Unpacking Mental Models LO29516

From: Mark Feenstra (mark@practicefield.org)
Date: 11/13/02

Replying to LO29456 --

Hi At, Terje and fellow learners

Terje wrote in response to At:

>I believe it, but why call this a mental model? Why not just call it an

>error in reasoning, a fallacy, an overgeneralization, a failure to
>examine the evidence? Words we are >all familiar with. The term mental
>model here adds nothing and explains nothing, and only leads to disrupt

>communication and wholeness as I mentioned in my first mail.

>The same goes for implicate MMs, it was an overgeneralization what you
>mentioned. I do not see any big difference between the explicate or
>implicate, the way to get
>rid of both errors (if errors is what they really are) is through the
>environment by being exposed to counter-examples. Are MMs just errors in
>reasoning? If so, then I
>suggest that the word be assigned to the recycling bin in favour of
>familiar terms.;-)

For me the significance and distinctiveness of the term "mental models"
could do with further unpacking. As one small contribution to this process
a context that gives MM's a unique significance to me is that they
represent a kind of shorthand for habitual constellations of related ideas
that are collectively meaningful to their holder. Such constellations may
be explicit or implicit, as they may be helpful or unhelpful. Their
"existence" as such is perhaps not as important as their utility in aiding
our understanding of self and others. Perhaps they are a bit like herds of
habits of thinking... I suppose two people watching such a herd could
argue endlessly about whether there are just a whole lots of habitual
thoughts over there... or the relationships between the thoughts are
sufficiently significant and distinctive to describe a new kind of whole.
Of course if they were habits of thinking "hunters" and their
understanding of the way lots of habits of thinking tend to behave
collectively was valuable to their ability to put "food" on the table then
I guess they would soon develop a tacit understanding of "herds" of
thoughts regardless of whether they agreed that such herds existed...

My sense has been for some time that a weakness with MM's as a term is in
what they appear to ignore, which is nevertheless hugely significant to
their functioning. This comes up for me in the limitations inherent in the
term "mental" given that I carry constellations of habitual emotions and
sensations as well as thoughts. And especially that these are definitely
related to each other in terms of the way that they operate. As a result I
have taken to calling MM's ""I" complexes". Or perhaps it is more accurate
to say that mental models are the mental aspect of "I" complexes.

Warm regards

Mark Feenstra


"Mark Feenstra" <mark@practicefield.org>

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