What is the mind?

Anders N Weinstein andersw+ at pitt.edu
Wed Dec 2 13:05:03 EST 1998

In article <36655970.0 at ns2.wsg.net>, Ray Scanlon <rscanlon at wsg.net> wrote:
>Anders N Weinstein wrote in message
>Replace the euphemism "mind" with "soul". 
>just say soul (mind, self, intelligence, whatever) and relegate the whole
>discussion to religion.

I could use "soul" as well, but it seems to me that term comes laden
with a lot of baggage I don't want. I certainly don't want to
relegate the topic to religion. The point of my recommendation 
is to *de*mystify, not obfuscate. But you seem to want to retain something
mysterious about subjectivity.

>Nonsense. The brain does the thinking, the soul experiences the activity of
>neurons and calls it thoughts. Philosophy is just watered down religion

I think this is hopelessly confused. When the soul does this
"experiencing" is that not a kind of thinking?  At any rate it is a
mental process.  Your picture seems to contain a weird reduplication of
the mental events here, first the thinking allegedly done in the brain,
then the experiencing of the results (by you yourself?) in the soul.
But grammatically, it is the same subject -- the human being -- that
does the thinking and the experiencing.

Your picture is loosely Cartesian, of course. But for Descartes, as I
recall, the brain served as the site of sensory images (the "corporeal
imagination").  These must be taken as *inputs* to the immaterial
rational intellect (soul). It could only be the soul in which both
conscious thinking and experiencing takes place. For it is an operation
of the rational intellect to apply the concepts (ideas)
via which one cognizes what is presented via the senses.

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