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Philosophy of Mind

About Specific Processing of Mind
at the Period of Revaluation

Sergei Shevstov

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ABSTRACT: A new situation is always a discovery. It allows us to see old problems in a new light. The philosopher’s main task is to find new situations. The consciousness of the millions of people living in the countries of the former Soviet Union can be considered new in all senses, except one. Nevertheless the exception gives rise to serious difficulties. Essentially, a situation is always new since none of Aristotle’s kinds of identity can be used for it. At the same time, this same situation can never be new since anything similar must have taken in human history. It is up to the philosopher to see the situation from a new point of view. Now we can observe the changes and its effects. The collapse of the old ideology did not create the changing of mass consciousness per se, because the latter had already taken a skeptical attitude toward it. The real change of mass consciousness began with the change of real human practice. When former engineers, teachers, scientists, and industrial workers clashed with the necessity to support themselves and their families, it was always as an alternative to starting all over again — the option of relying only on themselves or continuing to rely on the state system to do their usual work in the hopes of receiving an illusory reward in the future.

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A new situation is always a discovery; it gives a possibility to see old problems in a new light. The philosopher’s main task is to find a new situation. The situation with consciousness of the millions of people living in the countries of the former Soviet Union can be considered new in all senses, except one.

Nevertheless the exception gives rise the serious difficulties. Their essence can be expressed simply: a situation is always new, because none of four Aristotle’s kinds of identity can be used for it. The same situation can never be new, because anything similar must have taken in the human history. It’s up to the philosopher’s eye to see something in with a new point of view.

How unique is the situation with mass consciousness in Eastern Europe? Now we can observe for ourself the change of the mass consciousness. The collapse of the old ideology did not create the changing of the mass consciousness per se, because the latter had already taken the skeptical attitude towards it. It can easily be seen by the analysis of the non-official mass culture of the USSR of Brezhnev’s period with its culture of the undertext, with its real under-ground, with its anecdotes, and, in particular, with its exceptional cynism similar to that of France before the French Revolution. Therefore, the ideology collapsed so easily because it found no support. (The present communist movement has absolutely different roots, about which I will talk later.) The real change of mass consciousness began with the change of the real human practice. When former engineers, teachers, scientists, and industrial workers clashed with the necessity to support themselfs and their families, it was always as alternative to canceling all their past life and starting all over again, relying only on themselves, or continuing to rely on the state system to do their usual work, and hoping to receive more and more illusory reward in the future.

The people who had chosen the first way can conditionally be divided into two groups: (1) those, who have quickly became successful, what radically changed their personal psychology, and (2) those who work hard and have money to live on, but who are constantly on a verge of psychological frustration through lack of any guarantees or insuranceany of their mistake or illness can cancel all previous efforts and throw off the man into hopeless poverty.

The people who had chosen the other way, can be divided into three main categories: (1) enthusiast-fanatics, which are very few and which can live by casual earnings, hardly making ends meet; (2) the people who are frightened of responsibility and who are now the foundation of the communist movement in Russia and other countries of NIS and at last, (3) those who have made the "business" from their work and who exist by bribery, corruption, and other forms of extortion, which frequently implies blackmail. The latter category of people is the most dangerous and fast growing, and fortunately, it has not made up the majority yet.

I want to note the fact, that philosophy gives a very little attention to the field, which precisely deals with consciousness in everyday practice. This field is an education or pedagogics. Philosophy removes itself from child’s consciousness, from becoming a mind, and from the mind of man, who experiences the life crisis, the "revaluation of all values."

Philosophers seek the "pure consciousness", leaving aside content of consciousness, although Husserl incessantly repeated, that there is no consciousness without its subject. The "pure consciousness" is not anything else, but a concept only. It is even beyond our introspection. We must give more attention to the process of formation of the content of the mind. Only by the pathological forms of consciousness or by the life crises we can learn something about our mind.

It is very significant point that the main source of our knowledge about human nature is the form of infringement of normal activity of our mind, by such forms as neuroses, mental diseases, different kinds of "mojli" or "zomby" and at last the criminals and the maniacs, whose mind is very interesting subject for investigation.

