“Mind” is not limited to our brain or our body

What is the mind? Where does it reside? How does it interact with the physical world? These are some of the questions that have fascinated philosophers, scientists, and ordinary people for centuries.

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The traditional view is that the mind is a product of the brain, and that mental experiences are confined to the skull and the body. However, this view is increasingly challenged by new evidence and perspectives that suggest that the mind is more than the brain, and that it can extend beyond the body and into the environment.

One of the proponents of this view is Dan Siegel, a professor of psychiatry at UCLA School of Medicine and the author of Mind: A Journey to the Heart of Being Human.

He defines the mind as “the emergent self-organizing process, both embodied and relational, that regulates energy and information flow within and among us.”

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According to Siegel, the mind is not just a subjective phenomenon, but also an objective one that can be observed and measured. He argues that the mind is shaped by both internal and external factors, such as hormones, neurotransmitters, immune system, posture, breathing, social interactions, culture, and even history.

Brain mind

He also claims that the mind has a role in creating reality, by influencing how we perceive and interpret the world.

Another perspective that challenges the mind-brain-body boundary is that of embodied cognition, which is a branch of cognitive science that studies how bodily states and actions affect mental processes.

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Embodied cognition suggests that cognition is not just a matter of abstract symbols and representations in the brain, but also a matter of sensorimotor experiences and interactions with the environment.

For example, studies have shown that gestures can facilitate problem-solving, memory, and language; that physical movements can influence emotions and attitudes; that metaphors are grounded in bodily experiences; and that tools and technologies can extend our cognitive abilities.

A third perspective that questions the limits of the mind is that of extended mind, which is a philosophical theory that proposes that some aspects of the mind are not located in the head or the body, but in external objects or systems.

This theory was first proposed by Andy Clark and David Chalmers in their famous paper “The Extended Mind”.

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According to Clark and Chalmers, some external objects and devices can become part of our cognitive system, just as our brains and bodies are, if they play a similar role in our mental processes. In other words, the mind is not a fixed entity, but a dynamic and distributed one that can incorporate various tools and resources that we use to think with.

To illustrate their point, Clark and Chalmers presented a thought experiment involving two characters, Inga and Otto, who both want to go to the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

Inga has a normal memory and recalls the address of the museum from her mind. Otto has Alzheimer’s disease and relies on a notebook where he writes down important information. He consults his notebook to find the address of the museum.

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Clark and Chammers claimed that there is no relevant difference between Inga’s memory and Otto’s notebook, as both serve as sources of information that are accessible, reliable, and endorsed by their users. Therefore, they concluded that Otto’s notebook is part of his extended mind, just as Inga’s memory is part of her internal mind.

Clark and Chalmers’ paper sparked a lively debate in philosophy of mind and cognitive science, as well as in other disciplines such as psychology, sociology, anthropology, and education.

Some critics challenged their arguments on empirical, conceptual, or normative grounds, while some supporters developed and refined their ideas in various directions. The paper also inspired many empirical studies that investigated how humans use external artifacts and technologies to enhance their cognitive abilities and performance.

The extended mind thesis has become one of the most influential and controversial views in contemporary philosophy of mind, as it challenges our assumptions about what constitutes a mind, where it is located, and how it interacts with the world.

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The mind is not limited to our brain or our body, but extends far beyond them. The mind is a complex and emergent process that involves both internal and external factors. The mind is also a creative and influential force that constructs reality. The mind is more than what we think it is.

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Jake Carter

Jake Carter is a researcher and a prolific writer who has been fascinated by science and the unexplained since childhood.

He is not afraid to challenge the official narratives and expose the cover-ups and lies that keep us in the dark. He is always eager to share his findings and insights with the readers of anomalien.com, a website he created in 2013.

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