• TiredThinker
    497
    Is the mind a single thing, or does it have parts? If it has parts, what are they? Are its parts tied to parts of the brain?
  • Bartricks
    5.5k
    It's indivisible. Half a mind makes no sense. Half a banana, yes. Half a sandwich, yes. Half a mind, no - incoherent

    As all extended things are divisible, the mind is not an extended thing. Our brains can be divided. Our minds cannot be. Thus, our minds are not our brains.

    An indivisible thing has no parts (for if it had parts it could be divided into them). And as such the indivisibility of the mind also implies its eternal existence.

    it should also be noted that the existence of simple, indivisible things can be independently established. For it is manifest to reason that not everything can be made of other things, for then one has to posit an actual infinity of parts, which is incoherent.

    Thus, there are simple things in existence.

    And if we listen to our reason rather than convention, we will find that we are among those simple things.
  • Daniel
    398


    A while I ago I asked myself if there was a basic unit of thought, but I never really pondered about it. Your OP brought me back to it, and somehow I wondered if the mind was thought. Now, in the case there was a basic unit of thought (the building block of ideas), and the mind was thought (i.e., the mind is an idea of the brain), it could be possible that the mind is composed of several basic units of thought, and it would be divisible. Now, is there a basic unit of thought, and is the mind thought?

    Edit: You could also ask I guess if an idea is a composite or a unit or if there can be ideas of the two kinds.
  • jorndoe
    2k
    Mind isn't just one thing, it's more like an umbrella term for, say, thinking, feeling happy, perceiving red, experiencing, liking coffee, being self-aware, sentience, ... Maybe some such things are necessary or sufficient or something, to whatever degrees, to be (deemed) a mind?
  • Janus
    12.6k
    The mind can be conceptually divided up into different faculties; thought, emotion, volition, perception and so on, or different states: most broadly conscious and unconscious. But it doesn't follow that those faculties and states are somehow separate from one another in "practice".

    The mind is not a physical thing, but a function of a physical thing, more of a verb than a noun; so it cannot be literally located and dissected like the brain can. According to reports, if the corpus callosum is severed, one side of the body literally doesn't know what the other is doing. Would you count that as being a division of the mind? What about multiple personality syndrome?
  • Bartricks
    5.5k
    You're all very confused.

    The mind is a thing.

    Thoughts are states of mind. They're not things . They're states.

    Likewise, consciousness is a 'state'.

    States are always of things.

    The things that conscious states are states of are called 'minds'.

    There's a big philosophical question over what kind of a thing a mind is.

    But it is a thing.

    If you want to use 'consciousness' and 'mind' interchangeably, then you're just abusing words or you can't understand how consciousness is a state and a mind is the thing it is a state of.
  • Janus
    12.6k
    I didn't say the mind is not a thing; I said it is not a physical thing. You need to improve your comprehension, Bratricks.
  • Bartricks
    5.5k
    divided up into different faculties; thought, emotion, volition, perception aJanus

    It's not a bunch of faculties. Faculties are had by a thing. Things are not made of faculties.

    Same mistake, Hugh.

    It can't be divided into faculties. It 'has' faculties. See?

    Faculties are always the faculties 'of' something. Faculties of perception, reason and so on, are faculties 'of' a mind.
  • Daniel
    398


    The mind is a thing.Bartricks

    If the mind is a thing then it occupies a space. Or are there things that do not occupy a space?
  • 180 Proof
    9.3k
    Mind isn't just one thing, it's more like an umbrella term [ ... ]jorndoe
    :up:

    Is the mind a single thing, or does it have parts?TiredThinker
    Neither. IMO, a mind is an embodied, metacognitive process constituted by a system of hierarchically tangled (D. Hofstadter, T. Metzinger) cognitive functions.

    If it has parts, what are they?
    Like a running river, I don't think a mind has discrete "parts".

    Are its parts tied to parts of the brain?
    No. Just as choreographed dance-steps are not "tied to parts of" legs ..., mind(ing) is what a sufficiently complex brain do enacted by its (developmental) environment.
  • Bartricks
    5.5k
    If the mind is a thing then it occupies a space. Or are there things that do not occupy a space?Daniel

    No, minds do not occupy space. If they did, they'd be divisible. But they're indivisible. Thus they do not occupy space.

    If you think everything that exists has to occupy space, then our minds demonstrate that's false.

    And indeed, we can actually demonstrate it is false independent of the nature of our minds. For if something occupies space, then it is divisible. And thus it will be made of parts into which it can be divided.
    But something cannot have infinite parts. Thus the raw ingredients from which a thing is made must themselves be indivisible, else we will find ourselves on an infinite regress.
    And those things will not occupy space.

