Humberto Maturana


The attempt to understand and to explain that which we distinguish or connote in our daily life with the words consciousness, mind, awareness, or psyche, have been, in my opinion, hindered by the manner in which we formulate our questions in our occidental culture. Indeed, we speak as if the words consciousness, awareness, mind, or psyche, denoted entities or properties of entities, and, therefore, as if questions such as: “How do the mind and the body interact?, or “where is the residence of consciousness?”, or “is consciousness mortal or immortal?”, were meaningful questions.. But, are they?. Certainly, if the mind is an entity, then the question “how do the body and the mind interact?” is meaningful because the body is an entity, and entities may interact if they exist in the same domain. however, if that which we connote in daily life when we use the word mind were not an entity but a relation, which would be the sense of the question “how do the mind and the body interact?”.

The manner of asking questions that makes of every experience the distinction of an entity, arose with the Greek philosophical thinking as this arose as a manner of asking questions about the being of the public things, while the public things arose in the Agora with the conversations that constituted democracy as a manner of dealing with the affairs of the community as “public’ affairs. As the domain of the public things arises, it arises as a domain of entities about which one can ask questions proper to their nature as public entities, that is, as entities that have characteristics proper to them with independency of what the observer does in relation to them. As the manner of thinking that distinguished public entities arose in some of the pre classic Greek communities, the naming of a distinction became the constitution of an entity that could be talked about as an independent entity, in a process that obscured its origin. The latter is what I think happened with the naming of the experiences connoted with the words consciousness, mind, awareness, and psyche. As those words by naming experiences became the naming of entities, the mind/body problem arose and the experiences of daily life connoted in the attempt to solve that problem, became more and more obscured.

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