This question is related to the mind body problem, specifically how cognition, which is mental, plays a role in causal processes. Cognition includes thinking, seeing, imagining, understanding, recognizing, knowing, etc.

For example, we might see a car coming at us and feel fear. The fear response is physical since we can feel our body physically going through changes like heart beating faster, sweating, etc. But this is all a result of knowing that a car is coming and knowing that this is a danger.

Compare this to a causal fear response like jumping after being surprised by someone, which involves no or very little cognition, or "evolutionary fears" like of spiders or the dark that happen despite cognition. Fear of spiders or the dark or is almost like a positivist "sense impression" since it has a directly causal effect once seen and skips over the cognitive process. Being scared by surprise seems to to not even be a sense impression at all and instead is more just a neutral sudden change, without regard to any content.

In contrast to these, most cases of fear involve knowing or anticipating something. I chose fear as an example but the influence of cognition on the body can also be applied to emotions and drives like hunger or sexuality.

  • 2
    I don't mean to be rude, but was there a question in there?
    – Ryder
    May 28, 2016 at 22:04
  • "This question is related to the mind body problem, specifically how cognition, which is mental, plays a role in causal processes" . to rephrase it: how does cognition cause physical changes?
    – user20502
    May 29, 2016 at 0:29
  • You might try editing your question to reflect that. But in passing.... Montaigne offered a ridiculously clear example in his essay Of the Power of the Imagination —to wit, that merely contemplating the prospect of carnality is often enough to trigger a physiological change, one so easy to trigger that it's been the bane of most every 12-year old boy ever called to the front of a class.
    – Ryder
    May 29, 2016 at 9:14
  • But that answers "whether", not "how"; if it's "how" you're after, you'd be better served asking it in CogSci.SE or some other site devoted to neurobiology.
    – Ryder
    May 29, 2016 at 9:18

1 Answer 1


I think your question may be more scientific than philosophical but... I have done a lot of work in Artificial Intelligence - object recognition - and I have a hypotheses that you may find useful.

I think that every neuron in our body contains knowledge and logic. I call this Klogic (a term I invented) and what "Klogic" is or how it comes to be is a mystery to me.

The neuron first accepts signals from Dendrites. Then within the neuron, the Klogic is employed to decide if and how a new signal will be sent out from the neuron via the Axon. Each neuron is in charge of figuring out a tiny piece of logic using its micro-knowledge (Klogic).

The neurons are placed in layers with the bottom layers processing the raw signals from the sensory organs. The bottom neurons feed signals into higher layers that process the results from the lower levels using the higher level Klogic.

Gangs of mid-layer neurons take the input from lower levels and pass it to organs that control reactions and emotions. They also pass signals to the highest layers located in the Cortex.

At some point, the neuron layers at the top send signals to the neurons to control the muscles of the body. The highest layers are also able to send signals to lower layers that effectively suppress signals from going to the muscles and body that the lower layers have signaled.

I should note that parts of the brain form structures that have their own system of layers but communicate and override others.

Definition: Klogic - a mix of knowledge and logic embedded in neurons.

  • 1
    This site is not about stating opinions or pushing personal philosophies.
    – Philip Klöcking
    May 29, 2016 at 21:49
  • 1
    I'm a computer scientist and my answer is based on the evidence that I and others have accumulated. Do I need to site studies? Would it help if my answer was peer reviewed? I'm not trying to push anything - I'm just trying to help the person answer his question and I'm not hurting anyone. May 29, 2016 at 22:59

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