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Mental Footnotes: Knowledge Constructivism from Logical Thinking to Daily Functioning.


One of the very first questions humans ask when they begin to develop consciousness is "How do we think?" In a philosophical sense, thinking can be defined as "every activity and creation of the mind." In this wide definition, one can include free association, daydreaming, recalling, imagining, reasoning, problem-solving, concept formation, or decision-making. From a purely cognitive point of view, the emphasis of the definition falls on each of the large number of specialized mechanisms--or "modules"--that process information and give solutions in a particular domain (cf. Brase, 2014).

Reasoning as the Most Relevant Thinking Process

Although there are areas of human information processing--such as self-protection, status, affiliation, mate retention, or disease avoidance (Brase, 2014)--that cannot be neglected when defining thinking, reasoning is postulated to be the central thought process. This cognitive process involves: (a) recalling information stored in our memory (e.g., Baddeley & Hitch, 1974); (b) representing it by, for instance, imagining real states of affairs of that information (e.g., Johnson-Laird, 1983); (c) reaching our goals by solving the laid out problems (e.g., Mayer, 1992); (d) learning something new in the process and forming new concepts with it (e.g., Rath et al., 2003); and, finally, (e) making a decision (e.g., Kenrick et al., 2009).

Specifically, the mental models theory (e.g., Johnson-Laird, 2006) proposes that individuals reason based on mental models of possibilities. Every mental model includes the representation of the common features--and their relations--shared between a variety of entities related to that possibility (cf. Barwise, 1993). When decoding an expression (verbal or symbolic), we envisage possible instances regarding to its meaning. The mental models theory (Johnson-Laird, 1983) states that this semantic representation of information is as iconic as possible. This way, imagery is the base for a number of reasonings such as deductions, inductions, explanatory abductions, probabilistic inferences, or just inferences (Khemlani & Jhonson-Laird, 2009). Regarding their creation, mental models can be generated from perception, imagination, or the understanding of a particular expression. The product of the whole process of creation of these mental models are images which structure is analogous to the structure of the situation that they represent (Johnson-Laird, 1983). The nature of this processing makes us being able to easily reason with metaphors that can be mentally well-pictured (cf. Lakoff & Johnson, 1980).

Conceptual Truth

When reasoning an expression, a conclusion will be true for individuals if it holds in every possible model generated from that expression (Johnson-Laird & Byrne, 1991), which would be defined as "validity" in formal logics. On the other hand, individuals would take that same expression as false if they can find, at least, one counterexample that is incompatible with any of the rest of the models. In this sense, the semantic information of an expression refers to how many situations (in form of mental models) that expression rules out. Therefore, the greater the number of incompatible situations generated by the expression, the more semantic information that expression provides (e.g., Castro, Moreno-Rios, Tornay, & Vargas, 2008).

This "conceptual truth" is an essential principle in the mental model theory (e.g., Johnson-Laird & Savary, 1999). The capacity to analyze if a statement is true depends on the individual's ability to generate mental models that represent instances of a particular expression, or its negation. When reasoning, individuals never represent what is "impossible" to happen. In this sense, although there is no good reason to imply that logical reasoning is psychologically real (cf. Atlas, 1977), formal logic reasoning tasks show how humans represent reality and reason. In a series of experiments, individuals generated extra assumptions from a given situation--and considered them as true--just because it was "possible" to imagine such assumptions (Goodwin & Johnson-Laird, 2010), although it was not logically valid. In the conditional:
[logical not] red [logical not] square ("if no red, no square")

red [logical not] square               ("if red, no square")

A significant proportion of participants failed to recognize that the concept "red" and "square" at the same time was conceptually illusory (from a formal point of view). In this example, the first clause states that if something is "no-red," it will be "no-square." On the other hand, the second clause states that if something is "red," it will be "no-square." Individuals wrongly validated the illusory conclusion of something "red" and "square" at the same time just because they could build a mental model that represented both clauses together. This mistake comes from the fact that, in real life, it is "possible" to find objects that are "red" and "square" at the same time. On the other hand, the formal logic error relies on the fact that participants do not include in their representations the exclusive formal disjunction stated in the first clause. To reverse this effect, incompatible concepts in real life, such as "circular" and "square," were used. In this case, participants did not reach this illusory conclusion, since in real life an instance of something concurrently "circular" and "square" cannot be found.

