Saturday, January 30, 2010

Blog #33 - How do we know that we have a mind?

This concept about minds is something that I've been thinking about for a long time since I've been a long time dog owner. My wife and I have had dogs for almost 19 years, and during that time we've watched some interesting dog behavior and ascribed some human-like characteristics to those behaviors.

Our first dog, Shadow, a Lab-Shepherd-something mix, was hyper and hated riding in cars. He was very protective of the house, but he also loved to bolt out of the front door when it was opened. There were a few times where we swore it looked as if he contemplated the reward / punishment choices - run free around the street for a minute or two while his owners yell at him / then sit in the bathroom alone for 5-10 minutes - and then chose the reward. When he got back to the house, he went straight to the bathroom. Obviously, that's conditioning, b/c he knew what came after a "jailbreak" from the house.

Our next three dogs were all Golden Retrievers. We got Kelsey in 1994 and she has been the mellowest dog I've ever had. She had her crazy puppy year, but after that, nothing fazed her. I could work in the front yard with her and she'd wander around but never leave my sight. If she did, she'd always come back. We did little to train her to be that way. Was it her personality that made her that way?

We got Riley in 2007 when Kelsey was on given a month to live. Kelsey lasted 18 more months w/ this pup (Misdiagnosis? Sure, and we go to another vet too). We think that some of Kelsey's mellowness rubbed off on Riley and she continues to be mellow to this day. If you know Golden Retrievers (or like most big dogs), they love to eat. Kelsey had a thyroid condition and ballooned up to 120 pounds but so far we've been watching Riley and keeping her more active and she's stayed at a good weight so far. Riley loves to swim; she can't wait to get the pool cover off in the spring and get in! Also, Riley is very submissive and a people pleaser as are most GRs. When she plays with other dogs, most times, she'll lay on her back and show her belly. She's not a fighter. Our oldest dog, Kelsey, could care less about other dogs. Why are they like this?

We got our newest dog, Izzy, in the summer of 2008, and we were able to have the pick of the female litter. She's Riley's half-sister - they have the same mom - and her breeder picked the sire for a mellow temperament. When the dogs were born around Memorial Day, we had about 7-8 weeks to pick out one that we liked the best. We went back and forth, but the true test came when we brought Riley to meet the puppies. Two of them wanted to feed off of Riley as if she was their mom, another wanted to sit on her head (we didn't want a domineering dog) and Izzy came up to her with her tail down and sniffed her. Then they proceeded to play and were smothered by the other pups. According to dog behaviorists, Izzy's behavior was the "proper" way to approach an adult dog that wasn't their parent if the dog will have a good temperament. However, Izzy has been the opposite of a good dog since we brought her home - probably b/c I've spoiled her. She's super hyper, has ripped up our couch, and is very high energy. She weighs at least 10 pounds less than Riley and doesn't have the same kind of fuzzy coat as Riley does. She's also been domineering with Riley and hated swimming at first but now enjoys it (or at least pretends to).

I use my dogs as examples of how animals seem to have different personalities much like everyone else has. But where do these different personalities come from? Is this what we mean by a mind? Other animals would have minds and personalities too if we spent enough time with them (look at Jane Goodall's research with the primates of Africa, for example). If this is so, what separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom?

Pick two of the following questions to answer in 200 words or more:

1. We really don't have a mind but it's an explanation to describe how we think - we currently don't possess the language to accurately describe the thoughts or process going up there (points to brain). Agree or disagree. Why?

2. We cannot fully understand how our brain works and ourselves (including why we react emotionally to some things and not react to other things) and that's why attempts at creating artificial intelligence have failed. Agree or disagree? Why?

3. Is there a spiritual aspect to the mind (i.e., the soul)? Why or why not? If it's not the soul, then what?

4. O.k. So we have a mind. Then what? How does your understanding of the mind from this unit affect your decision-making in the real world with moral and ethical issues like the following:

- Abortion - does a fetus have a mind? If so, at what stage? If not, why not?

- Competency issues for mentally ill people who commit crimes - how responsible are they? Should temporary insanity actually be a defense (it's actually been around since 1858 in the U.S. and was successfully used as a defense in a sensational murder trial when a NY Senator, Daniel Sickles, killed his young wife's lover - Sickles' defense attorney was Lincoln's future Secretary of Defense Edwin Stanton)? Should mentally ill murderers be sentenced to death?

- What about the Terry Schiavo case in 2005? This is the woman who'd been living on artificial life support for over 10 yrs and her husband wanted to take her off the life support and try to move on with his life. Her parents had blocked her husband through the courts until it came down to the President and Congress getting involved in early 2005. Mostly, it became about pro-life politics, unfortunately, vs. the right to die w/ dignity, and her parents had denied her that a long time ago. Her husband eventually won this very public battle over what probably should have been a very private death.

Due Monday, February 1st. Study hard!


  1. 1. I disagree, humans do have a mind and it’s not just an explanation to describe how we think. I’m a very logically person and to say that the human mind is only used to describe how we think is ludicrous. We taken the minds of numerous famous people like Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud, and Amelia Earheart to create the next best thing from humans. Albert Einstein’s E=MC2 was carried into the modern day if physics, which helps perfect calculations for building, and Sigmund Freud (the father of psychology) came up with theories of the unconscious mind and defense mechanisms, his theories are still being taught throughout the world. Last but not least Amelia Earheart, who was the first aviatrix to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean and wrote numerous novels. These minds are not just minds to describe how we think, these minds are brilliant, and they’re the minds that have made history because those thoughts that were up there were more than just an explanation.
    3. I believe our unconscious is the spiritual aspect of the mind because if we were to think about spirits we would think ghost or something that doesn’t have to do with the conscious. The things we dream or say when the mind is unconscious, I believe is the spirit/soul within us.

