What is Mind?

Use this philosophy forum to discuss and debate general philosophy topics that don't fit into one of the other categories.

This forum is NOT for factual, informational or scientific questions about philosophy (e.g. "What year was Socrates born?"); such homework-help-style questions can be asked and answered on PhiloPedia: The Philosophy Wiki. If your question is not already answered on the appropriate PhiloPedia page, then see How to Request Content on PhiloPedia to see how to ask your informational question using the wiki.
Post Reply
User avatar
UniversalAlien
Posts: 1113
Joined: March 20th, 2012, 9:37 pm
Contact:

What is Mind?

Post by UniversalAlien » February 24th, 2014, 6:26 am

Assuming you are reading this one might assume that you assume you have a mind to do the reading. But what is this thing called mind that you use, or uses you? Is it a thing, an entity, a brain, a soul, a self, etc.? Or is mind nothing more than a computer in a biological container? We know what we mean when we say someone 'lost their mind' - But what did they lose - the ability to effectively process and control their physical reality - Or is mind more than that? Must a mind be creative, individualistic, with a self and an ego? What do you think it means to have a mind? And what do you think this thing called mind is?

User avatar
Misty
Contributor
Posts: 5933
Joined: August 10th, 2011, 8:13 pm
Location: United States of America

Re: What is Mind?

Post by Misty » February 24th, 2014, 6:36 am

UniversalAlien wrote:Assuming you are reading this one might assume that you assume you have a mind to do the reading. But what is this thing called mind that you use, or uses you? Is it a thing, an entity, a brain, a soul, a self, etc.? Or is mind nothing more than a computer in a biological container? We know what we mean when we say someone 'lost their mind' - But what did they lose - the ability to effectively process and control their physical reality - Or is mind more than that? Must a mind be creative, individualistic, with a self and an ego? What do you think it means to have a mind? And what do you think this thing called mind is?
Like the digestive system facilitates digestion, the mind facilitates cognition( the acts and processes of knowing) in a developed human or animal. Cognition may be facilitated differently in other life forms and in the early stages of human development.
Things are not always as they appear; it's a matter of perception.

The eyes can only see what the mind has, is, or will be prepared to comprehend.

I am Lion, hear me ROAR! Meow.

enegue
Posts: 1950
Joined: September 4th, 2009, 8:18 am
Favorite Philosopher: God
Location: Australia

Re: What is Mind?

Post by enegue » February 24th, 2014, 6:53 am

I think your mind is that part of your being that enables you to solve problems, but it is not the part of your being that chooses the problems to be solved.

Cheers,
enegue

User avatar
UniversalAlien
Posts: 1113
Joined: March 20th, 2012, 9:37 pm
Contact:

Re: What is Mind?

Post by UniversalAlien » February 24th, 2014, 7:29 am

enegue wrote:I think your mind is that part of your being that enables you to solve problems, but it is not the part of your being that chooses the problems to be solved.

Cheers,
enegue
Some might disagree - They might say that many of the worst of human problems are caused by the human mind generating the problems.

User avatar
Consul
Posts: 1300
Joined: February 21st, 2014, 6:32 am
Location: Germany

Re: What is Mind?

Post by Consul » February 24th, 2014, 9:04 pm

"[W]hen we use such expressions as 'having a mind', 'losing one's mind', 'being out of one's mind', and the like, there is no need to suppose there are objects in this world called 'minds' that we have, lose, or are out of. Having a mind can be construed simply as having a certain group of properties, capacities, and features that are possessed by humans and some higher animals but absent in things like pencils and rocks. To say that something 'has a mind' is to classify it as a certain sort of thing, capable of certain characteristic sorts of behaviors and functions—sensation, perception, memory, learning, reasoning, consciousness, action, and the like. It is less misleading, therefore, to speak of 'mentality' than of 'having a mind'; the surface grammar of the latter abets the problematic idea of a substantival mind—mind as an object of a special kind."

(Kim, Jaegwon. Philosophy of Mind. 2nd ed. Boulder, CO: Westview, 2006. p. 6)

"To reject the substantival view of mentality is not to deny that each of us 'has a mind'; it is only that we should not think of 'having a mind' literally—that is, as there being some object or substance called a 'mind' that we literally possess. ...If you have set aside substance dualism, you can take having a mind simply as having a certain special set of properties, capacities, and characteristics, something that humans and some higher animals possess but flowerpots and rocks do not."

