M I N D E D  B O D Y / E M B O D I E D  M I N D

            It is probable that the mind/body problem is fundamentally insoluble.  The insolubility of the problem, certainly in its Cartesian form and formulation, may be the result of asking the wrong question to begin with, namely, how interation between two substances as different as immaterial mind (unextended substance) and material body (extended substance) is at all possible.

            The basic givens that constitute human nature are as they have always been.  And it may seem as though philosophers have long since exhausted all the possible surveys of this familiar territory.  Still, there is always one thing that can be done; and that is to shift the ground, even if ever so slightly, so that a different mapping of the all too familiar terrain may provide a different perspective.


            In answer to the question, "How is it possible to get hair from non-hair, bone from non-bone?" (B 10), the pre-Socratic philosopher Anaxagoras, attempting to account for the process of nutrition, says, "In everything there is a share of everything else," and he adds, "except mind.  But in some things there is also mind." (B 11).  What Anaxagoras is saying is that in eating lamb I do not take on the mind of a sheep, only the human shares or portions that are in the sheep.  The mind (nous), whether mine or that of the sheep, is self-ruling (aujto-kratev"), something separate, alone and by itself, so as to be able to control and arrange things.  Later, of course, Anaxagoras will introduce Mind (with a capital "M"), infinite Mind, also separate, alone and by itself, which stands in relation to the original source, the primordial mix wherein all things were initially together (sumpanti), and from which all the things having shares came forth in accordance with infinite Mind's understanding and arranging.

            If one were to ask Anaxagoras whether mind is a part of nature or not, his answer would, I think, have to be yes.  The mind both is, and is not, a part of the body and the shares it arranges and controls.  To the extent that the human body can be arranged and controlled by the human mind, the human body is, to that extent, a minded body, in the same way that the animal's body would be subject to the arrangement and control of the animal's mind.   On the other hand, in order for the human mind to be able to do the controlling and arranging that mind must, to that extent, be independent of the minded body it arranges and controls, separate and alone by itself, to that extent, an embodied mind.

            The embodied mind can make nature do its will only in virtue of a minded body that remains in its essential contact with nature.  Between the two, the embodied mind and the minded body, there is constituted one thing, which both appears (the minded body) and does not appear (the embodied mind).  As minded body the human being would be, on the one hand, distinct, though not separate, from an appearing nature.  As an embodied mind, on the other hand, the human being would be both separate and distinct from nature.  There is a natural symbiosis between the minded body and nature.  There is no such natural symbiosis between the embodied mind and nature.  This may account for the ambivalent attitude that human beings bear toward nature, everything from fear and terror to reverence and devotion. 

            There are other minded bodies in nature besides those of human beings.  There are other animals.  Perhaps, plants are, to whatever extent, "minded."  The human minded body is related by nature to these as well.  As with nature generally, the sort of symbiosis that would obtain between these other minded bodies in nature and the human minded body is widely variant, from the amicable to the highly inimical.  There are those non-human minded bodies that human beings come to depend upon and those that are destructive of human life and its livelihood.  The human minded body is delivered over to nature and to nature's sometimes less than tender mercies, and often has little choice but to accept these less than favorable circumstances.  However, the minded body is not without its hidden inner resources.  There is always the embodied mind. 

            The dependence of the human being upon nature is not absolute.  The minded body is, indeed, inseparable from nature and absolutely dependent upon it.  The embodied mind, on the other hand, would be both separate and distinct from nature.  Further, the symbiosis between the human being and nature, the interdependence between the two, is mutual; it works both ways.  Not only does the human being depend upon nature, as upon its natural habitat, but nature, or portions of it, come to depend upon human beings, more specifically upon the human embodied mind, for its productive growth, for its preservation and even, at times, for its survival.

            The possibility for the human mind to enter into nature depended upon the commodious combination of the four basic elements, as also upon the presence of other minded bodies.  The entrance of human minded bodies into a world depends upon a nature that is already "minded."  There is physical, as well as cultural, anthropology.  The embodied mind could come to realize itself, in both senses of that word "realize," only in relation to, and against the background of, other minded bodies.

