The Many Faces of the Mind!

Mind - the storehouse of all things unexpected!


” When the mind has made the decision to pursue anything with whole of heart,the entire universe conspires into making it happen.”

The mind is that portion of the human body which is responsible for thinking, imagining, enjoying sensations, and having good or bad desires, and the likes. The events or processes of the mind are distinctively private and cannot be experienced by any observer, except oneself.Hence the human mind is the most mysterious in its nature.

An interpretation and understanding of the relation between the human mind and human body is one of the most important issues in philosophy. Among the problems which philosophy and the various sciences have to deal, the mind-body problem is the most intriguing. Recent advances in philosophical thinking and in experimental research have made the problem very challenging. Mind and consciousness are not one and the same thing.We may or may not be conscious of our mental processes.When we arrive at a solution to some problem, we have gone through a mental process, but not necessarily one of which we are conscious. This distinction us to speak, for example, of animals having mental processes whether they areconscious or not. Consciousness is an awareness of a relation between percieving individual, the subject, or knower, and some object of attention. When we are aware of the fact that it is we who are conscious, we speak consciousness. We do not seem to be able to explain these immediate conscious and self-conscious experiences satisfactorily without some notion like the self.

In philosophical interpretations, mind was seen as something apart from nature. The mind attempted to contact and know ultimate reality. The spectator view of knowledge was taken for granted. The problem was to bridge the gap between mind and the world. But since the acceptance of the theory of evolution, mind is viewed as a growing instrument  or function, nt just an observer outside the process. More stress is placed now on research and experimentation, tentative attitudes, and degrees of probability.

Lets take a journey of some of the theories of mind, developed through the years by the philosophers.I found out there are four different theories that present the same picture in a different way and they are (1) Mind as a non-material substance (2) Mind as a principle of organisation (3) Mind as a sum-total of experiences (4) Mind as a form of behaviour. Now based on the observations of these theories i present before you my own versions of the understanding and hence present before the interpretations of these theories.

Mind as Substance Plato and Descartes. Mind can be interpreted as a non-material entity which is indivisible and immortal. Mind has such qualities as the ability to percieve, think, remember and imagine. What is left when you remove these qualities? The answer is ‘substance but  immaterial substance’. The author of this theory was Plato. He divided the nature of man into three parts : First, the rational part, the locus of which is in the brain. Man’s rational element is divine essence, or substance, not to be confused with the body in which it is imprisoned. Second, there is feeling or sensory part, with its locus in the chest. Third, there is the desiring elements, or the appetites, whose locus is in the abdomen. The desiring element in man has no principle or order of its own. It needs to be brought under the control of reason. Mind and body are intimately related but, according to plato, there is a clearcut distinction between them . The indivisible soul originated in the supersensible world of eternal form or ideas, beyond this is changing fleeting world of sense experience. The soul is considerably marred by contact with matter, it will eventually leave the body and return to its eternal abode. Descartes held there are two substances, mind and matter. Mind is immaterial. It is conscious and is characterised by thinking. Since it is substance, it cannot be destroyed except by God who is the only nondependent substance. Matter is characterised by extension. Man’s body is a part o the world of matter and is subject to its laws.

Mind as the princple of organisation Aristotle and Immanuel Kant. Aristotle, Plato’s pupil, while basically subscribing to many features of the theory of mind as substance, held the view that forms exist in things or in the world. They are the shaping, organizing, dynamic principles that give order and direction to matter. From this point of view, soul (psyche) is the life principle, the sum of the life-processes. Mind or reason is the highest capacity or function of the human psyche. In this attempt to integrate mind and body, Aristotle moves away from Plato’s position and closer to the view of the mind as process and function. Whereas for Plato, the world of ideas and eternal forms is beyond the world of sense experience, for Aristotle, the forms are in things as the active principle of organization.

Immanuel Kant who lived in the late 18th century, criticised the traditional view of mind as substance, a view which assumes that the individual can make his ‘self’ and his ‘mind’ direct objects of knowledge. For Kant, the mind is active; it forms into a system of knowledge all the materials presented by the various senses. Time and space are the forms of our sensible experience which by means of judgement are brought into organised experience. Mind is not a separate mental substance; it is the organization and unity of man’s personal experience. According to Kant, all we know for certain is our experience. There is unity wherever e is knowledge  the knowledge entails a knower. Where there is memory,there must be something to do the remembering. The organisation of experience is made possible by reason and understanding acting as a principle of organization. There is an organic or personal unity that transcends and surpasses or is responsible for the continuity among the separate experiences. This unity is called ‘self’. The self is sometimes spoken of as locus of the forms of knowing. Sometimes too, the self and the mind are treated as if they were identical. Self is a moral as well as a knowing subject.

Mind as the sum total of experiences – David Hume : David Hume who lived in the 18th century, was a severe critic of the traditional view of mind as a separate substance. Even before Kant’s time, Hume attacked the dualism of plato and descartes. Unlike Kant, Hume did not mantain that there was a personal unity or self. Hume carried empiricism to its logical conclusion and attacked the idea of both substance and the rationalism of his time. All knowledge comes through experience, and the sole content of the human mind is impressions and ideas. Impressions are our simple and elementary experiences; they are lively and livid. Ideas are only copies of impressions. When we introspect, we find only fleeting experes and ideas , which are constatly changing. There is no evidence of substance or of any permanent self. The mind and the faculties and the properties of the mental life are nothing but an association of ideas and experiences. Mind is a term for the sum total of the experiences, ideas and desires that occupy one’s attention. It is a bundle of experiences or a collection of sensations.

Having mentioned the different variations in which the differing theories of mind is percieved as it still remains highly mysterious, as there isn’t any such method devised to read one’s mind. What goes on inside and the deviations which happen each moment is not really easy to determine. People project a personality of their own of what they have in their minds and the one who percieves that personality might have various interpretation. Hence the most powerful component of all in this universe is the mind, and i believe the one who has a control of it, has the control of (hold your guns it ain’t the universe) one’s results in whatever one does as the universe favours them.


One comment

  1. anu55 · March 2, 2011

    Now thats what i call MINDblowing!

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