Minds and mental phenomena: An introduction
Minds and mental phenomena: An introduction

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

Minds and mental phenomena: An introduction

7 Conclusion

We have been primarily concerned to explore in a preliminary fashion the domain of the mental. We have looked briefly at various different kinds of actual and possible minds – normal and abnormal human minds, animal minds, angelic minds, and so on – and at the variety of mental phenomena – thought, perception, sensation, emotion, etc. Describing what a mind might be like is partly a matter of describing the kinds of mental phenomena that the mind in question exhibits. Conceiving of what a possible mind very different from our own might be like, however – the mind of an angel or animal, for example – is very difficult. In fact, it may be more difficult than we think, for as we saw, there may be surprising connections between what might at first sight seem to be relatively autonomous mental phenomena: between emotion and reason, emotion and perception, imagination and perception; as well as very surprising disconnections, for example, in the case of blindsight, between conscious visual experience and unconscious perception. Mind and mental phenomena are obviously very complex indeed and nothing very conclusive can be drawn from our preliminary and pre-theoretical reflections. They are intended as initial forays into the mental territory. We noted two important distinctions, however, that can be very helpful when thinking about the complex nature of minds: that between attitudes and experiences and that between dispositions and occurrences. These two distinctions can help us think about the nature of the mental.

We began this course by noting the distinction between the living and the non-living, and between the minded and the non-minded. It is a matter of controversy which living creatures in the world fall into the category of the minded. It is also a matter of controversy whether only living things fall into this category. Can machines such as computers and robots have minds? Can purely spiritual beings with no bodies have minds? If so, what could their minds be like?

AA308_1

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371