            While minded nature can understand the human minded body it does not understand the embodied mind that gives the human minded body is specific power.  The domesticated animal can recognize and respond to its master's or mistress' voice, while not fully understanding the intelligence that lies behind it.  The way in which the embodied mind relates to nature through the human minded body is as a thing that makes, uses, and leaves artifacts.  Animal minded bodies are able to understand the human minded body, but not the embodied mind ultimately responsible for the production of those tools or implements. 


            There are two philosophical anthropologies in Descartes.  There is the human being of the Second Meditation, which comes out of reason's analysis of the "thinking thing" (mind) as unextended substance, and the material body as extended substance.  This view, of course, ends with the difficulty of understanding how an unextended substance, such as mind, could be joined with an extended substance, such as a material body.  This constitutes the famous mind/body problem in Descartes.

            But there is another philosophical anthropology in Descartes.  It is found in the Sixth Meditation: the Teachings of Nature.  What Nature teaches me is that I have a body with sensations of pleasure and pain.  It also teaches me that my "I am" is not merely present to my body as a sailor (or pilot) in his ship, but that I am closely joined to my body, intermingled with it to form a unit.  Further, nature teaches me that the sensations experienced regarding other bodies in the vicinity of my own are to be referred to this body/mind composite, which, by indicating, in however confused a manner, what is helpful or harmful, enables me to get through life.

            In many ways, it would have been better had Descartes begun with the mind/body composite rather than with the metaphysical analysis of the human being worked out in the Second Meditation.  He did not do so for two reasons.  First, there is the reason Descartes wrote the Metaphysical Meditations (1641) to begin with, namely to prove the existence of God and that of our souls, separated from the body, as immortal (Letter to Mersenne, 4 November 1630).[1]  Second, there was the felt need to respond to the challenge of skepticism by founding his philosophy upon an existent certainty, namely the "I am, I exist." 

            Part and parcel of mind/body problematic is that the body is simply material, the mind purely immaterial.  Not surprisingly, with a dichotomy so sharply drawn Descartes has a problem not only with mind-body interaction but with animal minded bodies as well.  He is obliged to view them as, basically, machines, since they are constituted solely of matter and motion.  In the case of the human being, on the other hand, the human mind is not bodiless, nor can the human body be looked upon as a mere machine, since it has a human soul.  Gilbert Ryle's characterization of Descartes' human being in Concept of Mind as a "Ghost in a machine" is, of course, a caricature. 

            The human body is always a minded body.  Indeed, it is only the mind that could conceive of the (minded) body as a mere machine.  Only the rational mind can indulge in such reductionism.  The minded body, on the other hand, knows better.  For when the human body, or the animal body for that matter, is treated in such a purely mechanical or mechanistic fashion, as sometimes occurs in modern technology, the body simply rebels, or breaks down.  The minded body knows that the mechanical heart is not a human heart.  It is not sufficiently improvisational in its functioning.  Indeed, the minded body may fail entirely to understand why the embodied mind could possibly think it might work.

            The focus of Heidegger's attack upon "subjectivism" is to obviate Descartes' mind/body problem and, with it, the subject/object problematic of classical epistemology.  He does this with his analysis of Being-in-the-World.  And how is Dasein "in"-the-world for Heidegger?  As care.  In this it would appear that Heidegger sides essentially with Descartes' Teachings of Nature, sensations as referred to the mind/body composite.  It is these that enable one to get through life. 

            Nevertheless, as Anaxagoras saw, if the mind is mixed up in the shares that share in everything else, whether in the human body or in nature as a whole, then mind would not be able to arrange, rule, and control nature or the human body from an independent stance.  It is in this sense that mind both is, and is not, a part of nature, both is, and is not, a part of the human body that inhabits nature. 