    Bianca Kea
    H. Philos 5th hr

  2. The mind has a spiritual aspect, the soul, however it is hard for people to find or embrace it sometimes. The mind is able to recognize what it feels is right or wrong. This conscience is our morals, which stems from our spiritual sense. People talk about how they find god and are lead spiritually by him. This can only come however, from finding and understanding our own selves and minds. This is why only people who know themselves can find their spiritual side and understand God. Our mind teaches us our morals and what is right and wrong. We learn this through experiences that are minds compile over the years and filter through. My religion and my views on the value of life tell me that abortion is wrong and should not be done to ease people of their burden of a baby they don’t want. A fetus is a baby with feelings and thoughts from the very beginning and therefore should not have their life taken away from them. Every person has the right to their own thoughts and feelings and even a small fetus should be granted these natural rights. They have the right to be born and have their own thoughts and feelings.

    Katie weed

  3. 2. I agree that we can't fully create artificial intelligence because we don't understand how our minds work completely enough to create something that thinks like we do. One major reason I don't believe we will ever create realistic artificial intelligence in our lifetime is because of how complicated emotions are. They aren't something that can be created on a circuit board, because not only are the decisions in our brain electrical reactions, they are also intense chemical reactions going on between different lobes of the brain. Unless we are somehow able to combine electricity to chemistry in a controlled biological setting, then we will never truly create an artificial intelligence that doesn't have its decisions made by preprogrammed zeroes and ones.

    3. I believe there is a spiritual aspect of the mind. I strongly believe that all human's have souls, and that they may impact how we make decisions or how we think. Our soul helps us make all the difficult decisions we may face everyday of what to do and how to spend our time, or who to spend our time with, and without our soul I believe that people would all be very much alike, and we would all feel very empty.

  4. Jake Ozar
    Blog #33

    3. I believe that the soul does exist in the mind. What happens when we see, feel, or hear something so beautiful it makes us cry our heart wasn’t touched our soul was. I believe everyone has a soul because of my religion. I hate it when science tries to prove religion wrong. Science and religion should not try to challenge each other because they are separate beliefs and they should be left separate to avoid controversy.

    4. I believe the understanding of the mind has nothing to do with decision making in the real world with moral and ethnical issues. Just because you understand the mind does not make you an expert on everything. Abortion is mentioned so I shall discuss is. I am 100% against abortion its murder. How could people live with themselves after killing a child that wasn’t even born that didn’t even have a chance to live a life I understand the mind because of this unit and it doesn’t affect my morals against abortion. I understand it’s a very sensitive subject better than most people because during my eight grade year for conformation in my church I had to do community service hours and I volunteered and a place called young mother/unplanned pregnancy center, where I was shown a video called “A horrific truth” which was only 8 min long but it was sick, I won’t go into detail. In conclusion your understanding of the mind does not have an effect on moral and ethnical issues.

  5. 3/4. When a person speaks about the mind and how it works, everyone will have their different take on what forms our personalities. I think that how we act and perceive things goes back to nature versus nurture. Our personalities are created once we are born, then they are formed and molded from our environment and the people that surround us. Nurture can play a role because our genes come from our parents who ultimately pick the environment in which someone is living. If I was placed in a bad area to live, then my personality would be vastly different than it is now. Our environment tells a person what’s moral and ethical and how far you can push your boundaries. I believe that a fetus doesn’t start having feelings and thoughts until they are far along enough where they can sense things. Once out of the womb, a baby starts learning quickly by mimicking the actions of others. The soul is just a thing created to give people comfort and show uniqueness. The spiritual aspect of the mind is believing in something that you cannot touch or feel: the act of blind faith. The differences in beliefs and religions give people their spirituality, but I don’t believe that there is an actual thing inside of me that will one day depart from my body and travel somewhere else once I am no longer living anymore.

  6. Tyler Friedman
    5th Hour

    2. Agree and disagree. One the one hand, I do agree that we will never fully understand how our brain works. It’s inherent in our DNA to survive, and I think knowing exactly how our brain functions would lead to very bad things (mass mind control, chaos, etc.), and would ultimately culminate in the downfall of our civilization. At the same time, I don’t think that this has been the reason why we’ve been unable to create artificial intelligence. I think the barrier towards this discovery lies in the fact that biological life will always be infinitely more sophisticated than a machine will ever be able to be(they don’t call them simple machines for nothing…)

    6. No. If we can agree that the purpose of capital punishment is a benefit to society, than this answer should become clear (if not, then this comes a completely different debate…) If someone kills another in unstable mental state, what does giving them the death penalty accomplish? The death penalty exists (at least in my opinion) to both rid society of those who pose a serious and imminent threat to its safety and as a preventative measure against those who are considering becoming a serious and imminent threat to society. With that in mind, I just don’t think mentally ill murderers fit in the “serious and imminent threat” category. To me, a murder committed in an unstable mindset means one of two things: either the person had a serious mental breakdown and that there’s a chance of recovery, or, that the person didn’t understand the meaning of their actions, meaning it would be unjust to give them the death penalty in the first place.

