From Abracadabra to Zombies | View All
The mind is thought to be the seat of perception, self-consciousness, thinking, believing, remembering, hoping, desiring, willing, judging, analyzing, evaluating, reasoning, etc.
Dualists consider the mind to be an immaterial substance, capable of existence as a conscious, perceiving entity independent of any physical body. Dualism is popular with those who believe in life after death. The brain may decay, disintegrate, and be forever annihilated, but the mind (or soul) does not depend on the body for its existence and so may continue to flourish in another world. This belief in the mind as a substance which exists independently of the brain, however implausible, seems to be required for most religious doctrines, as well as for many New Age notions and therapies. Whereas dualist philosophers have long struggled with what is known as the mind-body problem, New Age gurus are calling for mind-body harmony in medicine, therapy and science. In short, philosophers have realized that there is a problem in explaining how two fundamentally different kinds of reality can affect one another, while New Age pundits think the problem has been caused by treating the two--mind and body--as if they do not interact.
Metaphysical materialists, on the other hand, consider the mind to be the brain itself. For the materialist, 'mind' is a catchall term for a number of processes or activities which can be reduced to cerebral, neurological, and physiological processes.
Behaviorists consider 'mind' to be a catchall term for a set of behaviors.
There is probably no more fascinating topic in philosophy or neurology than mind or consciousness. Yet, despite the fact that the human mind has made it possible to gain all the understanding of the world and ourselves which we now possess, it has done precious little to help us understand the mind itself. For example, memory is something we all have to some degree or another. Yet, we do not fully understand the nature of memory, and several models of memory are equally plausible.
Models of mind or consciousness continue to occupy the brains of some of our best philosophers and scientists. Yet, despite the fact that the key to understanding the human mind is likely to be found in the study of the functioning human brain, many philosophers and psychologists continue to be guided by the belief that the mind can be adequately understood independently of the brain.
Philosophers of mind have never considered the fact that rarely does anyone have direct perception of either one's own or another person's brain to be a major philosophical problem. Yet, one of the major problems in philosophy is the 'other minds' problem. One can know one's own mind directly, but how do I know that other minds exist? This problem is known as the problem of solipsism, but it might well be called the mind leading the mind problem.
books and articles
Hotz, Robert Lee. "Deciphering the Miracles of the Mind," Los Angeles Times, October 13, 1996.
Anatomy of the Brain from About.com
Mind and Body: René Descartes to William James by Robert Wozniak of Bryn Mawr College