            For two things to be related, one to the other, they must have something in common.  That which the embodied mind and minded body share in common is the "human thing" they both are.  Nevertheless, in the same way that the minded body, or other minded bodies for that matter, is unable to understand the embodied mind, so the embodied mind can never fully understand or fully control its minded body.  The minded body has a mind of its own.  For example, the common lot of human minded bodies is to be born with a half dozen or so defective genes.  There is little the embodied mind, or even the minded body, can do about the situation after the fact.  Pharmacological means may be employed to assuage symptoms.  In the end, however, the only option open to the embodied mind is adjustment to, and acceptance of, disabilities endemic to the individual minded body.

            There are other indications that the minded body has a mind of its own.  Buddhist meditation techniques utilize the minded body to gain control over the errant thoughts of the embodied mind.  It does so by having the embodied mind concentrate upon one or the other of the functions of the minded body, for example, breathing.  This does not mean that bodily functions, such as breathing, heartbeat rate, skin sensitivity, etc., are under the control of the embodied mind.  Rather the contrary, those bodily functions are under the control of the minded body which, having a will of its own, is able to exert its influence over the embodied mind, granted with the latter's connivance.  What the phenomenon further indicates is that the minded body is mind-controlled, and not simply brain-controlled.  Otherwise, it would not be able to bring the errant thoughts of the embodied mind under its aegis.

            Another indication that the minded body has a will of its own may be seen in the phenomenon of healing.  When there is an imbalance in the minded body, an illness or a disease, it is the minded body that must do the healing, restore the balance that is health, though it can be aided, or thwarted, in its efforts by the embodied mind.  By the same token, when it is a question of mental illness it is the embodied mind that must do the healing, though, again, it can be aided, or thwarted, in its efforts by the effects that the mental illness has already exerted upon the minded body.  Those effects can occur in virtue of the simple fact that the minded body is a minded body.

            According to Hume (Treatise on Human Nature I, 4, 6, p. 252) the self is "...nothing but a bundle or collection of different perceptions, which succeed each other with an inconceivable rapidity, and are in a perpetual flux and movement."  The "self" that Hume refers to here is, basically, the minded body, a "self" that is little more than the sum total of what it receives, and what can be associated among those received "ideas."  The functioning of the laws of association, according to resemblance, contiguity in space and time, cause and effect, is fully consistent with the operations of a minded body. 

            Leaving aside the question whether such reductionism does not require an embodied mind to bring it off, still, the basis and justification for Hume's starting point, as for that of behaviorism or neurophysiology generally, must be granted.  For, after all, the minded body does have a definite priority, if only a temporal priority, over the embodied mind.  The minded body was there long before the embodied mind could come to take possession of it (if the embodied mind ever does really gain possession of it as its first piece of property, as Hegel supposes).  It is the minded body that is first on the scene, regulating pulse rate, breathing, blood pressure, etc., the basic metabolism and metabolic rate of the body, whether that of the human being or the animal.  The little baby, or the person in a comatose state, is a minded body with the embodied mind "there" only as possibility.  By the same token, it is in virtue of this priority of the minded body that the study of animal behavior in order to understand the human minded body represents a justifiable scientific procedure. 

            Nevertheless, it must be insisted that the mind, even simply that of the minded body, cannot be identified with the brain.  After all, human beings have two brains (right and left); and one would hardly wish to conclude from this that they have two minds.  Further, simply because various sensory or motor activities can be localized in one or the other of the areas of the brain, from this it does not follow that this is where those activities originate, only where they happen to be stored as memories, or, in the case of sensory and motor activities, where they can be located in terms of the operative functions of the minded body.

            The mind operates and functions throughout the minded body.  It cannot simply be located in, much less reduced to, the brain.  This may be seen in the phenomenon of the phantom limb.  The feeling that would be felt in a bodily extremity that is no longer there would most easily be explained by the fact that the mind remains present in the nerve endings leading to and from the absent limb.  This explanation is far simpler than those offered by neurophysiology, which must somehow work the "feeling" back to the human brain.  This is no easy task, since there could hardly be a location in the brain for the feeling of something that is not at all there.