(Kim, Jaegwon. Philosophy of Mind. 2nd ed. Boulder, CO: Westview, 2006. p. 51)

From the materialistic point of view, if the mind is regarded as a thing, an object rather than as a group of properties or abilities, then it's simply the active brain or CNS.

"Central State-Materialism does not, like Behaviorism, deny that the mind is a thing. But it does deny that the mind is a spiritual thing. ...More fully, the answer concerning the relation of mind to body is: the mind is part of the body. It is a special part, the part which controls behavior. That is, it is the part which governs the movement of the limbs under the influence both of its own states (e.g., purposes) and of sensorily gained information concerning the body's environment and attitude. The part which does this is the brain, whose connections are chiefly with sense organs, which affect it, and muscles and glands, which it affects."

(Campbell, Keith. Body and Mind. 2nd ed. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1984. p. 88)
"We may philosophize well or ill, but we must philosophize." – Wilfrid Sellars

User avatar
Present awareness
Posts: 1269
Joined: February 3rd, 2014, 7:02 pm

Re: What is Mind?

Post by Present awareness » February 25th, 2014, 2:50 pm

Mind, may be thought of as a mirror, in which the universe reflects. These reflections are neither good or bad in themselves, they are what they are. The mind determines the goodness or badness of these reflections, in direct relationship to the prime objective, which is survival of the physical body.
Even though you can see me, I might not be here.

enegue
Posts: 1950
Joined: September 4th, 2009, 8:18 am
Favorite Philosopher: God
Location: Australia

Re: What is Mind?

Post by enegue » February 25th, 2014, 5:10 pm

UniversalAlien wrote:enegue said:
I think your mind is that part of your being that enables you to solve problems, but it is not the part of your being that chooses the problems to be solved.

Some might disagree - They might say that many of the worst of human problems are caused by the human mind generating the problems.
The SOME who say "The human mind generates the problems of humanity." are likely also to say, "Computers are responsible for cyber crime". However, we know better.

Your mind is responsible for nothing other than transitioning what is unmanifest (in your heart) into what is manifest (the actions of your body). It is a machine that dutifully does its master's bidding.
Consul wrote:From the materialistic point of view, if the mind is regarded as a thing, an object rather than as a group of properties or abilities, then it's simply the active brain or CNS.
I agree completely, Consul. There is absolutely nothing spiritual about your mind. That is the function of another aspect of your being, which is separate from your mind and your body. It is known by various names: heart, spirit, soul, quintessence, inner man, metamind, and is not located in any of your component parts, but emerges from the interplay of them all.

Your heart is the aspect of your being that gets you moving in a particular direction, and is the "you" in the question, "What do you WANT TO do today?". It is the part of you that WANTS TO argue, "God is loving and merciful!" or "God is hateful and cruel?" or "Hey, man. I'll just hide my talent in a hole. I can always dig it up later and return it to him, if he turns out to be real.", and then sets your mind into action chasing down the supporting evidence for it.

Cheers,
enegue

User avatar
Kiwi
Posts: 55
Joined: September 2nd, 2013, 2:35 pm

Re: What is Mind?

Post by Kiwi » February 25th, 2014, 6:28 pm

Where do the thoughts come from? How does the 3 lb mass of grey matter that is my brain give rise to the felt experience of sensations and thoughts? It sometimes seems essentially inconceivable that the water of material processes could give rise to the wine of consciousness.
I'm gonna share with you a vision that I had,all that money we spend on nuclear weapons and defense each year-if we spent that money feeding and clothing the poor of the world,NOT ONE HUMAN BEING EXCLUDED.And it would pay for it many times over!

Wooden shoe
Posts: 1508
Joined: March 6th, 2011, 12:25 am
Location: Dryden ON Canada

Re: What is Mind?

Post by Wooden shoe » February 25th, 2014, 9:41 pm

Hi Enegue.

