Mind – a Phenomenon or Concept…???
Posted by khuram on December 28, 2006
Mind – a Phenomenon or Concept…???
Humans are ‘rational’ in their character and essence in the sense that they always tend to get somewhat ‘theoretical explanations’ of whatever ‘phenomenon’ they observe in their environment. Let us take, for instance, the ‘phenomenon’ of falling objects on ground. Here, in my assessment, the ‘falling of an object on ground’ would be an ‘observed phenomenon’, whereas the idea or notion of ‘gravitation’ will be the ‘explanation’ of the above said phenomenon.
Secondly, the types of knowledge can be classified in two main categories i.e. (i) Perceptional Knowledge and; (ii) Reason Based Knowledge.
In the above-referred example, the observable phenomenon of a falling object is ‘perceptional knowledge’. The ‘Reason Based’ knowledge, in this example, would be of further two sub-types i.e. (i) If we generalize our observation and say: “Objects fall on ground” … This ‘generalized’ knowledge would be the first type of ‘reason based knowledge’ and; (ii) The idea or notion of ‘gravitation’ is also a form of ‘reason based knowledge’, in this case. The idea of ‘gravitation’, basically is a form of ‘analogical conclusion’ which might be the result of comparison of the above referred first type of ‘reason based knowledge’ with other similar entities where other objects also exert some type of attraction on other objects. In this way, what I want to say is that every type of ‘conclusion’, whether it is just ‘generalization’ or ‘deductive’ or even ‘analogical’, can be regarded as ‘reason based knowledge’.
Now come to the issue of ‘mind’. In my opinion, idea of ‘mind’ is also a form of ‘reason based knowledge’. In order that there be any ‘reason based knowledge’ whatsoever, there has to be some clue in the ‘perceptional’ knowledge for it. It means that we can move towards any ‘reason based knowledge’ only in such way that the ‘reason based knowledge’ has to be completely traced back in our ‘perceptional knowledge’. See details here.
In this way, knowledge of mind i.e. a ‘reason based knowledge’ is also completely traceable to our perceptional knowledge. We can take notice of many observable and apparent differences between humans and other animals. We can talk in terms of many theoretical concepts. We can produce literature, poetry, philosophy etc. The ability to talk and the physical existence of such things as literature, poetry, science and philosophies etc. ultimately lead us to the conclusion of the presence of ‘mind’ in humans. The concept of ‘mind’ helps us in accounting for the presence of literature, poetry etc. in the way that now we would consider these things as ‘products’ of mind. It is just like that the idea of ‘gravitation’ helps us in accounting for why objects fall on ground. And again, just like it, the idea of ‘photon’ also helps us in accounting for various types of laboratory experimentation readings.
And so in my opinion, for the cases of both ‘falling objects’ and ‘mind’, first entity has to be ‘perceptional knowledge’. In the case of ‘falling objects’, the first entity is the observation of individual falling objects. And in the case of ‘mind’, the first entity is the physical existence of such things as literature, science, poetry, philosophy etc. For the case of ‘falling objects’, the second entity i.e. the ‘reason based knowledge’ would be the idea of ‘gravitation’ and in the same way; the second entity for the case of existence of literature, poetry, and science etc. would be the idea or notion or CONCEPT of ‘mind’.
And the existence of such things as literature, poetry, philosophy etc. is the proof of existence of ‘mind’. On the other hand, the complete absence of these things would be the proof of non-existence of ‘mind’.
Here I have considered observation of individual falling object as ‘perceptional knowledge’ whereas the generalized observation i.e. “objects fall on ground”, as ‘reason based knowledge’. Actually I am ready to call both of above entities i.e. (i) individual observation and; (ii) generalized observation as PHENOMENON.
Just ‘generalization’ cannot be regarded as ‘explanation’. Generalization is actually the first step towards the way of getting the ‘explanation’. And ‘generalization’ is not the ‘analogical’ process. The process of ‘analogy’ would come at the ‘explanation’ stage in this case, through which we shall reach at the concept of ‘gravitation’. In this ‘analogical’ process, in that stage, we would compare our generalized knowledge of “objects fall towards ground” with some other similar ‘phenomenon’ where some other objects also exert some kind of attraction upon other objects. In this way, finally we shall arrive at the concept of ‘gravitation’. Process of analogy has been explained in above referred link.
To summerize the above, first we ‘perceive’. In this way we take notice of a ‘phenomenon’. Then we strive for getting some proper theoretical explanation of so noticed phenomenon. I have briefly described the process of taking notice of any new information regarding any phenomenon and then of finding the necessary explanation etc. in my essay on The Knowledge Explosion in the Modern Times. I have discussed similar topic in my article on “Animism and Mythology” as well.