            It would be equally incorrect to ascribe unconsciousness to the minded body and consciousness to the embodied mind.  The embodied mind functions unconsciously as well as consciously, in the same way that the minded body functions consciously as well as unconsciously.  When one says that there is a conscious mind and an unconscious mind, all this means is that there is a thing, a human being, that is minded body and embodied mind, both of which can be both conscious and no longer, or not yet, conscious.


            It is the embodied mind that renders the minded body distinct, though obviously not separate, from nature.  It does this, for example, through human technê, and, on an even broader scale, through human technology.  The embodied mind does not itself appear.  It "appears," for example, in the technology it projects, from which it remains, nonetheless, distinct.  The embodied mind is separate from nature, though it is not, or certainly should never be, separate from the technology it projects.  It is because of the embodied mind, and its projected technology, that nature can never be quite the same after, as before, the entrance of the human mind upon the scene.  It is the embodied mind that makes the difference between the minded body and nature in and through the technology that it projects. 

            As noted above, the minded body, or animal minded bodies for that matter, cannot really understand the embodied mind.  It is noumenal; it does not appear.  It is like Aristotle's nous poiētikos.  The minded body, on the other hand, would be like Aristotle's nous pathētikos, which goes along with, and goes the way of, nature.  What Aristotle saw was that the active intellect (the nous poiētikos), even in this life, is not a natural thing, as is the passive mind (the nous pathētikos), even though for Aristotle both are constitutive of mind taken as a whole. 

            The minded body understands what is going on in the minded body.  This is the truth contained in Descartes' notion of the Teachings of Nature.  It does not understand everything that goes on in the minded body.  The heart understands and reacts to the signals it receives from the brain; the brain responds to messages coming from the heart and from other parts of the physical organism.  However, the minded body can hardly understand the passion for freedom that may emanate from the embodied mind, which may prompt the heart to beat more rapidly. 

            In the same way that empiricists, behaviorists, and neurophysiologists have difficulty getting from the minded body to the embodied mind, so idealists, cognitivists, transcendentalists have an equally difficult time getting from the embodied mind to the minded body.  The philosophy of Kant is a good example of the latter difficulty.  Kant's transcendental ego, the transcendental unity of apperception, the ultimate apriori form for the knowledge of objects in general, is simply too general to quality as an embodied mind.  For Kant it is simply rationality, almost in the abstract.  By the same token, his notion of the empirical ego is not sufficiently corporeal to qualify as a minded body. 

            Indeed, with his paralogisms regarding the impossibility of knowing the human soul Kant, in a way, proves too much.  For what he says of the soul could also be said of life, taken in its purely biological sense.  For the life of a living organism can no more be given as an object in experience than can the soul.  I can see that the organism is alive; I do not, however, see the organism's life.  It is no wonder that Kant's notion of the empirical ego is so feeble.  One cannot account even for its life.

            The reason the neurophysiological approach to the mind/brain, bicameral mind, etc., will not dovetail with the philosophical classification of the various faculties and powers of the human mind or soul is because the embodied mind cannot really be understood from the side of the minded body.  So much for neurophysiology.  On the other side, while the embodied mind may be able to understand something of minded bodies, its own included, since the embodied mind arose against the backdrop of the minded body (and minded bodies generally), such purely theoretical considerations are unable to get sufficiently specific relative to the individual physical organism.  So much for transcendental philosophy, or for theoretical science.  The embodied mind is able to elaborate a theory of genetics, for example, in order to explain inherited characteristics in the minded body.  It cannot, however, account for the way the genes and chromosomes have actually worked themselves out in the particular physical organism, much less predict what will be the product of two parents, each with their own peculiar genetic makeup. 

            In this sense one may say that Kant's famous fourth question in the Introduction to his Logic, namely "Was ist der Mensch?",[2] is not only a question to which he can provide no answer, given his inability to reconcile the theoretical and practical egos of the first two critiques, it is, perhaps, even the wrong question to begin with.  For Mensch, human being or human person, is not the question, but the answer to the question "What is that?" when one points to an individual human being. 

