Let’s spend a little time today on what Jean Gebser means by “unperspectival” consciousness, which is also, in many respects, what Nietzsche means by “Dionysian” consciousness, rather than “Apollonian” consciousness. For Dionysian consciousness, a formula for being like cogito ergo sum (or “I think therefore I am”) is absurd. We could just as well say […]Before Philosophy
I’ve often read that journaling is an effective practice for clearing your mind and focusing on the things you can control (while relieving your mind of the things you cannot control). For those of you that journal, what is your “strategy” for how you organize your thoughts on paper? When I sit down with a […]What are your journaling strategies?
Thanks to the internet, optical illusions again become popular. Maybe there’s some irony about the revived interest in these visual tricks: the most popular illusions rely on people not looking too closely — and not looking too closely is one of the key side effects of internet-based media use. They are obviously fascinating if you […]What tricks do illusions play on the mind?
Love, probably the most debated concept, is easy (it should be, right?) But complicated (for sure). The most natural feeling that ties people together has never been less than difficult, up to impossible sometimes.
Following a certain pattern of impossible loves, going from one impossible affair into another, is not a pure coincidence. Digging deeper, this pattern hides a subconscious (or unconscious) reason.
Falling for impossible loves more than once says a fear of commitment. Worse, it reveals a guilt feeling of betraying parents or closed loved ones. An impossible love doesn’t lead to commitment; so one is safe from commitment, guilt and betrayal.
Always falling for the “wrong” person is not a lack of chance. It is an unconscious choice. It is repeating the same experience over and over again. This repeated pattern of a person lies between the myth of Sisyphus and the Stockholm syndrome.
Emancipating oneself from the chain of the absurdity of this repeated heartbreaks requires a mind reset. And this is a long sinuous road of self discovery.
Perhaps you have heard someone talking of minds as computers. In Venezuela, it is common to hear people saying stuff like “let me process that” (déjame procesarlo) as if they were some sort of machine. But why do people sometimes think about themselves in this way? Why do some philosophers believe that minds are […]The rise of cognitive science: A survey of the most relevant historical landmarks
How many different apps do you have open on your phone right now? How many tabs on your internet browser? And how many different e-mail threads and Facebook messages? If you’re like most people, you probably have a lot of each of these – too many, in fact. The myth of multitasking has seeped into […]Do you know about the myth of multi tasking?
Following my two posts on the subject (I and II), our study reached monism as a critic of dualism.
Originally mono, one, monism believes that we are made of one dimension, either the body (or matter) or the spirit. For monism questions the explanation offered in the dualism spectrum. To a certain extent, dualism is more metaphysical than logical or scientific. In both forms of monism, empiricism is the basic foundation.
So, what are we, and what is the universe, according to monism?
The materialistic monism:
As commonly known, materialism on a larger scale is the matter as foundation. It can cover for example economy as a basis for a political system like Marx’ historical materialism. As much as it can be the physico-chemical analysis of all that exists. Democritus found that any matter is made of atoms. So materialism takes matter as the only explanation.
For decades, medical science considered humans (or any living being) are the result of their genetic heritage, their DNA. Now we know that there is more to that with epigenetics. Western medicine is still somehow biochemical in its diagnostic and prognostic. It all relies on chemical, hormonal and metabolic reactions. Same goes for neuroscience; it studies what is referred to as the mind as a secretion of the brain.
Without digging deeper in materialistic monism, one can observe that its analysis is brutally realistic, all in a causal reaction, which helped science in general to evolve. Scientific empiricism and invention of tools go hand in hand: tools let science became more accurate and precise and science helped tools to be scientific and smart, better known as technology (techné = tools; logy= logos= reason and science).
The more enigmatic is the immaterialist monism.
The immaterialist monism:
Georges Berkeley, Bishop of Cloyne, “was one of the great philosophers of the early modern period. He was a brilliant critic of his predecessors, particularly Descartes, Malebranche, and Locke. He was a talented metaphysician famous for defending idealism, that is, the view that reality consists exclusively of minds and their ideas. Berkeley’s system, while it strikes many as counter-intuitive, is strong and flexible enough to counter most objections. His most-studied works, the Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge (Principles, for short) and Three Dialogues between Hylas and Philonous (Dialogues), are beautifully written and dense with the sort of arguments that delight contemporary philosophers. He was also a wide-ranging thinker with interests in religion (which were fundamental to his philosophical motivations), the psychology of vision, mathematics, physics, morals, economics, and medicine. Although many of Berkeley’s first readers greeted him with incomprehension, he influenced both Hume and Kant” (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy).
