PHI208-Ethics and Moral Reasoning
Professor: Kurt Mosser
February 27, 2013
The Mind & Brain: Are There Differences?
This is a fascinating subject, “the mind and the brain” because these are the kind of questions philosophers work so hard to answer. Many people believe the mind and brain are the same. Mind and Brain are two terms that are understood to mean the same when used in the colloquial sense. There is certainly some difference between the two in their making. Brain is made of physical matter while mind is not made of physical matter. To be more elaborate brain is made up of cells, blood vessels and nerves to name a few. Mind is nothing but the thought that resides in the brain. Apart from thoughts, mind gives room for emotions, memories and dreams as well. I will address certain perspectives from different academic sources as well as my own concerning the mind and brain and how they work. In terms of a computer, we can look at the brain as the hardware and the mind as the software, but it is much more complicated than that. "Mind" refers to the part of you that is capable of thought. "Brain" can be a synonym for mind, and it can also refer to the physical organ within your skull. That is, the "brain" is a physical organ while "mind" is a more philosophical concept. People sometimes make a careful distinction between the two words when discussing the philosophical concept. Like, when people are debating whether there is such a thing as an immortal soul, they will say things like, "Can the mind exist without the brain?" In most day-to-day contexts, the two words are pretty much synonymous. The brain, part of the central nervous system situated within the skull. It includes two cerebral hemispheres, parallel masses of deeply furrowed tissue as well as the brainstem and cerebellum. Its functions include muscle control and coordination, sensory reception and integration, speech production, memory storage, and the elaboration of thought and emotion. According to Susan Greenfield in an article I read, she has a different approach. She says: “There is a familiar dichotomy between mind and brain, whereas the concepts of ‘mind’ and ‘consciousness’ often are conflated: I wish to argue here that both suppositions are wrong.” We want to first explore the aspects of the mind and brain. “Where ‘brain’ obviously needs no definition, ‘mind’ presents more of a trip-wire. Normally the term is used to refer to abstract airy-fairy events that float free of the biological squalor of neuronal circuitry and chemicals. But more than rather vague mental activity, ‘mind’ is used also for personal aspects of brain function, as in ‘I don't mind’, ‘broaden the mind’, ‘make your mind up’, etc. I would venture therefore that perhaps ‘ mind’ is very close to what we might refer to as ‘ personality’, but the big difference is that personality is in the eye of a third-person beholder, whereas ‘mind’ is a first-person perspective, i.e. it is what it feels like to be you rather than what other people judge you to be.” (Greenfield, 2002) The brain, Susan suggest, is a gross aspect and can vary from one individual to another, they offer n clue as to who is kind, witty, cruel and good at cooking. Let us consider how the brain is organized. Within each macro brain region there is no single isolated complete function. We know, for example, that vision is divided up into color, motion and form processing and, in turn, the function of vision can preoccupy over 30 brain regions. Similarly, any one brain region, like the prefrontal cortex, can participate in more than one function. So brain regions are bit players on the brain stage, and not autonomous units. Within each area we know that there is complex brain circuitry, finally boiling down to the synapse, across which we find all the biochemical baggage needed to operate a system of chemical transmission: in turn, this...