Brain Foundational Human Mind Philosophy Pre-Human Minds

What Is It Like to Have a Mind?


If you were to ask a human being and a bat, “What is it like to have a mind?,” you would expect to get unimaginably different answers. What is less expected is that if you asked four different people the same question, you could receive four unimaginably different answers. 

In 1974, philosopher Thomas Nagel famously asked the question: “What is it like to be a bat?,” meaning what is it like to have the subjective experience of being a bat?1 Or, the question could be rephrased as, “What is it like to have a bat mind?” Nagel’s question about a bat also applies to human beings. We could ask, “What is it like to have a human mind?” and “What is it like to be a human being?”

The quadrune mind model of human consciousness states that human beings have not just one mind, but four kinds of subjective mental experiences. Each mind possesses self-awareness to a greater or lesser degree, depending on which one of the four kinds of consciousness is dominant. Each mind leads us to live very different lives in the world compared with the other three.  

The Quadrune Mind Model of Consciousness

What is a person but part crocodile, part horse, part computer, part angel and therein lie all the conflicts of humanity.–-Tom F. Shadid

The quadrune mind model of consciousness describes four minds that emerge from the human brain. Three of those mentalities—the “pre-Human” minds—are considered functionally analogous to characteristics of the “minds” of reptiles, old (herd) mammals, and new (primate) mammals. Also, each of us goes through developmental stages growing up that generally recapitulate the adaptive behaviors of those not-as-distant-as-we-think ancestral relatives. It is only the most recently developed fourth level of consciousness—the uniquely Human mind—that can integrate all four minds into one: a quadrune mind. It is only when the Human mind is dominant that our behaviors, emotions, and thoughts are mindfully harmonious with each other in the spirit and intent of our truly Human nature.2

We profile the four mentalities below by citing historical, contemporary, or fictional people who represent that mind in its most clearly dominant form. In everyday life most of us exhibit a more complex, and changing, proportion of “mind types.” The following classifications are based on public statements by the person and external observations reported by reasonably credible sources.  

It turns out that if you ask yourself, “What is it like to have a mind?,” the answer depends on which mind you have

What Is It Like to Have a Reptilian Mind?

This behavioral complex worked pretty well in the ancient world; but in the modern world… the behaviors you might use to fight or to flee from a predator are often completely inappropriate in board meetings or at the breakfast table. Wild war cries and violence, so useful in dealing with sabertooth [sic] tigers, have entirely different consequences today.—Matthew J. Sharps3

Alexander III, autocratic ruler

“Alexander’s political ideal was a nation containing only one nationality, one language, one religion, and one form of administration, and he did his utmost to prepare for the realization of this ideal by imposing the Russian language and Russian schools on his German, Polish, and Finnish subjects, by fostering Orthodoxy at the expense of other confessions, by persecuting the Jews, and by destroying the remnants of German, Polish, and Swedish institutions in the outlying provinces.”4 

The reptilian mind can feel biologically safe only if the world is experienced as a controllable, undifferentiated extension of itself. This survival requirement arises from the reptilian mind’s infantile level of object relations. Just as with an infant, the reptilian-minded person is not neurologically capable of respecting other people as separate “human beings” with an internal life and different ways of living. “Inclusive diversity” is not valued, or even intelligible, for this mentality. Ethnic, cultural, or ideological diversity is like a life-threatening cancer and must be excised.

Samuel A. Alito Jr., constitutional originalist

“‘Originalism is the idea that the Constitution has a fixed meaning; it doesn’t change. It means what people would have understood it to mean at the time it was written,’ Justice Alito observed. ‘Applying Originalism as a justice, however, means you take into account some practical realities,’ such as stare decisis, or the power of precedent. ‘If you are a strict academic originalist, you don’t have to worry about precedent. You might consider it prudent to go back and reconsider past cases. But this is not practical for a Supreme Court Justice,’ he continued, adding that he ‘almost always follow[s] past decisions.’…

“‘[The founding of Thomas Aquinas College] was really a bold move, and something that went against the cultural winds and the cultural tide, to found this college in the early 1970s,’ Justice Alito said. ‘But it is consistent with the best of our civilization, the marriage of Athens and Jerusalem.’”5

From the quadrune mind perspective, the authority of precedence in law is interpreted by the reptilian mind as equivalent to the infantile biological need for homeostasis, or “status quo.”6 The confluence of religious faith, legal originalism, and revered “civilization” is not coincidental. All arise from the conservative (preservative) reptilian mind’s consistent need for a survival-valued sense of predictability; i.e., an unchanging, stable world, founded in sacred tradition, ultimately under a loving “father’s” all-powerful control. This drive might be called the need for “homeostatus quo,” combining the infant’s developmental level of consciousness (driven by the biological need for homeostasis) and the adult’s pre-Human “infantile” level of consciousness (driven by the instinctual need to preserve their personal status quo—i.e., existence without change). 

