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The mind is the set of faculties including cognitive aspects such as consciousness, imagination, perception, thinking, intelligence, judgement, language and memory, as well as noncognitive aspects such as emotion and instinct. Under the scientific physicalist interpretation, the mind is produced at least in part by the brain. The primary competitors to the physicalist interpretations of the mind are idealism, substance dualism, and types of property dualism, and by some lights eliminative materialism and anomalous monism. [3] There is a lengthy tradition in philosophy, religion, psychology, and cognitive science about what constitutes a mind and what are its distinguishing properties.

One open question regarding the nature of the mind is the mind–body problem, which investigates the relation of the mind to the physical brain and nervous system.[4] Older viewpoints included dualism and idealism, which considered the mind somehow non-physical.[4] Modern views often center around physicalism and functionalism, which hold that the mind is roughly identical with the brain or reducible to physical phenomena such as neuronal activity[5][need quotation to verify] though dualism and idealism continue to have many supporters. Another question concerns which types of beings are capable of having minds (New Scientist 8 September 2018 p10).[citation needed][6] For example, whether mind is exclusive to humans, possessed also by some or all animals, by all living things, whether it is a strictly definable characteristic at all, or whether mind can also be a property of some types of human-made machines.[citation needed]

Whatever its nature, it is generally agreed that mind is that which enables a being to have subjective awareness and intentionality towards their environment, to perceive and respond to stimuli with some kind of agency, and to have consciousness, including thinking and feeling.[citation needed]

The concept of mind is understood in many different ways by many different cultural and religious traditions. Some see mind as a property exclusive to humans whereas others ascribe properties of mind to non-living entities (e.g. panpsychism and animism), to animals and to deities. Some of the earliest recorded speculations linked mind (sometimes described as identical with soul or spirit) to theories concerning both life after death, and cosmological and natural order, for example in the doctrines of Zoroaster, the Buddha, Plato, Aristotle, and other ancient Greek, Indian and, later, Islamic and medieval European philosophers.

Important philosophers of mind include Plato, Patanjali, Descartes, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, Kant, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Searle, Dennett, Fodor, Nagel, Chalmers, and Putnam.[7] Psychologists such as Freud and James, and computer scientists such as Turing developed influential theories about the nature of the mind. The possibility of nonbiological minds is explored in the field of artificial intelligence, which works closely in relation with cybernetics and information theory to understand the ways in which information processing by nonbiological machines is comparable or different to mental phenomena in the human mind.[8]

The mind is also portrayed as the stream of consciousness where sense impressions and mental phenomena are constantly changing.[9][10]

Etymology

The original meaning of Old English gemynd was the faculty of memory, not of thought in general.[citation needed] Hence call to mind, come to mind, keep in mind, to have mind of, etc. The word retains this sense in Scotland.[11] Old English had other words to express "mind", such as hyge "mind, spirit".[12]

The meaning of "memory" is shared with Old Norse, which has munr. The word is originally from a PIE verbal root *men-, meaning "to think, remember", whence also Latin mens "mind", Sanskrit manas "mind" and Greek μένος "mind, courage, anger".

The generalization of mind to include all mental faculties, thought, volition, feeling and memory, gradually develops over the 14th and 15th centuries.[13]

Definitions

The attributes that make up the mind are debated. Some psychologists argue that only the "higher" intellectual functions constitute mind, particularly reason and memory.[14] In this view the emotions — love, hate, fear, and joy — are more primitive or subjective in nature and should be seen as different from the mind as such. Others argue that various rational and emotional states cannot be so separated, that they are of the same nature and origin, and should therefore be considered all part of it as mind.[citation needed]

In popular usage, mind is frequently synonymous with thought: the private conversation with ourselves that we carry on "inside our heads."One open question regarding the nature of the mind is the mind–body problem, which investigates the relation of the mind to the physical brain and nervous system.[4] Older viewpoints included dualism and idealism, which considered the mind somehow non-physical.[4] Modern views often center around physicalism and functionalism, which hold that the mind is roughly identical with the brain or reducible to physical phenomena such as neuronal activity[5][need quotation to verify] though dualism and idealism continue to have many supporters. Another question concerns which types of beings are capable of having minds (New Scientist 8 September 2018 p10).[citation needed][6] For example, whether mind is exclusive to humans, possessed also by some or all animals, by all living things, whether it is a strictly definable characteristic at all, or whether mind can also be a property of some types of human-made machines.[citation needed]

Whatever its nature, it is generally agreed that mind is that which enables a being to have subjective awareness and intentionality towards their environment, to perceive and respond to stimuli with some kind of agency, and to have consciousness, including thinking and feeling.[citation needed]

The concept of mind is understood in many different ways by many different cultural and religious traditions. Some see mind as a property exclusive to humans whereas others ascribe properties of mind to non-living entities (e.g. panpsychism and animism), to animals and to deities. Some of the earliest recorded speculations linked mind (sometimes described as identical with soul or spirit) to theories concerning both life after death, and cosmological and natural order, for example in the doctrines of Zoroaster, the Buddha, Plato, Aristotle, and other ancient Greek, Indian and, later, Islamic and medieval European philosophers.

