Knowing your mind | Daily News

Knowing your mind

Teaching philosophy as a subject at the higher education sphere had led to various discussions both controversial and debatable. This is a result of seeing that philosophy tends to have links with literary insight, creative processes and communication patterns. As such, each subject area or discipline has its philosophy that goes as the philosophy of learning, this philosophy of teaching and philosophies linked to social sciences and humanities.

The term philosophy, as such, is a broad-based indicating that it is not a mere single subject pertaining to logic and thinking but linked to knowing, searching and exploring enhancing the extension of limitations in a given subject. A book that takes most of these areas far more broadly is titled Philosophy of Mind by Jae Won Kim published initially in 1975, but in several enlarged editions.

The copy I have in possession is the third edition that came to light in 2011.

Explorative areas

The writer cum researcher Kim is known as William Perry Faunce Professor of Philosophy at Brown University, US. He is the author of several other books such as Supervenience and Mind, Mind in a Physical World and Essays in the Metaphysics of Mind. This pioneering work by Kim underlines, in ten methodically structured chapters, the function of the mind in explorative areas of understanding what Mind means and its links to the body and behaviour. Then he helps the reader gauge the extension to which the Mind has given way to various types of skills, learning patterns, experimentations, and broadening the areas of creativity as known broadly as visions.

Kim believes in the term Philosophy of Mind as an independent entity linked to human behaviour as its impact on the social structures.

As such, he tends to use issues about the convention and teaching of philosophy at the higher level of education tending to give emphasis on theory rather than various other practices. These various other factors go to the making of new ideologies in teaching innovations taking into account the value of meditations, spiritual elevations and psychological matters.

The scholar also underlines the fact that in coping with the myriad things and events that come our way at every moment of our waking life, we try to organise them into manageable chunks. We do this by sorting things into groups, categorizing them as rocks, trees, fish, birds, fire, rain and countless other kinds. Further, they are also subdivided into more entities that will go on in an endless manner. But as Kim observes, the tendency into grouping has caused more harm than good to the study of the philosophy of mind. He takes ‘mind’ initially as a birthright or belonging to the body of a living being that is not seen or visible. But as scientific attitudes have been extended the study of the mind has given way to endless areas of finding.

Interlinked elements

As such, he tends to believe that his use of the two terms philosophy and mind too may sound contradictory. Mind and philosophy are interlinked. He analyses this phenomenon by taking various standpoints. He takes into serious consideration on Rene Descartes’ eightfold epistemological arguments on knowing the mind. These eight factors though seen as simple are nevertheless broad in this analytical process.

From the interpretations given on the nature of the mind, the writer cum researcher moves to the concept of conscience and consciousness, what is consciousness is the title of the key chapter in the work. This illuminating chapter underlines several effective factors pertaining to human behaviour and the thought streams that go into the making of it.

As he underlines, nothing could be more familiar to us (humans) than the phenomenon of consciousness. We are conscious at every moment of our waking lives. It has become a significant feature of everyday existence, except when we are in deep sleep, in a coma or otherwise in a state of being unconscious as he tries to exemplify the waking of the mind paves the way for our various types of behaviour patterns.

Scholarship over the years

The term ‘wake’, according to Kim, lay latent in most spiritual activities that are being perhaps uncovered by several scholars over the years. This trend has broadened the limit of the mind and the philosophy that guides it. This is followed by various views laid down by scholars around the world. One of the pioneer attempts is on the part of the great scholar William James and his work The Principles of Psychology. Followed by James, he too takes an attempt to interpret the view of the scholar Ludwig Wittgenstein and his work Philosophical Investigations.

As emphasised by Kim in most chapters, what matters is the sense of interpretation as the function of the mind in relation to a particular behaviour. In this direction, the chapter on Mind and Behaviour is important as it paves the way to know several innovative findings on the function of the mind. This too emphasises the need to know more meanings in psychology transcending from the narrow boundaries of study, states that psychology of the science of mental life, both of its phenomena and their conditions.

All in all, getting to know one’s mind is depicted as the most important factor in the study underlined.