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Summary of the mind/body connection issue.

Overview of Unit 1, part 1:

⦁ The mind as a perceiver of reality and the truth

⦁ Definitions of the mind

⦁ The mind/body connection as an issue

To Review: Start by making a table of topics, readings, and main points.

⦁ Various interpretations of the mind and body:

⦁ Overview of Part 1 readings—Mind.

⦁ Dante, Canto 27 of Purgatorio

⦁ Dante’s narrative here shows how people can face their fears and address them functionally, perhaps through imagination and dreams, observing and remembering how others before them have made decisions and behaved.

⦁ Virgil’s recognition of his own limitations, his farewell to Dante as his guide, and his blessing of Dante as the temporal and spiritual ruler of himself, show an important turning point that instructs readers about their own lives.

⦁ “The Story of P’an Ku”

⦁ This story points out the problems of faulty assumptions, reversing the tendency to see humans as the highest form of creation by depicting them as parasitic insects.

⦁ The story also could be interpreted to show how life is characterized at its best by transformation and the development of potential, such as P’an Ku’s creation of the earth from his own body, and the fact that humans have in fact evolved from their humble beginnings.

⦁ Max Ehrmann, “Desiderata”

⦁ We have the ability, and perhaps the obligation, to shape our own attitudes, thoughts, and approaches to life, in spite of outside influences.

⦁ We can be influenced ourselves by the discrediting of a claim about a source (“found in Old St. Paul’s Church, Baltimore, 1692”), or we can evaluate the merits of a source’s message for ourselves

⦁ Plato, Book 7 of The Replublic, “The Allegory of the Cave”: the nature of the mind; uses of the mind

⦁ our world of knowledge can and must expand if we hope to know the truth and reality as it really is;

⦁ perceptions of reality may not be accurate; there is uncertainty due to our limited perceptions

⦁ knowledge and wisdom must be shared for the good of the State

⦁ Sir Francis Bacon, “The Four Idols”: flaws of the mind to be aware of

⦁ Our perceptions and ability to know the truth or reality are limited, because:

⦁ We are humans (Idols of the Tribe)

⦁ We tend to think of ourselves as original and unique & hold on to our beliefs rather than being open to new knowledge (Idols of the Den)

⦁ Our ability to communicate and share information is fundamentally flawed both in its delivery and understanding (Idols of the Market)

⦁ We have belief systems, philosophies, mores, etc. that limit our thinking and openness (Idols of the Theatre)

⦁ We can learn to be aware of these flaws and begin to overcome them.

⦁ John Ruskin, “Of the Pathetic Fallacy”

⦁ We must strive to overcome the tendency to see the world in human terms, and also curb our overly sentimental and emotional ways of describing non-human aspects, so that we approach an understanding of the truth.

⦁ Terry Bisson, “They’re Made Out of Meat”

⦁ Humans often think of themselves as the highest creations, yet from another perspective, they may be inferior to other beings.

⦁ Some qualities, such as the desire to reach out to others, to develop understanding, and even to think stereotypically of others unlike us, may be universal.

⦁ The human tendency to jump to conclusions limits thinking and potential.

Brain and Mind/Body Readings: What exactly constitutes the mind and how does it work?

⦁ Descartes, Meditation VI

⦁ Mind and body are distinct, but they have some connection, via senses (which lead to errors that mind can overcome by involving multiple senses plus memory).

⦁ Patrick Bracken & Philip Thomas, “Time to Move Beyond the Mind-Body Split”

⦁ mind and body are united; the mind includes social context, to which we contribute and to which we interpret and “bring meaning.”

⦁ Wittgenstein—mind is “out there”; social influences on mind. The role of language in determining the limits of the mind.

⦁ Bill Moyers Interview (video) with Dr. Candace Pert

⦁ The mind is in every cell of the body, not just the brain. Neuropeptides connect the brain with all parts of the body and are “the building blocks of emotion.”

⦁ “Paul MacLean’s Triune Brain Hypothesis”

⦁ The human brain is not one unit, but “three interconnected” parts:

⦁ R-Complex: basic responses for self-preservation & aggression, ritual, habits

⦁ Limbic system: emotions

⦁ Neocortex: rational and abstract thought, intellectual tasks

⦁ Often, more than one part of the brain is active at once, such as the Limbic System and the Neocortex when an insight is made and it feels right.

⦁ Fyodor Dostoevsky, “The Dream of a Ridiculous Man”

⦁ The narrator’s dream reveals the way that the mind attempts to resolve the problems of life.

⦁ The narrator may be seen as an example of a person who cannot relate to others, or to whom others cannot relate, or a person who is not sane.