    This poses a well known problem for those who believe in things that occupy space: it does not seem possible for there to be such things. As if everything must have some basic ingredients from which it is constructed, and if those ingredients must be indivisible, then anything that exists must be made of (or be) something indivisible. But indivisible things occupy no space. And no amount of joining together things that occupy no space will ever result in the creation of a thing that does occupy space. Thus, it seems that things that occupy space - the notion of such a thing, anyway - make no real sense.
  • Agent Smith
    6.2k
    From a physicalist point of view there's the alleged compartmentalization of brain (mind) function - off the top of my head there's the prefrontal cortex (planning, intention), the limbic system (feelings), the speech/language centers (Broca's area), the visual cortex (sight), so on and so forth.
  • 180 Proof
    9.3k
    :eyes: :sweat: Wtf, kid. Space "does not occupy space" and it's divisible above 1 planck length.
  • Bartricks
    5.5k
    Extended space makes no sense for the same reason objects extended in it make no sense. See above for an explanation. Oh, sorry, you lack all understanding. I'll just make some little yellow pictures and you can stare at them: :gasp: :snicker: :cool: :love: :death: :flower: :starstruck:
  • Pie
    555
    Is the mind a single thing, or does it have parts? If it has parts, what are they? Are its parts tied to parts of the brain?TiredThinker

    Allow me to recommend The Concept of Mind by Gilbert Ryle. I only recently got around to this book, and it's just flamethrower for so many entrenched confusions concerning the mind.

    One thing to avoid (it seems to me) is just taking it for granted that the word 'mind' is connected as if by a cord to some sufficiently definite concept to make the 'but is it single' question sensible and interesting.

    Let me end on a more constructive note. The mind is single in the sense that the person is understood as a locus of responsibility. In fact, it's one and the same ghost in the machine that catches hell when its body misbehaves. But this is a mere report of the way we happen to do things around here. In theory, another culture could allow for even sane people to be temporarily possessed by demons and therefore pardoned for crimes. Or we can imagine ghosts trading bodies, and a culture holding the ghost responsible. "When you, Tim, were in body #45643, you smacked Joe, who was in body #456." The point is that singleness of mind seems ethically important to us.
  • Bartricks
    5.5k
    Where in that book does Ryle present a single argument against the idea that the mind is a single, indivisible, thing?

    All he does is describe cases where we talk 'as if' there is a thing, when in fact there is not. That is not any kind of evidence that our minds are not singular indivisible things.

    Mental states are states of mind. That is, they are states of a thing. So there is a thing that bears them, and we call it a mind. There's no mystery here. The word 'mind' denotes that which bears mental states.

    And our reason tells us that our minds are indivisible. You note that our moral responsibilty is 'ours' - that is, it belongs to us, not our states of mind. That is just more evidence that our minds are things distinct form the states they are in.

    This is quite unlike, say, a university and its buildings and practices and employees (Ryle's example).

    So the burden of proof is squarely on him to provide some positive evidence against the 'ghost in the machine' thesis, for the evidence appears to point to it.

    What evidence does he provide? And again, brute possibilities are not evidence and nor is describing a view in a scathing way or inviting us to think that only luddites from the past would believe their minds to be souls.
  • Pie
    555
    Where in that book does Ryle present a single argument against the idea that the mind is a single, indivisible, thing?Bartricks

    IMV, good philosophers often try to show us that our questions were ill-conceived in the first place.

    It also makes more sense to me that metaphysicians should have to argue for their positive claims.

    Note that I suggested above why folks are tempted to make strange claims like 'the mind is single' in the first place. I'm trying to plug what would otherwise be silly talk into real life, into the practical unity of a self.

    It's our intellectual duty to be consistent. Our bundle of beliefs should work together. The ego is a kind of unifying fiction or piece of software.
  • Bartricks
    5.5k
    IMV, good philosophers often try to show us that our questions were ill-conceived in the first place.Pie

    Where is there any evidence that questions about the mind are of this sort?

    It also makes more sense to me that metaphysicians should have to argue for their positive claims.Pie

    You either think there's reason to think that's true, or you think there's no reason to think that's true but you think it anyway.

    If you think there's reason to think that's true, then you accept the authority of reason. Which is just as well, for all philosophy involves appealing to reason.

    Now, our reason represents our minds to exist and to be indivisible things.

    That's evidence that that's precisely what they are.

    Is there any countervailing evidence? Does Ryle provide any (no)?

    This is all those who disbelieve in the soul do: they attempt to show how it is metaphysically possible for the mind 'not' to be an immaterial soul.

    It's not even clear they manage this. But who cares? Even if it is possible for the mind to not be an immaterial soul, that doesn't begin to be evidence that it is not an immaterial soul.

    I mean, it is metaphysically possible for me to be in Paris. But that's not evidence I'm in Paris. I'm not.
  • Pie
    555
    Where is there any evidence that questions about the mind are of this sort?Bartricks

    You might find some in an excellent book entitled The Concept of Mind. It's by this dude named Gilbert Ryle. It's one of my favorites.

    You either think there's reason to think that's true, or you think there's no reason to think that's true but you think it anyway.

