The last few weeks, I have done some thinking on the origins and function of the mind. I of course, did this thinking with my mind. Or at least, that’s the feeling that the “I” doing the thinking has. But where did the “I” come from? Did the thinking create the “I”, or did the “I” do the thinking?
As I am typing this, I am enquiring deeper into the matter for myself, and I hope to hear about your experience of your own mind as well, because it’s a topic that really fascinates me. And any idea I have on the subject, is only made by puzzling with my own memories, and there lies little creativity there. So what follows now will be me continuing to ramble to myself. Bye Bye, and thanks for the feedback.
Why do I have this fascination with the mind? Is it some blind quest to try to understand everything? It is certainly not an unbiased quest without any emotional attachment? Because the truth about my mind, if there is one, impacts everything in my experience. Is it a reasonable quest to find truth about something so mysterious? Furthermore using the thing I want to inspect as the tool of inspecting it, isn’t that bound to fail?
And if I look at it from another angle, is it possible to find out what is false about the mind? And does that imply that truth is just around the corner?
Have I made a clear definition of the thing I want to investigate? What is the mind? What is it’s function, if there is one? How did it come and stay into being?
Asking the question “what is the mind” now makes me doubt, because it might imply that it is something static, which is already putting the question in a certain direction.
But what is it doing, what is the activity that “I” experience? At the moment it feels like some evolutionary built machine that produces my experience by somehow magically summing up neurons that are firing.
What neurons are firing for me right now? Some probably transmit the sensory input I have at the moment by synchronising with the frequency of the light and sound?
I see a table now, with a cup of coffee on top of it, but the light particles/waves didn’t tell that the thing in front of me was a table. So some memory neurons are at work as well (given the assumption that we can divide the mind into neurons with specific functions?). The word ”divide” seems interesting, maybe that is what my mind it? A machine always dividing, separating the input, optimizing for an evolutionary trained output. More on this later.
But, not really closer to defining the mind yet, but the last question seems easier. How did this mind come and stay into being?
Everything in nature is brought into existence by randomness (e.g. mutations in genetic code), and stays into existence because by some other random event, namely the ability to reproduce was created, so that some things/genes/whatever can live on. And isn’t continuity only possible because there’s such a thing as impermanence? Why do things end? I do not know.
And how much control do “I” have over this mind? Can I control something that I am creating simultaneously? Is the feeling of “me” and the experience that the “me” wants to control separate?
Secondly, speaking about control, where’s the guidebook? How am I to control anything? How am I to know what is “good” and what is “bad”? How did my definitions of these concepts even come into being? By previous experiences, good ones that I want to see repeated, and bad ones that I want to avoid?
Another question, because I didn’t have enough of them already.. What is the function of this mind machine, if it has one? And who or what is the machine serving?
To make the organism survive (not implying that the mind and the organism “attached” are necessarily separate)? What does the organism gain by living longer, it will die anyway? Does the mind benefit something else then? Maybe my genes are in control? And my mind worries about their offspring?
Is this the drama of the human being? Having this overactive mind, that sometimes brings us in so much agony, and knowing deep inside, although we can’t exactly put a finger on it, that it doesn’t serve us?
That maybe it serves our genes, or who knows? But not us, that is makes us crazy without a cause?
And that we, in comparison with our current understanding of other animals, are the only ones aware of our own ending? Speaking for myself now again, that I will lose everyone and everything that I did so much effort for to attach myself to?
I think in modern times, this becomes even more difficult, because now, at least for me, surviving is peanuts. And food and shelter, even if I’d have no money, would be easy to come by. So my mind, supposedly trained for millions of years for survival, now has very little to do with it’s training?
Sometimes I wonder, if the mind not only wants my organism to keep existing, but also itself? Is that’s why it is having cravings, worries, about the “future” (a concept which it has probably made up to give itself a reason for existing?)? Is it really about the content of my cravings, or are the cravings distracting me from my mind’s futilily? And if that’s not false, what does my mind fear to experience if this futility is uncovered? Because this insight, however harsh it would be, would not harm my physical body?
Makes me wonder, why so much focus on psychological, instead of physical, pleasure/pain? Why do we crave or avoid it? Why the slavery to dopamine?
It is another interesting question. Why does my mind anticipate potential future pleasurable/dreadful events, even though they have nothing to do with survival, or at least at first glance?
Will think on this later.