The mind is a mystery that has engaged the inquiries of philosophers, theologians, and scientists for ages. Some have considered the mind as the part of us that is most divine, while others have spoken of it as the capacity which makes us most human. As much as the concept of the mind has occupied our thoughts, after 2000 years of reflection we are far from understanding what a mind actually is. Where does mind reside? Is your smartphone literally part of your mind? Does mind inhabit us or do we inhabit mind? Many philosophers and scientists today believe that you are essentially your brain and that “minds are simply what brains do.” Others, however, see the mind as a quality more subtle and more diffused. For them mind is like the air we breathe—it is both within us and around us and is extended throughout our relationships, tools, mediums of communication, and cultures.
Habitat for a Homunculus: Where does mind reside?
Socrates believed that one’s mind or psyche was beyond and yet within one’s body. Two thousand four hundred years ago, he reflected that the mind belongs to the ideal world of forms that do not change and never die. During one’s life the mind inhabits the body where it extends in three parts from the head to the heart. While the essential mind is unchanging, its time spent in the body leaves some residual corporeality that clings to it. Four hundred years after Socrates, the Apostle Paul offered a vital variation on the Socratic theme. For Paul the mind is both diffused outside the body and contained within, but it is the future glorified and resurrected body that is unchanging and immortal. Seeing the mind as a quality that is extended throughout cultures and belief systems, Paul encouraged his Roman and Corinthian readers to cultivate “the mind of Christ,” and to “renew their minds” according to the mind of God and not in conformity to the mind and patterns of the surrounding Roman culture.