Inspector Javert, cop obsessed with justice

“The relentless law enforcer is unable, or unwilling, to recognize whether their target is either wrongly accused or has already been redeemed. For Javert, and those who were inspired by him, there is no moral gray area. There are only those who follow the law, and those who break it.”7

Zero tolerance” policies have been used by law enforcement agencies, judicial courts, legislators, employers, military, social media vigilantes, and school administrators when reflective thought on complex matters (human mentality) was deemed undesirable.

What Is It Like to Have an Old Mammalian Mind?

[O]ur natural morality is limited, often tragically so. Babies are strongly biased to favor familiar individuals over strangers, and are naturally prone to divide the world into Us versus Them. The notion that all people have equal rights, that we all possess moral value, is not something we’re born with….Babies are also limited to responding at a gut level; they have no conscious access to moral notions and hence no idea why certain acts are good or bad.—Paul Bloom8

King Charles X and Roger Leslie Farnham,9 imperialist and “racial capitalist”

“Two decades after Haiti won its independence from France, a squadron of warships returned with an ultimatum from King Charles X. The choice: money or war. France demanded the Haitians pay… 150 million francs, a staggering amount…. With the warships looming off the coast, Haiti agreed. With that, Haitians who had paid for their freedom in blood, were forced to pay for it yet again—this time in cash…. Haiti became the first and only country where the descendants of enslaved people paid the families of their former masters for generations.”10

Brandon Judd, United States Border Patrol union president

“Images of Border Patrol agents on horseback clashing with Haitian migrants in Del Rio, Texas, were still in heavy rotation on cable news when the Homeland Security secretary promised a swift investigation….

“Images of Border Patrol agents on horseback confronting Black migrants, mostly from Haiti, drew widespread condemnation — even from the top ranks of the Biden administration….

“But those agents on horseback have their defenders, too.

The agents were sent out there to do a specific job. They did exactly what they were sent out there to do,” said Brandon Judd, the president of the union that represents Border Patrol agents….

Judd says the agents were swinging their horses’ reins, not whips, and that no migrants were actually injured. He argues the investigation has been flawed from the start, because high-ranking officials within the administration weighed in early….

“Those investigators have no choice but to find wrongdoing, which is why it’s taking so long,” Judd said in an interview.

“If you talk to critics of the Border Patrol, they actually agree with Judd about one thing: The way agents in Del Rio acted toward migrants is not really unusual….

“‘I’ve had Border Patrol agents in the past tell me that they will not retreat, and they will not give up one foot of American soil,’ [James Wong, who used to work in internal affairs at Customs and Border Protection] said. ‘They view these people as the enemy. And to me, that’s troubling.’

“The Border Patrol’s critics say that’s what the images from Del Rio reveal. And why they don’t expect the investigation to make much of a difference — no matter how or when it ends.”11

Just as fish don’t know that they are wet, old mammalian-minded persons don’t know that they are bigots (putatively labeled as “racists”), including Brandon Judd. 

Two examples indicate how pervasively dominant in the world the childish, old mammalian herd/tribal mentality is: 

(1) The notable fortunes, violence, and loyalties associated with “Us vs. Them/Good vs. Evil” group identities. For example, the vast fortunes derived from dualistic movie franchises, such as Harry Potter, Hobbit/Lord of the Rings, Marvel/DC Comics, Star Wars, and 007; the centuries of violence over conflicting, unprovable beliefs or religions, including Zoroastrianism, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam; and the huge number of fans who emotionally identify with sports teams,12 including college and pro football, college and pro basketball, and international soccer.  

