaluating introspection via extrospection. But, the entree referenced was from

The Ayn Rand Letter
Vol. III, No. 10  February 11, 1974
Philosophical Detection--Part II

The field of extrospection is based on two cardinal questions: "What do I know?" and "How do I know it?" In the field of introspection, the two guiding questions are: "What do I feel?" and "Why do I feel it?"

This appears to be raised outside of the realm of "What do I think?" and "Why am I thinking it?"

The context arises out of introspection. In the context raised, Miss Rand considers the emotive side of the equation. From the standpoint of "What do I know?",  the aspect of ""What do I feel?" and "Why am I feel it?" falls into play as well. To concretize something as a "feeling", is to identify a "feeling" in cognitive terms, i.e., to conceptualize it.

I would submit that to write, is to express in cognitive terms, i.e., to identify what one is thinking: in terms of both "What do I know?" and "What do I feel?"

It is in this sense that a piece of writing can serve as sort of "cognitive mirror", to reflect upon what has been written.

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Well said! When I am making my videos, such as my most recent one entitled "You Are A Phoenix," it was as much a personal journal entry as it was meant for public consumption. Crytstallizing my thoughts in this manner helped me to address a key philosophical issue: that of personal continuity, also known as continuity of consciousness.

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30 minutes ago, CartsBeforeHorses said:

Well said!

Thank you.

30 minutes ago, CartsBeforeHorses said:

When I am making my videos, such as my most recent one entitled "You Are A Phoenix," it was as much a personal journal entry as it was meant for public consumption.

What? No link?

I keep a journal in my briefcase. I have two or three of them full of notes that are not much more than transcriptions of passages that leap out to me during my reading, supplemented with an occasional tangent. The latest journal, began recently, is different. The OP is a reformulation of an entree from that journal. Instead of a "cognitive mirror", I had misidentified it as an "introspective mirror". After dwelling on the journal entree for a couple of days, the distinction in the cited passage came to mind.

Most definitions of introspection are of this form: the examination or observation of one's own mental and emotional processes.

Extrospection is clearly focused, by her concretization, on the experience (generally externally). Emotions aren't "thoughts", they are experienced (internally) differently than thoughts. Thoughts are generally evaluated, or thought of, in cognitive terms.

In a sense, epistemology is an introspective breakdown of the mental processes of cognition, or a study of the mental processes of reasoning. The art of reason reasoning about reason or reasoning. There has to be a clearer way to state this. 

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The Sound of Silence—Simon & Garfunkel, 1964

[Verse 1]
Hello darkness, my old friend
I've come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence

[Verse 2]
In restless dreams I walked alone
Narrow streets of cobblestone
'Neath the halo of a street lamp
I turned my collar to the cold and damp
When my eyes were stabbed by
The flash of a neon light
That split the night
And touched the sound of silence

[Verse 3]
And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dared
Disturb the sound of silence

[Verse 4]
"Fools", said I, "You do not know
Silence like a cancer grows
Hear my words that I might teach you
Take my arms that I might reach you"
But my words, like silent raindrops fell
And echoed in the wells of silence

[Verse 5]
And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon god they made
And the sign flashed out its warning
In the words that it was forming
And the sign said:

In my multi-year journey to reach the juncture where I am at now, the terms prophets, seers, prognosticators, philosophers, are variations on a theme. With the recent release of Ayn Rand's letter to Reverend Dudley, she writes of "the conception of the paramount sacredness of the individual soul—this conception holds the root, the meaning and the greatness of Christianity".

The religious term that comes to mind is "salvation". The philosopher in Ayn Rand was astute enough to recognize that it was not original sin for which man's sacred individual soul needed salvation. In Philosophy: Who Needs It?, she identified that: "The battle of philosophers is a battle for man's mind." The mind, the self, the soul, are at their essence, one in the same. Unlike the Christian view that all men are sinners and—there but for the grace of God go I—some men retain a sense of having earned what they have, and know it.

The Sound of Silence is a song. The writings on the subway walls are most often graffiti. The artistic connection is unavoidable, despite the latter carrying the overtone/underscore of vandalism.

Tenement halls posed a greater leap. At the risk of cherry picking, it is this definition I posit in continuation.

1. Also called tenement house. a run-down and often overcrowded apartment house, especially in a poor section of a large city.
2. Law.
           a. any species of permanent property, as lands, houses, rents, an office, or a franchise, that may be held of another.

It is point 2 that needs to be expanded to the permanent property, or lands, "held" by government. The halls are then attributed to being the corridors of communication between the citizens and/or denizens therein.

Lastly, yet not leastly—it comes down to what is whispered in the privacy of one's own mind. To the degree that one questions, quietly from within, or in some form of a public forum, the internal whisperings are what generate that which is "written on the subway walls and tenement halls".

The flash of the neon light was not delimited to a sign with an ominous warning in the song. Still, a seed cannot germinate if it is ultimately deprived of the essence of the requirements determined by its identity.

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  • 3 years later...


Cognitive mirror is fine. The mirror is a good analogy.

But there is a point at which you know what you think and what you feel,

and you no longer need a mirror.

Instead, what you need is for the mirror to be another person,

who can recognize and appreciate the value of your thoughts.

In this case mirror is not a good analogy because the other person

will say something different in response to what you have written.

I don't know a good analogy for this,

but I will try to think of one.

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At the end of Art and Sense of Life, Miss Rand penned: "An artist reveals his naked soul in his work—and so, gentle reader, do you when you respond to it."

In this sense the work of art serves as a mirror for both the artist and the gentle reader.

Should the two of them choose to discuss what each of them sees in that "mirror", it should provide something for both to reflect upon.

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