Memory

1. How do you define memory? (old, whispers, Joshua Foer, RadioLab)

  1. The ability of one’s mind to store, remember and recall information and events, whether intentional or unintentional.
  2. The ability of one’s mind to receive, process, store, remember and recall information and events, whether intentional or unintentional.
  3. The ability of one’s mind to receive, understand, store, remember and recall information and events, through the process of developing strong connections and correlations, whether intentional or unintentional.
  4. The ability of one’s mind to receive, understand, store, remember and recall information and events, through the process of developing strong connections and correlations, whether intentional or unintentional. Within the brain, a memory is made when protein structures are formed and these structures can be reconstructed when the memory is recalled and modified.

2. Should we trust eyewitness accounts? What do you think?

I think that eyewitness accounts should be trusted, but only to a certain extent. Due to the fact that the person was at the location and observed the event happening when it took place, it is likely that what they saw would be processed, stored in their memory and remembered. However, through what was learned in class, it came to my attention that this information has the possibility to be modified or forgotten. If weak connections and correlations are developed in the mind when processing information, there is a greater chance that it will only be short-term memory, and will be forgotten after a while. At the same time, whenever a memory is recalled, the protein structures that make up the memory in our brain can be reconstructed, possibly leading to a modification in the memory. As a result, eyewitness accounts can be trusted, but not completely. 

Language

What are the characteristics that you feel best describe language? Why?

Out of the six characteristics that describe language, I think one of the most fitting and appropriate characteristics is that it can be changed, extended and developed to account for new situations. This can be connected to the different languages that people around the world currently speak. As language was created by man to represent some sort of meaning, it is likely that it had to be modified over time to adapt to the current world and what needs to be expressed. The English that we use today is quite different to the English that was used in Shakespeare’s time, similar to how the Chinese of today, although the same characters are used, is different to the structure and terminology used during the time of Tang Poetry.

The second characteristic that I feel best describes language is the fact that it is meaningful – it expresses thoughts and wishes, it evokes ideas, it connects with the world. When thinking about language, I always believed that it was the conversion of thoughts and feelings into words. Language is a man-made form of communication that allows one to say what’s on their mind and say what they feel. Other than expressing themselves, one can exchange ideas and utilise various languages to communicate with people around the world.

 

What might be some of the weaknesses of language?

A possible weakness of language is the chance that perhaps not everything can be expressed through language. There could be things in our mind or feelings that arise that simply cannot be put into words. It is also possible that maybe there isn’t a right word for what one wants to say, because the vocabulary within the language itself is too finite. Another potential weakness is the fact that language is limited to those who have learned it and know it. The number of people within this community who know the language is not necessarily defined, but the community creates a barrier, excludes ‘outsiders’ and prevents anyone else from understanding.

 

Do you think that language changes the way you think and therefore perceive the world? Why and what are the implications of this idea?

I believe that language changes the way you think and therefore perceive the world. Each language has its own specialties and characteristics – the tone it is spoken in, the type of vocabulary that is used, the way sentences are phrased etc. As a result, differences in thought and perception could arise when switching between multiple languages. This opinion came to mind when I was thinking of my own situation – how I mostly think in English, but there are occasional times when other languages pop into my thoughts. Due to my experience and time spent with the English language, I am able to think freely with it and express what is on my mind as usual. When it comes to other secondary languages, the way the language was learned has an impact on the way it is used by the learner. The way the language was taught and the type of vocabulary learned will affect the way one thinks and perceives the world in that language (e.g. if the language is learned with a log of negative slang/phrases, the learner will most likely think and view the world with that same negativity when the language is used). This indicates that language comes with the way one was raised or taught, which could potentially cause conflicts between individuals and groups due to differences in upbringing. 

 

Reason

In your own words, explain the difference between deductive and inductive logic.

I think that deductive logic is about taking what we generally know and making connections in order to prove and conclude that a specific case is reasonable and makes sense. For example, all men are mortal, and _ is a man, so _ is mortal. On the other hand, inductive logic works almost the other way round to make a general claim from many examples – using multiple cases that have produced the same result to suggest that all cases will produce that same result. A common usage of inductive logic is during science labs and experiments, where multiple trials are utilised to come to a final conclusion.

 

What are the problems with each of these kinds of logic and what we can do to overcome some of these problems?

With deductive logic, one of the main problems is that the premises that deduction is based on usually comes from inductive logic. Although the flow and conclusion might make sense based on the deductive process, the starting point itself might not be accurate. Similarly, even when the premises make sense and the structure of the logic flows well, the conclusion might not be true. A good example of this is the witch scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Their logic was as follows: all witches burn and all wood burns, so witches must be made out of wood. Wood floats and so do ducks, so they must be the same weight. Since the supposed ‘witch’ weighs the same as the duck, the woman is made out of wood and is therefore a witch. Although the steps made somewhat logical sense, the conclusion itself had no connection to reality and the truth.

On the other hand, the problem with inductive logic is that it does not provide certainty. Even though multiple cases proved the same thing to be true, there is no way to prove that all the other cases that could potentially exist will be true as well. At the same time, when your inductive logic is based off of personal experience, it is possible that this experience could be limited in some way, hindering you from seeing the rest of the world as it truly is. Furthermore, inductive logic assumes that the world is a regular, predictable place – since something happened yesterday or today, the same thing will continue to happen tomorrow and onwards. Humans are unable to predict the future, even if we use past data, so we will never know if the next day will be the day that everything breaks loose from the previous system and changes.

 

Rabindranath Tagore said that ‘A mind all logic is like a knife all blade – it cuts the hand that uses it’… what do you think he meant by this?

Starting with the knife being ‘all blade’, it would definitely cut the hand that uses it, as a blade against skin would cut through it and injure it. Using this as an analogy for the mind, it would indicate that a ‘mind all logic’ would confuse or conflict the mind or brain itself. This could possibly be due to the fact that if the mind purely thinks and reasons through logic, there might always be flaws or fallacies within the logic, preventing one from coming to a stable consensus about what the world is and how it works. With pure logic, it is likely that things will be overthought, causing one to become more perplexed instead.