(2) That Judd can seriously mount a defense of the border patrol agents on the argument that whips were not used and no one was actually injured. No doubt for herd/tribal mentalities this distinction makes the dehumanized treatment of people morally OK, if not honorable. It’s similar to the moral thought that it’s possible to have a “just war,” or a mind that allows the defense minister in Israel to say that the Israeli army is the most moral army in the world. From the perspective of the quadrune mind model of spirituality, arguments based on gradations of “morality” are irrelevant, ignorant, disingenuous, and/or distractive. Unfortunately, it is this “my morality (religion, tradition, culture, etc.)  is better than your morality (religion, tradition, culture, etc.)” on which almost every group conflict focuses its attention, emotions, and lives. In the quadrune mind model the issue is the level of consciousness of the disputants, not the relative moral value of the contents of their mind. (Of course, it does not follow that a person with a dominant Human-minded level of consciousness is free to exploit, oppress, or murder pre-Human minded people. It is precisely because the Human being has a Human mentality that such actions toward others are unconscionable.) The shift to a “level of consciousness” problem changes an “us versus them” conflict to be “won or lost” into a shared task of everyone becoming more spiritually mature

What Is It Like to Have a New Mammalian Mind?

We live in an era of social science, and have become accustomed to understanding the social world in terms of “forces,” “pressures,” “processes,” and “developments.” It is easy to forget that those “forces” are statistical summaries of the deeds of millions of men and women who act on their beliefs in pursuit of their desires. The habit of submerging the individual into abstractions can lead not only to bad science (it’s not as if the “social forces” obeyed Newton’s laws) but to dehumanization.—Steven Pinker 13

Stanley Draper, civic leader/urban renewalist

“[Stanley] Draper and his business allies were obsessed with taking [Oklahoma City] and flinging it forward—launching the city, no matter the cost, out of the rank of second- or third-tier American places and into the metropolitan big leagues…(page 28).

“In downtown OKC, the destruction was horrifying. Architectural showpieces had come down everywhere. The eight-story Mercantile Building, tidy and white. The Warner Theatre, once home to the grandest stage in the city, where Sarah Bernhardt and other legends had performed. The Terminal Building, where the streetcars used to turn around. The Criterion Theater, whose fancy columns made it look vaguely Parisian. The Baum Building, modeled on the Doge’s Palace in Venice—elegant white exterior, ornate spiraling cupolas, windows upon windows upon windows…. By the mid-1970s, that skyline was ruined. Downtown was desolate. It would be as if New York City had decided to raze not only the old Penn Station but the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building too, plus Macy’s and Grand Central Terminal.”14

Senator John Bird, promoter of harsher fugitive slave resolutions

“What a situation, now, for a patriotic senator, that had been all the week before spurring up the legislature of his native state to pass more stringent resolutions against escaping fugitives, their harborers and abettors!… 

“He was as bold as a lion about it, and ‘mightily convinced’ not only himself, but everybody that heard him;—but then his idea of a fugitive was only an idea of the letters that spell the word,—or, at the most, the image of a little newspaper picture of a man with a stick and bundle…. The magic of the real presence of distress,—the imploring human eye, the frail, trembling human hand, the despairing appeal of helpless agony—these he had never tried.”15

The contents of minds vary in specifics, but the same levels of consciousness exist everywhere today as they have existed for scores of millennia. However, this senator had enough humanity (Human mind) to go on to repent of his abstractional (new mammalian mind) political strategy in the intimate face of human suffering. 

Pablo Picasso and Sigmund Freud, modernists

“Arising out of the rebellious mood at the beginning of the twentieth century, modernism was a radical approach that yearned to revitalize the way modern civilization viewed life, art, politics, and science. This rebellious attitude that flourished between 1900 and 1930 had, as its basis, the rejection of European culture for having become too corrupt, complacent and lethargic, ailing because it was bound by the artificialities of a society that was too preoccupied with image and too scared of change….

“The first characteristic associated with modernism is nihilism, the rejection of all religious and moral principles as the only means of obtaining social progress. In other words, the modernists repudiated the moral codes of the society in which they were living in [sic]. The reason that they did so was not necessarily because they did not believe in God…. Rather, their rejection of conventional morality was based on its arbitrariness, its conformity and its exertion of control over human feelings. In other words, the rules of conduct were a restrictive and limiting force over the human spirit. The modernists believed that for an individual to feel whole and a contributor to the re-vitalization of the social process, he or she needed to be free of all the encumbering baggage of hundreds of years of hypocrisy.

“The rejection of moral and religious principles was compounded by the repudiation of all systems of beliefs, whether in the arts, politics, sciences or philosophy. Doubt was not necessarily the most significant reason why this questioning took place. One of the causes of this iconoclasm was the fact that early 20th-century culture was literally re-inventing itself on a daily basis….

