Do not feel compelled to read the following quote in full. Or if you do, place a protective soft pillow on your keyboard first.
Descartes (1596-1650) offered, but did not endorse, the idea that the body is a ship and the self resides in the body the way a pilot resides in the ship. Hume (1711-1776) advanced the idea that there is no self, that what we call the self is in fact just a bundle of perceptions, feelings and ideas. Contemporary cognitive science combines these two ideas in a most awkward synthesis: We are the brain, which in turn is modeled not as a self, but as a vast army of little selves, or agencies, whose collective operations give rise to what looks, from the outside, like a single person or animal; but, so the “Awkward Synthesis” would have it, some of the events happening inside of us really are ours, they really are experienced, and this is because they happen in a special way or in a special place — in what Dennett has called the Cartesian Theater.
Inside Out begins with a question, posed by the movie’s narrator, Joy, who is an emotion living inside of Riley: Did you ever look at a baby or a person and ask yourself what’s going on in there? A good question, but the movie’s playful answer unfolds more like a textbook presentation of the Awkward Synthesis than by providing any insight into what it is like to be Riley or any other person.
I haven’t seen Inside Out, and this review doesn’t really bias one way or another. On the other hand, it does instill a strong desire to avoid Berkeley.
Pixar should make a movie about a sad intellectual who has spent so much time reading about people’s brains that his heart has gone on permanent sabbatical, and the hilarious cartoon dog who brings them back together.