Philosophy of Mind

Where is your mind? No, I don’t mean to ask if it has wandered off. I’m getting deep here. Is it a part of your body? Does it exist in your brain? Is it a completely separate entity? What even is a mind?

Many philosophers who study the mind argue that the mind controls our consciousness, but what does this mean? Consciousness has been described as everything you experience, all the feelings that go along with these experiences, and what you learn from them. It is your subjective experience in the world, which makes it difficult for philosophers to study consciousness and the mind. It is also difficult to determine who or what is deemed a “conscious being.” Your experience is much different from that of the succulent 🪴 sitting in your window, even though you are both living beings, so being alive may not equal having consciousness.

There are many theories of the mind. Physicalists claim that the mind and brain are one and the same . They claim that the only things that truly exist are physical. If, for instance, you decided to join the line at Starbucks for a coffee, it’s because neurons are firing in your brain that makes you crave coffee. Dualists, on the other hand, say our minds are non-physical substances (think something like the soul) . For dualists, the mind and brain are distinct. What do you think?

Podcasts

  • The Patricia Churchland Interview

    The Panpsycast Podcast

    Listen
  • Episode 42: Psilocybin, Addiction, and Consciousness with Dr. Garcia-Romeu

    The Consciousness Podcast

    Listen

Want to Know More?

Questions to Think About

  • What makes you you?

  • What is consciousness? How does it relate to the mind and body?

  • Are we our brains?

  • Are you a body with a mind? Or a mind with a body?

  • Does simply existing endow us with consciousness?

  • Are there different types of consciousness?

  • Can non-human animals have consciousness?

Key Thinkers

  • Aristotle

  • Rene Descartes

  • Patricia Churchland

  • David Chalmers

“Aristotle” by Nick in exsilio is licensed with CC BY-NC-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/. https://www.flickr.com/photos/33563858@N00/6884873348

“René Descartes” by pittigliani2005 is licensed with CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/. https://www.flickr.com/photos/37925259@N00/5832576407

“Patricia Churchland (3).jpg” by Vera de Kok is licensed with CC BY-SA 4.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0. https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=54404950

“David Chalmers, consciousness philosopher” by TEDxSydney is licensed with CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/. https://www.flickr.com/photos/49663927@N06/5779276537

Key Terms

  • Consciousness
    The state of being awake and aware of one’s surroundings
  • Dualism
    belief that the mind and body are two separate entities
  • Monism
    belief that the mind and brain are the same thing
  • Physicalism/Materialism
    belief that the only things that exist are physical, which implies the denial of the mind
  • Realism
    belief that mental states that result in action are real
  • Qualia
    individual, subjective experiences of consciousness
  • Mind-Body Problem
    the problem of how the mind relates to the body

Key Texts

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