“How was modernism such a radical departure from what had preceded it in the past? The modernists were militant about distancing themselves from every traditional idea that had been held sacred by Western civilization, and perhaps we can even go so far as to refer to them as intellectual anarchists in their willingness to vandalize anything connected to the established order.”16

In other words, the Modernists were doctrinaire in their rejection of traditional ideas. To the new mammalian mind, the ideology the person espouses (Modernism, in this case) becomes more important than the people that idea affects.

What Is It Like to Have a Human Mind?

The capacity to have a sense of responsibility to, and communion with, people never met, all living beings, and the earth.17

Woody Guthrie, folksinger

“Japanese Americans were not able to find many outside supporters during the early days of World War II. Even in cosmopolitan New York, Socialist party leader Norman Thomas, the only national political figure to oppose Executive Order 9066, later stated that he never in his life found an issue on which it was so difficult to attract the usual liberal and labor support. However, throughout the war years, Japanese Americans could count on the vocal solidarity (in more than one sense of the word) of a unique hakujin friend living in Brooklyn, N.Y…. 

“The name of this exceptional figure? Woody Guthrie.”18

It would seem to have required a spiritually-committed Human level of consciousness to defend a group of non-European-Americans against the reactionary violence of European-American ethnic/national panic (reptilian mind). See also Guthrie’s song, “Jesus Christ,” as sung by Merle Haggard, as an additional suggestion for the presence of a dominant Human mind. 

Cyrus Habib, Jesuit in formation

“He quickly climbed the rungs of power, became the lieutenant governor of the state of Washington at 35 and had reason to believe that he’d be governor someday, maybe even before he turned 40….

“Then the man, Cyrus Habib, had an awakening.

“‘I was in talks with a top literary agent in New York about a book deal, and it was all predicated on my biography, my identity,’ he told me recently. He could feel himself being sucked into ‘a celebrity culture’ in American politics that had nothing to do with public service. He could feel himself being swallowed by pride….

“Habib worried that if he moved into the governor’s office, he might be too intoxicated by power to let it go. Stepping down now, he told me, is like ‘giving your car keys to someone before you start drinking.’

“Are our most obvious achievements catalysts for contentment, or are they a prison? Can we tend to others if we’re constantly fussing over ourselves? I think many of us are afraid to ask those questions. The answers might upend our lives, just as Habib’s upended his.”19


Q: What is it like to have a Human mind? A: The person with a Human mind can live the mentally integrated, spiritually conscious life that reveals one’s true Human nature. 

Q: How do you get a Human mind? A: As discussed in our blog, Healing the Dissociated Pre-Human Minds of the Afflicted Human Brain, some of us may have experienced afflictions as our brain developed that require a healing, therapeutic relationship to pave the way for us to access our Human mind.20 Once we have access to our Human mind, we can develop the skill of using it in more and more situations by asking ourselves what would reduce suffering and increase healing in that situation before we speak or act. (For example, by practicing Mindful Consumption.) Becoming more aware of the effect that each of our minds has on ourselves and the world around us and taking the time required to use our more time-intensive Human mind rather than our gut-reaction pre-Human minds opens the space for more Human-minded speech and action. By learning to adjusting our thoughts and actions to meet this mandate of the Human mind to reduce suffering and increase healing through continual practice, we will strengthen our Human mind and be able to use it in more and more situations, perhaps even stressful ones that normally regress us to our survival-oriented minds. In addition, we believe the Human mind can only be developed through skillful, loving relationships with other people, animals, and the earth. Graciously giving, and receiving, healthy, non-manipulative help over and over again promotes our becoming a fully conscious Human being.21

We believe that most Human-minded people will likely not be public figures. But they will probably share the belief that a life of service is inherently sacred and not something that a person deserves a medal or sainthood for. If mercy is to be part of this world, it must happen through us. Expanding spiritual consciousness on earth is humanity’s responsibility

A Deeper Conclusion 

We began this essay by stating that a human being and a bat would be expected to experience unimaginably different minds. We also noted that four different people might be subjects of very different minds, and we gave examples of how each of the four minds might be lived. But the least expected conclusion of the quadrune mind model of consciousness is that we could ask one person four different times, “What is it like to have a mind?” and still come up with four very different responses. How is this possible? 