Concept Formation

Humans construct their knowledge from their experience with their surrounding environment through a continual involvement in their social worlds, acquiring a set of predispositions (habits) to behave and to perceive in a certain way (Bourdieu, 1977). Some of the information we have to deal with is abstract (Medin & Smith, 1984). In terms of Piaget (1928), mental models would be the manner humans reason abstract concepts as if we were in a concrete operational stage again; it is even applied to the most evolved and sophisticated concepts, such as moral judgments (cf. Piaget, 1932).

In concept formation (e.g., Neisser & Weene, 1962), mental models allow individuals to represent the properties that generalize and discriminate new concepts from old ones (e.g., Gilbert, 1962). The criterion is based on checking if the concepts--we are envisaging--fall into the category of "new" or "old"; the process follows a Boolean logic or, in other words, a nominal scale of assigning values (cf. Stevens, 1946).

Generally speaking, the fewer instances a new concept triggers, the easier it will be learned (e.g., Byrne & Johnson-Laird, 2009; Vigo, 2009). When morally reasoning, new concepts acquisition can be even more simplified by reducing the number of possible mental models; discarding those possibilities that are "unacceptable" from the ethical point of view of the individual (Goodwin & Johnson-Laird, 2011). Regarding the format of the source of information, the longer the minimal description of a new concept--obtained from language that is enough to generate a mental model--, the more difficult to be acquired (cf. Feldman, 2000). Therefore, it is easier to retain and, in turn, to learn simple pieces of information. However, it must be taken into account that the ability of learning depends not only on the simplicity of the information, but also on how well-structured the previous knowledge is and what motivation subjects have, in terms of epistemic beliefs and self-efficacy (Chin-Chung et al., 2011).

The Danger of Our Cognitive Processing

This basic way to acquire new "mental schemata" (in terms of Stein & Trabasso, 1982) makes us represent our reality in a simple manner as well. This plain functioning is evident in laboratory tasks. Individuals evaluate affirmatives as true, faster than as false, and negatives as false, faster than as true (Wason & Jones, 1963). Taking into account that what we can represent is deeply established in our cognitive processing, simplicity guides our thoughts.

The knowledge constructivism of our reality is built on previous reasoning. Reasoning by using mental models can make humans succumb to systematic fallacies from false premises (e.g., Khemlani & Johnson-Laird, 2009), building our reality from wrong sources. In this sense, human beings can validly reason basing on false foundations--i.e., we properly reason with unsuitable cognitive material. The simpler the false concepts are, the easier it would be to guide our "conceptual truth" and, in turn, the easier it would be making us act accordingly to those beliefs (Vilchez, 2016).

All along history, the human reasoning simplicity (when incorporating new concepts as true) would explain how effortless has been to lead mass society. As an example (from a purely cognitive point of view), taking into account its historical consequences--in one of the most famous quote attributed to Adolf Hitler (1889-1945)--it is evident how dangerous this human, information processing simplicity is: "Make the lie big, make it simple [emphasis added], keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it" (as cited in Schieffer, 2010: 38). The simplicity in the transmission of mental footnotes facilitate the activation of determined mental models that condition the way in which subject observe and reason the surrounding world.