I find it interesting how both us read the same thing, yet came to a very different understanding of what Consul was trying to say. I understood him/her to say that our mind is all we got, yes with varying duties but all intertwined. This so-called heart is also intertwined and is the result of everything we have experienced on top of those characteristics we inherited via our genes. The person I am, the one which others recognize as John, is someone who has been shaped by life, by his senses. To think that there is something apart from this mind, something that is the real me, becomes speculation in the metaphysical which has not been shown to have anything going for it other than wishful thinking.

Regards, John.
We experience today through the lens of all our yesterdays

User avatar
Present awareness
Posts: 1269
Joined: February 3rd, 2014, 7:02 pm

Re: What is Mind?

Post by Present awareness » February 25th, 2014, 10:31 pm

Kiwi wrote:Where do the thoughts come from? How does the 3 lb mass of grey matter that is my brain give rise to the felt experience of sensations and thoughts? It sometimes seems essentially inconceivable that the water of material processes could give rise to the wine of consciousness.
I believe that thoughts come from the part of our brain responsible for language. An interplay between randomly selected words and sentences. When focussing on a topic, we can narrow the word choices to a specific area, or when daydreaming we can allow any word at all to drift in or out.
Even though you can see me, I might not be here.

User avatar
UniversalAlien
Posts: 1113
Joined: March 20th, 2012, 9:37 pm
Contact:

Re: What is Mind?

Post by UniversalAlien » February 26th, 2014, 3:44 am

Wooden shoe wrote:Hi Enegue.

I find it interesting how both us read the same thing, yet came to a very different understanding of what Consul was trying to say. I understood him/her to say that our mind is all we got, yes with varying duties but all intertwined. This so-called heart is also intertwined and is the result of everything we have experienced on top of those characteristics we inherited via our genes. The person I am, the one which others recognize as John, is someone who has been shaped by life, by his senses. To think that there is something apart from this mind, something that is the real me, becomes speculation in the metaphysical which has not been shown to have anything going for it other than wishful thinking.

Regards, John.
Yes, probably true, but when you say: "To think that there is something apart from this mind, something that is the real me, becomes speculation in the metaphysical which has not been shown to have anything going for it other than wishful thinking." I might wonder if the mind can exist without 'wishful thinking' being part of it. It would seem to me that a cognitive functioning psyche having a living volition would need 'wishful thinking' to function - Otherwise existence might be considered no more than a computer print out whose outcome is already known and would have no living existence as a living entity as we know it {or think we know it}. It is only 'wishful thinking' to believe you or anyone else will understand what I'm trying to say even if it is logical - all understanding is to some extent based upon 'wishful thinking'. Same might be said for speculation - and then I might speculate if the 'real you' can exist without the existence of both an environment and others in that environment to measure the meaning of the existence of the real you. Without environment and others in the environment how would you know, or even be able to speculate on whether or not you exist and if there is in fact a thing called existence. What's that old expression: "No man is an island."

User avatar
Subatomic God
Posts: 1494
Joined: October 15th, 2013, 11:09 pm

Re: What is Mind?

Post by Subatomic God » February 26th, 2014, 4:19 am

I, too, believe the mind to be a mirror that takes many different forms within other many different forms, extrinsically and intrinsically. It's like we all have different game systems, controllers, ways to set it up, allocations for wiring and technical features as bodies and brains between all life forms throughout the animal kingdom. There are physical, metaphysical, mental and conceptual metaphors that can be observed throughout life; and knowing that we can consciously incorporate such a system of identification is what makes it all the more interesting. If we weren't that inconsistent and privileged with free will (loosely using the term), I would go as far as to believe that we're the universe living itself. It's the only explanation (in spite of our free will and unnatural inclinations), to align all the mysteries between ourselves and the universe without running into errors. The only way we could understand (not know) the universe as much as we do, is if we are the universe. Dogs existed before man, yet they lie loyal to us. There's only one explanation to make sense out of a life form bonding with a life form that existed on a later basis: the universe lives and grows through and through, through us all.
What do you call a cat wearing a turtle's shell on its back? A purpoise.

User avatar
UniversalAlien
Posts: 1113
Joined: March 20th, 2012, 9:37 pm
Contact:

Re: What is Mind?

