How The Human Mind Works: The Power Of Discovery

In order to find out how the human mind works, we first have to understand the nature of the thinking process. Yes, we are conscious beings, but how do we actually think? How do we find new ideas? In this post, we will look for the answers to these questions and discuss the power and the capacity of our minds.

Each mind is an “image storage”. The things that you have perceived in life exist in your mind as mental images. While thinking about the past or the future, your mind shows you some of those images together, as a set of images.

For the sake of an example, I want you to think about ‘sunbathing’. While thinking about it, your mind shows you not one, but many images, right? The sky, the sea (or the ocean), the sands… You picture many images attached to each other:

Drawn by Onur Can Duman

Each and every thought includes not only one mental image, but a set of many images (or notions). Even when you think about a single object, it comes to your mind with the image of a background. The question here is, do we make these connections between images at the moment of thinking, or are they already there?

I know you would like to think that you create them, but unfortunately that is not the case:

In the dreams we have while sleeping, our minds show us image sets, just like when we daydream or think of a situation. However, the image sets we see in our dreams do not usually make sense:

In a dream, you could see an elephant wearing sunglasses. You would think there could be no bond between the ‘elephant’ and the ‘sunglasses’ images, but it appears that there is one.

We do not consciously decide to think about those weird image sets in our dreams, but we still see them. And it is possible to see any mental image bonded with any other image in a dream, am I right?

This means that all mental images are ‘potentially bonded’ in the unconscious mind. In other words, each and every image combination already has potential existence, even before we decide to think about them combined with each other.

Here, I have to define ‘potential existence’ very briefly:

Could you say that an object, which no one has ever seen or heard of, does not exist? No, because nothing can be “nothing”. However, you could also not say that it certainly exists, since no one knows about its existence. Therefore, that object only has potential existence until someone perceives it.

Likewise, in the unconscious mind, countless combinations of mental images (between all of the images) exist potentially before we realize them. Here lies the answer to the question “Why are dreams so weird?”: In your dreams, you unconsciously go around the infinite world of potentials.

The case is different for the conscious mind:

When you think about a situation or try to find a new idea, you consciously summon one of the potential image sets. It is not you who puts the images (or notions) together. What you do is bringing one of the countless potentially existing image/notion sets into view, in other words, discovering potentially existing ideas.

When you find an idea, you discover a potential, like when one discovers an object in the Universe that nobody knows about. This is how the human mind works, it works just like a scout car.

Think of it this way: When you have a question in your mind, like “What should I wear for tonight?”, you think and eventually find an answer, right?

Before you find the answer, the information of ‘the right thing to wear for tonight’ is already hidden under the question “What should I wear for tonight?” along with every other possible answer.

The question is like a seed that has not yet come into leaf, and the information about the structure of the plant (the answer) is hidden within that seed.

The interesting thing here is that we have access to information through the mind. One could discover a physics law by experimenting, but she/he could discover a physics law by thinking too, just like Einstein did.

When you think of questions as seeds that have not yet turned into plants (answers), it is not hard to find the seed that hides the knowledge of the entire cosmos. That seed is the question that came to your mind when you first realized your own existence: “Where am I?”

That brings another question to the mind: Why do we want to know? Well, I turned that seed into an answer. You can check out my post “What is Curiosity? Just an Emotion or a Fundamental?” for it.

Another seed is “Why do we have access to information through the mind?”. I have the answer to that too. You will be able to learn it when “The True Puzzle” is out. The True Puzzle is an online puzzle game that I designed to explain the system of the Universe. You can follow me on Twitter if you want to be informed when the game is ready to be played.

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