            In the same way that the minded body is unable to understand the embodied mind, so the embodied mind cannot really understand itself either.  Does one ever really know his, or her, own mind?  The embodied mind knows its intentions, but not the whence and wherefore of its motivations, much less the whence and wherefore of the passions and mix of emotions that may feed into those motivations. 

            In the same way that the minded body is unable to know the embodied mind, so the embodied mind is equally ignorant of everything that goes on in the minded body.  The process of digestion, as it is governed by the minded body, does not come to the attention of the embodied mind, unless, for one reason or another, it goes awry.  Indicative of the ignorance the embodied mind has regarding its own minded body may be seen in the phenomenon of the psychosomatic illness.  Through its anxieties, depression, etc., the embodied mind can actually cause the minded body to become ill, unaware of the effect it is having upon the minded body.

            The difference between the minded body and the embodied mind may also be noted in the phenomenon of human language.  Language is, basically, sound (visual image, gesture, etc.) and sense (meaning).  However, there is no sound in sense; and there is no sense in sound.  When I understand what you are saying, or "see" what you mean, that understanding has no sound.  Conversely, there is no sense in sound.  If someone speaks a language I do not understand there is no sense in that sound.  It may be objected that there is sense there for the native speaker, or for myself if I learn the language.  Even then, however, sense does not reside in the sound but in the understanding of the sound; which is, again, sense and not sound.  The unintelligible or undeciphered language may have sense; nevertheless, that sense is there, like the embodied mind that, presumably, put it there (and would be needed to take it out), only as possibility.

            That minded body and embodied mind differ from each other may be seen in the difference between pain and suffering.  Pain is to be referred to the minded body, suffering to the embodied mind.  There is a disjunction between pain and suffering.  For example, before I went to sleep I may have suffered from the pain of a headache, and it may be there the next morning when I awake.  Nevertheless, while asleep I did not suffer from the pain of the headache.

            Indicative that the minded body and the embodied mind do not know each other all that well may also be noted in the phenomenon of the symptomless disease.  The minded body may be unable to communicate to the embodied mind, until it is too late, that there is a serious organic or medical problem.  The minded body may not know the nature of the problem, since there are no symptoms.  Indeed, even when the embodied mind manages, by indirect means, to have the difficulty diagnosed, the minded body may refuse to "believe" it, since it feels perfectly healthy.  On the other hand, the embodied mind, while it may theoretically accept a particular medical diagnosis, may not want to believe it, in view of the consequences that are likely to be entailed or the changes in lifestyle that may be required.  There is the phenomenon of denial.


            The human being is a thing that both appears, as a minded body, and does not appear, the embodied mind. 

            How may the unity that is the human thing, both embodied mind and minded body, be best understood?

            One may be tempted to apply the neti/neti (not this, not this) logic of Advaita Vedanta (A-dvaita = not two) to the mind/body problem.  When the Advaitist says that the Atman-Brahman and the tree are not-two, that is, that they (It) are one, he is also saying that neither is It (they) not-two (that is, one).  God is neither the tree, nor is God not the tree.  The body and the mind are not two; that is, they (it) are one.  However, there is the other side: neither is it (they) not-two (that is, one).  The mind and the body are not two, but neither are they not two.  The mind is neither the body nor is the mind not the body.  (After all, the body is always a minded body, the mind always an embodied mind.)  To put it another way: the minded body is not other than the embodied mind, nor is it not.  However, one should probably resist all non-Western temptations.

            One might conceive of the relation between minded body and embodied mind according to the metaphor of a marriage.  The minded body and the embodied mind are joined to each other in the same way that husband and wife are joined in marriage.  The difficulty here is that the minded body and the embodied mind are not really of the same nature, as Descartes rightly saw.  The minded body, though distinct from nature, is related to it; whereas the embodied mind is separate from nature.  Also, although the two may be said to interpenetrate, any such permeation would be one-sided, since although the minded body has a temporal priority, the embodied mind, initially present only as possibility, once it has entered upon the scene, is clearly the more powerful of the two, since, if nothing else, it is able to project the transformations of nature.

