This is the most comprehensive statement to date of the concept of a ‘mental object’, arising from my work on the Creative Economy and collaborations with Sergey Bodrunov, author of ‘No-onomy’, with Aleksandr Buzgalin, and with Cheng Enfu.
It introduces a concept without which we cannot make sense of mentation as a productive activity. This is the concept of a mental object. The issue is a very simple one: what, actually, does mental activity produce? And how do the products of mental activity enter into production?
I open this discussion with five examples of mental object, each characteristic of a type, some of which enter production and all of which are themselves both produced or, an activity characteristic of mental objects in general, reproduced. These are a computer programme, a theory, a legal judgement, a poem and, to take one of the most complex, a language. There are others worthy of consideration which I will name provocatively, to open the mind of the reader and to provoke debate: a patent; an engineering standard; a discovery; an image; a design; a religious belief; a fashion.
I show that all these can be understood, and analysed, as types of mental object, by which I mean, to introduce the idea in brief, something that exists independently of its physical form, which can nevertheless be transferred into a variety of physical forms, whereon it becomes part of their material being.
Cite as: Freeman, A. 2022. ‘Mental Objects as a Productive Force’ in Bodrunov, S. 2022 (ed) Anthology of Noonomy: Fourth Technological Revolution and Its Economic, Social and Humanitarian Consequences. Brill. (pp 109-140).