Minding: An overview

Let me sum up what I have written about our mental lives over the past 10 odd posts. Recall the thesis with which I disagree:

Because the human mind, like the human body, tends to be sickly and ill, it seeks healing or cures.

I have argued all of the following:

1.) There is a disanalogy between the human body and the human mind. Consequently, the ways we talk about bodies cannot be the ways we talk about minds.

2.) The mind cannot be ill or healthy (though the brain, being a part of the body, can). It is a category mistake to ascribe sickness, health, sick-like, or health-like to it. It is likewise a category mistake to ‘heal’ or ‘cure’ minds.

3.) The mind is not a physical-like substance locatable in spatiotemporal terms. (Recall that the mind is disanalogous to the body.) Therefore, we cannot ask, ‘Where is the mind?’, ‘What [its whatness] is the mind?,’ and ‘What goes on in the mind?’ ‘Where,’ ‘what,’ and ‘in‘ are all out of the question. With respect to the last item, it follows all talk of ‘inner’ and ‘outer,’ ‘internal’ and ‘external,’ ‘inward’ and outward’ must either (a) be regarded figuratively or (b) be seen as errors.

4.) Minding is like a verb. Minding is a sequence of certain recognizable ongoing activities. Some sequences are often repeated. Some sequences are ‘second-order,’ as when someone becomes aware that he is lying.

5.) We have reason to believe that our mental activities can be understood, that the mental lives of others can be known, and that the world we dwell in can be known. In other words, self-knowledge, knowledge of other minds, and knowledge of the world are all possible.

6.) A different set of adjectives and adverbs would be attached to minding. Minding can be calm or disturbed, focused or wayward. ‘Minding calmly,’ ‘minding closely,’ ‘minding carefully,’ for instance.

7.) Minding is always already training itself. Those who worry are training themselves to be worriers. Those who think clearly are becoming clear thinkers. The question is simply whether these training programs enhance or degrade minding. Those that degrade minding weaken it; those that enhance minding vitalize it.

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