            Otto Rank offers an interesting suggestion regarding the possible relationship between the two with his notion of the Doppelgänger, the shadow self.[3]  The double, according to this possible reading, is merely the embodied mind's minded body, or the minded body's embodied mind.  Each represents a shadow self to, and for, the other, mirror images of each other.  There are problems with shadows.  It is not possible to leap over them, as the minded body clearly does, having a will of its own.  Similarly, the mirror image is not a real double: the right ear is where the left ought to be; the face is really three-dimensional, not two; and the older the mirror the more is the image distorted.

            Perhaps, the best way in which to understand the relation that is the human thing, the relation of minded body and embodied mind, is to liken it to the relationship between two Siamese twins sharing all of the same organs.  For the minded body and the embodied mind constitute one and the same thing.  In the case of Siamese twins there is a common placenta with considerable development before the twinning occurs, so that there is an incomplete separation of the two embryos.  In the case of the embodied mind and the minded body, however, there is no such separation.  For both would share all the same "organs," and thus each would tend to think that "it" is the thing, that "it" alone does everything on its own and by itself.  After all, if both "twins" used all of the same organs, would there be any way for either to discover which was doing what?  

            Where the metaphor obviously breaks down is over the point that the minded body "twin" is temporally prior to that of the embodied mind.  Twins are, normally, born at the same time.  Though the metaphor might be salvaged with the additional note that the embodied mind, there as possibility already from the beginning, is "born," in this sense, at the same time.

            Physiologically speaking, the most important organ that both minded body and embodied mind share is the human brain, which has been described as the organon of all organs.  This would not simply be Descartes' pineal gland in a new and enlarged form, however, since the human brain is only one of the organs, albeit an extremely important one, that both minded body and embodied mind share.

            Another of the "organs" the embodied mind and the minded body come to share is language.  Language is sound, visual signs or symbols, gestures; but it is also what odors and tastes "say."  There is, after all, communication between the minded bodies of animals.  This is not yet language.  For language is not only sound, etc., but also sense: what those sounds, signs, gestures, odors or tastes mean, and not "mean" simply in the sense of "refer to."  The use of language on the part of human beings implies and implicates both minded body and embodied mind, both working and functioning together using that same "organ."  The use of the word lingua in Latin to refer not only to the tongue, the organ of speech, but also as the word for language is instructive.  Indeed, in his Summa Contra Gentiles (IV, 41 in fine) Aquinas makes the point that the tongue, in that it is the instrument of speech, is the mind's own organ.[4]

            Understanding language as an organon is not new.  Indeed, in Plato's Cratylus (388a-c) a word or name (o[noma) is viewed as an instrument or tool, a tool for teaching (didaskalikovn) and for distinguishing between things (dikritiko;n th'" dujsiva").  Still, although words can be looked upon as tools or instruments for getting things done, it would not be entirely accurate to view language simply in this fashion.  Language is more than simply words or names.  It is also grammar and syntax, the proper ordering of the different sorts of words in order to convey meaning.  Though it should be noted that it is not the projected meanings engendered by the embodied mind that actually get things done in the world.  The actual production of tools and implements requires minded bodies.

            The word organ, or organon, harbors within itself an inherent ambiguity.  It means tool or instrument, something artificial (human made) in Aristotle's sense.  However, the word is also used to refer to the organs of sense or to the sundry other organs in a physical organism.  In this sense it is something natural, again in Aristotle's sense.  Nevertheless, Aristotle insists (De Part. An. 687a, 5 ff.) that the organ that is the human hand comes into play in virtue of the human intelligence, and not vice versa.  The hand is minded body, and especially with the prehensile thumb, represents the way in which the human being is able to have its way with, and be effective within, a world.  Human language, as basically gesture (Cf. sign language), one might say, is the way in which the embodied mind is able to gesture to that world through the minded body.  However, if human language is, like the hand, one of the ways in which the human being gestures to its world, then it would be incorrect to view language as a mere tool or instrument.  After all, the hand is not a mere tool; rather, does it fashion tools.  Words or signs may be tools, tools for getting things done; however, language is, again, much more than simply words. 

