Our topic on this page is the Human Mind and its activities. We will try to understand some basics for this hidden treasure within our heads.
Well, as the definition of the mind is not so clear, we will try to organize our thoughts so to be able to keep up with this interesting conversation.
We know, the human mind was the object of study of philosophy, psychology and religion. Each one, based on its view, defined and explained the mind and its workings.
They’re many theories about the human mind. Some ancient civilizations refer to it as the connection between the body and the soul. The human soul is an immaterial essence, which is combined with the physical body, and both form the human individual. Some also believe that the soul is immortal as the spiritual essence can exist without the physical body.
Science approached the mind through psychology. The Scientific Research concludes the human mind is the result of the brain activities and has a conscious as well as a subconscious side.
The Philosophy of Mind is a branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of the thoughts and experiences of humans. The main difference between Philosophy and psychology lies in the way they examine mentality. Psychology approaches mental phenomena through scientific experiments while Philosophy through reasoned arguments.
Consciousness, a Great Mystery
The great mystery around the human mind is the Consciousness. This attribute separates us from animals and makes us the dominant species on the planet. If you watch the Discovery channel, series about animals, you may feel that nature left us totally unarmed compared with animals. Well, our weapon is our consciousness.
The problem of consciousness is that it remains a mystery about its nature. Some neurologists describe it as the result of firing neurons in our heads. But this is just a physical approach. Well, it’s reasonable that consciousness is the result of brain electrical and chemical activity, but yet this explanation does not answer the question “what really is?”
We know that the brain uses electrical pulses carrying bits of information. Every brain function is just electrical signals that are transmitted through the neuron network towards the appropriate processing center. The signal gets decoded upon its arrival, and the result is our feelings, thoughts, etc.
Awareness is by nature a never-ending complex process. At any time, we have a reason to do something, and we know it. This kind of knowledge exists from the beginning of our lives. So, how you would describe this never-ending process in the form of electrical activity?
States of Consciousness
Another interesting topic that got much of attention and research was the States of Consciousness. Despite the vague definition of Consciousness, Science has recognized that there are many different states of it. Cases such as Sleep, Alertness, Dreaming, and Meditating are some relevant examples.
In the late 1950s, a strange behavior during the sleep state was observed. The eyes of the sleepers were starting to move rapidly every 90 minutes of sleep, which is at the end of a sleep cycle.
This condition is called REM (Rapid Eye Movement) and has a relation with the dreaming state. The experiment subjects reported that they were dreaming when they were awakened during the REM.
The interest in the Altered States of Consciousness was born. Altered states include sleeping, dreaming, biofeedback, meditation, hypnosis, drug-induced and generally speaking, anything that is different from the normal waking state. We will see all these states of mind in detail.
Intelligence & Memory
Two other mind aspects that are not independent constitutes the learning capacity. These are intelligence and memory.
Intelligence is a broad meaning covering many mental activities such as problem solving, thinking abstractly, learning and understanding, reasoning, etc. There are many Theories of Intelligence that tried to explain and define intelligence, but there is not yet a precise definition of intelligence.
Memory is the mind’s capacity to remember. It is a critical function as, without the memorizing ability, we would be unable to learn, speak, read or form any kind of consciousness.
Nevertheless, Memory doesn’t last forever. Forgetting is a memory issue that pulled in the interest of scientists.