What is the mind?
Not everyone, even an educated person, can give a detailed answer to the question of what the mind is. In addition, there are so many definitions of the mind, and they are so different from each other that one cannot do without a special article. That is why we decided to collect in this article all the basic definitions of the concept "mind".
Linguistic definitions of the mind
In this chapter, we will provide dictionary definitions of this phenomenon. The Ozhegov-Shvedovoy Explanatory Dictionary defines the mind as “a person's ability to think, the basis of a conscious, intelligent life.”
A similar description is also found in the Dahl dictionary: the mind is “the common name of a person’s cognitive and final ability, the ability to think.”
Finally, in Ushakov’s explanatory dictionary, the definition of the mind almost word for word coincides with the above: “the thinking ability that underlies conscious, rational activity”.
What is the mind in terms of science
Now we turn to other sciences; In particular, we will offer definitions of mind from the point of view of psychology, neurophysiology and philosophy.
Definition of mind in psychology
Mind or intellect from the point of view of modern psychology is a certain stable structure of a person’s thinking abilities and its level of possibilities for cognition of the surrounding world. In addition, the mind also refers to the mechanism of a person’s mental adaptation to various life situations, that is, an adequate assessment of relationships and laws of reality, as well as the involvement of a person in the cultural experience of society.
Simply put, our intellect is a mechanism that allows us to operate in the environment and interact with others in a certain way. Modern psychology has departed from the understanding of the intellect as a combination of exclusively cognitive processes. Thus, from the point of view of psychology, the mind is not only mental abilities, but also the ability to adapt to the situations that arise.
Mind in terms of neurophysiology
As a matter of fact, in neurophysiology there is no such thing as the mind, but there is a concept of thinking. Thinking is the main function of the brain, the ability to perceive and analyze information entering the brain through the five senses: eyes, ears, nose, tongue and skin.
According to physiological theory, thinking (mind) is a reflex activity, that is, in essence, the reaction of the brain to external stimuli. However, despite the fact that physiologists agree on the reflex activity of thinking, they recognize that the physiological basis (that is, the causes of thinking) is very poorly understood. Without going into details, we note that it has not yet been proven that a certain thought process (for example, decision-making) arises due to the action of a group of neurons (nerve cells) of the brain.
The concept of mind in philosophy
The philosophical definitions of the mind are even more blurred than in psychology and neurophysiology. Ancient philosophers also thought about the nature of mind, but the ancient “nous” (this is how the word “mind” was pronounced in ancient Greek) is not so much the intelligence of a specific person as the universal essence, the rational part of an immortal soul. Early Christian thinkers considered the mind a means of knowing God, meaning by God the absolute mind, and under the intellect a limited mind, which is aimed at comprehending the divine.
Further, already in the epoch of the New time and the Renaissance, there was a separation of the mind (mind, intellect) and reason.It must be said that modern scientific interpretations of the mind relate more precisely to reason, as it was understood at that time (medieval reason is the ability of man to reason and explore), and not to mind (medieval mind is the ability to penetrate the true essence of things).
The rationalists defined the intellect (mind) as a tool for cognition and the formation of conclusions, and the great philosopher and thinker Immanuel Kant defined the mind as the highest cognitive ability and the basis of rational activity.
In the twentieth century, when the passion for measuring everything and everyone showed itself to the highest degree, the concept of mind also did not stand aside. Today, few people do not know what IQ is - a quantitative dimension of the intellectual activity of an individual, which, perhaps, is already beyond the scope of philosophical science and relates more to the field of experimental psychology.
Mind in terms of buddhism and indian philosophy
The latter definition of the mind, which we consider here, is related to some eastern religious trends, namely Buddhism and Hinduism. According to the interpretation of Buddhists and followers of the teaching of non-dualism, Advaita (one of the branches of Hinduism), our mind is our memory.And really: try to deprive a person of memory, and he will not be able to not only say what, but even perform many actions (for example, use a fork and a spoon for food and even just choose the right food). Thus, without memory, that is, without a mind, a person will have to learn everything anew.
What is memory? Memory is, in fact, our past experience. It is the presence of long-term memory that distinguishes man from other living beings. Although I must say that in many animals the memory is also very well developed. However, they cannot think at such a level as a person, that is, they can analyze what is happening in accordance with their experience. It turns out that it is precisely analytical skills with memory, in fact, that make up what we call the mind.