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A Discussion about the Mind and Consciousness

23 November, 2015 - 10:13
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How does the mind decipher meaning?

Or I might ask another question - what exactly does that mean? What is meaning in the mind anyway?

An example would be an expression or any saying basically - say someone says 'red apples taste good'. That statement has a certain significance for both the listeners and the person making the statement. Depending on their experience and understanding of how red apples taste their understanding of the statement is going to differ.

That was just a verbal example, however. The mind also gets meaning from its surroundings and physical phenomena. The red apples by themselves, for instance, might give the person an experience from just seeing the apples but probably more of one when they eat one of the apples.

So there is verbal or intellectual experience and physical or phenomenal experience - the important question then is how do these two types of experience relate to each other - here Heil states Davidson's theory (Heil, J):

  • Davidson argues that ... every mental token is identical with some physical token. Your being in pain at midnight is (let us imagine) identical with some physical (presumably neurological) event occurring in your body at midnight, although there is no prospect of translating talk of pain into neurological talk.

That theory received a lot of criticism, and I can see why. It doesn't seem like that would ever be literally true - as a guideline it might make some sense that mental events or states correspond with what is going on physically with the body at any time, however they probably aren't exact because different factors are going to be determining someones mental cognitions than the factors determining their physical biology.