            In his Liber de persona et duabus naturis III (PL 64:1343) Boethius gives a definition of the human person: Persona est naturae rationalis individua substantia (A person is an individual substance by nature rational).  Translating this into the terms developed here, one might say that the person is a thing (individua substantia) constituted of a minded body and an embodied mind.  It is this "individual substance," this "thing," that is given a given name.  As a self (rationalis), there is present a consciousness and freedom, even though, in its fully developed form, present only as possibility.  

            According to Freud the ego attempts to adjust or, at least, cope with its world.  It would be more accurate to say that the human thing, that is both embodied mind and minded body, attempts to adapt to its world.  However, such an adaptation is possible only to the extent that the embodied mind and the minded body, which constitute the human thing, adjust to each other.  Only when the self gets its act together, so to speak, can the human thing successfully adapt to its world.  One of the difficulties here is that the minded body is always coming up with surprises for the embodied mind, and vice versa, as each learns more and more about the other.

            There is a difference between adaptation and adjustment.  For neither the minded body nor the embodied mind alone is able to adapt in an under-standing fashion to its world.  For example, when the embodied mind is there only as possibility the human minded body may require a great deal of "outside" help in adapting itself to its world.  With the entrance of the embodied mind upon the scene, the mutual adjustment of minded body and embodied mind to each other implies a division of labor.  The minded body is more attuned to nature and its rhythms; the embodied mind more into the projections of technê and technology.  Indeed, these latter give the minded body yet another set to rhythms to adjust to, though in dealing with a humanized world it does have a body that is minded, as also an embodied mind that was author of that more or less humanized world.            

            On the other hand, the embodied mind that projects the technological world and (hopefully) has it under its aegis must adjust itself to the minded body inhabiting that world.  In other words, minded body and embodied mind develop, and must develop, hand in hand, and must continually adjusting to each other, if they, or better, if "it," the human thing, would adapt in a successful fashion to its world.  It is in their growing up together with each other (con-crescere) that, as Wittgenstein suggests, the human body becomes the best picture of the human soul.[5]  It would be in their mutual development that the embodied mind would learn to adjust to its own minded body.  For the minded body does have a will of its own, perforce in virtue of its connection with nature.  The embodied mind, in many instances, has little choice but to go along with, and to adjust to, the minded body's, and natures, demands.

            The personality is the adjustment that is made between the embodied mind and the minded body.  It is this developed personality that the person will attempt to preserve at all costs, even at the price of mental illness.  For the level of personality development may, indeed, be inadequate so far as successful adaptation would be concerned.  Mental illness can occur in a variety of ways.  It can result from personal choice, the choice of mental illness rather than face a complete personal breakdown, the breakup of a personality carefully built up and maintained over the years through the constant adjustment of the minded body and the embodied mind to each other. 

            In his celebrated river fragment—"You cannot step into the same river twice" (B 91)—Heraclitus is, in part, playing upon this distinction between person and personality.  For the same person can, indeed, step into same river twice, even though the personality is different with each dip.  In other words, the adjustment made between minded body and embodied mind is a constantly changing relationship, even though the person remains one and the same human thing.

            A person has a given name; it is the nickname that is attached to the personality.  It is personalities that can be multiple.  When Hegel, or Marx, suggests that it is one's labor that creates personal identity, this "identity" is obviously not the individual human person, since one and the same person can not only change jobs but even professions, and still remain the same person.  On the other hand, one's professional ego is not just a persona, the "role" one happens to be playing at a particular time or in a particular social situation.  To view one's work or profession as mere role-playing would be dilettantism.  Nevertheless, the identity that is developed in and through one's line of work, with the concomitant adjustments that are made between embodied mind and minded body in the process, is less than the personality, since one's personality can shine through the work one does, as also in that which is produced.

