- It was such considerations2 that led Freud to a new vision of the human mind – a view that stood in stark contradiction to the orthodoxy of his day. He set it out in a remarkable document: "Freud (Sigmund) - Project for a Scientific Psychology" (1895).
- Freud never published the Project – most likely because the neuroscience of the day couldn’t provide the sort of detailed information he needed. However, the ideas that Freud developed in it underpin almost all of his subsequent theorising. In fact, it’s impossible to really understand the Freudian picture of the mind – including his theory of dreams, repression, psychopathology3, and even his views on religion and society – without first having grasped the outlines of the account of the mind presented in the Project.
- And it has also exercised a powerful influence – albeit a generally unrecognised one – outside the ever-shrinking bubble of Freud scholarship. The mathematical algorithm that enables artificial neural networks (computers that mimic the structure of the human brain) to learn from their mistakes was explicitly modelled on Freud’s theory of how brains learn.
Footnote 1: Taken from "Smith (David Livingstone) - Freud the philosopher".
Footnote 2: Subconscious problem-solving, as exemplified by Gauss.
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