Re: What Is the Mind?

From: Harnad, Stevan (
Date: Wed Feb 12 1997 - 14:53:38 GMT

> From: Dunsdon, Graham <>
> Steven, what do you understand the mind to be?

To have a mind is to have feelings. Not just feelings like pain or
anger etc., feelings like what it feels like to be hungry, to see a red
chair, to want to eat, to imagine a pink elephant and (more
controversially -- many philosophers would disagree) what it feels like
to understand a sentence, to know what a word means, to believe that
the earth is round, etc.

In short, to have a mind is to be capable of having experience (because
there's something that it feels like to experience each of the many
things we are able to experience). Things like rocks and computers have
no minds: they do not have any experiences. There's no one "home" in
there, feeling feelings, whereas there IS someone home in our bodies
(and the body of the axolotl). To experience experiences ( = to feel
feelings) is what it is to have (or, better, to BE) a mind.

Now, although feeling feelings is the essence of having/being a
mind, cogsci will not have much to say about feelings! It will explain
what minds can DO. We can just hope that once we get all the details of
what minds can do explained, then there won't be any more unanswered
too many questions about the mind left over. But the mind/body problem
-- the problem of how matter can feel -- may remain unsolved.

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