Theory of the mind is a maxim used to explain how the mind functions and how it affects consciousness and behaviour. A good understanding of the theory of the mind can enhance your success in life.
The human mind has been viewed as the center of creativity, the powerhouse of meaningful invention. In spite of this importance, discussions on the mind are often overlooked.
In order to buttress the relationship between the mind and the brain, different theory of the mind have emerged. Some theory of the mind originated from philosophy and psychology. Others focus on the prediction of human behavior and self-consciousness.
In a previous post, we discussed the brain and its processing power. We see the brain as the center of thought and creativity. The center of logic and emotions. And the most superior organ that differentiates humans from other mammals.
Today, we shall discuss the theory of the mind. An understanding of the power of the human mind can boost your success in any career choice you choose.
The human mind, like the brain, is a very powerful tool of creativity at everyone’s disposal. But the problem is our inability to understand how the mind works. In this series, we shall attempt to answer the following questions:
- How can we define the human mind?
- What is the relationship between the brain and the human mind?
- To what extent does the mind affect our creative ability and success?
Definition of the Human Mind
The free online dictionary defines the mind as the faculty by which one is aware of the surroundings and by which one is able to reason, remember, make decisions, and experience emotions.
In other words, the mind is the seat of consciousness or awareness. As the seat of consciousness, the mind is creative.
Charles Haanel, in The Master Key System, said that “Mind is creative. Conditions, including environment and all experiences in life, are the result of our habitual or predominant mental attitude.”
Joseph Murphy saw the mind as the treasure house of all human. In The Power of your Subconscious Mind, he says, “There is a gold mine within you from which you can extract everything you need to live life gloriously, joyously, and abundantly.”
Highlighting on the power of the mind, Daniel Webster quotes, “Mind is the great lever of all things; human thought is the process by which human end is ultimately answered.”
What these people are saying is that thinking, reasoning, emotions, logic and many more takes place in the mind. If so, then the success or failure of any individual begins within, which is the mind.
Hence, success or failure reflects what we harbor within us. If this is true, then the human mind is critical to every success or failure.
The Power of the Mind
How does the brain relate to the mind? Is there any connection between the brain and the mind or are both the same?
Throughout this article, we shall answer these questions using theory of the mind. These theories will be drawn from philosophy, psychology, and religion.
Before we proceed, recall the central nervous system. If you have not read through it, check the post here. Take note of the following:
- The nervous system coordinates information from the bodily senses through the brain and the spinal cord.
- There is a connection between the brain and the mind. This connection is explained by the cerebrospinal venous system and the sympathetic system.
According to Charles Haanel, the sympathetic system has its center in the ganglionic mass. Which is at the back of the stomach known as the Solar Plexus.
The connection between the cerebrospinal system and the sympathetic system is made by the Vagus nerve. This nerve passes through the cerebral region as a portion of the voluntary system to the thorax. It sends out branches to the heart and lungs and finally passes through the diaphragm. It then loses its outer coating and becomes identified with the nerves of the sympathetic system. All these form a connecting link between the two and making man physically a “single entity.”
Scientifically, the fields of philosophy, psychology, and religion are most interested in the subject of the mind. To clearly understand the mind and its power, we will explore how these fields view the subject.
Philosophical Theory of the Mind
Philosophy of the mind studies the relationship between the mind and the physical body. Philosophy is basically concerned with the nature of a thing. Therefore, the philosophy of the mind tries to connect the nature of the mind and personal identity, self-consciousness, self-esteem, emotion, memory, and perception.
To explain further, the philosophy of the mind tries to explain how the mind functions. It connects the nature of feeling, perception, thought, and consciousness with personal identity.
It also tries to answer the question; how does the human mind affect whom we are? What influence does the non-material part of the brain, the human mind, impose on the material body which we see?
To answer the above question, philosophy came with two schools of thoughts: monism and dualism.
Monism tries to explain that there is no distinction between the mind, and the brain. Proponents of this theory of the mind include Baruch De Spinoza and George Berkeley, among others. They explained that the mind and body are a single entity that has the same potential.
If this explanation should be relied on, then how do we explain the relationship between the mind and the body? To explain this relationship, or resolve the mind-body problem, 3 theories emerged. Namely, physicalism, idealism and neutral monism.
Physicalism: Physicalism is also called materialism. Proponents of this theory believe that only the physical entity or physical substance or matter exist. They argue that there is nothing like the non-material mind. Everything is physical.
According to materialism, perception, emotions, memory, etc are the resultant effect of the physical processes only. This means that anything anyone feels is a result of the physical occurrence.
For example, if I love a person, then I love him/her because of what I sew or observe in him/her. This could be beauty, charisma, and many more. This means that mental states or state of the mind at all times come from the observable physical state.
There are two types of physicalism, they are reductive physicalism and non-reductive physicalism. Reductive physicalism is divided into four theories, namely: behaviorism, type identity, token identity, and functionalism.
Non-reductive physicalism is divided into 3 theories, namely: anomalous monism, emergentism, and eliminative materialism. Each of these theories shall provide an answer on how the mind affects creativity and success.