  7. I disagree with the statement that we don’t have a mind and that it’s just an explanation to describe how we think, our minds are part of us and it’s where all of our thoughts are. If we didn’t possess a mind then where would all of our thoughts be? Our minds help us make decisions and without our minds then I don’t think people would think about their actions as much and would just act without knowing if it’s right or wrong. Peoples minds help them think and come up with ideas that can help them solve problems or create something new and innovative. Minds are possibly the most important tool that a person possesses because its connected to our brain in my opinion and it’s how we learn new things in life and understand them.
    In a way I do think that there is a spiritual aspect to our minds but I believe that that spiritual aspect of our minds only kicks in when we are sleeping and dreaming away. When we dream it’s like we are in another place and we can do anything we imagine in our dreams and it feels so real. When we are awake our soul and spirit of our mind is not present but they are present when we dream.

    Stefanos Thomopoulos 5th Hour

  8. 2.) I think that we have no capable way to define what the mind is. Sure we try to through the study of the chemical reactions that happen in our brains but those reactions do not represent the idea of consciousness in any way. They try to create human-like qualities in robots but we always fail to see the bigger picture that we don’t yet understand enough about the brain to define it in something that we created. I think that it may be sometime before we understand the brain so comprehensively that we can develop it in someone else.
    3.) I think that there definitely is a spiritual side to every person’s brain. Each person has the capacity for faith in something whether it themselves or a higher power. I think that a lot of this stems from the way that you were brought up or whether or not you attend some sort of religion. Even though I know that religion and spirituality are two different totally different things, they tend to go hand in hand. I think that spirituality is the one thing that no person can question another about. I think that most people understand that a spiritual side exists but many decide to ignore it.

  9. 3. There is a spiritual aspect to the mind, however, I don’t agree that it’s the soul. Many people base their morals upon the rules and regulations of what they consider to be a higher power. This is where the spiritual aspect comes into their mind. When a person is forced to make a decision, they make it based upon what their morals are. I think that the mind only has a spiritual aspect if you believe in god and base your morals around him. I think that the soul is for those who don’t necessarily believe in god and have morals that agree with him. Those who don’t believe in god do not make decisions based on his rules and regulations; they make them based on their own personal morals. When people who do not believe in god make decisions, their soul changes based on the decisions they make.
    4. I make my decisions based upon every individual situation. I’m not opposed to abortions, I am pro-choice, but I will look at different women’s situations and decide if I feel that their reason for having an abortion is justifiable or not. In the end, it is their choice regardless of how I feel. I also think that temporary insanity should be used as a defense. I don’t feel this way because of morals that I learned from the bible, it’s just a personal belief of mine. When it comes to something like the Terry Shiavo scenario, if I personally was in her situation, I would want to be taken off of life support. I would never want to lay in a hospital bed for years as a vegetable.

    Jules Ashe 4th hour

  10. 1)I guess I agree. I have no real way of knowing I have a mind, I’ve seen other people’s brains, but there’s no way for me to know that I have one too. Language can be an effective means of communicating thoughts and feelings, when used by the right people. Words like love and hate are thrown around far too lightheartedly to use them to summarize feelings. Single words lack the ability to cover more than one aspect of feelings, or describe specifics of those feelings. Poets and professional writers, masters of language, are able to use language to capture thoughts and feelings, more than the average human. 2) I disagree. I don’t think we’ve had enough time to perfect artificial intelligence; if we work at it long enough, we will eventually capture every aspect of a human mind, and be able to program artificial intelligence to replicate it. I think the tools we use to study the mind will need to become more advanced, and our understanding of human psychology will need to be furthered, if we are going to be successful at replicating a mind. People’s behavior isn’t really that confusing. Most of it is action as a result of a learned behavior; nobody’s personality is truly original, they are just varying degrees of the personalities of those before them, accented with traits of other personalities (traits acquired from experience).

  11. 2. I disagree, I believe that while we don’t truly understand how our brains work now, we will be able to someday. Like we discussed in class on Friday, we react emotionally to some things but not to others because we have made a compromise in our minds about what is best for ourselves and what is best for the greater good, and what compromise you make depends on your personality, values, and past experiences. Just like how robot technology grows more and more, so does the knowledge of how our brains work and how we think, and in due time we will completely understand both.
    3. There is no spiritual aspect to the mind; I think that what we perceive as spiritual is actually what we don’t understand about why we make decisions or unexplained phenomena. I think the spiritual mind or the soul is a product of our ego, to make humans seem more special. I always ask people if they think animals have souls and they usually say, of course not, in a very matter-of-fact way. I think the reason for this is that humans want to feel special, not like just another animal.
    Claire Holton; 5th hour

  12. 1. I do not find it hard to believe that people don’t have minds. I believe we all have brains and thats how we process knowledge, but as far as personalities and emotions, thats the role hormones play. Everyone has a different balance of hormones, and that is why some people act differently, like the dogs for example. Brains could play a role in personalities, however. If you act in a logical way and weigh the pros and cons of every situation to produce a certain outcome, than I believe you are using your brain to see the reaction of whatever you do. If you do a backflip off of a roof impulsively, that may be a personality trait; but it is proven that impulse can be caused by areas of the brain that are not functioning proper. If you sit there and contemplate the consequences of jumping, you are using common sense, and therefore your brain. I believe using your brain excessively can be a personality trait too, and not relying on your natural instinct or “street smart/ common sense.” I know a few people that can solve an algebraic problem within seconds because of prior knowledge obtained from a textbook, but when asked how long you should leave something in the microwave, they immediately consult the box it came in, or look it up on google. Using reason, if you have ever cooked anything in the microwave similar to what your are asking about, they should have a basic idea of how to answer your question.
    2. I agree because to act like a “normal” human, you need emotions and feelings, but to get those you need to of had past experiences. I act certain ways because of how I have experienced the last 16 years of my life, not because of what I have learned in school. I have barriers towards certain feeling but sometimes I let my guard down when I’m in a comfortable environment. Not only do you need emotions and experiences, but the balance of hormones that provides yo with those emotions, also. Men feel they need to be tough and macho because of the concentrated amount of testosterone, but girls feel passive and nice, yet sometimes catty behind their “friends’” backs, thanks to all the estrogen. I believe there is not duplicating what goes on in a humans mind because not only is there some sort of education but you have memories and experiences that you learn from.