⦁ Norman Cousins, excerpts from Head First

⦁ The brain controls emotions and the body’s ability to fight diseases; thus, the interaction between emotions and the immune system, along with other body functions, is influenced by a person’s attitudes, determination, etc. Whether a person combats disease or not may be a function of these mental and emotional factors. A person can learn to control the temperature of the hands or blood pressure at will.

⦁ John Ratey, excerpts from Spark

⦁ Exercise benefits the brain even more than the muscles and the rest of the body.

⦁ [Lenzen: Damasio interview in Scientific American]: Feelings are the brain’s interpretation of emotions; feelings play a central role in consciousness, and decision making, extending to social functioning and morality itself.

⦁ Some ideas addressed by most of our readings:

⦁ uses of the mind, such as coping, creating, understanding, connecting with others, gaining control, other possibilities

⦁ flaws of the mind to be aware of

⦁ how important is the mind?

⦁ What exactly constitutes the mind, and what affects it for better or worse?

⦁ Practice Exam Topics

⦁ Manipulating the mind is not difficult, and the consequences of this manipulation can be disastrous, hugely beneficial, or somewhere in-between.

⦁ Another topic? Use the list above to formulate a possible essay prompt.

⦁ Exam Essay Development—basic template; you may organize the essay differently, but include these basic elements of thesis development:

⦁ Introduction to the topic—brief!! But let readers know what you are addressing

⦁ Your thesis—the point you are making in response to the prompt, which will have more than one part, corresponding to the ideas addressed by the readings. It’s more of an explanation than an argument, for this exam.

⦁ Supporting ideas and examples to develop your point

⦁ First idea

⦁ Example from a reading—quote or paraphrase and show the source clearly

⦁ Another example from a different source if applicable

⦁ Explain how the example supports your idea

⦁ Second idea

⦁ Examples

⦁ Explanations

⦁ 3rd and other ideas (no set number)

⦁ examples

⦁ explanations

⦁ Conclusion

⦁ Sum up your train of thought—finish it rather than starting over

⦁ Final insight to leave the reader pondering

⦁ Exam information:

⦁ This exam essay that you will write should be about 750 words or more. It’s worth 50 points. The topic will be designed so that you could apply many of the readings we have covered.

⦁ You will need to provide very clear examples from at least 4 of them: Gould, “Nonmoral Nature”; Descartes, Meditation VI; Cousins, excerpt from Head First; and Dostoevsky, “The Dream of a Ridiculous Man.” You may also use others of your choice beyond those 4, selected to deepen and clarify your explanations of the main point. Depth and coverage of sources will be advantageous to your score. The essay emphasizes explaining the ideas indicated in the prompt and not arguing your opinion. Use the sources to explain the statement that forms the prompt. A single quotation from each source will not suffice to develop support for the thesis. Account for trains of thought from each reading you use. Make explanations of ideas and descriptions of examples as clear as possible too.

Week 1

M, 1/9 ⦁ Introduction. The Human Struggle. Course Overview. Course Theme: Finding Connections.

Readings & Annotations assignments to complete for the first day:

⦁ Durante degli (aka Dante) Alighieri, The Divine Comedy, Purgatorio, Canto XXVII. ⦁…

⦁ Teodolinda Barolini, “Purgatorio 27: Remember, Remember!.”…

⦁ Plato, “The Allegory of the Cave” at Also: an explanation and drawing of the cave at

Unit 1, Part 1: Mind.

Tu, 1/10 ⦁ Francis Bacon, “Aphorisms from the Novum Organum” (especially Idols) at

⦁ John Ruskin, “Of the Pathetic Fallacy” excerpt from Modern Painters (iii.4)…

W, 1/11 ⦁ René Descartes, Meditation VI… (24 paragraphs) ***Annotations Due on Descartes.

⦁ Terry Bisson, “They’re Made Out of Meat” ⦁ http:⦁ HYPERLINK “”⦁ //⦁ HYPERLINK “”⦁ 6.html

⦁ Patrick Bracken and Philip Thomas, “Time to Move Beyond the Mind-Body Split” (PDF).

⦁ “Paul Maclean’s Triune Brain Hypothesis” at….

⦁ “Ludwig Wittgenstein.” Great Philosophers.…

Also, information about Dr. Candace Pert on mind and body at

Th, 1/12 ⦁ Fyodor Dostoevsky, “The Dream of a Ridiculous Man: A Fantastic Story” (PDF). ***Annotations due on Dostoevsky.

⦁ Norman Cousins, Chapters 5-6 from Head First (PDF).

⦁ John Ratey, Spark (excerpt: Chapters 2-3) (PDF).

⦁ Manuela Lenzen, Scientific American interview of Antonio Damasio at…

M, 1/16

Week 2

Tu, 1/17 1st 45 minutes: Review all readings from Unit 1.1. Also Recommended: Continue readings for Unit 1.2: Society. Additional exam materials TBA.

EXAM, UNIT 1, Part 1: Mind.

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