Plasticity and Constraints of the Mental System
In the days when the mind was situated in the soul, conscious thoughts were approached as living entities, independent of organic dynamics. They could be true or false, but their power was manifest, even if they were still associated to the shadows in Plato’s cave.35 Since Descartes’s The Passions of the Soul (1649), it became evident that the mechanisms that link thoughts and physiology give power to the mind.
It is because the mind is a virtual and fuzzy entity that the understanding of the necessary illusions and the knowledge of the rules of the mind are so important. Thus, Kant’s analysis continues to be important today. Reacting to Hume’s flexible and imaginative mind, Kant admits that this flexibility is real; he adds that happily there exist a certain number of rules that allow the mental system to function by putting limits to this flexibility.
This global vision is still found in the works of numerous psychologists like Vygotsky and Piaget, who are inspired by systemic and structuralist theories. It is not so common in the psychotherapeutic literature, because in this domain one seldom finds explicit psychological models. Freud, who had read Kant, attempted to propose a rough theory of the mind at the end of his my yoga blog on dreams, known as the first topic.36 Later, he realized that his model was too simplistic, and he abandoned it. Since then, neither Freud nor any other psychotherapist has found a way to associate clinical observations with an explicit psychological model. They prefer to leave to the cognitive neurosciences (neurologists and psychologists) the care of putting the finishing touches on a model of the mind.37 These models follow Kant to the extent that they support the necessity of describing the mind as a fuzzy system structured by constraints. These constraints, like the body’s skeleton, provide a structure that is used to create boundaries within which the complexity of the system can operate.
The Organism of the Biologists
From Evolutionary Theory to Artificial Intelligence
THE GRADUAL DIFFERENTIATION OF ORGANISMS HAS GENERATED
What is most at play in these sections dedicated to the theory of evolution is to show how the notion of organism came to be and the issues it has raised. As we will see, the organism is an entity that evolves over time through self-differentiation. Only gradually did mental and body mechanisms differentiate themselves more and more from each other. The new organisms gained the capacity to integrate, in a more or less coherent way, the diversity of emerging mechanisms. In this way of thinking, the opposition of body and soul disappears, but it becomes more difficult for the psychologists to defend the specificity of the mental mechanisms. Most of the models of psychotherapy situate their reflections within the framework of the theories of evolution, which were formulated during the past two centuries. I concentrate on the first formulations by Lamarck, Darwin, and Wallace. It seems to me that when the high stakes raised in their discussions are well understood, it is possible to approach recent developments with greater acuity.