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Thread: How best to understand the human mind?

  1. #1
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    How best to understand the human mind?

    I'm currently undergraduate in physics and interested in the human brain, most generally. There are two ways to investigate human mind: extrospection and introspection.

    Extrospection involves studying the brain as a complex physical and/or biological system, using developed techniques. Mechanism of communication of neurons via action potentials is an example of a type of understanding of the brain gotten through extrospection. A more deeper understanding would be to know what kind of interaction of neurons results in certain subjective experiences (fear, hope, anxiety, memory, love...). Extrospection provides intellectual understanding.

    Introspection involves studying subjective experiences through the observation of our mind. The main tool used in this kind of investigation is our attention which we direct to our subjective experiences in order to gain deeper insight into their nature. The frequency of getting lost in our thoughts, the nature of arising and passing away of every subjective experience (i.e. its impermanence), experiences of different states of consciousness, etc. are examples of a type of understanding of the brain gotten through introspection. Introspection provides experiential understanding.

    There is also a third method which can help deepen the understanding of the mind: Philosophy of the mind. It involves studying the brain using cognition, thinking, logic, etc. The nature of consciousness is the well-known topic of discussion.

    I want to develop all 3 methods of investigation of human brain in order to understand it at the deepest and completest level.
    Maybe I should have studied neuroscience, but now that I'm deep enough into physics, I want to find a direction that will get me to intellectual understanding and possibly enable me to mix it with other types of understanding, explained above. So, my questions are:

    1) Is biophysics a right direction? Is it the only area where physicist can research human brain? What are other areas?
    2) What is the best biophysical literature which starts with introduction to biophysics and continues with more and more advanced and specialized topics?
    3) What areas of physics are needed in biophysics? Statistical thermodynamics?
    4) Is there philosophical literature which goes in parallel with the biophysical literature?
    5) How big of a field of biophysics is? Are biophysicists wanted in general?
    6) Are there any biophysicists here with experience?

    Every answer/critique is highly appreciable.
    Observing from the top of the Motion Mountain.

  2. #2
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    I think any comprehensive scientific investigation necessarily involves, and already typically does involve, all three of the methods you suggest. Your number 2 is the most critical. Without it your numbers 1 & 3 would quickly lead you astray.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ToSeek View Post
    To elaborate, this section of the forum is for astronomy and space exploration questions with straightforward, generally accepted answers.
    I doubt this question will have a straightforward, generally accepted answer. I'll move it from Q&A to S&T.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darrell View Post
    I think any comprehensive scientific investigation necessarily involves, and already typically does involve, all three of the methods you suggest. Your number 2 is the most critical. Without it your numbers 1 & 3 would quickly lead you astray.
    I agree that introspection is unavoidable, required and used all the time, but only in its most basic form. I was suggesting much more thorough introspective investigation which requires high levels of attention, intention, concentration, etc. which then leads to much more profound understandings of the human mind (for example, so called ''illusion of the self'')
    Observing from the top of the Motion Mountain.

  5. #5
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    Please research instead, interoception and exteroception in the mind model. You need to read up on modern ideas of mind rather than jump in at what is a rather dated model. This thread will duplicate similar threads I think.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

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    Quote Originally Posted by profloater View Post
    Please research instead, interoception and exteroception in the mind model. You need to read up on modern ideas of mind rather than jump in at what is a rather dated model. This thread will duplicate similar threads I think.
    Research where? There's too much information on the internet. What's wrong with asking recommendation for reading from those who can tell which literature is better?
    Observing from the top of the Motion Mountain.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matej Velko View Post
    Research where? There's too much information on the internet. What's wrong with asking recommendation for reading from those who can tell which literature is better?
    I was lucky enough to be at the first interoception conference in Tulsa and I know a summary paper is coming out in a journal would you like me to PM the details when they are published?It is true that the latest research has not yet reached the text books. There is a published opinion paper by Dr Kyle Simmons et al. I can point that in PM too.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

  8. #8
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    Maybe the brain constructs a model of its environment using the information received through the senses, and the mind is the brain's representation of itself in the model. I was going to say this in the reality thread but didn't want to face a 91 paragraph refutation.

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