The miracle of mind then unerringly leads us to reject entirely a perception of it as merely a collection of brain functions as such. Nor on the other hand should it be perceived as some form of assemblage amounting to a separate mental entity. Although it cannot be pursued in detail here, the truth is that we make our initial blunder whenever we speak, (as we tend to out of necessity i.e. for pragmatic reasons) of a mind-body dualism or a body-brain-mind trilogy) The truth – as we have already seen and will continue to see – is that we can never somehow prise the physical away from the neurophysiological/ biochemical/endocrinological, or indeed, from any part of this from the psychological, social and spiritual. Mentality is thus undeniably both the product and the potential of mind; and mind of brain and body. Beyond this, for the present purposes of this series of posted blogs at any rate, we cannot go.
In an earlier blog, you may recall that I made reference to a personal preference for simple schemas or overall plans, as a means of affording shape and supplying meaning to more complex notions, where such are under review at a given time. On the occasion in question I did, you will recall, deploy a pyramid to illustrate something about the evolution of brain. My task here is of course, to convey my perception of the evolution of mind. However, the first problem we need to face is an age-old one regarding planet earth and life on our planet. If the “big bang” theory approximates even remotely to the truth, it would set the date of the formation of our world at around 4500 million years ago. However, the difficulty with such immense time periods is that they defy human imagination and thus debar any acceptable form of comprehensible interpretation.
Let me therefore propose an easing of this problem by setting it within a timeframe, which is available and readily comprehensible to all of us and which many of us first came across in our student days. Let us take, by way of example, the calendar year. Set out below is just such a schema which I believe is readily interpretable and which also indicates the major happenings and events that have taken place over such a monumental time span, of the evolution of earth. (Please note that although events are set in their right order at approximate times in our calendar year, they are by no means intended to represent any form of “in ratio” scale:-
Jan. Volcanic eruptions; gases, e.g. ammonia, methane, hydrogen, steam etc.
Feb. ^ ^ ^
March “Chemical soup”
May Complex chemicals; carbons/protein
June Bacteria (supplying oxygen)
July Single cell creatures; e.g. amoeba
Aug Complex cell groups
Sept. Emergence of fish, shelled/jelly fish.
Oct. ^ ^ ^
Dec. Reptiles 100mya; Mammals 70mya; hominids 100,000ya; homosapiens
Note. Mya = million years ago. 12 months = 4,500mys; 1 month = 375mys; 1 day = 12.3mys.
From the above we are also able to catch, at any rate, more than a fleeting glance of man’s ascent from the most rudimentary and primitive of life forms and from which at some point, clearly the birth of mind took place. Moreover, emerging at around a mere 70.000 years ago therefore, we are entirely right to perceive man as little more than, “the new kid on the block”. Let me once more take recourse to our ‘old friend’ the pyramid. (Again, to follow what is written here, it is essential that posts dated Jan.23 2016 and February 3 & 4 2016 are read, re-read and fully understood). Taking matters further, let us now imagine that same pyramid, but this time inverted; i.e. up side down and with colour codes reversed: i.e. the up-side-down apex on which the pyramid is based, will now be representing the reptilian era, still coloured green.
This increasingly large slice of our inverted, i.e. up side down pyramid takes care of Jan. onward and forward, through our year, into mid Dec. Reptiles, we have said, made an appearance around 100 million years ago. One month, we have said, represents 375 million years ago. It therefore follows from all of the above in this blog that reptiles made an appearance late in the afternoon of the last day of Dec, followed by mammals, with man not making an appearance until almost the end of the last day of Dec. Thus, Dec. will be represented on our pyramid by little more than a slither of the inverted base of our pyramid. Nevertheless, this can be clearly perceived to play a crucial and pivotal role in the essential functioning of every living creature, from the lowliest to the uppermost; namely, man.
Hopefully therefore, the above also reinforces the notion, and testifies (however imperfectly and inadequately) to that incredible journey, which each one of us has taken thus far. And just as it is the case that the new, albeit mortal, life that we perceive in every new born infant, was formed at conception, so perhaps we can begin to perceive in all of the above, a kind of “womb of life” and thus of mind. Surely it is clear, is it not, that although we do not (because we cannot) identifying mind for what it is, prior to the involvement of the new brain (which in reality is the facilitator of our perception and of the intellectual and emotional self); its journey actually also began with the advent of life in its most primitive form, way back in the ‘spring’/’summer’ of our imagined span of one calendar year?
I now have one further thought with which I will conclude this blog. For the moment, it amounts to no more than a hypothesis, but nevertheless a “hunch” which is born of (but not relying entirely upon) empirical evidence. Let me express it this way. We have witnessed how – by whatever means – the same life that we now live (albeit immeasurably and incomprehensibly more complex in every dimension) was born of the most humble, seemingly random and purposeless of beginnings: yet the thread, although both fine – and in the early stages especially – fragile, is clearly in evidence for all to behold. Somehow or other, that same ‘mind blowing’ individuality which is to be attributed to every human being that ever lived, emerged from and through a common ‘pool” of life.
Thus, by whatever means and however obscure, brain has emerged and advanced to its present status, i.e. from the single cell (as indeed it does from conception to birth) and the mind has – through countless and wondrous evolutionary processes – been born of “matter”. Is it not therefore possible that just one more incredulous and indescribable commonality, somehow stems from our very individuality? That commonality is the spiritual, with (at one and the same time) all of its singularity, individuality and uniqueness. So that when we talk about being of similar or of one mind, we are, in reality, speaking about a further entity and quality that mind, still in its infancy. Thus it is it is that mind emerges, not so much from brain, but through brain, which now gives it the present perception that we each, as individuals, possess of it. (C)SB
NOTE>At this point in the offering 0f these blog postings, the author and presenter of them in this format, would like to make it clear that in his opinion, little there is that is in the truest sense, original; and that he claims absolutely no rights or claims to originality of anything written herein; other than to the particular and in that sense actual mode and structure of each blog posted. Rather is it the case that they are offered as little more than a montage of readings, writings, listening and viewing, dialogues and of informed opinions emanating from a host of resources. For all such contributions, from whatever source made available for more than eighty years now, the writer expresses his profound thanks and deepest appreciation. There whole purpose here is to arouse, support, further stimulate and encourage such discussion and interest, in a self evident and key element of “coal face caring”.