  13. 1. I do agree with this because of we cannot understand how our brain works and how we process information than how can we create artifical intelligence that’s like the blind leading the blind. We cannot create something unless we understand it ourselves. That will lead to an epic fail on our part so we must understand things for ourselves instead on depending on others because that will just make us more uneducated. I think if people want to know how the mind works I think they =should look at their own mind first because different people process things different ways. Relying on other people process of information with make the data inaccurate. That is what I think about that whole situation.

    2. I think we do have a mind but sometimes don’t use or mind when it comes to a logical standpoint. I mean this my saying that people don’t use their mind when they are robbing someone or worse killing someone. Although they use their mind they don’t use it logically. I think some people need to use their, own because it will make things much better for themselves and for the people around them.

  14. 1.I definitely would have to disagree with the statement “we don’t really have a mind but it’s an explanation to describe how we think.” I say this with such confidence because people have to use their mind in order to think every day. I know that I spend most of my day thinking about things; whether it’s how to solve the math problem in front of me or deciding what I am going to do after school. In any situation, you have to use your brain to think about what is best for you and the others around you, and what you should do to benefit everyone. Saying that we don’t have a mind would be completely untrue, because if this were the case, people would be wandering around with nothing going on with no morals to base their decisions off of. If there is no mind in the human brain, how do we think? How do we put together the pieces that are laid in front of us? You wouldn’t be able to complete any task because it would be impossible. If people did not use their mind, the world would be destroyed because of everyone’s stupidity. The mind uses past experiences of yours or others around you, creating your own morals to base your life off of and help understand the world around you. The mind is extremely important and to say that we really don’t have one, in my opinion, would be completely false.

    3. I do personally believe that there is a spiritual aspect to the mind, although I’m not quite sure if it’s the soul. I would like to think that it is, because I do believe in souls, but it’s hard for me to confirm that because of the little evidence I have as well as not exactly knowing even my own views on what happens to the soul after death. But when a person has to make a decision in their life, important or non important, their mind has to be used. A person has to think; is this a good decision? Will I benefit from this? Are others going to be hurt? I believe that this is where the spiritual side comes forward, because I think that the spiritual aspect contains morals and the social norms around them. People’s beliefs appear to help make those decisions, and the soul is then affected by it. Since I think that a person’s soul is a combination of experiences in the person’s life that helps guide them in the future, I therefore believe that when a person is forced to use their mind, the spiritual aspect is definitely present.

    Amanda Schmerin
    4th hour

  15. 2. I agree that the attempts of artificial intelligence have failed due to the fact that we cannot fully understand how our brain works. I agree because there are many more things to the brain than just knowing how to move our hand, pick up something, or knowing how to read something. Our brain allows us to have morals and it allows us to make decisions that are good for us. The artificial intelligence that we have created only allows the machine to do practical things, but because our mind is so complex we haven’t been able to figure out how to create a machine that has feelings and morals because this is a very complex system.

    3. Yes I believe that there is a spiritual aspect to the mind because I believe once we are dead we aren’t completely gone. People say that they have had out of body experiences where their soul leaves their body and then returns later on again. I believe that the soul allows us to make good moral decisions. Our soul gives us feelings and thoughts. Without our soul we would only be able to do practical things such as picking up things, walking around, and doing everyday tasks.

    Irina Laczkovich 4th hour

  16. 2. I agree with the fact that we cannot fully understand how the brain works. It is such a difficult thing that scientist will probably never learn its full function and potential. I don not think that it will ever be possible to “create” a brain because of its complexity. I like the fact that there are mysteries that will probably never be answered, and I think that the brain is one of them. I believe that there are some things that simply cannot be reproduced, and in a way this is logical.
    3. I would like to think that somehow the brain and the soul are connected. That would explain why scientists cannot produce a human made brain. If we did have a soul that would mean that there is an afterlife, which would be a great comfort. I would love for that to exist, but at the same time, it would, in a way, seem unbelievable. I do believe in God, but it would seem so magical if one did have a soul. What would we see it as? Would it be invisible? Or maybe the soul is not what we think it is, but something completely different.
    Laetitia Crosnier

  17. 3. Is there a spiritual aspect to the mind (i.e., the soul)? Why or why not? If it's not the soul, then what?
    I believe that there is a spiritual aspect to the mind but I do not think that there is actually a material soul that can carry out any functions, ideas, or have any concepts of anything. I believe that our body’s “soul” does not go anywhere when we die because it does not actually exist. What is left when a person passes is memories and emotion which I believe that people turn into soul power. In my opinion for someone to have a strong soul it is defined as the person having good morals and beliefs on life and the other people that they exist upon. These concepts and beliefs are left behind and emotionally affect a person so powerfully that they will call it spirituality. Music and other things that are very beautiful cause a person to be impacted extremely emotionally. Things that have sentimental value should not be confused with spirituality because the material soul does not exist, but the emotion does exist and that is more powerful than anything in the world. I have stronger belief towards sentimental values rather than spiritual values. Emotion derives strongest because of sentimentality.