Mental Footnotes

Once concepts are formed, the context plays a role in modifying and restructuring meanings in particular situations (Vilchez, 2013). The holistic understanding of meanings in their specific context determines which inferences humans can make from their comprehension (Thompson, 2000). In this sense, the familiarity with the context/state of affairs--within which individuals reason--facilitates the process of turning incomplete models into fully explicit models, fleshing out our mental models with implicit possibilities (Richardson & Ormerod, 1997). What is familiar for individuals depends on both the semantic knowledge of the concepts and the episodic knowledge of the specific circumstances of an expression (Porubanova et al., 2014). Therefore, the particularities of the situation add information to the mental model, can modulate the core meaning of the expression, prevent the construction of alternative models, and/or take precedence over contradictory models (Johnson-Laird & Byrne, 2002).

The simplest example of this modulation of the mental model by non-present information is negation. To represent negation, reasoners do not envisage false clauses. Instead, they represent what is true and generate "mental footnotes" (in terms of Johnson-Laird & Byrne, 1991) in order to capture that this information is false. In this sense, Bucciarelli and Johnson-Laird (2005) analyzed how people envisage the information contained in a sentence. Participants listed the state of affairs regarding premises involving deontic action, such as "Workers are obligated/forbidden to go on holiday in August." When the word used was obligated, participants mentally represented the possibility of a worker on holiday in August. When the word forbidden was used, participants represented a worker on holiday not in August (cf. Byrne, 2005). A simple example of this processing can be experienced if the reader were instructed to "not think of an elephant"; they would probably imagine an elephant with a mental footnote denying such possibility.

Castro et al. (2008) followed this logic to account for faster reaction times to evaluate a permitted or non-permitted maneuver carried out at a road junction. These authors used an obligatory or a prohibitory, directional traffic sign to signal the car turn beforehand. Results showed that participants were faster to evaluate a maneuver as permitted when the turn was signaled with an obligatory sign and as non-permitted when the sign was prohibitory. When participants represent in mind an obligatory, directional sign, they imagine themselves turning in the correct direction. By keeping this representation in mind, it was easier to evaluate a maneuver as permitted than as non-permitted--when the turn of the car was actually permitted. However, when participants mentally represent a prohibitory, directional sign, they envisage themselves turning in the direction pointed by the sign plus the label "prohibitory information" (by means of an attached mental footnote denying such possibility). Therefore, with prohibitory signs, participants were faster evaluating a maneuver as non-permitted than as permitted--when the turn was actually non-permitted.

Vilchez (2015) tested the effect of the implicit information provided by the mental footnotes (attached to mental models) on movement. In a tracking task, obligatory and prohibitory signs were again used for signaling beforehand the obligation or prohibition of taking a route in a road junction. The results showed an initial "repulsive effect" on movement in the moment of presenting the sign. That is to say, participants displaced themselves significantly to the opposite side of the route that they were mentally representing to take. In others words, independently of the sign used (obligatory or prohibitory), if participants represented that they had to take the route, for instance, on the left, initially they veered significantly to the right. Conversely, when individuals represented themselves taking the route on the right, initially they veered to the left. The data were explained as caused by the mental recreation of "Where I have to go" and the influence of the mental footnote of "Not yet" over the particular mental model of the situation generated. The direction of the effect can be found in Carpenter's (1852) concept of ideomotor phenomenon. When individuals represent a movement, they activate the cognitive system just as if they were carrying out that movement. In this particular case, participants represented the obligation of taking one of the two routes, but the context was not suitable to carry out that representation-decision yet. The additional information (provided by the context in form of mental footnote) made participants to first imagine and then carry out a veer-away movement from the route that they had to take afterwards. All in all, in this study, it was shown that mental footnotes can be wider and influence further than the simple negation of mental models.