Important philosophers of mind include Plato, Patanjali, Descartes, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, Kant, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Searle, Dennett, Fodor, Nagel, Chalmers, and Putnam.[7] Psychologists such as Freud and James, and computer scientists such as Turing developed influential theories about the nature of the mind. The possibility of nonbiological minds is explored in the field of artificial intelligence, which works closely in relation with cybernetics and information theory to understand the ways in which information processing by nonbiological machines is comparable or different to mental phenomena in the human mind.[8]

The mind is also portrayed as the stream of consciousness where sense impressions and mental phenomena are constantly changing.[9][10]

The original meaning of Old English gemynd was the faculty of memory, not of thought in general.[citation needed] Hence call to mind, come to mind, keep in mind, to have mind of, etc. The word retains this sense in Scotland.[11] Old English had other words to express "mind", such as hyge "mind, spirit".[12]

The meaning of "memory" is shared with Old Norse, which has munr. The word is originally from a PIE verbal root *men-, meaning "to think, remember", whence also Latin mens "mind", Sanskrit manas "mind" and Greek μένος "mind, courage, anger".

The generalization of mind to include all mental faculties, thought, volition, feeling and memory, gradually develops over the 14th and 15th centuries.[13]

Definitions

The attributes that make up the mind are debated. Some psychologists argue that only the "higher" intellectual functions constitute mind, particularly reason and memory.[14] In this view the emotions — love, hate, fear, and joy — are more primitive or subjective in nature and should be seen as different from the mind as such. Others argue that various rational and emotional states cannot be so separated, that they are of the same nature and origin, and should therefore be considered all part of it as mind.[citation needed]

In popular usage, mind is frequently synonymous with thought: the private conversation with ourselves that we carry on "inside our heads."[15] Thus we "make up our minds," "change our minds" or are "of two minds" about something. One of the key attributes of the mind in this sense is that it is a private sphere to which no one but the owner has access. No one else can "know our mind." They can only interpret what we consciously or unconsciously communicate.[16]

Mental faculties

Broadly speaking, mental faculties are the various functions of the mind, or things the mind can "do".

Thought is a mental act that allows humans to make sense of things in the world, and to represent and interpret them in ways that are significant, or which accord with their needs, attachments, goals, commitments, plans, ends, desires, etc. Thinking involves the symbolic or semiotic mediation of ideas or data, as when we form concepts, engage in Old Norse, which has munr. The word is originally from a PIE verbal root *men-, meaning "to think, remember", whence also Latin mens "mind", Sanskrit manas "mind" and Greek μένος "mind, courage, anger".

The generalization of mind to include all mental faculties, thought, volition, feeling and memory, gradually develops over the 14th and 15th centuries.[13]

The attributes that make up the mind are debated. Some psychologists argue that only the "higher" intellectual functions constitute mind, particularly reason and memory.[14] In this view the emotions — love, hate, fear, and joy — are more primitive or subjective in nature and should be seen as different from the mind as such. Others argue that various rational and emotional states cannot be so separated, that they are of the same nature and origin, and should therefore be considered all part of it as mind.[citation needed]

In popular usage, mind is frequently synonymous with thought: the private conversation with ourselves that we carry on "inside our heads."[15] Thus we "make up our minds," "change our minds" or are "of two

In popular usage, mind is frequently synonymous with thought: the private conversation with ourselves that we carry on "inside our heads."[15] Thus we "make up our minds," "change our minds" or are "of two minds" about something. One of the key attributes of the mind in this sense is that it is a private sphere to which no one but the owner has access. No one else can "know our mind." They can only interpret what we consciously or unconsciously communicate.[16]

Broadly speaking, mental faculties are the various functions of the mind, or things the mind can "do".

