Conceptions of Mind, Ancient and Modern

  • May 24, 2012 · 7:00 PM
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Our meeting on "Mind and Identity" was more focused on the ontology of personal identity rather than on the identity of the human mind. This meeting aims to complete that discussion.

What is the mind? Is it a real existent, or is it a fiction of the imagination? What are its capacities, attributes, actions? How is it related to the notion of soul--if that is a valid concept? How is it related to the brain--if brain is not the same as mind? How is it related to the whole person as a human being?

In the history of philosophy, particularly, philosophy of mind, there have been many conceptions of what the mind is. What are the different conceptions? How are they different? From which distinctions do they draw? What consequences have they entailed? Which is the more correct?

We will examine two such conceptions, an ancient and a modern, an Aristotelian and a Humean. In the process, we will perhaps tap on ideas from psychology, neuroscience, linguistics, semiotics, logic, ethics, theology, and common sense.

 

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P.S. This meeting got its start from Derek's suggestion: IMAGINATION --

Seems like the next step. Hume has quite a lot to say about it. We see visible light as colored but a physicist must imagine light as a particle and a wave to model and explain it's behaviour. We perceive something as solid but a physicist must imagine tiny particles relatively so far apart from each other that, were it not for the forces they generate, solidity could not exist. I am happy to host if no one else would like to.

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  • A former member
    A former member

    Worthwhile meeting, but I have a long way to go with this subject.

    May 31, 2012

  • Santos Elena G.

    I'm glad that Tom made explicit his Aristetolian thinking! By the way, thank you, Tom, for your last long claryfing message and the 6 or 7 attached slides. Appreciated.

    May 27, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    Good meeting; only that reason IS imagination, founded on principles that are 'permanent, irresistable and universal' rather than 'changeable, weak and irregular... One who concludes somebody to be near him, when he hears an articulate voice in the dark, reasons justly and naturally; tho' that conclusion is deriv'd from nothing but custom, which infixes and inlivens the idea of a human creature, on account of his usual conjunction with the present impression. But one, who is tormented he knows not why, with the apprehension of spectres in the dark, may, perhaps, be said to reason, and to reason naturally too: But then it must be in the same sense, that a malady is said to be natural; as arising from natural causes, tho' it be contrary to health, the most agreeable and most natural situation of man." - Hume

    May 25, 2012

  • Victoria de la T.

    Sorry folks, may be a bit late tonight... See you all around 8.

    May 24, 2012

  • Will

    I'm going to drop out of this one. My kids' open house night at school doesn't even start until 7:30 and since this meet is filled up I don't want to hog a spot in the event I can actually make the tail end. I'll bring your book back next week, Tom.

    May 23, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    I like to think, to add something new to a school of thought, you take icons that disagree, try to unify them, and build on this new foundation. I believe that's what Hume did with Locke, Berkeley and Aquinas; what occupied Einstein's life after Relativity, the Unified Field Theory, though he was unsuccessful. On the other hand, philosolipcism is a visceral allergy to anyone else's opinion, especially an icon's; garden variety envy I think.

    May 22, 2012

  • Tom O.

    It is evident to me, Derek, that you agreed to the alternate theory without understanding it. We all know what the mainstream theory is. You need not educate us.

    May 22, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    An immediate impression (perception) of an object or a copy in memory are ideas in the mind. They represent the object which is, in itself, beyond the reach of our senses. Locke invented representationalism, stopping at primary qualities - Hume perfected it, stopping at nothing. It's the relations of ideas to one another, integrated in the imagination, that give them meaning.

    May 22, 2012

  • Tom O.

    Michael is citing an alternate theory concerning the relationship between consciousness and its ~object of awareness~. Accordingly, our subjective ideas are NOT per se objects of awareness. Rather, they are the instruments by which we apprehend such objects. Mental ideas are passthru products that yield the external contents for awareness. This theory opposes the Lockean-Humean view that ideas are impressed images which are directly objects of awareness; it rejects representationalism. Agree?!?!

    May 22, 2012

  • Santos Elena G.

    Michael, Derek:
    The idea "presents an object other than itself to the mind." We don't have knowledge of ideas, only "images" (the accuracy of the term "image" is questionable) of what they (the images) represent. If what is represented is a familiar entity such a dog or a cat, the referentiality of the "image/idea" is familiar to most of us. If we were talking about other scientific ideas the referentiality becomes unclear: knowledge, cause, creativity, personality, even time and space, ....

    May 22, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    Adler says it clumsily but I agree. Just like motion is meaningless apart from some reference to another object, the idea of an object (perception) is meaningless without the imagination comparing and contrasting the idea to other ideas (see my discussion topic on Resentational Idea Theory); what's meaningful about a train is that it runs along tracks and transports people and/or cargo - not that our perception of it could ever convey that which it is in itself.

    May 22, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    "Each idea is nothing but the meaning by which it signifies or presents an object other than itself to the mind." "To say that subjective ideas are nothing but the means or instruments by which the mind apprehends objects is to say the sole function of an idea is to present to the mind the object that the idea is a means of apprehending." - Mortimer J. Adler in "Some Questions about Language"

    May 21, 2012

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