The prompt for this week’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday is mind.
Regular readers of the blog will know that one of my interests is memetics. Some people think it’s generally BS, but I think it goes a long way to explaining why people are the way they are. I’ve wanted to write about memetics, but had a hard time explaining it, but the prompt got me thinking about this analogy (remember these from the SAT?):
The brain is the physical structure that sits in your head and gives the orders that keep you breathing and tell you when it’s time to eat and go to the bathroom. The properties of the brain are determined primarily by genetics, those strands of DNA that determine everything else about you (your gender, color of hair, skin, and eyes, build, etc.). (I’m not a geneticist, nor was I especially good at biology, and haven’t a clue about physiology or anatomy, so I’m sure that isn’t a good explanation. Work with me, OK?)
The mind, on the other hand, is the logical structure that uses the brain to process thoughts, ideas, opinions, baseball scores, and so on. The brain does the physical stuff (fires the synapses and sends the signals to the rest of the body), the mind does the logical stuff (processes the events and burns them into the mind, forms its own opinions and reactions based on what it already knows, blah blah blah). The mind is determined by the memes that are given to it, such as “step on a crack, break your mother’s back,” “if you lie, you’ll go to hell and burn in the unquenchable flames for eternity,” and “the Cubs will never win another World Series.”
To put it another way, it’s like a computer: the brain is the hardware, the mind the software. The brain has its structure and ability to store and process information, while the mind tells the brain how to deal with the information, which information to store, which to reject (and to what degree, i.e. whether to laugh it off or beat someone to within an inch of their life). Just as the engineers who design and build the computer decide on the hardware and the programmers determine the software, the genes build the brain while the memes determine what goes in and how it’s processed.
There will be a test next week. Be sure to study.
If you’d like to see more examples of Stream of Consciousness writing, or think you might like to do some on your blog, follow this link to Linda Hill’s blog, where she has all the information.
13 thoughts on “The Brain and the Mind #socs”
Cool way to explain it! Thanks for this, John. You’ve given me something to think about. 🙂
Memetics is a new term for me. I found this fascinating. Thanks.
Like a body is just a vessel for the whole mix and once dead and devoid of a soul it is bt a science experiment. 😉 I have never heard of Memonics…off to Google…
The guy who first came up with memetics is Richard Dawkins, who talked about it his book The Selfish Gene. I learned about it from Richard Brodie’s Virus of the Mind. Those books might be a good starting point.
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I believe I’ve heard that the combination of the mind and the brain is called “wetware”. It also seems to me that the theory of a mind that is separate from the brain, is a metaphysical theory. That would make it unprovable. But I like the idea, and like to assume it is true.
Metaphysics… gee, and I thought I was just coming up with a good analogy… XD
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You should write text books for high school and introductory college psychology. They would be much more interesting for students with all those real life examples!
Remember, though, I’m not a psychologist, and don’t even try to play one on the Internet. XD I’d ask a real psychologist what s/he thinks, but probably wouldn’t understand the answer…
You did a great job explaining this.
That seems to be the general opinion…
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