(Copyright © 2000 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )
The mind is an adaptive system that has been shaped by the world. It is the
way it is because the world is the way it is. Ornstein retraces the (presumed)
evolutionary steps of the bodily organs that now make up the mind. Then he
retraces how the brain develops, according to neural darwinism.
Human minds are initially endowed with many possible ways of evolving (e.g., with the capability for learning many possible languages), but only some are pursued and the other skills are lost during growth. The mind could potentially adapt to many different environments, but will actually adapt only to the ones it is exposed to.
The large context developed into specialized cerebral hemispheres, which are specialized, autonomous centres of action. Different regions of the mind behave independently of consciousness (sometimes consciousness realizes what has been decided after it has already happened).
The mind understands the world through two processes, one of information gathering and one of interpretation. The same process of interpretation is used for memories, dreams and new experiences.
The self is only a part of the mind, and not always connected with the rest of it. The self shares the mind with other minds. Minds take hold of consciousness depending on the needs of the moment. Each mind tends to stay in place for as long as possible, with its own memories and goals. The self rarely notices what is going on. Continuity of the mind is an illusion. We are not the same person all the time. Different selves within the brain fight for control over the next action.
The mind is now capable of "conscious evolution" and this should be used for ethical purposes.