The child psychology, which was studied so much, is more rarely the subject of the just philosophical investigations now. The rapidly growing abyss between philosophy and psychology makes itself specially felt on the problem of consciousness.

The 18th century’s attention to the process of education is lost, and we look at the bildingnovel’s position now as naive and narrow-minded one. This is the case in many aspects, but we must not have lost the very aimness into the problem.

An infant has a mind since he is able to percept the world. First time our world must seem to him as absolutely united one. For the first month of his life a child does not cry during bathing and is not afraid of water on his face. It is not because his perception does not function yet, but because he does not have a "norm" or a "habit" yet, and any changes of his environment are natural for him and, in the certain sense, are not changes.

Gradually a child gains ability to single out the particular parts of the world out: mother’s breast, mother’s voice, mother herself, water, light et cetera. Particularly at this time it is necessary for a child to have bright toys for his first operations, which are already independent, and which help him to divide the world into parts. Each of these bits of the world must come into his mind and take its own place there. But how is it possible?

How is it possible to separate inside the mind a sound (for example, "mother’s voice") from water or light, if there isn’t yet the language to mark them? The things in the environment can be noticed by their correlation to the inner perception-sensation, but it can also be separated only by their correlation with other anything, that is to say anything external. The inner world and the external world arise by their interaction. At the same time it is the mind becoming.

Thus the mind is the ability to turn the unity into the separate parts and to operate with them. The separate parts are possible as such by their correlation with each other. The very ability of this initial operation must apparently attribute to the instinct needs, and, in this sense, the ability of beginning of the mind must be ascribed not only to the people, or animals, but even plants. However plants don’t have an organized center, a brain, which is able to correlate the sensation and outside things. Plants can not percept the world as the system of the relation and they do not have a mind.

The relations are established by brain, the center, where the information of our senses come in as the continuous stream. How can this continuous stream be partitioned? If I experience the pleasure from the mother’s warm milk, and at the same time I see mother’s breast, and I perceive her smell, is it enough for separating this event from the whole stream of my life? How can I know, that this is really a pleasure? Then I can mark this in my state, by correlation of this to my other states. I can understand my state as a pleasure, only if I can correlate it with a non-pleasure. We can not make even the most obscure concept without correlating it to another.

(Here the very interesting fact can do us a good turn. Blind-deaf-mute children, who have a concept about existence of the light and the sound by a long teaching, frequently give a preference to hearing. They are drawn by music. If they could choose, they would like to hear. But men with normal senses almost always give their preference to vision. The loss of vision is probably the most terrible thing, which can happened. Perhaps the blind-deaf-mute children can get the idea of a sound by analogy with a smell. But vision is above all other senses and it can not be correlated to anything, and it is impossible to get the idea of vision not only for blind-deaf-mute children, but also for congenitally blind children.)

At this point of our meditations, whether we like it or not, we come back to the problems, which were risen by Immanuel Kant. His ideas of the intrinsic character of human perception of space and time were finally rejected in the 20th century with the appearance of the Theory of Relativity. But a few people have noted the fact, that the our common representation of space and time was not changed significantly since then. We continue represent the space as empty extent. A few people have noted, that although Kant inclined to account these ideas as different ones, they are co-connected, even by the fact, that there are only two such ideas; and the connection of the space and the time in Einstein’s theory is well-known. Also there are few people who have noted the reduction our perception of sequence, the perception one after another. We can perceive the duration or extent only as the sequence of homogeneity or homogeneous sequence.

It does not make sense to repeat Kant’s arguments about impossibility of our ability to perceive sequence to be gotten from the experience. It has to be a priori. I can not tell here about the problem of apriority. If we consider the idea of sequence that I mentioned before, we can make the conclusion that the mind is the ability to divide the elements of our inner experience into parts by their correlation to each other on the grounds of human a priori idea of sequence.

The mind in this relation is similar to the language, here we observe the complex system of relations of elements (the smallest are sounds or letters, and the biggest are texts), these elements are also referred to the elements of reality. Here I see the connection of the mind with the language which is often ignored by us. If we find a language of any highest animals, we will ascribe them a mind.

