The Learning Zone
The sculptor and the statue
What is the mind? This question that has fascinated humankind and especially philosophers for centuries, has today become a hot topic attracting also the interest of neuroscientists (and not just philosophers).
The current prevalent view is materialistic and claims that the mind is a product of the brain (see Conventional Theories of Consciousness), or it claims that it is a product of the brain, body and the environment (see also An overview of the book, The Future of the Brain: The Promise and Perils of Tomorrow’s Neuroscience, by Steven Rose). Although only few view the mind as an independent non-material entity (dualistic view), it is fair to say that the debate is still very much open since no proof has yet been obtained to prove or disprove one view versus the other.
The above being said, data obtained so far in trials studying the mind’s role in improving rehabilitation of movement after a stroke or in the treatment of obsessive compulsive disorder, for instance, is suggestive that the mind plays a very key role indeed. Those who favor a dualistic view of the mind-brain problem, could consider this data counterweight to the materialistic theories.
Let’s explain what we mean by this. We know and that it is logical to think that every caused thing must come into existence through a cause higher than itself, and everything that is made must come into existence through a maker higher than itself. For instance, a sculpture is sculpted by a sculptor and not by another statue. Also a statue will not sculpt a sculptor !! Now the capacity of self directed attention, thoughts to lead to changes in one’s brain and therefore to control the brain to a certain extent, illustrates that the mind is “higher” than the brain since it can control it. Those viewing the mind as an independent entity could thus argue that the above data supports their theory and that sticking to the view that our mind is the product of our brain despite the evidence provided by neuroplasticity could be analogized to saying that that a statue can sculpt a sculptor.
Having said this, we leave it to the readers to formulate their own opinion after reading this series of articles on neuroplasticity1.
1 Neuroplasticity: the ability to change the structure and functioning of the brain through experiences and the conscious use of directed thoughts
By the Horizon Research Foundation editorial board