What's the difference between mind and consciousness?

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In philosophy, what’s the difference between mind and consciousness? Don’t those two words basically mean the same thing that is the stuff that goes on in our head?

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Tough one!!
I would say that consciousness is a layer behind the mind…… while it works through the mind, it is free of ego and not so cluttered or biased as the mind can become due to stored experiences creating pride and prejudice. I think consciousness is the same for all living beings and it is the capabilities and inclinations of the mind that differentiate various species.


Cosmic Consciousness = Universal Awareness, and is being expressed through our individualized consciousness as “soul.”
Mind is the instrument, consciousness is the overall director.
I’d like to quote from a small book “Words of Wisdom and Power” by Murdo MacDonald-Bayne, it is:
“Mind and Brain interpenetrate each other, the mind is positive while the brain is negative.
“Mind and brain react to each other, the one is indispensable to the other on this plane of existence. Impulses in the brain cells create action in the body. Life is continuous — man is dependent on life — life is intelligence, mind in action, which operates upon the brain cells, and the brain cells in turn act upon the body. Cells vibrate either rapidly or slowly according to the ideas. … ”
[Further on]:
“The Mind Principle of the atom is ruled by the molecule, the molecule by the cell, and the cell by the instinctive mind, the instinctive mind is ruled by the imagination, but the spirit is the underlying principle and ruler of them all.”
[Further on]:
“We are atoms of life surrounded by an ocean of life — pulsating, moving, thinking, living. Each ego is a centre of consciousness in the great ocean of Spirit.
” I am a centre, and my world revolves round me. I clothe myself with mind, energy, and matter, and use them as my instruments with greater power as I unfold.
“My goal will be reached when the Consciousness of the whole will manifest through me.
“God created more than is visible to mankind. A few more senses added to our physical ones would reveal this fact.”


I like the term, “disembodied mind”, to describe consciousness. The mind consists of thoughts, reactions, complicated theoretical processes, and memories, which we have at least partial control of, through utilizing our brain. Consciousness is what gives life and dimension to emotions, memories, and feelings. We have little to no control of our consciousness. It’s what makes us human instead of robotic.
It’s very difficult to grasp consciousness since it’s very nature is disembodied. For a conscious being to define consciousness, this would mean using our conscious mind, via the brain, to explain something much larger than our localized mind. Or, a part attempting to define the whole. How can a mere component of a much larger phenomena, ever know what makes it what it is?
I personally hope that the mysterious element of consciousness will never lose it’s allure, and always remain an unexplainable concept.

Gbfgnhf N

i am confused. i don’t understand the question.


In the ordinary use of the words it is not clear. Consciousness is usually considered as if it were measurable, quantifiable, and mind, ephemeral. People often use the word brain to mean mind and vice versa. What goes on in my head, I think is in the brain, neurological, not the mind. I, self, is the center, a petty personal ego center, in an ephemeral mind. I don’t know what is consciousness.


Mind is an ovious yet tangibly unrecognizable part that bridges impulses between our organs and the brain while consciousness is the fully functional state of the mind.

fat man goes to jail again

no, they’re not the same thing at all. You can have mind WITHOUT consciousness and consciousness without mind.
consciousness can be said to be our sense of self, our sense of our own immediate existence. Whereas our minds, our four lower minds, are just perceiving apparatuses. The intellectual center sees the universe intellectually. The emotional center feels emotions, the moving center understands the universe through movement and the instinctive center understands the universe through the maintenance of one’s physical body.

Masaki H

Excellent question. The problem is that we do not have clear definitions for either mind or consciousness. Since we lack definitions of either of them, we cannot even say if they are two different names referring to one thing or referring to two different things.
Stuff that goes on in our head has two folds according to Kant. The self that we can describe is Empirical Self. The self we cannot even describe at all is Transcendental Self. This is just another way of saying what goes on in our head may be defined differently by different philosophers or different approaches into Nature of Mind.
The answer vastly depends on who you ask the question to, but invariably virtually all honest philosophers will agree that what is consciousness is the most important question, which has not yet been answered fully.


The mind is of physical origin, created out of your brain functions of intellect, memory, imagination and intuition. These brain functions rise and fall upon demand creating what is referred to as mind or mind functions. How effectively these mind functions operate depends upon how genetically functional the brain is, the interconnectivity of its circuitry and its chemical integrity. This is what the materialist sees and works with: the transitory brain functions. When the body is deprived of life, the brain dies. To the pure materialist that is the end of that, establishing a potential agnostic or an atheistic mindset.
Pure materialist scholars, scientists, philosophers etc. conclude that, as the brain is material and contains all our mind functions, when it disappears, the entity that used it equally disappears — not an unreasonable conclusion. This conclusion can be supported by a variety of scientifically provable brain function experiments. One medical proof of this contention is the debilitating affliction known as Alzheimer’s disease or senile dementia, characterized by progressively diminished accessibility to brain functions. As the brain functions diminish, so apparently does the entity that used them resulting in impaired use of intellect and memory plus personality disorganization. By simple observation, it is reasonable to conclude that we are the sum total of our brain function output. And when the body dies so does everything the brain functions produced. This is a pure materialist viewpoint conceived upon observable fact.
Consciousness (pure awareness) is who you are and does not have a physical origin. The physical mind functions provide the opportunity for that non-physical entity to learn and survive in the physical world. Mind functions come and go, or rise and fall upon demand. Consciousness remains unchanged no matter what the mind functions produce or do not produce. This is the split between consciousness and your brain or mind functions. And that separation is fundamental in understanding your existence. It points directly at pure consciousness as who you are, and not what the mind functions produce. What your mind functions produce is what consciousness can see and know. You take that production as who you are, as it can be witnessed. It is a deception that controls your life without you being aware of that deceit. This is your shadow-world.
The materialist can work with and deduce logical conclusions from the study of the brain. But they come to a brick wall when dealing with consciousness, as it cannot be found or located anywhere. Consciousness always feels centered but its exact location will perpetually elude discovery. The mind functions have material origins, but consciousness does not. And here is where all the difficulties arise.
Possibly the most challenging and pervasive source of problems in the whole of philosophy. Our own consciousness seems to be the most basic fact confronting us, yet it is almost impossible to say what consciousness is. Is mine like yours? Is ours like that of animals? Might machines come to have consciousness? Is it possible for there to be disembodied consciousness? Whatever complex biological and neural processes go on backstage, it is my consciousness that provides the theatre where my experiences and thoughts have their existence, where my desires are felt and where my intentions are formed. But then how am I to conceive the ‘I’, or self that is the spectator, or at any rate the owner of this theatre? These problems together make up what is sometimes called ‘the hard problem’ of consciousness. One of the difficulties in thinking about consciousness is that the problems seem not to be scientific ones; Leibniz remarked that if we could construct a machine that could think and feel, and blow it up to the size of a mill and thus be able to examine its working parts as thoroughly as we pleased, we would still not find consciousness (Monadology, para. 17), and drew the conclusion that consciousness resides in simple subjects, not complex ones. Even if we are convinced that consciousness somehow emerges from the complexity of brain functioning, we may still feel baffled about the way the emergence takes place, or why it takes place in just the way it does.
The nature of conscious experience has been the largest single obstacle to physicalism, behaviourism, and functionalism in the philosophy of mind: these are all views that according to their opponents, can only be believed by feigning permanent anaesthesia. But many philosophers are convinced that we can divide and conquer: we may make progress not by thinking of one ‘hard’ problem, but by breaking the subject up into different skills and recognizing that rather than a single self or observer we would do better to think of a relatively undirected whirl of cerebral activity, with no inner theatre, no inner lights, and above all no


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