As an early empiricist himself, Berkeley’s theory was about the spirit/the mind and not the matter. In a counter-intuitive objection to his contemporary philosophers and peers, he believed that matter in itself is unknown. We know what exists through our perception. Had we perceived things differently, we would’ve had a different knowledge. To Berkeley we are a mind. Not that he denies the existence of outside matter nor our own body, but all our knowledge of them is perception based and subjective.
The influence of Berkeley nowadays, to a certain extent, would be epigenetics or how we perceive and interact with the outside phenomenons. To extrapolate a bit, the yogic philosophy is more about energy, perception, chakras and meditation.
In conclusion, what is the mind body connection? Does the mind control the body or is it the other way around? Let’s say that one won’t work without the other; they are both in a complete fusion. This is where psychosomatic explanation comes into hand: if my mind is not ok, my body will react; also, if I am sick, my mind won’t be alert. The importance of this very old dilemma of the mind vs. the body is not only for the sake of knowledge but for ethical treatment. It’s not about who is right and who is wrong; it is about perception, perspective and action.
This phrase is so common in the world of fitness and sports, when one is asked to establish the mind body connection to activate muscles or to fire the brain into activating some muscles in a specific exercise. Anyone who works out is familiar to this idea. However, the mind body connection or relationship is not new in philosophy; it is actually a very old dilemma that is found also in religions. Therefore what is the mind and what is the body? Is the mind inside the body or vice-versa? Are we made of both or are these two the same dimension? In this dialectic dissertation, two potential answers are found: dualism and monism. For the depth and complexity of this subject, the study will be developed through multiple posts.
Definitions and etymologies:
Before digging into dualism and monism, the everlasting starting point of any analysis must take into consideration etymologies and definitions of the two main concepts, the mind and the body, as in the spirit and the matter, to give a frame to our study. Here are the conceptual ramifications of each one:
Spirit → mind →consciousness
Matter → body → brain
At a first glance, these concepts appear to belong to different categories which will be shown later on in the common definitions. But, scientifically speaking and in certain philosophical schools, they are not as different as they may sound. We will start with matter then with spirit.
Matter is a physical substance in general, as distinct from mind and spirit; (in physics) that which occupies space and possesses rest mass, especially as distinct from energy. Albert Einstein proposed a definition of the matter that was, and maybe still, confusing to the non-specialists: matter is energy, better known in his formula E=mc2 where E is energy, m is mass, and c is the speed of light. This new definition of the matter transformed the latter into a non-perceptible phenomenon. Put is simply, matter is for the common people what is tangible or perceptible with a form, dimensions and content. For physics since the 20th century, it is energy for Einstein and a complete uncertainty of movements in quantum physics. In both definitions, there is no mention of the spirit.
To make things more complicated, some ancient and current tribes believe that matter is animated by a spirit; a belief better known as animism.
So, as one can see, the problematic concept is spirit.
The body is made of matter, of physical interacting substances that can form an organism or a structure of organs. In a living body, organs are made of tissues and cells where each cell is subdivided and has a certain function. That’s why the body functions as a whole.
The spirit has many definitions but to this study, the main one will be retained. The spirit is the non-physical part of a person which is the seat of emotions and character, known as the soul.
Spirit comes also from the Latin word anima, which is the principle of animation. As aforementioned, some people believe that nature is animated, that means has a spirit as spiritus, breath (the word animal comes from anima). Aristotle believed that animals had a spirit. Of course, later on spirit as a concept will have a different meaning.
The mind is the invisible and non-perceptible element of a person that enables them to be aware of the world and their experiences, to think, and to feel; the faculty of consciousness and thought. The correlation between mind and thought can be seen in the origin of the word:
Old English gemynd ‘memory, thought’, of Germanic origin, from an Indo-European root meaning ‘revolve in the mind, think’, shared by Sanskrit manas and Latin mens ‘mind’.
Therefore the concepts of mind and consciousness are synonyms.
After a long platonic influence and a long religious tradition, precisely monotheistic religions, only humans have a spirit and a mind; the rest of creatures are only determined by their instincts. The questions remain the same: what is the mind and what is the body? Is the mind inside the body or vice-versa? Are we made of both or are these two the same dimension? In this short dialectic dissertation, two potential answers are found: dualism and monism on more upcoming posts.