How We Think

How we humans think has fascinated me ever since I began to think myself. As time has gone on, I’ve sorted out the various mysteries and arrived at some conclusions.

Brain Versus Mind

The human brain is the major asset that sets men well above animals. It is a complex organ that medical science is only beginning to understand. Without it, we human beings cease to function.

But we humans have another capacity that gives the brain its utility. It’s called the mind. The definition of “mind” in the Oxford English Dictionary runs to several pages. Definition 17 says, “the seat of a person’s consciousness, thoughts, volitions, and feelings; the system of cognitive and emotional phenomena and powers that constitutes the subjective being of a person; also the incorporeal subject of physical faculties, the spiritual part of a human being; the soul as distinguished from the body.”

The Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary again offers pages of definitions. Definition 3a, the one that seems most apt, reads “that which reasons; the doer of intellectual work — usually distinguished from will and emotion.”

As far as I know—and here, I invite readers to correct me—we have never found the mind in the brain. My understanding is that the brain is the machine, the physical apparatus, that does the work commanded by the mind. But the mind remains incorporeal (as the EOD puts it), that is, having no physical (material, bodily) existence.

I’m not religious, and, despite trying to the utmost of my ability, cannot make myself believe in the spiritual life. Yet here is this human function called “the mind” that, as far as I can tell, has no touchable actuality.

Maybe there is such a thing as a soul or spirit after all?

More tomorrow.

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