We Call It Human Nature

We Call It Human Nature

We Call It Human Nature

We Call It Human Nature

Excerpt

Everyday expressions suggest that "mind" is distinct from the rest of the body. We say of a person reading a book that he is "occupying his mind," implying that this activity is occurring in his head. We set aside information by "keeping it in mind." We approve of a person by referring to him as "sound in mind and body."

Instruments that measure bodily tensions reveal that what we call "mind" is something that happens throughout the organism. They show that shifting tensions in the body (muscle tone) are as important to reading, planning, inventing, and all other so-called "mental" processes as is the activity occurring in the brain. The sleepy man's capacity to balance his bank account is directly linked with his ability to maintain these varying tensions. Solving a problem seems to depend as much on what goes on in certain muscles of the body as on what goes on in the brain.

Viewed scientifically, mind and body are part of one indivisible whole. Though psychologists chop up this whole into arbitrary pieces when they speak of thinking, perceiving, learning, imagining, etc., they do so only for the sake of convenience in studying these processes. By "mind" they mean all activities involved in the organism's adjustment to its environment.

The organism, however, is not suspended in the ether, all by itself. It lives in, and is in constant touch with, an ever-changing outside world. To study it by itself would De like trying to determine the seaworthiness of a sailing vessel by observing it repeatedly in drydock. Psychologists therefore go farther still. What they study is the interaction of organism and environment: the forces acting on the organism from inside, and the influences brought to bear on it from outside.

Such a view makes psychology the science of behavior and of experience -- the one observable to others, as when we see a friend laugh out loud at a joke in his book; the other perceived only by the organism itself, as when the same friend sits there outwardly impassive deriving enjoyment from his reading.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.