Our Two Minds
Our Human Mind
Our mental capacity is what has enabled us (Homo sapiens) to conquer other life and harness the resources of this planet. In a Darwinian world, our mental capacity has enabled us to ascend to the pinnacle of the survival pyramid. Therefore, the essence of the story about our species centers on our mind.
Our cognitive skills are built upon the neural architectures that originally developed for vision and for speech/hearing. The split brain studies on epileptic patients by RE Myers, RW Sperry, and MS Gazzaniga verify this separation. We can also be aware of the two sides of our mind through introspection of our own consciousness:
Vision based - non-verbal emotions, feelings and intuitions coming from our vision-based cognition, and….
Speech based - words, thoughts, and reasoning coming from our speech-based cognition.
These two, very different, cognitive types are also mostly separated anatomically - into the right and left cerebral hemispheres.
Our Vision-Based Mind (Right Brain)
Now, let’s investigate the beginnings of our Minds. To do this, we need to look deep into the past…into the formation of the universe and life on this planet. Vision developed quickly in the Cambrian Period (570 million years ago) when the earliest animals with body forms emerged. Vision was the primary driver of Darwinian survival during this period.
Vision enabled the animal to see the “world”, and gave the animal a sense of “self”, i.e. that which was viewing the world. Consequently the concepts of “world” and “self” are deeply embedded in the cognition that developed from the vision neurological architecture. Likewise, Darwinian survival necessitated identification of same-species animals (for protection and reproduction); hence the concept of “group” is also deeply embedded in the vision-based neurology.
Our Speech-Based Mind (Left Brain)
We humans have developed a speech-based cognition that has no equal anywhere else in Life on this planet. This is what has made possible the major advances of the human mind, separated us from the animals, and enabled us to conquer the planet.
The Sensory-Based Human Mind
Diagram of the Sensory-Based Mind in early humans
The deepest essence of our being is contained in our vision-based right mind, which also contains the deeply embedded concepts of “self” and “group”. Our speech-based left mind was essentially added to the already existent and in-control right mind and developed the corresponding correlates of “ego” and “group-think”. Socrates and Plato, through their introspection and analysis, described the sensory-based mind.