This school teaches that the state of one’s mind or the mental state is being influenced by what one observes. This can be true in observable behavior, for example, if I am learning a skill, say, how to play the keyboard, how to dance, etc, then I can learn by observation. But it does not explain some states of the mind such as sorrow, pain, depression, and many more.
Observation, when enhanced by concentration and interest can arouse the creative mind. Thus, you can enhance your creative ability by observing what other people are doing. From your observation, you can gain ideas on innovation and outright creation of new products. To boost your creative ability, learn from others through observation.
This theory arose due to the failure of behaviorism to explain the cognitive state of the mind. The theory states that mental state is identical to the physical state of the brain. This means that the state of the mind equals (=) the state of the brain.
To illustrate further, since mind and the brain are the same, and is physical; then, the state of the mind is the same as the state of the brain. For example, if I feel hungry, then, it is because a particular region of the brain sends a signal to the body to reflect hunger.
From our discussion on the functions of the brain, we can say that this is true to some extent. However, the brain event that caused a particular mental state in an individual may be different in another organism, especially, if the organism does not have a brain. This is called multiple realizability. This is one thing that is not clearly explained by this theory.
How will this theory of the mind boost your creative ability? To activate your creative mind, the region of the brain responsible for creative thinking will send a signal for the mind to be in a creative state.
Thus, to be creative, both the brain and the mind will be in the creative state so that all the brain networks responsible for creativity will be activated. At this point, you don’t need to observe anyone, but you can begin to imagine and visualize things.
This theory of the mind, though did not explain clearly how it happens, it gives insight on how new ideas are formed.
Token Identity theory
The token identity theory attempts to solve the problem which the type identity theory could not resolve.
This theory of the mind states that particular instances or occurrences of a mental state are identical with particular instances of the brain. This theory shifts from the type identity theory that states that brain state correlates with a mental state.
It rather illustrates that only a particular token or occurrence of the brain is responsible for a particular occurrence of a mental state. These two theories are similar. The difference is a matter of descriptive abstraction, according to proponents of functionalism.
This theory of the mind reduced materialism to the functional roles of mental states characterized by non-mental functional roles. In functionalism, the physical state is not important, but the role of the mental state at that point in time. For example, what is the functional role of hunger, pain, and love? According to functionalism, the functional role of these mental states is realized in multiple levels. In their description, they equated the brain with the computational power of the computer. They maintained that the brain is a physical device that performs computations based on inputs to produce an individual’s behavior.
This theory when combined with the token identity theory, I believe, will make one creative. Why? Because functionalism does not focus on the brain state but on the role or output or effect. In creativity, it emphasizes the role of visualization in creative thinking. Put differently, if visualization is a state of the mind, it doesn’t matter what is being visualized. But what is the outcome of visualization? What does it produce? I believe, that acknowledging this theory will make us more productive, rather than daydreamers. It doesn’t matter what you know; what you did with what you know is more important.
Anomalous Monism theory
This theory teaches that the mind and the brain are identical, however, it noted that the mind sometimes deviates from the state of the brain. In this case, the mind is not strictly guided or regulated by the brain. According to the theory, every change in the state of the mind is guided by a change in the state of the brain.
This theory helps to understand the power of concentration in creativity. When the brain deviates from its conscious thought, concentration is lost. And nothing is impressed on the mind.
This theory attempts to explain the mind-body relationship using a layered view of nature.
Accordingly, the mind and its causal effects are arranged in layers of increasing order of complexity. Each layer corresponds to its own special science. When these layers interact, there emerges a complex state of the mind.
To explain how this theory applies to creativity, we can say that when the layers of the brain interact with each other, it creates a variable state of the mind. This variable state of the mind gives room to the influx of new ideas.
Eliminative materialism theory
This theory states that one’s common sense might misrepresent or misinterpret what he/she naturally know. That is, what we sometimes believe, “common sense” is false, and these beliefs can be eliminated and replaced with an alternative. In other words, certain mental states are false, hence, can be replaced.
This theory is very important in creativity. It tells us not to believe the world’s standards. As we are growing, we tend to believe certain standards. Sometimes these beliefs might be false.
But we might not know except if we critically analyze them. Discarding existing standards and assumptions is a step forward in creative thinking. If I may ask, what were you told when you were little that turned out to be false?
Theories are important because they explain things we do not ordinarily know. But, one problem with theories is that most of them are not applicable to everyday life. The theories we examined thus far, are intuitive in understanding the relationship between the brain, the mind, and creativity.
These theories on their own did not explain these relationships. But by intuition, we can deduce what relationship each has with creativity.
Behaviourism gave us insight on the importance of observation while type identity aroused our curiosity to the importance of the mental state and imagination.
These mental states could make us daydreamers; with no guided thought and no direction. This is where functionalism comes into play. Because the functional role of our mental state is important in bringing our thoughts to reality.
The mind without concentration is unproductive. Anomalous monism exposed us to recognize the importance of concentration in creativity.
Furthermore, emergentism opened up a scope to let us understand that layers are important in creating room for inflow of ideas. Because, if there is no opening, there is no filling.
Finally, eliminative materialism underscores the importance of common sense and discarding of existing assumptions.
This knowledge is important in building a creative mind. However, it does not come in isolation. Proper coordination will help us achieve a greater result.