Paul D. MacLean, who developed the triune brain model, explains how this unexpected result not only can happen, but is almost unavoidable: 

“One might imagine that our brain represents an amalgamation of three biological computers, each with its own special intelligence, its own special subjective sense, its own sense of time and space, its own memory, motor and other functions. What seems notably lacking, is a commonly shared neural code for intersignalling in verbal terms. It is evident how misunderstanding generated by this situation might result in intrapersonal and interpersonal conflict.”22

The dissociation of our three pre-Human minds accounts for not only all of history’s social conflicts but also our own internally conflicted behaviors, emotions, and thoughts; for example, when we say things like, “What was I thinking?,” “That’s not who I am!,” or “I must have been out of my mind to have done that!” It is at such times when our behaviors, emotions, or thoughts seem completely out of character that we are probably experiencing a “failure to communicate” among our pre-Human minds. We are in intrapersonal conflict. 

We judge other people’s behaviors, emotions, and thoughts with the same mind-boggled confusion. We say things like, “I can’t imagine how they believe all those lies!” Or, “Those people are trying to take away my God-given rights and freedoms!” We are in interpersonal conflict. 

These conflicts will never be resolved as long as we try to eliminate them with the consciousness of a pre-Human mind. We will have endless verbal and physical violence over differences of traditions, group identities, or ideologies until we help each other rise to our proper Human level of consciousness. It is only under the mentally integrating insights of the Human mind that we can resolve what otherwise appear as intractable divisions among us.

Related Posts

Stampede Greed and Desperate Need

QM and the Vital Difference between Consciousness and Intelligence

QM and Moral (But Not Spiritual) Arguments for Killing Other People

QM, the Strategic Error Made by “Anti-Racists,” and the Mind of a Bigot

QM and the Scary New Mammalian Mind of the 21st Century

Additional Resources

Bailey, K. G. (1985, July). Phylogenetic regression and the problem of extreme aggression. Journal of Social and Biological Structures, 8(3), 207-223. “It is suggested that some forms of ‘senseless’ human violence may represent phylogenetic regressions to predatory tendencies once normal and typical in our evolutionary forebears.”

Caring for Kids. Your baby’s brain: How parents can support healthy development. (Last updated, 2017, October). Canadian Pediatric Society. “Your baby’s brain wiring is not fully connected at birth. It is very active, changing and developing in response to what’s going on all around them. It is the day-to-day experiences—activities like playing, being read to, learning, and interacting and being responded to by people—that helps to develop your baby’s brain.

“How well all the wiring gets set up—that is, how your baby’s brain develops—will affect their ability to learn language, solve problems, and do well in school. Later in life, it can affect their physical and emotional health and how they get along with other people.” [Brains with well-integrated neural connectivity will be able to support an adult’s spiritual health. Such a brain can be the result of a healthy developmental environment or later by healing (humanizing) relationships].

Greenspan, S. I. (1997). The growth of the mind: And the endangered origins of intelligence. Reading, MA: Perseus Books. “The goal of mental health treatment is to help the individual move toward the level of development appropriate to his or her age” (page 208). [This is the same goal that all humanizing relationships have regarding our levels of consciousness].

Kimmelman, M. (writer), & Kimmelman, M. & Tompkins, L. (Reps.), & Lee, C. (Phot.). (2022, June 14).  How Houston moved 25,000 people from the streets into homes of their own: The nation’s fourth-largest city hasn’t solved homelessness, but its remarkable progress can suggest a way forward. New York Times. “During the last decade, Houston, the nation’s fourth most populous city, has moved more than 25,000 homeless people directly into apartments and houses. The overwhelming majority of them have remained housed after two years. The number of people deemed homeless in the Houston region has been cut by 63 percent since 2011, according to the latest numbers from local officials….

“Houston has gotten this far by teaming with county agencies and persuading scores of local service providers, corporations and charitable nonprofits — organizations that often bicker and compete with one another — to row in unison. Together, they’ve gone all in on ‘housing first,’ a practice, supported by decades of research, that moves the most vulnerable people straight from the streets into apartments, not into shelters, and without first requiring them to wean themselves off drugs or complete a 12-step program or find God or a job.” [Hyperlink in the original].

Oliver, J. (2022, June 6). School policeLast Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO). [Our failure as an armed society to provide our children the safety and freedom to misbehave as a child].

