1. Waking up
Everything you have ever experienced has occurred in your mind. But what are minds? How should we approach thinking about them? How can we discern something so elusive and ineffable?
Where do minds come from? Where do human beings come from? When did modern, technologically creative minds appear in the archaeological record? How did this 'behavioural modernity' come about? What makes minds so special in Nature? What is the big advantage of having a model-making human mind?
3. Brains and Bodies
What is the relationship between brains and minds? What is special about human bodies and human brains? How are brains able to process information? How do brains retain information in memory? What are our drives and emotions? What are feelings?
4. Memory and Mental Models
How do we store our memories from the events and experiences of our lives? What are the different types of memory? What is the difference between conscious and unconscious memory? Do we remember more than we think we know? How do we store our memories? What are mental models and assumptions? Why are memories always changing?
5. Trains of Thought
How does consciousness comes about, and how are we able to sustain a train of thought, manipulate several ideas at the same time, and sometimes come up with a new idea? How does imagination, creativity and humour come about? How much of our experience happens automatically, without our conscious attention? How come we so easily learn to take things for granted, and how does this distort and bias our thinking? How do our minds form intentions?
6. Developing Minds
In making sense of the world, we draw upon assumptions that were learned at an earlier stage in our lives. So how do our minds and brains develop over the lifespan? How much do babies already know when they are born? How does language develop? Why do we humans have such long childhoods? How do we learn to regulate our emotions and drives? What do we learn about relationships during childhood and why is this so important to how we think? What is mentalisation and why is it important?
7. Living Change
Adjusting to change is central to what makes human minds so special. Why is change stressful and yet why is it often good for us? How do our minds adjust to the changing events of our lives, and how do they resist change when it is unwelcome, overwhelming, or too fast? What are some of the core mental models and assumptions by which people live their lives? What helps people adjust to change?
8. Social Storage
By taking a species perspective we can think about our human culture from a fresh perspective. Vestiges of our evolutionary past can be seen in the complex social world around us and the way we collectively behave. How is the mind influenced by other people and the social world we have created for ourselves? How do our minds manage the complexity of the modern world? In what ways does the mind simplify the world? What is psychological maturity? Why are humans so superstitious? Why do we have so many religions? Why have women had so few opportunities compared with men? How do people develop their gender identity? How might human progress be thought about?
What is the difference between medical treatments and psychological therapy? What have been the main conflicts within psychological therapy? Why do psychological therapies have broadly similar outcomes? How useful are the neurosciences in understanding what occurs in psychological therapy? What is emotional distress and what are some of the underlying factors? Why is simply telling one’s story so important? How does relationship therapy work? What is it like to be a therapist helping people make sense of their lives?
What conclusions can we draw about where our minds sit within Nature, and what can this tell us about our short lives? How do we reconcile our unbridled creativity and ingenuity as a species, with the inequalities and injustices that we maintain and continue to tolerate? Where do minds sit within Nature and what does Nature provide for us all when we allow her to? Is there a soul? Do people have spirits? What happens when we die?