From here we can make the conclusion about the excessively complex structure of the mind, where by the analogy with language can be divided into different levels: phonetic, morphological, lexical, and syntactic ones. There isn’t yet a significance on the phonetic level, but only premises of its appearance. The same is in the mind: there isn’t a mind on the level of perception of primary sensible facts, but their very discreteness creates a premises of the consciousness in the future.

The thing that we call the mind exists only on the highest (syntactic) level and it is not directly connected with our brain’s work, although it is determined by it. The mind is the restored unity of the perceived world. The mind is the world of our perception, the world is walked through operations of analysis and synthesis, the divided world and it is especially important, anew completed one.

However the consciousness has much more complex structure than language, in so far as it is the result of the connection of a few different senses, even though one or two senses is enough for it existence. Our consciousness is even more multiplex system of relations between elements, but these elements are not bits of matter, but rather the bundleness of the relations. The unity of consciousness must be understood as the unity of relations, as their center or place of crossing. In addition this center is hierarchically organized, and its hierarchy is not constant and it is usually established by situation (context ).

When we are thinking, we have only processes in the cells of our brain, but each of these processes is the piece of our former experience, it is a little fragment of our life, but the fragment which is connected with all of the rest of fragments and therefore with all of our life. The process of thinking is the process of operating the smallest fragments of our past, but by the way of this operation we can not construct a new experience and a new world.

The significance arises as the result of correlation of one group of relations with another, and though it may be made possible by brain’s activity, the result of this correlation and of this activity is yet in consciousness beyond a brain. It seems as unintelligibleness, but it is thing as usual. If anybody tells you, that he saw a strange cinema or an interest matching, it isn’t mean, that he saw a strange motion of actors and of cinefilm, or an interesting activity of players on the field. You will not could find anything strange or interesting on the level of visual perception. The interest and the strangeness were born by correlations of usual elements.

It remains the question how can the brain’s cells establish these relations between their processes. I can talk about it only very briefly. The apriori idea of the sequence is nothing other than a need. The idea of a need leads us to the common question about a life. Here I can say only, that life is probably a form of reversible processes. The need is what physics named as potential energy. The instinct of self-preservation or self-preservation of species is a form of salvation from the of the reverse process. A life is a cycle of the reversible processes. A biological need is a form of energy for further processing, that is a condition of saving the existing. The more complex organism is, the more complex means of preservation it has. The brain is the most complex form of organization and preservation of organisms. The mind is the most complex form of brain’s activity that is to say a form of preservation.

Now I want to return to the beginning of my paper: the description of consciousness of the people living in the countries of the former USSR. The consciousness and the reality determines each other, they are interconnected. Hegel gave a brilliant analysis of that in his The Phenomenology of Mind, where he discovered the humorous which had led to the French Revolution. The Revolution became possible because the consciousness had changed, but this change became predominated by the Revolution.

At our countries the same revelation takes place: the consciousness and the reality run ahead of one another and wait for each other. Now the people who have their own business at their own risk teach themselves to be free, I can say, that they are testing the freedom. Now they deny all forms of the state interference, they don’t trust the state and don’t wait for anything good from it. Tomorrow they will understand the state as their strength. May be this process will go through corruption. Then they will use the state for themselves and will turn it into their strength. The majority of these processes are absolutely unconscious. Now people are firmly holding to something that they shied away from just yesterday. And now they are sure, that they always though so.

The consciousness of distrust and irritation of the old ideology has lead to its collapse, but the forms of a new ideology have not yet been found that’s why a new ideology in the old forms is rejected too. During the last ten years, our countries have lived through a revolution in thought. Marxism-Leninism ideology predominated before the end of the Eighties, and although it was never really the ideology of the masses, we were all infected with it (even enemies of the social system: insurgents and nonconformists). It introduced its language, categories and measures into all of us. The Soviet model man of the Sixties and Seventies was not a classic Marxist, but Marxism was an organic part of his philosophy. This man was a centaur: a semi-man, a semi-horse. It is very naive to think that he could easily throw off his horse half and stand on his own feet after degradation of the socialist totalitarian regime. As Hercules tore his poison cloak off with his own skin and flesh together, so Marxism is eliminated today only with suffering and anguish. The present-day society of Eastern Europe countries is very interesting for investigation and we can only regret about our inability to study it in full measure.

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