Cube Installation by Pippa Skotnes
Cube Installation by Pippa Skotnes

Ask Mark - Week 6

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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 here. 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). We will post transcripts as soon as they are available.

Question 1: I have always thought of the unconscious as a mysterious aspect of our brains. The way you frame it sounds as though it is merely to operate functions that don’t need our conscious thought i.e. breathing, walking a familiar route to work, etc. Or do you feel that the unconscious has more of a role to play in how we behave?

Response to question 1 - length: 10:56


Question 2: I have kind of asked this at the beginning of the course and after going through it and learning what I did, I feel that I’m more cognizant of my mental states and a bit more connected to what is going on during different events throughout the day.

I still would like to know if any specific method or practice exists that an individual can use on their own to change the way they respond to their surroundings and their emotions? You used the example of feeling fear when one approaches the edge of a cliff but what if I wanted to feel excited, and if something where to cause sadness change it to an accepting of the situation? I feel like I should be able to change my response to my feeling with conditioning but I was hoping if you knew a better practice.

Response to question 2 - length: 6:56


Question 3: Are you not risking being too universalistic in your thinking about humans i.e. social attachment that fundamental to all humans. How would you account for people who find pleasure in being alone (even being a hermit), if depression is caused by separation?

Not everyone is that sociable and needing of attachments - in fact some people ‘need their own space’. An introvert and extrovert have very different responses to the same cause (e.g. being alone on a Friday night). This cause has the effect of making the introvert happy (“excellent, some me-time ”); the same cause has the effect of making the extrovert miserable (“I should be out there doing things, with other people”) Can you account for profound individual differences?

Response to question 3 - length: 5:52


Question 4: In your introduction you revealed the questions that haunted you aged 6 (What happens when you die? Why achieve anything?) and I wonder if you feel you have answered them? Are we spiritual beings having a human experience?

Response to question 4 - length: 7:28


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This article is from the free online course:

What Is a Mind?

University of Cape Town