“My mind is your mind and your mind is my mind…”
-Random transient, overheard in Golden Gate Park
There are several examples that come to mind when considering the separation of body and mind, but I will focus on Descartes 6th meditation.
In Descartes 6th meditation, he mentions that god is capable of bringing forth everything the he is capable of perceiving- including “infallible” mathematics, he claims:
“In so far as they are a subject of pure mathematics, I now know at least that they can exist, because I grasp them clearly and distinctly. For God can undoubtfully make whatever I can grasp in this way, and I never judge that something is impossible for Him to make unless there would be a contradiction in my grasping the thing distinctly”.
Descartes then goes on to claim that imagination is different from pure understanding using the visualization of a chiliagon as an example and true to that claim is the fact the he would have remained the same individual had he lacked one, albeit a less creative one.
In his thinking Descartes keeps going back to god as a creator and separator of things, he imagines god as an entity separate from him in true bondage with his Roman Catholic upbringing, I imagine he nurtured a healthy fear of hell and so could not break through the idea that god, as he calls it, was a part of his mind. (Descartes was a catholic, part of a sect whose symbol is a sun (son)… In fact I have many rebuttals against his argument concerning the existence of god, but that’s not the issue here)
Since god carries too much cultural and theological baggage, I will use the word Mind with a capital M when I refer to cosmic consciousness or Descartes’ sexed, fear inspiring “creator”.
Let us consider what a body is. A body, when observed appears as a singular object. Although a body is not a singular object, a body is composed of organs, organs are composed of cells, which are in turn composed of organelles and a nucleus which carries a double helix of information we call DNA, which is composed of chemical compounds which are composed of atoms which are composed of other microcosmic elements. The Body is a reflection of that pattern, nucleus as to brain and organs as to organelles (actually I think that it may very well be that this pattern goes even further in both directions, modern quantum physics is attempting to reach the miniscule end of that pattern, while astronomers look out and attempt to see its progression and eventual end). Each of these different things all separated within the body to form and allow the body to exist, the cells within just so much a part of the body as the Mind which created it. It may very well be that when Descartes claims understanding to be apart from imagination, or that mind and spirit are essentially distinct from everything else that he is mistaken because if the pattern mentioned above exists, then our body is in fact a part of an even larger body, and the space between is an illusion brought on by the expansion of an initial body (material or immaterial, a thought is also a thing (like money) but is immaterial), separation becomes a question of scale, things only appear separate depending which scale and which perspective is being observed (I remember seeing mating frogs before I understood what mating was and thought they were one really strange frog). Following this logic leads to the conclusion that all is one, and that separation is an illusion necessary to uphold this cosmic occurrence- a very necessary illusion, one which must exist, it Is.
I think that that makes the brain different from the mind, but still a product of it. In accordance to Descartes’ claim as quoted above, Mind could very well have created the brain to perceive itself.