Nature of Mental Footnotes

The theory of mental models (e.g., Johnson-Laird, 2006) means a valid account for how humans reason but, when reasoning is over, the further question is "What's next?" It is uncertain how long mental footnotes remain in the system--or how wide their influence is. General cognition could be understood as the mere and plain repetition of information from the long-term memory or the reasoning that takes place in the working memory (Baddeley, & Hitch, 1974). In this sense, the implicit information of mental footnotes is proposed to be a more stable processing such as individuals' attitude (e.g., Erber, Hodges, & Wilson, 1995), which would condition subsequent reasonings, "the relatively stable overt behavior which affects a person's status" (Bain, 1928: 3). The activation of mental footnotes would depend both on the automation of the mental footnote per se and on willing of subjects. In this sense, these pieces of information set out the general framework where other kinds of thinking take place, as "the color of the glass we look through" (in terms of Shrauger & Schoeneman, 1979). The mental footnote does not just influence how we deal with information but determines the subsequent recalling of information, making thinking a continuous processing. This cyclical procedure directs our perceptions, structures the representations of our environment (Beck, 1976) and determines our emotions and behavior (Ellis, 1962).

Influence of Mental Footnotes in Psychopathological Syndromes

In the particular case of individuals with social phobia, patients report stressing situation in social contexts (taken place in the past) that trigger a constant fear about present interpersonal interactions (Guimon, 2004). This fear follows the logic underneath of "If I get through again for a similar situation, all those bad feelings will come to my mind again," leaving active the mental footnote of "I wanna escape from here" (Vilchez, 2016). Mental footnotes interfere with rational cognitive processes, not allowing individuals to carry them out properly, such as having to calculate the share for a restaurant check while other people are waiting. In this sense, previous research has shown that individuals with social phobia do not even process simple information (such as human faces) the same way than control participants (Chen et al., 2002).

In general terms, after every single reasoning, just mental footnotes remained active, as precisely the conclusion or output of that information-processing (Vilchez, 2015). These outputs accumulate and remain in the system as a link between one thought and the next one (Vilchez, 2016). If the accumulation of these outputs is excessive, the load in working memory increases (Goodwin & Johnson-Laird, 2005) and can lead to anxiety disorders (Vilchez, 2016). Whatever the case might be, mental footnotes present in our thinking (excessive or not) influence our daily life and, in turn, determine our "personality" (in terms of Lewin, 1935).

Influence of Mental Footnotes in Every Day Reasoning

Analyze these two examples of reasoning: "She is with another guy: I was not man enough."/"She is with another guy: she was not the love of my life." The first reasoning leaves a mental footnote of "learned helplessness" (in terms of Seligman, 1975) which drives to a negative evaluation of the present and future situations. On the other hand, in the second reasoning, the mental footnote left active does not determine as much as the first one a possible, future reasoning. At least, this second output leaves open the possibility for a more objective processing of the new, coming information.

In order to restructure these outputs of reasoning, it is necessary to restart the whole thinking process, fathoming the premises represented and reasoned through the mental models that yielded to those mental footnotes (Vilchez, 2016). However, the functioning of mental footnotes is not necessarily conscious, as it is not reasoning itself (e.g., Vilchez & Tornay, 2012). Mental footnotes are present in the system in a more automatic manner, such as other cognitive processes (cf. Hasher & Zacks, 1979), so the task of detecting them (in order to restructure their meaning) is not always simple (Vilchez, 2015).

These implicit frameworks unconsciously shape our mental schemata to give sense to the world around us. The more we apply the same thought pattern, the more automatic that style of reasoning becomes and the harder to detect this form of thinking will be. Mental footnotes constitute our unconscious, metacognitive beliefs (cf. Wells, 1997), which determine even the emotional information we will recall in the future (cf. Bower, 1981), becoming stable moods, instead of just circumstantial, emotional reactions.

Overall, mental footnotes define (Vilchez, 2016): (a) our "spotlight of attention" (in terms of Posner, 1980); (b) our mechanism of accommodating and assimilating new information into our knowledge (cf. Beck, 1976); (c) the decisions we make (cf. Falzer, 2004); (d) the emotions that are triggered (cf. Bower, 1981)--even the most automatic ones such as the "micro expressions" (in terms of Ekman, 1965).

