I gave a public lecture on Tuesday night to the Bath Royal Literary & Scientific Institution and talked about the separation of body and mind as a basis for belief in the supernatural. Most people are dualist in that they believe that the mind is not tethered to the body. We feel that we occupy and control our bodies – some inner self seated inside our heads controlling the body like the operator of some complicated meat-machine. If the mind is not tethered to the body, then maybe it can survive the body after death or even leave the body to meet up with other minds! Dualism is fertile ground for spiritualism.
To illustrate my point, I asked how many members of the audience (who were mostly past retirement) looked into the mirror every morning only to be confronted with an aging body and yet they themselves, did not feel any older. I told the audience that I knew that I was past my prime but still felt like an 18-year-old. That’s because we do not feel that our mind ages. Yes, we are aware that we no longer have the same thoughts and that we may be slower or more forgetful but we do not experience our minds as different because we ARE our minds. We cannot step outside of our mind to consider how it looks to others.
So imagine my horror when this clipping was sent to me by an old friend the following day? If I was inclined to my SuperSense, I would say that it was not a coincidence but a reminder that there are more things in heaven and earth than dreamed of in my philosophy. Nevertheless, it was very spooky. I know it is me but I don’t recognize him. Why was I in the papers giving opinions about conscription and women serving in the army? I have no recollection of the interview. And I certainly don’t recognise his pretentious comments and sexist opinion. That’s because I have never been out of my mind.
18 responses to “Out of My Mind”
Bruce, that’s because there most likely are things in heaven and earth that are beyond human philosophies. That’s not being superstitious. It’s just recognizing that human thinking is limited – kind of like with all those things up there in the sky, there must be planets with other sentient beings on them, but unless somebody shows up to say “hello,” we’re never, ever going to know for sure. Why worry about it?
In any case, General Butt Naked, Noah’s Ark Zoo and mummified mermaids exist in this world on account of superstition. I don’t have a clue what accounts for the thinking of 18 year olds. I’ve done the reading, and I’ve observed them closely, but 18 year old thinking still manages to surprise me.
Judging by the picture, weren’t you in Heaven 17?
I love what Bertrand Russell supposedly said when this comment was thrown in his face – “I’m just trying to make sure there aren’t more things in my philosophy than there are in heaven and earth”.
There’s a wonderful story by Borges in which he meets his younger self and finds that he has nothing to say to himself.
I do remember some of the opinions that I had when I was 18, and that I have changed. Interests, likes and dislikes, political views, religious views (though always an atheist).
“There’s a wonderful story by Borges in which he meets his younger self and finds that he has nothing to say to himself.”
I’d have plenty of things to say to my younger self. Fool!
Your ‘black cat’ flyer caught my attention while I was at Bath Central Library on Tuesday, and I had half a mind to hear you lecture … but it never came to pass. If truth be told, I feared it might indeed be full of mainly senior Bathonians (the people you see in the Theatre Royal and opposing the modern extension to the Holburne Museum etc) and I would feel out of place. Shame on me; wishh I had gone now. But at least your flyer led me to your excellent blog. A real delight for us sceptical enquirers! With thanks and best wishes.
Indeed Bozena, I was surprised by the anti-scientific stance by members of this society given their title. I guess I just get a bit weary pointing out self-evident truths.
Guess I need to read the book by Borges …. when I get time!
wow – that’s a very hot 18 year old. eeeek… now I feel like a pervert for noticing
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Bloody hell Bruce….
Psychology spam. Whatever next.
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Hilarious Nobbly…. I’ll be seeing “Mr Pinker” next month and will put a good word in for his next book.
Not that he’ll have a bloody clue who I am, but give him my best wishes…. my daughter is currently reading one of his older wonderful books.
I just finished Supersense, and enjoyed it immensely. I am keenly interested in how our thoughts/cognitions shape the world. Specifically, I am intrigued by the habitual, if not automatic, biases employed by us as we bumble through our lives: and by the burdensome consequences of the instinctual intuitive brain. Although these cognitions may be adaptive from an evolutionary perspective, the societal costs are indeed heavy (e.g., the denial of anthropogenic global climate change). I think back to some of my thoughts as an 18-year-old, and know that my thoughts have “evolved” as a result of reading the works of folks like Darwin, Dawkins, Wade, Gladwell, Pinker, Bryson, Shermer, and Hood. These rational minds give me hope. Ops, is that the intuitive mind bleeding through? Anyways, thank you.
I’m honoured Gerald… that’s an impressive cohort of writers that you have included me in! Let’s hope the next one is appreciated as much. Thank you.
You were a cute 18-year-old. Does that make Nursemyra and me pervs?
Good lord man. If we were to be held accountable for the inane things that we uttered when we were 18, none of us would be allowed out in public.
Ah Horatio, heaven and earth coincidence.
Normally I’m against killing but this article slaughtered my ignorance.
Are you kidding? Any attention (even retrospective) is greatly appreciated. It does raise an interesting question though. At my age, almost all of the cells in my body have been replaced by new cells and are no older than ten years. Now there’s a thought!
Estimado Sr. Hood, le escribo en castellano, ya que lamentablemente no domino el idioma ingles, aunque puedo leerlo. Mi consulta es por que vi por la televisión la entrevista con el Sr. Punset, y francamente me apasiono, ya que comparto las ideas volcadas en el programa.
Tratando de resumir, ya tengo 68 años y todavia encuentro, y discuto, con creyentes y con no creyentes que “creen” en el determinismo que la lógica y la razón van a salvar a la humanidad. A mi modesto entender el hombre es un ser similar a los otros que hay sobre la tierra, ¿ por que razón, sobrenatural o no, vamos a crear un mundo ideal, aca o en el paraiso?
Roberto F. Morales