The Mind is Like a Book

During a session of reading, something occurred to me. Many great minds wrote books, and those great minds had read books of other great minds. This thought provoked me to write the following:

Our minds develop throughout our life acquiring new information along the way. As a result, our mind begins to appear, back to us, in fragments. We never recall all acquired knowledge at once, we recall individual pieces only. Similar in nature, books are compartmentalized into chapters and chapters into paragraphs. To extend the comparison, consider that each time we recall a memory, it is subject to change; that is, the memory that houses the knowledge is susceptible to distortion during each recall. In contrast, books, when translated to another language, can also have their content shifted in a way that distorts the original meaning or understanding. Thus, they are both subject to distortion when interpreted a second time; but that which distorts in both cases is a mind.

In addition, the mind sometimes recalls in a sequence. For instance, we have a memory of X(car), and the memory of X triggers memories of D(keys), C(gas), or B(driving). Comparatively, books have a sequential structure, they have one idea built on another; we can follow a trail of associations inside the book. This is because books were designed by a mind for another mind; our books reflect our intuitive psychology.

To a degree, and figuratively, we can read people’s minds with conversation. For example, a discussion about Psychology reveals what the individual knows about Psychology. By the same token, reading a book reveals what the book has to say about a given topic. This logic can be brought to an extreme. We can talk to someone and eventually reach the end of their knowledge about Psychology. On the other hand, we can read a book and eventually reach the end of its knowledge as well; both book and mind hold limited knowledge about a subject, which means they both have limited memories: a place to store knowledge.

Furthermore, the conversation would follow memory based associations. Thus, the conversation will never jump to an area of Metaphysics or Epistemology which the individuals have no knowledge of, and the same applies to books. Moreover, as we discuss things with the mind, it references its own database for validation; whereas a book cites sources from Journals, Articles, and other books. But, both the mind and the book grabbed these sources, originally, from outside themselves and turned them into something physical inside themselves; ink on paper or chemicals in a neuron. Lastly, the mind reads books for new insight. After enough books have been read, the mind writes a book. Books inform the mind and the mind creates an informed book.

The book becomes the mind, and the mind becomes the book.


Ideasinhat is a business development analyst and longtime reader of academic literature. He writes books and essays on science and philosophy, and posts them to this website. The essays, as with the books, cover topics from psychology, philosophy, and cognitive science to economics, politics, and law.

2 thoughts on “The Mind is Like a Book

  1. To an empiricist, we write our own books with an input of an environmental and phenomenological manifestation. To a rationalist, our books are born out of conversations wherein our influences are clearly manifested as we synthesize new ideas out of them.

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