Do You Know? Do You Care?
We often hear the word mind yet rarely do we notice that it lacks a clear definition. Daniel Siegel
When you are thinking about what you are thinking or wonder what is on someone else’s mind, do you ask yourself: “What is the mind?” I believe most people don’t ask, don’t know and don’t care. To me, this question is fascinating, and has been for years. I have been reading, studying, writing and speaking about the mind; and I don’t yet know what it is. But I care. This blog is the result of my currently reading the new book entitled mind, by Daniel Siegel; and it is my attempt to get more people interested in the question, what is the mind?
Philosophers, scientists and psychologists have discussed and debated forever the definition of mind. The general consensus has been that the mind is solely the outcome of the activity of the neurons of the brain. “The mind is what the brain does.” How that might happen — to move from neural firing to subjective experience within knowing — no one on this planet understands. Daniel Siegel
Siegel points out that the mind lacks a clear definition, although it doesn’t lack definitions. My dictionary defines mind: the human consciousness that originates in the brain and is manifested esp. in thought, perception, emotion, will, memory, and imagination. The collective conscious and unconscious processes in a sentient organism that direct and Influence mental and physical behavior.
It seems clear (to me) that the mind is not the brain and the brain is not the mind. Siegel asks: Is the mind a noun or a verb? Both the brain and the mind are listed as nouns in the dictionary. This may be the problem. Your brain is a tangible thing or object; it exists, it can be observed and studied with typical research tools. And like your heart, it is an important part of you, and significant to your present and future well-being. So is your mind. But unlike your brain or heart, your mind is not a tangible object that can be observed or studied with typical empirical scientific research.
How important is the mind? The mind is the source of our capacity for choice and change. Your mind can transform your brain, Siegel. Your mind is manifested in thought, perception, emotion, will, memory, and imagination. And in belief, intention, reasoning, feelings, decision making and behavior. This makes the mind extremely important to you and to me.
Some academics say that the mind should not be defined because that would limit our understanding. So in academia the mind is studied and discussed in wonderful detail \, but not defined, Siegel.
Warning: As I continue to read this book, I am in danger of writing more blogs about the mind’s definition. I find this fascinating, but you may not. Stay tuned, and you can decide.