definition Functionalism is a philosophy of human behaviour, based on the theory of mind.
It is a branch of psychology that proposes that the brain is the ultimate cognitive apparatus, a process of thought and emotion that is capable of generating and sustaining complex and powerful mental states.
The philosophy states that our thoughts, feelings and actions are the product of our mental processes and not our physical brain.
Functionalism has been criticised by some philosophers, who argue that its theories are at odds with existing scientific research.
Functionalist thinkers have argued that, as we become more conscious of our own thoughts and feelings, the ability to reason about them and the ability of our minds to generate new and useful knowledge becomes less and less possible.
Functionalists argue that the way we think about and act is dependent on the way our brains operate.
This means that when we act out of our brains, we actually create a new mental state.
Functional models of mind are not new.
They were originally proposed in the 1950s by the German philosopher Hans Bohm.
He proposed that a human being can have an awareness of his own mind by being aware of his external environment.
He called this “instrumental awareness”.
The idea of instrumental awareness has been supported by a range of researchers, including the University of Washington’s John Batson, who wrote in the 1960s that “mental functions are fundamental and not only psychological functions”.
This view has led some philosophers to call for a new understanding of mental functions and how they relate to our mental states, which they believe is not yet fully understood.
The idea that consciousness is not just about the physical brain, but involves the brain as a whole, has been argued by some researchers, notably the neuroscientist Richard Feynman.
A recent article in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Biological Psychiatry explored how functionalism could be applied to the study of the brain, noting that although the human brain is composed of different regions, the overall structure is similar in most respects to the physical world.
Functional thought The idea behind functionalism is that the physical system can be used to construct new mental states as it is a “thought factory”.
Functionalists believe that thinking is the activity of a brain which processes information.
This is different from a person’s experience of physical sensations.
Functional thinkers believe that the information stored in the brain comes from the way the brain works, and not the way a person thinks.
In other words, the brain does not have any intention to think about something.
Instead, the system relies on the “mental representation” of its environment to generate mental states which can be analysed.
Functional thinking is not new to psychology.
In fact, the concept of functionalism was proposed by Bohm in the late 1950s, and the term has been used by other philosophers since.
Functionalisms are not just theories.
They are not only theories about how the brain produces mental states but also about how those mental states are processed.
For example, functionalists believe the brain can generate new mental representations when it has no awareness of the external world.
Theoretical frameworks Functionalism does not mean that a particular theory is true.
However, functional thinking has a range the theory is able to address, according to Batson.
“It’s possible to think in terms of the theory that is most consistent with your experience, but in terms that you are not necessarily able to say is correct, or that you would want to change,” he said.
“For example, if you are unable to think of any external objects, but you are aware of your own experience, you might think that your own mental representation is the representation that you use to make sense of external objects.
In a way, this is like thinking of a dog as being the representation of your thoughts.”
This approach is not a new one.
In the early 1960s, John Bohm proposed that “human mental states can be thought of as mental representations, and their internal structure is a mental representation” (Bohm 1966: 10-11).
This was a key insight of functionalist thinking.
Functional theorists believe that our mental representations are not something we create, but rather, are the result of our physical and cognitive systems working together.
The theory goes so far as to suggest that “the brain does nothing more than construct mental representations and internal states that then carry out our everyday behaviour” (Wolff 1971: 9).
A functional approach to thinking, however, does not necessarily lead to the acceptance of functional ideas.
Functional theory is also often challenged by neuroscientists, who say that functional thinking does not provide the same kind of insight as the physical theories that it critiques.
For this reason, functionalist thought has also been criticised.
Functional theories have been criticised in the past because they do not provide a clear view of how our mental lives develop.
Functional philosophers have argued against using functional models to explain the workings of our brain.
The view that our minds are the primary instrument in our cognitive processes has been criticized by some psychologists.
This view suggests that thinking