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Mind and Will in Psychology and Neurology
Dr. Orville Boyd Jenkins
A review of the book by Jerome Kagan
An Argument for Mind (New Haven/London:  Yale University Press, 2006.  287p.)

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Kagan writes as a psychologist.  And he analyzes here the history of Psychology and the various concepts of mind arising out of the historical schools in the stages of Psychology as a formal discipline.

But he is very conversant with the current studies from other fields that have probed and clarified this question of thinking, self-identity and the idea of Mind, or Soul as an entity or locus of personal consciousness and self-identity.  Kagan references neurology and related areas of investigation as he reports on experiments and investigations he himself conducted over a long period.

He helpfully makes brief comparative references to well-known schools of philosophy concerning the concept of Mind or Soul.  Kagan focuses on recent findings from genetic studies that point to strong patterns of heritable traits in liearning, and self-refelction.  His analyses, based on his own reserach and that of others, produces a clear pattern of universal characteristics across the human race.

Kagan reviews the history of concepts of mind in Psychology, then critiques the previous schools of thought in light of recent experiments, including many of his own conducted over the past decades.  He references experiments that followed individuals in many populations in different continents from birth to adulthood.

His conclusion establishes that there are universal categories of mind and patterns of learning across human populations and social or family situations.  These seem to be inherent in the structure of the human mind and nervous system.

He shows how early theories of psychology simply made up their categories and conclusions from deductions bsed on their metaphysical or rationlist assumptions rather than by actual observation and generalization from evidence.  He indicates how more recent approaches in Psychology have moved more in line with actual empirical investigation, in the Scientific Method, to observe and summarize, then generalize.

Kagan concludes from the evidence of these many practical experiments and observations that there is a Mind in humans that cannot be accounted for by conditioning and behavioural training or childhood experience.  He observes that there are universal moral and social values that appear to relate to this universal common Mind among all human cultures and populations.

This is fascinating reading, whether you are focused on Psychology or not.  This will make you think about who we are, who you are.  You will think about Thinking, your mind will engage the concept of Mind!  Have fun, enjoy the exploration as I did.

See related reviews and articles on this site:
[review] Integrating Mind and Spirit with Body and Emotion
[review] Interdisciplinary Insights on Learning and Knowing
[TXT] Self and the World, Knowing Reality
[TXT] Cultural Insights in World Migration

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Initial review notes written 14 May 2010
Developed and reviewed on Amazon 1 July 2010
Final review posted on Thoughts and Resources 5 July 2010
Last edited 5 July 2011

Orville Boyd Jenkins, EdD, PhD
Copyright © 2010 Orville Boyd Jenkins
Permission granted for free download and transmission for personal or educational use.  Other rights reserved.

Email:  orville@jenkins.nu
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