Functioning of Mental Footnotes

The activation of mental footnotes means a shortcut of reasoning without triggering the entire process, becoming heuristics that do not just solve problems but save mental resources (cf. Simon, 1955). This activation could be associated to just a word, as in previous example, the name of the girl who "is with another guy." The conclusion of the process (in form of mental footnote) is linked to one of its very first premises, jumping to the output without completing every step in the sequence of reasoning (Vilchez, 2016). The function is similar to a simple arithmetic operation in which it is not necessary to break down every single mathematical sub-operation to reach the correct answer. This property is adaptive, in the sense that it saves cognitive capacity and avoids overloading our working memory.

Cognitive Benefits of Mental Footnotes

Since working memory is a limited mechanism (e.g., Baddeley, 2001), the implicit information of mental footnotes become attitudes--that are preconceived beforehand--more than a precise planning of a specific situations. In the particular example of a working colleague who has crossed the line, imagining every single possible reply--we could take for the next time they disturb us--would overload our system. Although, in fact, the option of overloading and developing anxiety is there (cf. Wells, 2000), taking the option of changing only our attitude is more efficient. Attitudes change by adding mental footnotes regarding general planning of actions, such as "Next time they cross the line, I will respond by doing something." "Something" here means a variable that depends on the next situation in which both persons interact. This mental footnote is different from a planning of a concrete phrase or a series of phrases to say. This manner, the system is released of the sequence of multiple mental models of possible (but nonexistent yet) states of affairs. Attitudes allow the system to not unnecessarily consume energy (e.g., Bertrams & Pahl, 2014). Overall, mental footnotes are, inter alia, the response of the system to not be excessively active but at the same time being prepared for an unexpected event.

Creation of Mental Footnotes

Occasionally, it is not even possible to remember how mental footnotes were established in the first place. In those occasions, we just have the feeling that we have to take some actions or carry out some decisions. An iconic example of this lack of awareness would be found in the film Leaving Las Vegas (Cazes & Figgis, 1995)--based on the story of John O'Brien, a Hollywood screenwriter. In the film, Sera (Elisabeth Shue) asks Ben Sanderson (Nicolas Cage), who is alcoholic and has decided to drink to death, "Why are you killing yourself?" Ben responds: "I don't remember, I just know that I want to (...)."

Even when we do not know from where those mental footnotes come, mental footnotes alter our daily life. If these disturbing footnotes are retained for a certain length of time, the system can collapse in form of psychopathological syndromes (cf. Vilchez, 2016). That singularity seems to be behind the fact that individuals with depression disorders are likely to sleep more than usual (Watson et al., 2014), as a means to "disconnect" for a period. This necessity of disengaging the "central executive" (in term of Baddeley & Hitch, 1974) explains many substance abuses. In this sense, psilocin--present in most psychedelic mushrooms--has been proven to have an effect on the ego dissolution (e.g., Studerus et al., 2011) and, therefore, helps to "erase" mental footnotes for a while. However, it is also possible to give the system a rest using techniques that are more personal. To this aim, mindfulness meditation has been applied in the treatment of depression (e.g., Teasdale et al., 2000).

Daily Examples of Mental Footnotes

When starting a relationship, we do not initially know yet how much we like that person. We find ourselves in the middle of multiple series of reasoning processes. Every situation turns into a "trial" in which we test our at-that-moment beliefs about the other. Our ability of testing does not limit to the real circumstances, we even envisage a variety of fictional scenarios where we apply our mental models (e.g., "How would our life be if we were married?"). Once the decision is taken--regarding if we like that person -, our system processes all information related to that person in a different way. From this moment on, a mental footnote of "I like him/her" establishes on our mind. It is daily evident in therapy the influence of this output/decision. If this case is taken to the extreme, the influence of mental footnotes completely alters the manner of perceiving our environment. This new style of processing contrasts to, for instance, the opinions of our relatives or friends who are used to our traditional way of thinking. It is common to be asked about (e.g., "don't you realize?") or accused (e.g., "you have changed!") of having altered our normal mode of reasoning.