    If you think there's reason to think that's true, then you accept the authority of reason. Which is just as well, for all philosophy involves appealing to reason.
    Bartricks

    Yes, philosophy appeals to reason. As Popper and Kojeve and who knows how many others have noted, philosophy is a second order tradition. We don't just trade stories about the way things hang together; we criticize and edit and synthesize such stories. This becomes the way we do things. No individual person or claim has a fixed status (is sacred.) Only the second-order tradition itself is sacred. The opposite of being reasonable is perhaps some combination of arrogance and dogmatism.

    Now, our reason represents our minds to exist and to be indivisible things.Bartricks

    Need I point out that this is bald claim ? And that it's also controversial? Perhaps your reason gives you that impression, but that in itself is a personal matter. The mere fact that many find old-fashioned metaphysical chestnuts like that one to be highly questionable if not outright nonsense should give you pause...if you want to be reasonable.

    That's evidence that that's precisely what they are.
    Bartricks

    This might be a good time to present that evidence?
  • Banno
    17.8k
    Allow me to recommend The Concept of Mind by Gilbert Ryle.Pie

    Excellent book. The beginnings of clear thinking about mind. The Official Doctrine might well be sitting behind 's OP.

    https://antilogicalism.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/concept-of-mind.pdf

    A precis.

    For Ryle, when we talk about a person’s mind, we are talking about a person’s abilities to perform certain kinds of tasks. Hence words that refer to mental states, such as “know”, and “believe” refer to a person’s dispositions to behave in certain ways, given certain circumstances.
  • Pie
    555
    Excellent book. The beginnings of clear thinking about mind. The Official Doctrine might well be sitting behind ↪TiredThinker
    's OP.
    Banno

    :up:

    I think so.

    After reading Ryle, I thought now this is the book for those who find the later Wittgenstein too nebulous. He just chops away confusion methodically.

    I should also plug Sellars here. His normative, inferential approach to concepts and rationality demystifies 'reason' as Ryle does 'mind.'
  • Andrew M
    1.4k
    Is the mind a single thing, or does it have parts? If it has parts, what are they? Are its parts tied to parts of the brain?TiredThinker

    "I was wet and weary and had half a mind to curl up on the mossy hillside and wait for the rescue helicopter." - Globe and Mail (2003)

    Allow me to recommend The Concept of Mind by Gilbert Ryle. I only recently got around to this book, and it's just flamethrower for so many entrenched confusions concerning the mind.Pie

    :up:
  • Pie
    555


    It's great to see Ryle and Sellars get recognition around here.
  • Bartricks
    5.5k
    i've read it (unlike the mindless up thumbers). As you would know if you had (you haven't read it have you!?). And it is shite.

    Now, locate for me an actual argument that the mind is not an immaterial soul
  • Pie
    555
    The mind is a thing.

    Thoughts are states of mind. They're not things . They're states.

    Likewise, consciousness is a 'state'.

    States are always of things.

    The things that conscious states are states of are called 'minds'.

    There's a big philosophical question over what kind of a thing a mind is.

    But it is a thing.
    Bartricks

    As I see it, you are describing grammar here as if you were purveying eternal cosmic truths. Yes, we talk of states of mind, states of one and the same mind. But I don't see why states are grammatically kinds of things. Presumably we'd like to do more than give ESL lessons to one another. But that's the problem with analytic truths or and pseudo-profound quasi-tautologies. I don't mean this as an attack. I'm just saying it's way to easy to cough up grammatical platitudes as quasi-theological insights.
  • Bartricks
    5.5k
    What are you on about?

    An argument. Give me one argument for the materiality of the mind. Use Ryle. Come on.
  • Pie
    555
    Now, locate for me an actual argument that the mind is not an immaterial soulBartricks

    Dude. Descartes has been tied to the whipping post for quite a while now. Prove to me first that Jesus isn't the crown prince of the Crab Nebula.
  • Bartricks
    5.5k
    You haven't actually read Ryle have you?

    Now, present an argument for the materiality of the mind. You are about to be taken to school
  • Pie
    555
    You haven't actually read Ryle have you?Bartricks

    Of course I have. It's weird to make such a big deal of it. It's a relatively easy read. Heidegger for the less pretentious ?

    Now, present an argument for the materiality of the mind. You are about to be taken to schoolBartricks

    I never claimed the mind was material. It seems that, like many folks who charge at metaphysical windmills, you can't see around your pet dichotomies.

    I'm not trying to be Pepsi to your Coca-Cola. I'm saying we don't need this bubbly acidic sugar water in the first place.

    Do commas smell like cream spirit? Is the mime shingle?
bold
italic
underline
strike
code
quote
ulist
image
url
mention
reveal
youtube
tweet
Add a Comment

Welcome to The Philosophy Forum!

Get involved in philosophical discussions about knowledge, truth, language, consciousness, science, politics, religion, logic and mathematics, art, history, and lots more. No ads, no clutter, and very little agreement — just fascinating conversations.