            In addition to person and personality there is also the persona.  The persona is the particular social role a person happens to be playing.  It is the character that one wishes, or has been invited, to perform.  Such personae will tend to be more flat than round, like the mask (persona) worn on stage in classical Roman drama, the makeup of the clown, the dark clothes of the villain.  On the other hand, the role that is developed and played may be highly original.  This usually requires a professional.  Through the subtleties of action and inflection the actor can create a role, a new personality on stage.  The actor, however, plays the character, and this in character.  The personality of the actor, or actress, with all its idiosyncrasies, is left backstage in the dressing room.  Obviously, something of the personality of the actor comes through in the performance.  This is why a particular actor may be chosen to play the part in the first place.  The role thus created will have about it the semblance, or better, the verisimilitude of a genuine personality only if it is developed in the same way that human personalities are developed, namely through the mutual adjustment of embodied mind and minded body.  This is the hard work that takes place while the actor or actress is reading and thinking his or her way into a particular part and rehearsing it in context.  The impersonator doing imitations of famous people does not, obviously, imitate the personality of the person that is being mimed but, rather, certain of the mannerisms, which conjure up the image of that personage in the minds of the audience.  This is why the person must be famous or well known to the audience for the mimicking to be telling.

            When we speak of personal identity we are, then, speaking of a relation, the relation between the minded body and the embodied mind.  It is the two together that constitute the personal thing that would constitute the human being.  However, the development of a personal identity is not simply a matter of the mutual adjustment between the embodied mind and the minded body.  Also involved are the principia individuationis.  There is nature, both in the sense of heredity and the natural environment.  There is the technological world, as there is the world of human society.  Any one of these will affect the two relata differently.  Hegel and Marx would add labor, the work or function one performs in the society, as a principle of individuation.  In the case of Sartre it is obviously freedom, indeed, absolute freedom, with its concomitant absolute responsibility, that is the principle of individuation. 

            The same sources that lead to self-making, the development of the particular personality, can also lead to self-unmaking: there are bad genes, there are extremely hostile environments, corrupt social systems, a technology out of control.  Or if work is seen as formative of the individual, then unemployment, being out of work, becomes a form of self-unmaking.  And while it is true that human freedom can self-make the individual in powerful and important ways, there is also the hamartia of missing the mark, the akrasia of a weak will.  The popular psychologies of self-actualization have sometimes forgotten the downside, and the limitations, of human self-making.

            So is death the final case of self-unmaking, the ultimate principium disintegrationis?

            Sleep is sometimes described as a little death.  Indeed, I would argue that sleep and dreams are essential to the adjustment that is constantly going on between the minded body and the embodied mind.  Sleeping and dreaming do not benefit adaptation, although the prolonged lack of sleep and the inability to dream can adversely affect adaptation and health. 

            Death might be understood in the same fashion, in other words, not as the final unmaking of the human thing, nor as the mere failure of adaptation.  At a certain point in the course of human events or in the human condition that to which one might be obliged to adapt may not be worth adapting to.  When the minded body is no longer all that well minded or the embodied mind not all that well embodied, death can take on a different meaning, and a more positive one.  In this light death may be understood as the final adjustment that the minded body and embodied mind make to, and with, each other, an adjustment in which each "twin" is finally revealed to the other for what "it" is.




[1] Oeuvres de Descartes, Paris: Cerf, 1904, Adam & Tannery edition, I, 182.  Though it is interesting to note that in the second edition of the Meditations (1641) the subtitle is altered from in qua Dei existentia et animae immortalitas demonstratur (in which the existence of God and the immortality of the soul is demonstrated) to in quibus Dei existentia, et animae humanae a corpore distincto, demonstrantur (in which the existence of God and the human soul as distinct from the body are demonstrated). Cf.  Ibid., VII, xix and ff.  The subtitle to the second edition is a more accurate description of the contents of the Meditations.  The earlier subtitle was likely introduced in order to curry favor with the Doctors of the Sorbonne.

[2]  Werke in sechs Bänden, W. Weischedel, ed., III, 448.

[3] The Double: A Psychoanalytic Study, tr. H. Tucker, New York: New American Library, 1979.

[4] Nam lingua, prout est instrumentum locutionis, est proprium organum intellectus. SG IV, 41 in fine.

[5] Philosophical Investigations, Oxford: Blackwell, 1953, p. 178.