Skip main navigation

Ask Mark – Week 5 responses

Ask Mark responses
© University of Cape Town CC-BY-NC

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.

Question 1: If consciousness is one of the four essential criteria for defining a mind, how can the unconscious mind be anything but a self-contradiction? I think the resolution might involve intermittent, partial or potential consciousness – but I may be wrong.

Question 2: From a scientific standpoint, do you believe that enlightenment / spiritual awakening is something that can be achieved and what actually happens in someone’s mind to bring about this situation?
Question 3: We said that agency is the property of mind that chooses between competing possible actions. Since the machinery and motivation for choosing is something that we are not completely aware of (it involves unconscious thoughts and instincts), is the reflective sense of self – as an object with certain properties (say shy, smart or social) – a confabulation, a story that influences the decisions of actions but exists only in our minds?
Question 4: Is it possible to confabulate a story that sounds plausible to yourself, and at the same time have a deeper purpose or motive that is unconscious?

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

© University of Cape Town CC-BY-NC
This article is from the free online

What is a Mind?

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Our purpose is to transform access to education.

We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.

We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.

Learn more about how FutureLearn is transforming access to education