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A mental event is a particular occurrence of something going on in the mind or mind substitute. It can be a thought, a dream, a feeling, a realization, or any other mental activity. Mental events are not limited to human thought but can be associated with animal and artificial intelligence as well.
- Mary is walking through a park and she sees and recognizes City Hall. This instance of seeing and recognizing City Hall is an instance of perception—something that is supposed to be going on in Mary's mind. That instance of perception is a mental event. It is an event because it is something that happens, and it is mental because it happens in Mary's mind.
- Mary feels happy after doing well on an exam and she smiles. This thought is a mental event. The smile is a physical event.
- Deep Blue registers that its opponent has cornered its king. Deep Blue decides to take the offending chess piece with its knight. This decision to take the offending chess piece is a mental event. The act of taking that chess piece, even if it is a virtual chess piece and board, is considered the physical event.
- A killer whale recognized a feeling of hunger. It eats a fish. The recognition of the feeling of hunger is a mental event. Eating the fish is the physical event.