Psychology Degree Guide: Understanding the Mind
Issues surrounding the mind have long puzzled and enthralled society. Perceptions of what the mind is vary greatly from culture to culture and change over time. The study of this elusive and highly ambiguous area is carried out through scientific, medical and philosophical means. The Guide to Understanding the Mind Resources is helpful in learning about the mind, its attributes, and philosophical debate surrounding the issue. Resources in this guide include many academic articles written by the likes of Bertrand Russell, Sigmund Freud and a number of distinguished contemporary professors. Such resources provide great insight into the topic as it is known today, while revealing its development.
General Mind Information
Though the exact definition of mind varies widely from context to context, it is typically marked by conscious experience and the ability to think intelligently. It may include all mental faculties, though some argue that functions such as reason and memory are more prominent. Emotion, free-will, and perception are among the most significant qualities pertaining to the mind. Philosophy of mind is the study of the mind and its attributes. Primarily, these studies are concerned with mental functions and properties, consciousness , and what is called the mind-body problem. In many cases, the operations of the mind seem to be quite different from their physical origins in the brain. There are many who believe that the anatomy of the brain relates directly to mental processes, but they have different theories regarding how. The major approaches to explaining the quandary are varied. Dualism maintains that mind and body are distinctly separate, while monism argues for the mind and body as one substance. Within these two major approaches, there are a vast number of specific and unique explanations. Despite there being a definite connection between the mind and brain, there is still a great deal of uncertainty about how exactly this relationship works.
Having a basic understanding of the concept of mind, it is possible to further consider its many processes and approaches to learning about it. Consciousness and its characteristics are especially important in considering issues of the mind and a number of resources dedicated to these topics have been included in this section. Other scholarly articles that address approaches such as panpsychism, and historical issues of neuroanatomy are included along with guides on maintaining positive mental health. An especially diverse collection of issues pertaining to the mind, resources in this section come from many disciplines, cultures, and time periods. Issues addressed range from introductions to the brain to challenging theories of thought, knowledge and experience.
- Theories of Consciousness – Uriah Kriegel examines popular understandings of consciousness and attempts to explain how each accounts for phenomenal character through representational content. Approaches discussed include: physicalism, functionalism, representationalism, dualism, and monism. Arguments both for and against these theories are taken into consideration.
- Philosophical Issues about Consciousness – Consciousness is one of the most debated and puzzling qualities of the mind. Ned Block explores the philosophical issues that surround problems of consciousness in this article.
- The Anatomy of Mental Personality – Sigmund Freud’s lecture on mental personality considers unconscious qualities of the mind such as the ego and super-ego. Studying the unconscious mind allows for the development of important understandings of thought and behavior.
- What is an Emotion? – William James investigates emotion through a philosophical context in this article that was published in Mind. At a time when strictly physical approaches to the mind were most often taken, James’ essay contributed to the philosophical inquiry regarding the mind.
- Independent Intentional Objects – Intentionality is the means through which the mind directs itself. Katalin Farkas argues for a specific variety of intentionality that states that an intentional object of a sensory based experience must be independent.
- Thought and Experience – The connections between thought and the senses are considered in Alva Noë’s essay, Thought and Experience. Noë argues for the idea that experience is dependent upon thought and that both significantly affect one another.
- Why I became a pan-experientialist – Dr. Charles Birch, Emeritus Professor at University of Sydney discusses pan-experientialism and how this theory approaches the mind. Many reasons for following such an approach are given, and special emphasis is placed on its advantages over mechanistic theory.
- Qualia Domesticated – Roberto Casati considers panpsychism and the “hard problem of consciousness” in this article. Here, Casati explains why qualia, phenomenal reality, can be applied to a world that is seemingly strictly physical.
- Improving Emotional Health – Mental and emotional health are equally important as physical health. Helpguide.org offers this resource that promotes good mental and emotional health and how to maintain your mind.
- The Soul and the Brain Between Anatomy and Naturphilosophie in the Early Nineteenth Century – Michael Hagner examines the history of the relationship between the mind and the brain in German neuroanatomy and philosophy during the early nineteenth century. Through the examples of Samuel Thomas Soemmerring and Franz Joseph Gall, Hagner discusses the different approaches and cultural perceptions surrounding early medical and philosophical approaches to the mind and brain.
- Mind-Body Medicine Practices in Complementary and Alternative Medicine – Some approaches to medicine take issues of mind and brain into account, as seen in many Complementary and Alternative Medicine treatments. Statistics from a number of studies explain how patients use treatments aimed at mental well-being while also considering developments in this area.
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