Philosophy of Body and Mind

In the ancient world, people believed that our mind was simply a part of our brain and consciousness, a chance event of evolution. But it has now become evident that our consciousness and awareness are extremely complicated and not simple a part of the brain. Our brain acknowledges our consciousness, and a number of things about our basic existence change, proving that our mind is basically an aggregate of our thoughts. If we have no proper thoughts, then we will be left without a mind too. But this does not mean that if we have no thoughts, then we lack consciousness since awareness and consciousness are present even without us being “mentally” aware of it (Berkowitz, 1999).

We can have a mind without any awareness or consciousness as the latter sometimes gets filtered by the mind. While the realm of our mind can be narrowed down to space and time, for consciousness, it is infinity and eternity. Although the process of thinking is taken very lightly by most people as they believe that thinking is natural for the mind since all humans are born with a brain, it is not so. Having a mind along with consciousness is precisely what separates human beings from all the other species. Human beings are complicated individuals, and in order to understand them completely, we need to understand both their minds and the various mental processes. As our consciousness does not depend on our body, it can exist before a person is born and after the body dies (Parker, 2006).

Previously philosophers had the opinion that our mind and body had no connection, and thus, the former has nothing to do with our behaviors. But that is not so since if our mind is affected, then the whole body gets affected. So we can say that there exists nothing called the independent brain. One’s mind and consciousness are closely related to one’s physical body since one’s mind is nothing but a captive of one’s body. Our brain is connected with every part of our body, and without it, our body will not be able to function at all since all the movements of our body are generated in our brain. Although it may seem that an independent mind controls all the physical activities of our body through our central nervous system, it is not so (Lamb, 2004).

The connection between our mind and body takes place through nerves present in our brain. Our mind responds to any stimuli which our body feels and then instructs our body to reproduces a certain behavior. Just like the body is dependent on the mind for all of its actions, so is the mind since it has to use our central nervous system, an integral part of the body, for sending the various signals and responses. Thus, the body and mind are completely interdependent on each other (Lamb, 2004).

Scientists and philosophers have put forward numerous theories regarding the relation of our mind and consciousness to the physical body and their interdependence. Some say that our mind and body have interactions compiled in a parallel manner with the physical functions of the body, and thus, they operate at separate planes. Since our minds cannot exist as separate entities from the various activities of the body, they interact at every point in time.

Although we have not been able to precisely determine any activities of the body which represent our mind, thought, or consciousness, we have seen that a man’s consciousness becomes non-existent whenever our neural activities stop. Having said that, our mind controls the physical functions of our body through our central nervous system, and we can further say that it is our brain that determines the limitations and parameters of our body’s potential.

Our mind controls all of our abilities and also determines how we process and respond to different ideas and information. Our body is influenced by our mind since the former receives all information, processes them in the brain, transforming them into actions in the form of physical functions and behaviors sent to our body through the neurons of the central nervous system, namely the motor neurons, sensory neurons, and interneurons (Parker, 2006).

In the East, people believe in Yoga which tells us that our mind and consciousness correspond to specific locations of spiritual power in the body, known as the Chakras. They, in turn, physiologically correspond to our brain and nerve ganglia located along our vertebral column, which is a part of our nervous system. These Chakras are connected to our body and mind through nerves, and throughout the period of one’s life, one can mentally and physically develop by elevating from the lower to the higher Chakras (Lamb, 2004).

In conclusion, it can be stated that Yoga teaches a personal meditation and individuation, which brings about complete awareness of the mind allowing a person to physically train the body to such a degree that the mind and body can be completely united. In such a state of complete consciousness, a person can make his body perform unbelievable feats just by the strength of his mind.

References

  1. Berkowitz, L. (1999). Human Nature: Its Causes, Consequences, and Control. New Haven and London: Yale University Press.
  2. Lamb, D. (2004). Cult to Culture: The Development of Civilization. Wellington: National Book Trust.
  3. Parker, S., & Lewis, S. (2006). Identification of young people at risk of psychosis. Advance Psychiatric Treatment, 12(3), 249-255.