In other cases, mental footnotes are more situational and their influence on our perspective depends on the context (e.g., Vilchez, 2015). Say, for example, we are alone at home and we keep in mind the mental footnote "I'm home alone." What would our reaction be if we suddenly met somebody in the house?--even if that person had a familiar face. Precisely, the nature and power of mental footnotes in determining the whole meaning of a situation are capitalized by some new generation horror movies (e.g., Blum et al., 2010; DeRosa-Gund et al., 2013). The technique used is to generate the mental footnote of "This is really scary" at the very beginning of the movie. These films use a disfigured, pallid face associated with a thunderous sound that leaves the audience with the feeling of "Something bad is about to happen" in every sequence. However, although nothing terrifying really happens, individuals find themselves in a constant stress. In fact, if many unpleasant stimuli were actually presented continuously, one would eventually be "habituated" (in terms of Kandel & Schwartz, 1982) to them. This manner, one has the feeling of "eternal wait" and is tense until the end of the film.

Duration of Mental Footnotes

Returning to the question of "How long do these mental footnotes remain in the system?," for some individuals, the elimination of mental footnotes takes long. It is common to see that children, after a scary movie, look under the bed just in case "Something bad is waiting there" for them. This situation lasts in some cases three or four days, even more. It is evident that the mental footnote is still there in their mind. This behavior contrasts to the performance in absence of that mental footnote, in which case children are focused on just going to bed in order to rest.

Mental footnotes can establish indefinitely in our idea of self, in form of complexes. In an anecdotal situation, one woman was "selling" her girlfriend to a man. While she was highlighting the qualities and skills of her friend, the man commented: "Is she tall? (...) well, I'm not very tall either." Amongst all qualities that a person can have, the height of the woman was the most important characteristic for that man--at least, important enough to ask for this information--and, without receiving response from the woman, he classified himself under the category of "I'm not tall." Unfortunately, many daily examples can be found of individuals for whom it is evident that they have stuck low self-esteem mental footnotes in their mind (such as "I'm not worth it," "I can't do it," or "I'm never gonna recover from it"). This manner of thinking could evolve into pathological, psychological issues (Vilchez, 2016). The accumulation of negative mental footnotes in our cognitive system means a mental infra-valuation about ourselves and constitutes our non-verisimilar framework where subsequent valuations of ourselves take place.

Daily Relevance of Mental Footnotes

In working environments, mental footnotes are the implicit information that makes you not treat your boss like you treat other working colleagues. In this context, it is remarkable how mental footnotes determine behaviors and reactions, both of them under the thought of "I can be fired if I don't behave." Regarding the impact of mental footnotes in behavior, Biersner and Melzack (1966), in laboratory experiments, studied in frogs the behavior of approaching a prey. The approach depended on the size of the "possible prey" (Vilchez, 2013). The approaching/moving away behavior also depended on the size of the frog itself, being the critical size of the prey for approaching/moving away behavior larger for large frog species than for small ones. Frogs seemed to respond to the differential mental footnote of "Something that I can eat" (Small size) or "Something that can eat me" (Big size).

It is remarkable how much individuals can bear in their working place (e.g., Burton, 2014). Workers justify intolerable situations in order to not have a "cognitive dissonance" (in terms of Festinger, 1957). By adding new, unrealistic cognitions in form of mental footnotes (such as "In two years more I will be promoted and this will stop"), individuals

obtain the necessary resilience in order to take difficulties. This masking of reality follows the same logic that when novices take practical jokes under the reasoning of "If it's hard, it's because it's worth it." In both cases, there is a feeling of "If I give up now, nothing of what I've done so far will make any sense."

