After four decades of reading and thinking about the structure of mind and the nature of consciousness, I came to the conclusion that mental life should be taken as the primary fact of psychology. It is what we know for sure about ourselves, directly, not by inference. This doesn’t mean we know what the mind is or how it works or how it is structured, but the simple fact is that each normal adult is, or can be, self-aware. That fact confronts any theorizing about psychology.
Historically, psychology, as a shared project of inquiry, defined itself not as the study of the mind, but as anything but the mind: behavior, the brain, information processing, and so on. The mind has been off limits, and for defensible reasons. But it doesn’t make sense, I decided, to leave out the mind, and furthermore, doing so has not produced much result in understanding the human condition. The main fact of psychological life is the mind, and that’s the obvious topic of psychological inquiry, and that’s where we should start.
But how? Introspection is the obvious and only possible answer. I described a way of doing introspection that could be developed into an empirical method suitable for a shared epistemology, which is basically what psychology is, or should be, as an intellectual enterprise (Adams, 2011a). But until that method, or one like it, is widely adopted or superseded by one that accomplishes similar goals, I realized I am on my own. So using the basics of “Scientific Introspection,” without the critical consensus community, I plunged ahead on my own to produce a proposed architecture of mind based on introspection, correlated with scientific and social observation. The result, “The Three-In-One Mind” (Adams, 2011b) describes three parallel streams of consciousness, of differing character, that constitute the adult human mind.
But after that was done, I realized I had omitted an important factor: the body. The body is not the mind, I was never confused about that. Yet mental experience occurs in the context of the physical body and is severely constrained by the body. At the same time, we have (or at least I have) very limited introspective access to the body. I can introspect on certain bodily feelings, but I have no way to mentally get inside a muscle, an organ, or even the brain. So what was the secret to the relationship between the mind, introspectively understood, and its extremely intimate but uncommunicative partner, the body?