Post by UniversalAlien » February 26th, 2014, 5:16 am

Subatomic God wrote:I, too, believe the mind to be a mirror that takes many different forms within other many different forms, extrinsically and intrinsically. It's like we all have different game systems, controllers, ways to set it up, allocations for wiring and technical features as bodies and brains between all life forms throughout the animal kingdom. There are physical, metaphysical, mental and conceptual metaphors that can be observed throughout life; and knowing that we can consciously incorporate such a system of identification is what makes it all the more interesting. If we weren't that inconsistent and privileged with free will (loosely using the term), I would go as far as to believe that we're the universe living itself. It's the only explanation (in spite of our free will and unnatural inclinations), to align all the mysteries between ourselves and the universe without running into errors. The only way we could understand (not know) the universe as much as we do, is if we are the universe. Dogs existed before man, yet they lie loyal to us. There's only one explanation to make sense out of a life form bonding with a life form that existed on a later basis: the universe lives and grows through and through, through us all.
Yes, I agree. Maybe I posed the question "What is Mind?" to affirm my belief in what I interpret to be the Zen Buddhist philosophy where all of existence is part of 'Mind' and all things return to the One and we are all part of it. And yet the variations of form, structure, and mental constructs within the One continue to fascinate and are open to much speculation and sometimes understanding. And maybe we will never fully understand what Mind is as mind unfolds in an unlimited possibly infinite pattern.

enegue
Posts: 1950
Joined: September 4th, 2009, 8:18 am
Favorite Philosopher: God
Location: Australia

Re: What is Mind?

Post by enegue » February 26th, 2014, 8:40 am

Wooden shoe wrote:I find it interesting how both us read the same thing, yet came to a very different understanding of what Consul was trying to say.
It has to do with with what our heart finds profitable in the words of others. It is completely possible that we might miss the mark entirely.
Wooden shoe wrote:I understood him/her to say that our mind is all we got, yes with varying duties but all intertwined. This so-called heart is also intertwined and is the result of everything we have experienced on top of those characteristics we inherited via our genes. The person I am, the one which others recognize as John, is someone who has been shaped by life, by his senses.
Well, I don't think "John" is shaped by his senses. I think "John" utilises his senses (his body) and utilises his facilities for memory and logical inference (his mind) to pursue the things he (his heart) regards as profit. However you regard this, it all seems very logical to me. There are most definitely three aspects of our being, one is rational (like a CPU and its firmware), one is physical (like hardware) and one is non-rational (like a user who runs PARTICULAR software because it is pleasing [profitable] to him to do so).

Why do you "prefer" one thing above another? The idea of "preference" is completely non-rational. If you claim your mind is responsible for both rational and non-rational thoughts, to me that is totally illogical, like suggesting a single tree could produce two completely unrelated types of fruit.

It could be that this mysterious non-rational part of our being is a manifestation of the interplay of the parts of the brain only, and not the whole person. Who would know for sure? However, if we utter phrases like "ALL MEN (persons) ARE CREATED EQUAL", how can those words possibly be referring to the physical or mental faculties of the person, since our rational minds reduce everything to UTILITY, and there are obvious levels of utility where one person is more useful (better) than another. Such a statement can only be meaningful from the point of view that, if the real "john" (his heart) were given an optimum mind and an optimum body, then he would use it to ensure that everything he did was in the interest of the health, welfare and advancement of ALL OF HUMANITY, NOW, AND FOREVERMORE, as would the real "enegue" and the real "Misty" and the real "UniversalAlien", etc.
Wooden shoe wrote:To think that there is something apart from this mind, something that is the real me, becomes speculation in the metaphysical which has not been shown to have anything going for it other than wishful thinking.
Of course, it's speculation, but it is most definitely RATIONAL SPECULATION.

Cheers,
enegue

User avatar
UniversalAlien
Posts: 1113
Joined: March 20th, 2012, 9:37 pm
Contact:

Re: What is Mind?

Post by UniversalAlien » February 28th, 2014, 9:22 pm

Now to get back to the original question "What is Mind?" Notice I did not ask 'What is 'a' mind? - I asked what is mind? And this gets me to thinking, can you have 'a' mind? or do you need 'mind' to exist first in order for there to be 'a' mind? Does an overriding concept of mind need to exist in order for 'a' mind to exist. Could any of us as individuals have a mind at all if there wasn't an a priori concept of existent mind?

Post Reply