    Ian Perfitt
    Honors Philosophy
    February 1st 2010

  18. 3) In health class, it stated that to have proper health you needed to be able to have good health physically, mentally, and spiritually. Whenever there is a lack of spiritual health, a person is either in a confusing or depressing state. There is a spiritual aspect to the mind, because if a person cannot believe in something, then they have nothing to believe in and thus become confused. The soul is one specific spiritual aspect of the mind, and shouldn’t be thought as the whole spiritual aspect since it’s just one belief. The soul represents the persons internals of what a person believes deep down to the heart, and is believed to be the only thing that leaves a body after death.

    4) A fetus does have a mind, however having a mind doesn’t mean the baby has memory. If a fetus is killed after 3 months, it can feel everything that’s occurring, that doesn’t mean it can comprehend what’s going on. Does that make it just? That’s really the opinion everyone has been arguing about, in my opinion I don’t think it’s anyone else’s business except for that person who having the child and the people it directly affects, not a politician.
    Mentally ill murderers are a whole different subject, first it depends on how mentally ill the person is. If it’s a BS mental disease such as OCD (sorry if I offend anyone) don’t treat them any different than a normal person. However it’s a ridiculous mental disease, if it’s better for that person, there family, and society, that he is sentenced to death then do it.

    Mostafa Bendali-Amor

  19. 1. I do agree with this statement because really, a mind is just an abstract idea. People say we all have minds because we think but really, that is our brain working and not nesescarilly our mind. There is no real proof that we have minds. I guess we don have minds, but a mind is more of an explanation/idea rather than a real tangible thing.
    2. I do agree with this statement beause everybody's mind works differently. Someone may find joy or pleasure in something that someone else may hate. You can't create artificial intelligence because there is no "right" way a person responds and feels about situations. Everybody feels differently about everything, how we feel is not a universal thing.
    Sara Dziubek
    4th hour

  20. 1. I think we do have a mind, and it is different from just having a brain. All animals have brains, a brain is more or less of a computer, it does computations, it makes the body work. The mind, in my opinion is the part of you that weighs decisions and decides right from wrong. The oxford dictionary definition of mind is “the element or complex of elements in an individual that feels, perceives, thinks, wills, and especially reasons”, a mind is what makes us human. I also agree that we do not currently possess the language to describe our minds and how they work. To delve into another question, if we can’t explain the brain then how can we ever hope to replicate it.

    3. I don’t think there is a spiritual aspect to the mind and I don’t care whether or not some scientist “measured the soul” I just don’t think it plausible that we have an entity separate from our body. I see humans as being one being not a vessel for the soul. I believe that people should live for the now and stop worrying about their actions affect on the soul. I think that we have gotten too caught up in worrying about our immortal souls and should instead focus on the here and now.

  21. I agree and disagree with the two aspects of this question. I disagree with the statement that we don’t really have a mind, and that it’s just an explanation of our thought process because the definition of the mind is a simplified explanation of how we think. I do, however, agree with the second part of this question that states that we, as humans, don’t possess enough knowledge to be able to understand the workings and functioning of our brains. This is true because I believe that a complexity can only understand something less complex. Which, in theory, means that we are not able to understand the human brain, and the only thing that could be potentially understand it is artificial intelligence of a greater complexity than the human brain.
    Yes, I feel that the brain does have a spiritual aspect to it because I assume that animals are not running around believing in a higher power, or that they even have the mental capacity to be self-aware of their existence. The spiritual aspect of our mind allows us to philosophize and attempt to answer the questions about our existence. Also, the fact that we experience emotion, and that animals most likely do not, further supports the idea that our mind is spiritual.

    David Mohan

  22. 1. I strongly disagree with this question; I definitely believe that we have a mind. If we did not currently posses the language and ability to convey what we are thinking up there, then I do not believe that we would have been able to have all of these discussions in class every day. There may not be a clear process on what is going on up there but we can tell people about what the outcome of that process is. Thoughts are one hundred percent conveyable and are a necessity to humanity.
    2. I agree that we do not completely understand how our brain works but I believe that everyone’s brain works differently. Some people’s brain is more emotional and reacts to certain situations on a more emotional basis while others use a rational approach when reacting to situations. For example, in the situation where one would have to save a loved one or many unknown people, the rational approach would be to save everyone. The emotional approach would be to save the loved one. Sometimes emotion can could our ration.

  23. 1. I believe that we have no capable way to define what the mind is. For all I know it could be anything. There could be no mind and there also could be some higher power controlling all of us. Scientists all the time try and test the reactions and functions of the brain, but that does not represent the idea of our mind our consciousness enough to fully understand it. We don’t yet understand enough about the brain to define it, there are too many cultures and religions with multiple beliefs on what the mind is and does. So there will never really be a universal truth on what the mind is until someone actually proves what it is and how. I think that it may be a while before we understand the brain to describe the thoughts or the process going up there.

    2. I agree and disagree to this. I do agree that we will never fully understand how our brain works and why it’s there. I think knowing exactly how our brain functions would lead to very bad things in our world. It could lead to a downfall of what we have already achieved as a country, it would create chaos. At the same time, I don’t think that this has been the reason why we’ve been unable to create artificial intelligence. I think the obstacle towards finding artificial intelligence will never be found. I believe it was meant never to be discovered, this is one of those things that would hurt mankind and its helps “us” as a nation to strive to complete more tasks. But this will never be achieved. As mankind we will never understand how our brain works due to this fact, we don’t have enough intelligence to fully understand.

