Looking at the mind as a narrative | Phillip Melchers

Posted: January 16, 2013 in Perception
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

☞ A WordPress article, from which the following extract is taken, touches on an issue that was presented on my blogpost on Philip Zack’s “Narrative as scaffolding” (references and links are given below). It argues that not only is our perception of reality mediated through narrative, but goes a step further, by claiming that the mind itself is narrative. As I see it, the mind has a natural predisposition towards arranging any information it receives in terms of narrative, and our perception is thus influenced by this. The term “homo narrans” also appears in another blogpost on this site: Robert Bidinotto’ s “Are We “Homo Narrans”?”

“My first proclivity towards theories about the narrative mind came from writer Anne Forest in her book, God in The Machine. It was that book’s first chapter, ‘re-creating ourselves’ where I originally came across the term, “Homo Narrans,” which definably serves to classify our species as the evolutionary story-teller. I had originally purchased and read the book based on the assumption that it would describe “what robots teach us about humanity and god,” and instead came out with an entirely new outlook on humanity and its narrative mind. Prior to Anne Forest, I had read some Jung (Man and His Symbols), and Campbell (Hero With a Thousand Faces), but it was not until Anne Forest’s book, where the issue of robotics served more metaphorically for me then topically, that I began to pursue this new found discourse for spirituality: the narrative mind.

The narrative mind is defined solely by realizing that the mind as a constructed space is in actuality a man made narrative. In agreeing with Matthew Alper in his book, The ‘God’ Part of the Brain (one that I have renamed “The ‘Narrative’ Part of the Brain”), I would offer the same as him in saying there is a dichotomy between the brain, as an organ, and the mind as a perceived space. However, to say that the mind is a narrative is not necessarily to claim that it is illusionary or that its narrative is fiction, but rather the construction of the mind becomes described as a narrative within the realms of its allegorical function. For the mind really only is a metaphor to describe the dimensions of our “felt” metaphysical selves. To disregard the mind as fantasy, or to deny its truthfulness, is to disregard the fact that the “god/narrative” part of our brain not only exists as a proven neurological function, but also that it serves it purposes evolutionarily as well. For the purpose of remaining concise, I will forward Matthew Alper to describe what exactly this purpose is. For my more inclined viewership I would also forward you to Carl Jung.

To discover the narrative mind is to also accept that the ability of perception is also part of this narrative. The narrative I am referring to is of course the acceptance that any of our senses (not just the big 5) is not an immediate perception, but rather a process as dictated by our brains and realized within our minds.”

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