Where does the mind begin and end?
The mind in psychology is often assumed to be delimited by individuals and sometimes evencontained within the central nervous system to the extent that commentators have labelledpsychology an individual-bound discipline (Wilson, 2004). Psychology has, and continues to have, adualistic stance towards the mind (Bunge, 2010). In cognition, for example, the idea of internalmodels of the world, divorced from the body and the world itself, has been widespread (Schubert &Semin, 2009). The individualism of psychology is also clear.
Individualism is the thesis thatpsychological states
can be explicated without reference to the person’s social or physical
environments (Burge, 1986). The experimental methods of psychology suggest an adoption of individualism in that they rely on the supposition that it is possible to establish laws of behaviour byisolating individuals from their social contexts.These assumptions about the mind, however, are not givens but are the result of complexsocial and historical processes (Richards, 2002). Comparisons of Western psychology with otherpsychologies make this point clear. Richards (1932) notes that Chinese thinking gives little or noattention to distinctions that are fundamental to Western thought. More vividly, Danziger (1997)writes of his encounter with an Indonesian psychologist and their inability to find points of contactbetween Dan
ziger’s Western psychology and his colleague’
s Eastern psychology. Encounters withother psychologies leads us to question the distinctions Western psychology takes for granted
asthough they belong...
unconditionally to the constitution of things” (Richards, 1932, p.3).
An examination of the origins of psychology illustrates that
psychology is a “domain of constructions” (Danziger, 1990, p.2).
Psychology developed at a time in which individualism anddualism pervaded common thought. It has been argued that the notion of the individual mind as acontained entity did not emerge in western thought until the early nineteenth century (Richards,2002). This individual focus is thought to be linked to the rise of capitalism and the breakdown of collective social structures. Dualism has a longer history. René Descartes states that the mind, or
“soul through which *we are+”, as he put it, “is entirely distinct from the body” (Descartes
, 1993,p.19). This mind-body disconnection did not originate with Descartes
such a dualism was presentin the work of ancient Greek philosophers such as Hippocrates (Adams, 1939) and Plato (Grosz,1994)
but it has come to be referred to as Cartesian Dualism. Nonetheless, Descartes introducedthree important innovations to this dualism; he conceived of the body as a machine and describedthe mechanisms by which action and sensation occurred; he proposed that the mind and the bodycould communicate through the pineal gland; and he believed that the human soul left the body atdeath (Sarafino, 2002). In this regard, the human body, to Descartes, was passive, mere