• Question: Is your mind physical or mental?

    Asked by ells8 to David, Jonathan, Ou, Pete, Sam on 10 Jun 2012.
    • Photo: Pete Etchells

      Pete Etchells answered on 10 Jun 2012:

      That’s a tough one! No one’s quite sure really, but there are three different ways of thinking about it. The first is called ‘dualism’, which traditionally means that the mind is completely separate from the brain (i.e. the mind is mental, and the brain is physical). Another way of thinking about it is called ‘materialism’, which suggests that our brain processes are the sole reason that we have a mind, so the mind by definition is physical. The last one, idealism, is pretty mind-boggling (get it?!) – idealists say that actually, there’s no physical world out there; we’re basically imagining everything and everyone in our minds, and nothing exists outside of us. Pretty weird, huh?

      I don’t really know the answer to this – I don’t think anyone does! – but I would say that there is definitely a physical component to the mind. It has to be a part of our brain in some way! But as to whether there’s anything else out there, who knows? What do you think?