In extreme relationships, bullying (e.g., Modecki et al., 2014) undermines the will of individuals under the footnote of "There is nothing I can do to stop it" and "It is better if I don't respond, I don't wanna get things worse," leading to "learned helplessness" (in term of Seligman, 1974). In this sense, in this kind of problem, the obsession of pleasing the other can be observed, such as in toxic relationships that therapists witness in clinical contexts. This artificial necessity has been shown in the fact that the dating popularity is associated to overt, relational aggression (Houser, Mayeux, & Cross, 2015), with the mental footnote of "If I get somebody such a bully as him is because I am not a loser," as a way of getting a social reward or accomplishing a personal challenge. A diametrical processing and consequences in real life would be to have in mind the mental footnote of "I'm not gonna take any outrage from anybody," which would lead you to stand for your beliefs.

One of the most evident examples of how mental footnotes can influence our execution and behaviors is the extreme case of funambulism. Thinking rationally, if the weather conditions are optimal, what is the difference between tightrope walking at low or at high height? Most subjects would try it if the rope were at 50 cm height. It would not be the same if we were asked to carry out funambulism at 800 m height. For the same level of ability, the presence of the footnote of "If I fall, I die" attached to the mind would be the difference. For professional funambulists, there must be not such mental footnote (research in the line of asking funambulists' thoughts must be carried out). In this sense, their mental state has to be closer to a state of mindfulness meditation, just perceiving their bodies and the tightrope. Even in low heights, mental footnotes play an important role in our performance. When climbing a boulder, trying the same line that was already achieved cannot be the same if a series of thoughts along the day have made you think that "Today is not my day." Our execution of the same task might be quantitatively and qualitatively different, depending on our "metal context," in spite of the fact of being as strong, agile, flexible, and skilled as in any other day.

The recalling triggered by a mental footnote interferes in all other kinds of thinking (Vilchez, 2016). This effect is patent when reading some piece of writing and being constantly interfered by thoughts that are not necessary at that moment. It is remarkable how just the physical environment can install an idea in our mind and condition all the rest. Previous studies have shown the influence of the buildings environment on emotional states (e.g., Aspinall et al., 2013). In this sense, it can be appreciated the effect that skyscrapers have on our thoughts. These buildings seem to tell us "you are nothing" or "you are not important" by making a comparison between their size and ours. This fact makes room for some kind of mind control, creating a mental state in which we are forced to "fit in" because "We are the least important ones in here." Think on the prototypical country boy arriving to and having to learn "the rules of the big city" in order to earn a living.

"Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing
himself." (Leo Tolstoy, 1852-1910, as cited in Cooper, 2007: 265)

Concept formation is the cornerstone of the perspective with what we contemplate, analyze and manipulate the world around us. This framework (in form of mental footnotes) determines our personality and personal beliefs, the social rationality we follow, and some of the psychopathologies we can develop (Vilchez, 2016). How society can influence in the creation and maintenance of determined mental footnote for controlling the mass will be the topic of future works. The pain humans unnecessarily self-inflict by using one mental footnote or another, the means we use to self-develop based on those mental footnotes, and how to change our inner self to get apart from our miseries as humans will be analyzed. We must burn all those mental footnotes that smother our real essence, that is to say, those that become pathological, psychological issues (Vilchez, 2016) or unadaptative social reasonings (Vilchez, 2018). By doing so, we change our world, the one we can only really manipulate.

Author Contributions

The author confirms being the sole contributor of this work and approved it for publication.

Conflict of Interest Statement

The author declares that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.


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Jose L. Vilchez (1,2)

(1) Department for Management of Science and Technology Development,

Ton Duc Thang University,

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam;

(2) Faculty of Applied Sciences,

Ton Duc Thang University,

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Received 24 April 2018 * Received in revised form 1 August 2018

Accepted 3 August 2018 * Available online 25 August 2018

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Author:Vilchez, Jose L.
Publication:Review of Contemporary Philosophy
Geographic Code:1U2NY
Date:Jan 1, 2019
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