Mind, Brain, and Culture

“You cannot understand the mind without understanding how the brain works”—Patricia S. Churchland, Touching a Nerve

“Each human brain is part of a dynamic, interacting system  of other brains embedded in culture… why are the shops full of books such as Touching a Nerve, which show that it is the brain that makes decisions, determines moral values and explains political attitudes?  I can only assume that these are the modern equivalent of Gothic horror stories. We love to be frightened by the thought that we  are nothing more than the 1.5 kilograms of sentient meat that is our brain, but we don’t  really believe it”—Chris Frith, “My Brain and I,” Nature

“While culture can be referred to as “collective mind,” the mind can be conceptualized as “culture in the brain,” or “individualized culture.” These are not just two elements of the same—symbolic and mental—reality, they are one and the same process occurring on two different levels—the individual and the collective, similar to the life of an organism and of the species to which it belongs in the organic world. The fundamental laws governing this process on both levels are precisely the same laws and at every moment, at every stage in it, it moves back and forth between the levels; it cannot, not for a split second, occur on only one of them. The mind constantly borrows symbols from culture, but culture can only be processed—i.e., symbols can only have significance and be symbols—in the mind”—Liah Greenfeld

One thought on “Mind, Brain, and Culture

  1. Malcolm Campbell

    I admire the promising choice of concepts you have made, and your caution about high level abstractions. As a physical scientist, I also appreciate your selection of what is to be nominated as real. On that question, I’m surprised that you appear not to refer to the work of Walter J. Freeman, the UC Berkeley neurophysiologist and author of ‘Societies of Brains’ and ‘How Brains Make Up their Minds’, who holds views closely parallel to yours. I should add that in his voluminous work he does not appear to refer to you! Thanks.
    Malcolm Campbell

    Reply

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