What Is Mind ?

I have read the editorial of Brain & Mind "What is Mind ?" (http://www.epub.org.br/cm/n04/editori4_i.htm), and it is my opinion that the author (Dr. Cardoso) has an encompassing vision about the subject. However, I have also been reading the works from the Chilean biologist Maturana, from Gregory Bateson, Ilya Prigogine and Fritjof Capra (particularly his latest book, "The Web of Life") and to me is very clear that a new concept of mind is arising, a concept which goes beyond that one proposed by the author in the aforementioned article. Dr. Cardoso reports that there is no mind without a brain. However, Maturana as well as Bateson propose the opposite.... a mind can exist without the "envelope" of a brain. They have arrived to this conclusion by asking oneselves not only about the mind, but about life in general. What are the differences between a living and a non-living system ? For example, Maturana states that living systems are autopoietic, i.e., it makes itself, and that life is related more to processes than to fixed states.

Since living systems are autopoietic, they posess a "cognition about the universe" in which they are inserted. These systems are closed (in its production of itself) and open as well (in its contact with the external environment). There is a cognition, a knowledge, in a community of bacteria.... there is a mind there. There is no doubt that this widens the concepts of mind and cognition. These are very recent studies (although they have been proposed since the beginning of the 70s), which I really consider that they should be taken into account.

I also found very interesting that the author has suggested the possible existence of a "site" in the brain which could be correlated to religious experiences. This was the attitude of the positivists in the beginning of the century which certainly is having ramifications in the present-day neurological thinking.

Prof. Eduardo Simonini Lopes Psychologist, Federal University of Vicosa, Brazil

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