The Map of Mind: 1, 2, 3

A new way to define mental processes.

Posted Oct 23, 2020

My previous blog post on the Enlightenment Gap emphasized the fact that modernist systems of science and philosophy failed to effectively frame both the relationship between matter and mind and social and scientific knowledge. This blog post shows how to get a better understanding of mind via the Map of Mind1,2,3.

First, however, we should be clear that we need to differentiate the broad concept of behavior from mental processes. This is a step psychologists often overlook. The general meaning of behavior corresponds to science writ large. That is, natural science is about mapping behavioral processes at various planes of existence (i.e., Matter, Life, Mind, and Culture) and levels of analysis (part, whole, group across scales). The Periodic Table of Behavior (see here for the slide deck, and here for a formal paper) makes this point clearly.

It follows from the PTB that psychology is concerned with a particular kind of behavior, namely mental behaviors. This gives rise to the question: What are mental processes? This is a question that psychologists often fail to answer coherently. The Unified Theory of Knowledge (UTOK) tackles this question directly and maps mental processes via the Map of Mind1,2,3. As the title suggests, there are three fundamentally different domains. However, as depicted, two of the domains can be subdivided to give five domains in total. 

Gregg Henriques
Source: Gregg Henriques

The first domain is called Mind1, and it refers to both neurocognition and overt activity. As such, we can divide this domain of mental processes one step further. The information instantiated within and processed by the nervous system is Mind1a. The activity between the animal and the environment (often called overt behavior) is Mind1b

The second domain of mental process is labeled Mind2. It refers to subjective experience, sometimes called (primary) consciousness or phenomenology. This is the felt sense of seeing red or feeling pain. It is only accessible from the first-person point of view. Exactly how the neurocognitive activity of the brain gives rise to subjective experience is what philosophers mean when they talk about "the hard problem of consciousness." This blog explains why there really are two hard problems here. One is epistemological (the first-person vantage point can never be directly perceived via a third-person vantage point) and the other is ontological (the neurological mechanisms that generate experience remain unclear, even as we are getting very good at mapping correlates of that experience, even in creatures like crows). 

Mind3 refers to the domain of self-conscious narration and justification mediated by language. As with Mind1, we can divide this domain into narration that takes place internally (Mind3a) from that which is shared publicly (Mind3b).

It is time now in the 21st century to start filling the holes left by the Enlightenment and generating a better language system for talking about mind and behavior. The Map of Mind1,2,3 gives us a clear way to define human mental processes. To see how, next time you are in a psychology class or someone makes a reference to the mind, stop and ask: "What domain of mental processes are you talking about?" The map should help clarify what is being referenced with much greater specificity. 


For a more detailed analysis of this, see this Unified Theory of Knowledge educational video on Solving the Behavior-Mind-Mind-Mind problem.