    Armen Topouzian 5th Hour

  24. 2) The mind is not spiritual. There is no spiritual system within the brain; rather there is a nerve system, centers for thought and emotion, and an endocrine system. After extensive dissection and study, scientists can prove the existence of these systems. The proof of a spiritual system within a brain is yet to be found. This is because a spirit does not exist. The soul is a made up fairy tale that was designed to comfort those lucky enough to fall for the idea.
    4) I don’t understand how the existence of the mind is up for question. This unit hasn’t influenced my decision making. My decision making has been constant throughout most of my conscious and rational life. For example, when concerned with abortion I take the most logical and rational stance: I am for it. During abortion, only an embryo is present within the uterus. That is it; only an embryo. Natural and human rights apply to humans, not embryo. We do not bestow rights to potential; rather we provide rights to actual beings. I can dismiss those who say aborted embryos have a right to life by knowing that we do not protect a piece of protoplasm with a police system

  25. Noah Saperstein
    Everybody has a mind, rather is be man or woman, child or adult, black, white or any other color, everybody is capable of complex thought and idea. People are capable of describing the process and ideas of the thoughts that we have. People always talk about their ideas and how they came to think that. In psychology people analyze how the mind works and what it does, to deny that we can’t describe our thoughts is to deny science which is what the Church did during the Renaissance. Those who learned new things were persecuted; the Church denied astronomy and math.
    I don’t think there is a spiritual aspect of the mind, let it be soul or anything else, not because of there is proof saying there isn’t a spiritual aspect but because I am just not a spiritual person. The absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence, if you know what I mean.
    Everybody has a mind, but not everyone can fully use it, now I am not talking about dumb-old joe shmoe who has no common sense and thinks that seahorses are horses swimming. Fetus’ don’t have minds because they aren’t fully developed, the same way abortion isn’t murder, it doesn’t have life. The development isn’t complete. Now severly mentally-ill people are different, they are developed (for the most part) but do not fully understand everything. Some are unable to make ethical decisions due to lack of understanding, for instance, if someone who cannot dress themselves accidentally pushes someone in front of a moving car and kills them is it murder? Who knows but that is why we have not guilty by insanity (or if you are smart temporary insanity).

  26. Eric Singer
    1. I think that our minds interpret what we experience, thus the gaps that sometimes develop between reality and what we perceive to be reality. I think that because the processes of the mind occur in chemical language, a scientific language we can understand what is going on up there, just as we can understand our genetic code. Psychology – the study of the brain – tries to uncover the secrets of the mind. This science is developing to explain what has been previously unexplainable about the mind, those aspects of our thought that are difficult to put into words. If we can understand that the release of the chemical dopamine prompts us to feel tired, a feeling that is difficult to put into words, we can more closely examine the events leading up to the release of dopamine to translate what is occurring in plain language.

    3. The idea that there is a spiritual aspect of the mind makes sense if you are religious and accept that god is very much a part of your being. If you are agnostic or atheist you might explain the spiritual aspect of the mind in completely different light. Not so much that god has control of your mind, or that god is your mind – that because you think, because those chemical reactions occur that produce thoughts, there is some divine power at work. In my mind god is not a deity, rather the fact that natural events occur there is some “magic” in those event and therefore some god.

  27. 1. I agree that we don’t actually have a mind and that it’s just an explanation to describe how we think. To me it doesn’t make sense that actual matter, our brains, could have the ability to think, or be a mind. A brain is a brain to me. It helps other areas of our body but it’s not our mind. While I’m writing this blog I don’t feel as if I’m using that brain in my head I feel as if my mind is something completely separate. I don’t know what our minds are or how they are formed and I don’t think that anyone ever will.
    4. I think that for the most part, not ALL the time, our decisions and values come from the environment that we grow up in. This doesn’t mean that whatever our friends and family believe is what we believe, but our ability to have and create a decision comes from the things that you hear, see, feel, etc. around you. My parents may be pro-life (not actually, just an example) but that doesn’t mean I am too, rather that my ability to make a decision about my feeling on abortion comes from having the issue being talked about around me.

  28. 1) I disagree, I think that everyone does have a mind. If no one had a mind and every person could attain the same exact knowledge, then what would separate humans other than how we look. Minds are what make humans different from one another. I do agree that we don’t have some sort of language to express how our minds think. But I’m glad we don’t. I think that humans have developed languages in order to express the things that they want to others, but there are some things in your mind you cannot express or do not want to express. Humans do, in fact, have a mind. I think that many living things have a mind, animals included, because in order to think and function you must have a mind.
    2) I don’t think anyone can fully understand the complexity of how the mind works. I agree with this statement. I think the mind is a combination of genes and things we have experienced that effect us. We cannot understand exactly how minds work because every single person is different. In many ways, I’m glad we don’t understand how the mind works because understanding would mean another way to exploit our mind or abuse it, much like we’ve done to other things we have come to fully understand. And I’m also glad we don’t have fully functioning artificial intelligence with minds as humans do… because who knows what that would lead to. I like that each persons’ mind is different and that humans cannot come to understand why. It leaves another mystery of the world that causes us to just accept!

  29. Blog #33
    3. I do think there is a spiritual side to the mind, but I wouldn’t say the “soul.” There is something spiritual about everyone’s mind, that what’s sets people apart from one another is what they think and how you think and your morals beliefs. I don’t know exactly if there is a name for the spiritual part of the mind but I do believe that one is exist. I believe everyone has a soul but not in the mind.

