The most ancient Human Riddle
by Maria Katsarou – Managing Partner, Our World Group
I was really struggling on HOW to start on what is probably one of the most intriguing debates… Part of me wanted to start with a verse from Pink Floyd, «There’s someone in my head and it’s not me», and another part of me wanted to quote Carl Jung: «in each of us there is someone whom we don’t know». I recently met a brilliant Neuroscientist in a lecture about the brain’s biology and functions. He showed us some charts in which one could see that the brain actually realizes what is happening around us BEFORE we realize it. So, I raised the ‘forbidden’ question: would that mean that we finally have scientific evidence for the Unconscious Mind? You should have seen his face! Yes, ok, I know I shouldn’t ask a ‘scientist’ about the Mind!
This debate is probably around since the ancient Greek philosophers and may be touching into philosophical or even religious turfs. Plato argued that the brain was the seat of mental process, while Aristotle believed that the Mind was located in the heart. My question came from pure curiosity… as I am genuinely interested in the mind, and I have difficulties understanding or making sense of things that are happening to everybody…. Like when you are driving and talking on the phone at the same time or being lost in one’s thoughts and suddenly you realize you have arrived home…. Whose job was this? The mind’s or the brain’s? When you fall in love and you have this connection that you yourself are not in any position to explain, whose job is that? And what about Consciousness?
Could we locate that in an MRI scan? Actually, studies have shown that people with damage in their ventral medior prefrontal cortex are more willing to sacrifice a human life as long as they perceive it’s for some greater good. A sense of morality is actually rooted in the circuitry of our brain. Now how much of that circuitry are we born with or shaped by our life experiences? Is it possible that some people are born with a stronger moral character than others? What about our biases, prejudice and filters? Where are all those in one’s mind? Isn’t our eye seeing only what the mind is ‘ready’ to comprehend? Or is that all pure hard wiring of our brains? And dreams and nightmares? Are those products of our Brain or Mind? And Is there a Free Will? And if there is as David Eagleman (2013) argued, «use your free will NOW and change your sexual orientation…and good luck with it too»! So, how ‘free’ to act are we really?
I am aware that I have raised more questions than provided answers… One thing is for sure….What is running UNDER the hood, i.e. the unconscious mind is definitely the driver.