Ask Mark - Week 5 responses

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Thank you to everyone who posted questions last week. I have recorded a response to four of the many interesting questions you had posed in Step 5.12 of Week 5. My video responses are on YouTube with links below along with transcripts. (Please bear with us for occasional technical glitches in the Ask Mark response videos - I’m currently in Chicago and at times had poor video and audio connectivity with the team in Cape Town).

Question 1: Collection of questions on mindfulness - (1) Do you have an opinion on how mindfulness (and its formal practice of meditation) might affect the ‘usual’ way that the mind works, especially with relation to thinking? (2) How do you see the practice of mindfulness affecting the mind/ each of the four aspects of the mind you have taught us the last four weeks? (3) I’m not easily swayed by a lack of scientific evidence, but my subjective experience of mindfulness means the evidence must be there somewhere. Hence a follow-up question: “From a scientific perspective, have convincing neurological correlates been found?”

Response to question 1 - length: 4:29


Please follow this link to the article on mindfulness Mark is referring to.

Question 2: I’ve struggled from the start with statements that appear to place the mind in the category of nouns that correlate with real ‘things’, as opposed to the category of nouns associated with human (abstract) constructs. In this latter category I place nouns such as ‘symphony’, ‘economy’ and ‘soul’! If ‘mind’ is positioned in the abstract construct category of nouns, it makes no more sense to speak of a mind projecting intentionality into its outside world as it does to speak of an economy, a symphony or a soul projecting intentionality into its external world. Please clarify in which category of noun are you placing ‘mind’.

Response to question 2 - length: 5:35


Question 3: Where does intuition fit in to all of this? My understanding of intuition is that it is a process that gives us the ability to know something directly without analytic reasoning, appearing in our consciousness without us being fully aware of the underlying reasons for its occurrence. So is it more related to our instincts than our reason (our thinking - agency). In an article in ‘Psychology Today’ it was suggested that intuition could bridge the gap between the conscious and unconscious parts of the mind as well as between instinct and reason.

Response to question 3 - length: 5:52


Question 4: I would like to hear you speak about the function of dreams. Some people recall them, others don’t. Some think they’re critical to healthy mental functioning, others don’t. I personally pay a great deal of attention to dreams and find them vastly informative, but I am in the minority amongst my friends and acquaintances. In fact, I suspect many people are disturbed by their dream imagery. Having listened to you discuss confabulation this week, I think the way people distort their memory of dreams could be the most common example of confabulation I can produce. What do you think is the role of dreams in our lives?

Response to question 4 - length: 7:37


I look forward to your questions for this week - you can post them in Step 6.8 of Week 6.

Please note I have re-recorded the responses posed by current learners for Week 4 that were previously lost. You will find them here in Step 5.3

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This article is from the free online course:

What Is a Mind?

University of Cape Town