    4. I base my decisions at the situation at hand. When it comes to abortion’s I believe under certain circumstances you should abort the pregnancy if you’re not mentally or finically stable to take care of a child. If you are just have sex casually, and just being irresponsible about it, then no you shouldn’t have the right to have an abortion, being able to have a child is privilege, and a privilege that so many people don’t have but wish they did, so to have sex casually and continue to abort is not fair nor right to me; but then again that all ties into people’s morals. When it comes to Terry I would decide to be taken off life support, a moral of mind is not to live life uncomfortable and in distressed, she’s basically a vegetable. Her mind probably can’t make that decision for her, but the state she is in she be enough for her husband to see the pain and make the decision for her.
    Alyssa T.
    5th hour

  30. 1. I disagree with the idea that we really don’t have a mind. I could be completely wrong, but that’s how I feel. I think, therefore I am, is what tells me that I do have a mind. I think too much about things and I truly will never know if none if life is real or not but I still think about it, which convinces me that I have a mind. I feel that my emotions and senses tell me I have a mind and I don’t think they can be altered. If one day I figure out I don’t have a mind, it would confuse me because my mind is telling me that.

    3. I do believe there is some spiritual aspect to the mind. I don’t really know why I feel this way but I do. I think that everyone has the ability to think spiritually and it’s all about if one chooses to. I think spirituality is whatever each individual person makes it for themselves. Anyone can believe in whatever they want to give them peace with themselves or the world around them. If there is a way that a spiritual part of you makes you completely, then go for it.

    Rachel Fine 5th

  31. 2. Well, from the way things look right now, it seems as though it might be impossible to fully understand just how the brain works. I mean, we’ve been studying it pretty much all throughout history, from the ancient Egyptians’ acknowledgement of its importance by pulling it out through the nose and putting it in a jar to preserve it for the afterlife to today, where we have CAT scans and all sorts of other machines that allow us to see the brain doing its thing in real time, and while we’ve come a long way, we still are probably only looking at the tip of the iceberg. It’s possible we’ll never fully understand what’s goin’ on up there. So yes, I’d say it makes sense that that’s why attempts at artificial life have failed. But personally, I think we can do it. I think that humanity’s tenacious curiosity will not rest until we understand what’s really going on up inside our own heads.

    3. I honestly don’t have a clue whether I believe there’s a spiritual aspect to the mind. Part of me is very concrete in its thinking, and doesn’t believe that’s even remotely possible. It just doesn’t make sense, and there’s no evidence to show for it. But another part of me thinks that the human mind is so enormously complex, seems to be something on its own, separate from the body, and even gives life to otherwise inanimate lumps of flesh. That part of my brain says that it doesn’t make sense that there isn’t some spiritual aspect to the mind, that there has to be some sort of soul or something that forms our consciousness and gives us life. But as the issue stands right now, I have no idea what to believe.

    Drew Fisher

  32. Richard Widdett
    4th Hour

    2) I agree with the fact that we cannot fully understand how our brain works because humans feel so many different emotions. We have been trying to create artificial intelligence for a long time but haven't been able to fully recreate the human mind. Emotions come in several different forms and are very complex. To recreate something that we do not even fully understand is an impossible task. Maybe sometime in the future, when technology and our medical equipment is more advanced, we will finally be able to create an artificial intelligence.
    3) I do not necessarily believe that there is a spiritual aspect to the mind. What we experience that seems like it is spiritual is just a trick of the mind. Dreams may seem spiritual at times but they are just a blend of previously seen images from our memory. Once the brain shuts down, there is no spirit that roams the universe searching for a new occupant. People sometimes believe that they have a spirit because of the intense, strong emotions they feel at certain times. When a loved one has passed away, for example, strong emotions kick in and one feels as though their spiritual level has increased, thinking about death. I do not believe that the mind can take itself out of matter and become a spirit.

  33. 2. I agree that AI hasn’t been done yet because it is impossible to replicate human emotion in decision making. Much of what we do involves emotions and I don’t believe that any amount of programming could ever come close to re-creating the human mind. I believe that a mix between rational decision making and emotion is the best course of action in most situations. That is why I believe that Artificial intelligence will never be achieved by mankind.

    3. I do believe there is a spiritual portion to the human mind. I also believe that the soul is the spiritual part of the human mind. I believe the soul is responsible for a significant portion of your psychology and is thus extremely important in the study of psychology. Carl Jung details his theory’s of the soul such as the different layers in his essays about the collective unconscious. After reading a lot of his essays I can see how having a soul could be completely plausible. Those are just some of my thoughts on whether or not the human mind has a soul or not

  34. Veronica Washington 5th hour

    2.(this also answers #4 but i'll do another questions for more words) i disagree with this statement. We do fully understand how the brain works through psychology which gives the most knowledgeable explanations and definitions to why the MIND does what it does. the mind is the element, part, substance, or process that reasons, thinks, feels, wills, perceives, judges. Our mind in a way grows with time and experience which influences our decisions and id,ego,superego through life. When these morals and egos grow that further explains why we react differently to certain situations.

    3.i do believe there is a spiritual aspect to the mind called the soul;the spiritual part of humans regarded in its moral aspect. The principle of life, feeling, thought, and action in humans, regarded as a distinct entity separate from the body. In a way the spiritual aspect is like a conscience and holds the minds learning.

  35. 1. I suppose I agree. I think of mind as thoughts, intangible things, and I think of the brain as something tangible, it’s been seen, it can be removed. So I guess there is no real way of knowing I have a mind other than thinking, dreams, etc. The only way can voice our thoughts is through language, but at the same time language is merely words and the best words we can come up with to describe and communicate our thoughts from within our mind. Most people can’t express themselves thoroughly through words, and even if they can sometimes words just don’t do the thought justice. Professional writers, poets, and song writers often use metaphors, similes’ and vivid verbs and imagery to help the average person better understand, by giving them something to compare it with or visualize, thoughts and emotions.