Thought is a mental act that allows humans to make sense of things in the world, and to represent and interpret them in ways that are significant, or which accord with their needs, attachments, goals, commitments, plans, ends, desires, etc. Thinking involves the symbolic or semiotic mediation of ideas or data, as when we form concepts, engage in problem solving, reasoning

Thought is a mental act that allows humans to make sense of things in the world, and to represent and interpret them in ways that are significant, or which accord with their needs, attachments, goals, commitments, plans, ends, desires, etc. Thinking involves the symbolic or semiotic mediation of ideas or data, as when we form concepts, engage in problem solving, reasoning, and making decisions. Words that refer to similar concepts and processes include deliberation, cognition, ideation, discourse and imagination.

Thinking is sometimes described as a "higher" cognitive function and the analysis of thinking processes is a part of cognitive psychology. It is also deeply connected with our capacity to make and use tools; to understand cause and effect; to recognize patterns of significance; to comprehend and disclose unique contexts of experience or activity; and to respond to the world in a meaningful way.

Memory is the ability to preserve, retain, and subsequently recall, knowledge, information or experience. Although memory has traditionally been a persistent theme in philosophy, the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries also saw the study of memory emerge as a subject of inquiry within the paradigms of cognitive psychology. In recent decades, it has become one of the pillars of a new branch of science called cognitive neuroscience, a marriage between cognitive psychology and neuroscience.

Imagination is the activity of generating or evoking novel situations, images, ideas or other qualia in the mind. It is a characteristically subjective activity, rather than a direct or passive experience. The term is technically used in psychology for the process of reviving in the mind percepts of objects formerly given in sense perception. Since this use of the term conflicts with that of ordinary language, some psychologists have preferred to describe this process as "imaging" or "imagery" or to speak of it as "reproductive" as opposed to "productive" or "constructive" imagination. Things imagined are said to be seen in the "mind's eye". Among the many practical functions of imagination are the ability to project possible futures (or histories), to "see" things from another's perspective, and to change the way something is perceived, including to make decisions to respond to, or enact, what is imagined.

Consciousness in mammals (this includes humans) is an aspect of the mind generally thought to comprise qualities such as subjectivity, sentience, and the ability to perceive the relationship between oneself and one's environment. It is a subject of much research in philosophy of mind, psychology, neuroscience, and cognitive science. Some philosophers divide consciousness into phenomenal consciousness, which is subjective experience itself, and access consciousness, which refers to the global availability of information to processing systems in the brain.[17] Phenomenal consciousness has many different experienced qualities, often referred to as qualia. Phenomenal consciousness is usually consciousness of something or about something, a property known as intentionality in philosophy of mind.

Mental contents are those items that are thought of as being "in" the mind, and capable of being formed and manipulated by mental processes and faculties. Examples include thoughts, concepts, memories, emotions, percepts and intentions. Philosophical theories of mental content include internalism, externalism, representationalism and intentionality.[18]

Memetics

Memetics is a theory of mental content based on an analogy with Darwinian evolution, which was originated by Richard Dawkins and Douglas Hofstadter in the 1980s. It is an evolutionary model of cultural information transfer. A meme, analogous to a gene, is an idea, belief, pattern of behaviour (etc.) "hosted" in one or more individual minds, and can reproduce itself from mind to mind. Thus what would otherwise be regarded as one individual influencing another to adopt a belief, is seen memetically as a meme reproducing itself.

Relation to the brain

Neuroscience studies the nervous system, the physical basis of the mind. At the systems level, neuroscientists investigate how biological neural networks form and physiologically interact to produce mental functions and content such as reflexes, multisensory integration, motor coordination, circadian rhythms, emotional responses, learning, and memory. The underlying physical basis of learning and memory is likely dynamic changes in gene expression that occur in brain neurons. Such expression changes are introduced by epigenetic mechanisms. Epigenetic regulation of gene expression ordinarily involves chemical modification of DNA or DNA-associated histone proteins. Such chemical modifications can cause long-lasting changes in gene expression. Epigenetic mechanisms employed in learning and memory include the DNMT3A promoted methylation and TET promoted demethylation of neuronal DNA as well as methylation, acetylation and deacetylation of neuronal histone proteins.

At a larger scale, efforts in computational neuroscience have developed large-scale models that simulate simple, functioning brains.[62] As of 2012, such models include the thalamus, basal ganglia, prefrontal cortex, motor cortex, and occipital cortex, and consequentially simulated brains can learn, respond to visual stimuli, coordinate motor responses, form short-term memories, and learn to respond to patterns. Currently, researchers aim to program the hippocampus and limbic system, hypothetically imbuing the simulated mind with long-term memory and crude emotions.[63]

By contrast, affective neuroscience studies the neural mechanisms of personality, emotion, and mood primarily through experimental tasks.

Cognitive Science