This book motivates the mechanical study of intelligence and
rationality, reviews modern mechanics and its historical relations to
psychology, adapts mechanical axioms to cover hybrid and discrete
systems, presents illustrative formalizations of representative
rational systems in psychology and economics, and reflects on the
character of mechanical laws and theories. My exposition of these
ideas divides the development into several parts.
Extending Mechanics to Minds
The Mechanical Foundations of Psychology and Economics
Outline of the book
Part I: Reconciling Natural and Mental Philosophy
introduces the problem, the aims of the project, and some of its
- Chapter 1 introduces the subject and ideas of
the book in the context of understanding the mind and constructing
- Chapter 2 discusses the benefits of the
mechanical approach, especially in shedding new light on questions
of materialism and new methods for characterizing limits to
- Chapter 3 explores in greater detail the mechanical
viewpoint and its history, briefly relating the project to past
efforts on mechanical interpretations of psychological and economic
phenomena as an aid to understanding better the subsequent
Part II: Reconstructing Rational Mechanics
explains the structure of modern rational mechanics and reformulates
the axiomatic development in a manner appropriate to hybrids of
continuous, discrete, physical, and mental mechanical subsystems.
- Chapter 4 summarizes the theoretical structure
of modern rational mechanics, including the modern conception of
physical law and the division of mechanical laws into general and
- Chapter 5 develops the kinematic axioms of
mechanics, generalizing the usual axioms to accommodate discrete
aspects of space, hybrid mechanical systems, and indeterministic
- Chapter 6 develops the dynamical axioms, which
parallel the usual developments in most respects, evidencing the
modesty of the reformation of mechanics needed to cover psychology
- Chapter 7 reconsiders several characteristics of
mechanical systems in light of the reconstruction of kinematical and
dynamical axioms, including determinism, continuity, conservation
principles, least action principles, reversibility, and locality.
Part III: Mechanical Minds
presents mechanical formalizations of key psychological and economical
- Chapter 8 notes the wide variety of mental
organizations presumed or postulated by theorists in many fields,
identifies one special class involving plural, discrete, affective
cognition for special examination, and summarizes the structure of
the Reason Maintenance System, or RMS, that illustrates this class of
- Chapter 9 uses the mechanical formalism to
examine mind--body duality and the plurality inherent in mental
organization and faculties.
- Chapter 10 sets out the basic framework of discrete
mechanical motion, mass, and force underlying the analyses of the
- Chapter 11 takes a detailed look at simple
reasoning patterns as exemplifying mechanical forces, and then offers
speculative relations between these simple forces and more complex
mathematical concepts and mechanical phenomena.
- Chapter 12 analyzes the mechanical nature of
rationality and limits on rationality, including effort, volition,
inherent intelligence, and the forces generated by desire, intention,
habit, refraction, and other rational motives.
- Chapter 13 characterizes learning in terms of
mechanical concepts of mass, persistent configuration, plastic
deformation, and relaxation responses to applied forces.
- Chapter 14 studies mental uncertainty as a
mechanical phenomenon, constructing a straightforward theory of
measurement that yields structures akin to subjective probabilities
and weakness of will, and then presenting a speculative subjective
measurement structure with connections to concepts of quantum
Part IV: The Metaphysics of Mechanics
discusses a number of mainly philosophical characteristics of physical
theories in relation to mechanics.
- Chapter 15 discusses implications of the
mechanical axioms for traditional philosophical questions of
materialism, especially similarities between the numerous past
broadenings of concepts of materialistic theories and the present
further broadening to the materials of psychology and economics.
- Chapter 16 addresses the reducibility of
physical law to behaviors of elementary particles, and considers
related topics including the possibility of discovering additional
physical laws, the uniformity of physical laws, and other topics
connected with the completeness of physics.
- Chapter 17 relates mental mechanics to notions
of effective computation, both to understand computation in mental
terms and to understand the relation of effectiveness to mechanical
- Chapter 18 examines issues pertaining to the
finiteness or infiniteness of the universe, especially as these
relate to discrete models of mechanics as developed here.
Part V: Conclusion of the Matter
- Chapter 19 summarizes and assesses the work,
identifies some additional issues for future exploration, and
reflects on the history of some of the ideas.