    2. I disagree. I don’t think we have enough understanding of the human mind and emotions mostly, to have a true artificial intelligence, eventually over time I think we will be able to replicate it. I think it takes time to understand why a person usually acts and reacts a certain way or has a certain emotional response although not very hard. At the same time, would an artificial intelligence even be able to feel emotions? If it’s a true replication of the human mind I think it should because emotions play a key role in some people’s lives and decisions. At the same time if we’re only replicating the intelligence, that’s more ration and reason than it is emotion.

    Jessica Keyes
    4th hour

  36. 1. I disagree that we do not have a mind. I cannot fathom how someone can think without a mind. If we do not have the language to describe the thoughts or process, then scientists who discover those can define those thoughts and processes with vocabulary that they see fits best. For example, Blaise Pascal, a fellow philosopher as well as a renown scientist who supported the scientific method, developed a scientific law to describe pressure known today as Pascal's law, and interestingly enough, the units used to measure pressure, pascals, were named after him. So if not now, sooner or later, we will devise terms to describe thoughts and processes that take place in our brains. Also, saying that we have mind doesn't describe how we think. Many people don't think much and rely on others to think for them. For example, in many popular shows and movies, the actors and actresses do not actually come up with their lines. They have someone else, or in this case, the writers invent a plot between characters, which the actors and actresses recite, and they do not actually think about what they say.

    2. I agree that at this moment, we cannot fully understand the functionality of the brain nor ourselves. On the other hand, I disagree that because we cannot fully understand the brain functions or ourselves is the sole cause as to why artificial intelligence has failed. This also does not mean that it has failed, but because it is too big and complex of a job to master, the time it may take is unfathomable. I have experienced some sorts of artificial intelligence on AOL Instant Messenger, where you could converse with AOL designed bots and one of them was named Zola. You could have a conversation with her, and yet, there's no one behind the keyboard. Although, her responses were not numerous to certain questions or comments, it was amazing to experience. The reason artificial intelligence is not successful is because we lack the technology to produce such technology.

    Timothy Weerakoon, 4th Hour.

  37. I think that everybody has a mind. If we think, and have our own ideas and thoughts, then we must have a mind. The way we react to certain things, and how we may not react, are all based on how we think. Some people may think differently than others, therefore they might react differently to the situation. Everyone has their own mind, and own thoughts. Us humans might not fully understand how our brain works, but that’s not a reason to not believe at all. We may not understand the concept of the mind and how it works, but I believe that to have thoughts and ideas, you need a mind. The spiritual aspect of the mind plays a big role. Our spirit, body and mind all work as one. My understanding of my mind affects my decision making for the better. I usually follow my fist instinct, and my first instinct is what my mind tells me to do. I have good morals and logic, and all of this comes from my understanding of my mind.
    Hilary Sircus
    4th hour

  38. Marcus Johnson 5th Hour

    Overall, I think that we do indeed have a mind and it is responsible for all of our decisions and makes us fully functioning members of society and ultimately alive. I mean, I feel that if a mentally insane person commits a crime they should definitely be sentenced to death. If anything, if a person is mentally ill that means that there is something definitely wrong with their mind and have a very slim chance of changing that mental problem. It makes no since to me that an insane person gets to slide away from death and go to an asylum when people who commit one murder and feel guilty about it are sent to die. I think if the mind makes the decision, mental or not, it’s the same effect. The mind can’t be fixed, it will forever be messed up and going to an asylum won’t change anything.
    When it comes to a fetus though, I don’t exactly feel that it has developed enough to have a mind. The fetus is still growing other more mandatory attributions like skin, immunities, and limbs. I think that fetus’ begin to have a mind right before coming out. So if someone were to have an abortion, as long as the baby is still in the first couple of developmental stages, to me, it isn’t considered murder. And for the record, I personally feel that abortions are the couple’s decision and shouldn’t be frowned on anyways.

  39. I believe that the mind and the soul are one and the same. Is it not through the mind that we identify who we are, and if our soul also possessed our consciousness, then would we not be conscious of its existence? That is, assuming we have one of course. Therefore in order to know who we are after our death, the mind and soul would have to be linked or else it would be a rather pointless eternal existence. Playing the devil’s advocate, lets say there isn’t a connection between the two. The soul is the extension of ourselves that continues to exist beyond the demise of our bodies. Perhaps it consists of all of our memories-and more. Briefly think back on all events of your life; all the information ever gained. Quite impossible. Now imagine that you had all that with you, along with every sense you’ve ever felt. To put it into words; a compilation of your life. That’s all I have to say, so see you next week and good night New York! SocratesUnderling

  40. 2. Obviously before we will be able to create a perfect replica of our brain, we will have to understand every aspect and part of it first. We still have many questions that need to be answered, so until we find those answers artificial intelligence is not possible. Perhaps we could achieve creating an empty shell that represents the human body, but I believe that there is more to us then just skin, muscle, fluid, and bone. I think that there really is a soul that makes us who we are and that is why all attempts at making artificial intelligence have failed. Who knows, maybe we will go through an evolution that finally breaks our current boundaries. Perhaps that is why God is able to create humans and we can't. Perhaps the human race is just an incomplete version of Him and we just don't have the capabilities needed to create such an accurate copy of ourselves.

    3. I believe that humans do have minds, but that the mind only plays minor roles compared to the soul. My thought is that the mind is what helps us to understand and organize the things that we experience in our life while the soul is the foundation of our personality and the part of us that makes us unique. I believe that without the soul a human would be nothing but a shell full of information. The soul is where our imagination resides and where our personality is formed. I also believe that for some the soul may hold other things such as memories of a different life or knowledge from that/those lives. Perhaps the reason why no matter how much we study the human brain, we cannot find the answers to our questions is because we are looking in the wrong place.
    Science has yet to discover what the soul really is.


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