Are mental energy and spirit alike

What is mind

Many philosophers, psychologists, and neuroscientists agree that a simple analogy makes the mind easier to understand: "The mind is related to the brain as software is to the computer." However, this analogy is completely wrong. It reminds us of the enormous, often unrecognized power of digital computers to influence our thinking. Software specifies a method for performing calculations - however, the mind is not only capable of doing, but also of being. If you pause your work, look out the window and enjoy the view for a few minutes, your mind is doing nothing for a moment. However, it is not empty or idle. He is in a special state of feeling or being - the state of enjoying beauty. Such states are completely alien to computers.

There are many more simple, fundamental differences between the mind and software. Software can be moved from one computer to another; a mind can only function in exactly one brain. Software is the precise specification of algorithms; the mind cannot be specified or described. A computer can run many different applications and run multiple applications at the same time. A brain is only connected to a mind. A computer running software is an it; a person with a mind is someone. There are many more profound differences. The similarities are relatively trivial. Yet this analogy has dominated the field since the dawn of digital computers and artificial intelligence.

More than software for the brain
What is the mind if it is not "the software of the brain"? It is a machine of acting and being or also one of thinking and feeling - and as such is unique. We don't know anything else in the universe other than the spirit of animals, which resembles it. (Of course we could find other living beings in the universe. But there is no reason to believe that they have a mind or anything that resembles the mind.) Doing and being - or thinking and feeling - are not just two functions of the mind , they are the two who define the mind; and they are considerably independent of one another. Of course, our memory is also part of the mind - a crucial but subordinate part.

A machine that is capable of “being” in this sense must have a consciousness. Every object is, but only a small minority of living things know what it is. “Feeling” is the ability to experience one's own state, which - in turn - implies awareness. A "mind" that is incapable of consciousness is not a mind. There is much to be discussed here; but let's move on in the subject.

Thinking and feeling
The “axes” defining the mind can be described as reflection and feeling. Thinking is always "intentional" (this idea was conceived by Brentano) - in other words, a thought always relates to something, is concerned with something. To think implies that you are thinking about something. A feeling can be either a sensory impression or an emotion - the feeling of raindrops on your neck (sensory impression), the feeling of joy in the rain (emotion).

Thinking is purely intellectual; Feeling is always based on the body. Even a completely abstract feeling - a beautiful view gives you a feeling of happiness - has physical effects or is similar to physical sensory impressions. The feeling of joy produced by a beautiful sight is recognized to be similar to the feeling of joy when you drink something when you are thirsty, for example. Thinking is always intentional, but never feeling. Feelings cannot relate to anything or represent anything. They can of course have causes, but they do not express anything.

Thus, thoughts (purely intellectual and always intentional) and feelings (ultimately physical and never intentional) are in a sense independent of one another. And we can map the entire universe of mental states by imagining a thinking-feeling coordinate system - or a spectrum that ranges from pure thinking to pure feeling. In the upper part of this spectrum, attention is devoted exclusively to thinking. As we move further down the spectrum, a gradually increasing part of the attention is devoted to feeling and a decreasing part to thinking. Upon reaching the lower end, we are in a state that consists only of feeling - pure feeling. However, pure feeling creates problems for consciousness. The state of unconsciousness is located directly below pure feeling.

Phases of the mind
States such as belief or desires, which include thinking and feeling, correspond to different middle points in the spectrum. Of course, a mental state can hardly be described by 10 percent thinking and 90 percent feeling; there are many ways of thinking and feeling. However, the spectrum gives us a preliminary way to understand the mind. But it offers even more: the spectrum is, roughly speaking, correlated with the dynamics of the mind - the predictable changes in the mental state over the course of a day.

We approach the world at the beginning of the day - when we are energetic and wide awake - unlike we do in the middle of the afternoon when we have (usually) worked long hours. In the early morning, our ability to focus on a topic, resist a distraction, and think logically and carefully tends to be greater than in the middle of the afternoon. In the middle of the afternoon, our minds tend to let their thoughts wander.

Then later, we might find ourselves lost in daydreams - distracted for long periods of time during which our attention is focused on ideas and memories. As the day progresses, we begin to get sleepy and our mental activities change again: as we approach sleep, we become increasingly less able to control our thoughts; Memories require more attention and become more vivid. During sleep itself, our thoughts and memories are alive, they are hallucinatory, while our awareness of the outside world disappears. And in certain periods of time during sleep we are dreamless and unconscious.

In describing these familiar changes in our mental state, I have also described the changes that occur as we move down the spectrum. The spectrum is in itself a description of the mental dynamics. Thinking is dominant in the upper end of the spectrum. Thinking takes energy and discipline. Strong feelings, on the other hand, always find our attention (we sense them). Of course, as our mental energy and discipline decrease, we are less able to hold back fascinating emotions. Feelings accordingly become increasingly significant in our minds as the day progresses and we move down the spectrum.

Dreaming occurs when we are near the lower end of the spectrum. “Every dream is characterized by visual perception and strong emotions,” writes neurophysiologist J. Allan Hobson. On the other hand, dreams are associated with careless, contradicting, or illogical thinking. Feeling, not thinking, dominates dreaming.

Ignorance through teaching and research
It seems like we usually shuttle back and forth over the course of a day — our spectrum levels descend until mid-afternoon, rise again until early evening, and then move straight back down until sleep. Of course, everyone has their own pattern and version of the spectrum. In any case, the fact that teaching and research in the exploration of the mind tends to ignore mental dynamics almost entirely - although the changing states of the mind are obvious to any child - is one of the most peculiar circumstances in modern science and in modern thinking.

The pure feeling state at the lower end of the spectrum is unique and special. We sometimes experience this state briefly on a normal day when a harrowing, terrifying, or unexpected event causes a sudden surge of emotions - whereupon the emotions temporarily dominate the mind to complete exclusion of thought. During these brief episodes we are, in fact, only partially aware — as we cannot remember them later. For example, after a person has had a shocking moment, a sudden trauma, one often hears the phrase, "I can't remember what happened." However, memory is an archive of conscious states; when an event is missing from this archive, we feel as if it never happened. Hence it is a state of partial or abnormal consciousness.

Once we have reached this state of pure feeling, we can simply slide into complete unconsciousness. Think of Susanna's feigned faint in “Figaro's Wedding”. She does this because real powerlessness at the time would not have been surprising. Usually we sleep while moving into the unconscious at the lower end of the spectrum. The philosopher and psychologist Franz Brentano, who in his work dealt with intentionality - i.e. the ability of a person to relate to something - could have expanded his work by establishing the connection between intentionality and consciousness. Intentionality, a relationship to something, connects the mind with the outside world itself. The very end of the spectrum, pure feeling, is a state that is completely devoid of intentionality. The next step is, inevitably, unconsciousness.


Further examples
... for artificial intelligence in use can be found on our website at www.rotary.de/ki