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[Xmca-l] Re: is the mind a function of the brain?

Hello everyone,

In Historical Materialism, the brain is an organ, while the mind/consciousness is a function of this organ. (By the way, there is a difference between the concepts of mind and consciousness, but in this case I used them as substitutes to save time.) In some way, the brain is the hardware, although I will agree that this is a pretty simplistic metaphor. These issues are resolved differently in different paradigms. However, considering that CHAT is a product of a historical materialist thinking, it seems to me that when we involve CHAT in such discussions, we might wish to refer to Historical Materialism as a foundation. 

The mind/consciousness has a long history of emergence. It is not only a product of the functioning of the brain; it is shaped by the social reality and the sociocultural situations in which the human individual is involved. The emergence of consciousness is one of the major thematic circles in Dialectical and Historical Materialism. There is a lot of literature on this. 

Historical Materialism treats a number of issues related to the human condition very differently compared to the other paradigm. Many of you might be astonished to hear that personality emerged after the Renaissance. Before that, humans didn't have that clear self-articulation from the community at large. They strongly identified themselves with their immediate communities. A week ago, I read in a popular magazine article that fish has personality and the scientists expect to discover personality in plants. Well, from historical materialist position this doesn't make sense. Certain phenomena and concepts are reserved only for human beings. Any other uses are metaphorical.

Best wishes,


-----Original Message-----
From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu] On Behalf Of Huw Lloyd
Sent: Tuesday, January 14, 2014 10:36 AM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Cc: xmca list list
Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: is the mind a function of the brain?

On 14 January 2014 14:47, jose david herazo <jherazo4@hotmail.com> wrote:

> Dear all,
> I'm writing the final chapter of my PhD dissertation about the role of 
> academic concepts in students' oral production and development of a 
> second language (L2 ). Since my study is grounded on both 
> sociocultural theory and systemic functional linguistics (SFL), one of 
> my committee members suggested a possible contradiction in what each theory views as mind.
> SFLers, for instance, consider that there is no need for something 
> called the mind that is different from the brain. They prefer to talk 
> in terms of 'higher order semiotic consciousness' (HAlliday, 2004: The 
> language of
> science) rather than mind. On their terms, the mind is a function of 
> the brain. What is the mind for SCT? Is it the inner plane, 
> consciousness? Has anybody discussed what this concept refers to in sociocultural theory?
> Any suggestions and comments are welcome,

Dear Jose,

For SCT (CHAT in particular) mind is socially mediated.  Pretty much any classical CHAT text will touch upon this.

If you are seeking some kind of binary (artificial) distinction between brain and mind, the circumstances of blind-deaf children may be appropriate.  See, for example, Meshcheryakov in "Awakening to Life" (1979, p. 309): "It has been demonstrated and proven through this experiemnt that scientifically organised instruction of children held back by what might seem an insuperable obstacle -- namely the lack of sight and hearing -- could equip a deaf-blind child for human development in the full sense of the word and shape a mind of the highest level, that would give him access to the treasure house of human culture and knowledge and enable him to achieve the fruition of all his capacities and talents."


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