Sanders, L. (2022, March 18). What do we mean by ‘COVID-19 changes your brain’?A study linked SARS-CoV-2 infections with smaller brain regions, but the implications are unclear. Science News. “I can rattle off a long, long list of things that change the brain, such as learning new thingssleeping and using a smartphone (SN: 9/5/17SN: 6/5/14; SN 3/17/17). Learning the streets of Londonjuggling and meditating may all change the structure of the brain. Essentially, the events of our lives are reflected in the size, shape and behavior of our constantly changing brains.” [Emphasis added. Hyperlinks are in the original].

Sapolsky, R. (2021, September 21). Your reptilian brain, explained | Robert Sapolsky | Big Think. [Sapolsky’s excellent presentation of how the “three layers” of the brain communicate with, and influence each other, by both “top-down” and “bottom-up” processes].

Smith, S., & Marker, A. (2022). Rolling Dog Farm. Lancaster, NH. “We founded this nonprofit originally as the Rolling Dog Ranch Animal Sanctuary in December 2000, when we left our corporate jobs in Seattle and moved to a 160-acre ranch in the Blackfoot River Valley of western Montana. Our dream was to create a special place for animals with disabilities….

“Our disabled residents are remarkable animals. They are happy, energetic and loving. Many of our visitors can’t believe the animals they see romping with each other and running around are blind or cope with some other kind of handicap. There isn’t a single animal here who feels sorry for himself or herself. Each and every one of them loves being alive.” [Emphasis added. As with humans, disabled animals need skillful help, love, and appreciation more than pity, sympathy, or empathy in order to thrive. Disabled people do not have to be handicapped. And after all, sharing the love to be alive is the point of everything Human].

  1. Nagel, T. (2002). What is it like to be a bat? In D. J. Chalmers (Ed.), Philosophy of mind: Classical and contemporary readings (pp. 219-226). New York: Oxford University Press. “[F]undamentally an organism has conscious mental states if and only if there is something that it is like to be that organism—something it is like for the organism. [Page 219. Emphases in the original].
  2. Details of this model can be found in the Study Guide and our blog posts. Hyperlinks to previews of all the posts with shared categories can be found listed on our Blog Categories page.
  3. Sharps, M. J. (Posted 2022, January 14). How we process under pressure: Stress and automatic behavior: Under high stress, our minds may go on “autopilot” with disastrous results. “Under high stress, we enter the human fight-or-flight response, in which a heightened state of physiological arousal, inherited from the ancient world to deal with physical emergencies, results in increased strength and endurance; but the same response can reduce perceptual and cognitive capacities in specific areas….

    “The world of law enforcement provides a number of terrible and tragic examples of this. Take the infamous 1970 Newhall Incident, in which officers of the California Highway Patrol were ambushed by heavily armed attackers. Forensic analysis indicates that one officer might have been able to dispatch the assailant who killed him if he’d taken only the time needed to put one or two rounds into his emptied revolver. Instead, he took the time to reload the weapon to its full six-round capacity. This gave his attacker the extra time needed to murder him.

    “Why did the officer do this? Full six-round reloads, at that time, were standard on the firing range. Under the extreme tactical stress of a gunfight, the officer fell back on his training—and that training resulted in a lethally incorrect series of automatic actions in the real world.” [“Automatic pilot” accidents and fatalities occur frequently in everyday civilian life, maybe accounting for most accidents and death. For example, if we habitually drive with a sense of urgency, then we may “automatically” run a traffic light turning red without seeing the pedestrian who is slowly crossing the intersection, or we “come to our senses” too late].

  4. Florinsky, M. T., & The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica. (Last revised, 2022, March 6). Alexander III: Emperor of Russia. Encyclopedia Britannica. [Emphasis added].
  5. Thomas Aquinas College. (2021, November 9). Justice Alito discusses faith & originalism at TAC Town Hall. [Emphases added. Bracket in the text is in the original. For further discussion of the essential legal importance of precedents, see Taub, A. (2022, May 19). The 17th-Century judge at the heart of today’s women’s rights rulingsBoth in India and in the Roe v. Wade draft ruling roiling the United States, Lord Matthew Hale — an English judge who wrote that women were contractually obligated to husbands — still looms large. New York Times].
  6. See also the discussion regarding legal precedents and the reptilian mind from Chapter 16 of Paul MacLean’s book, The Triune Brain in Evolution, excerpted in our blog post, Quadrune Mind and the Triune Brain in Evolution.
  7. Harris, S. J. (2019, April 1). Inspector Javert: THE archetypal cop with an obsession: How Les Misérables created a model for police procedurals. CrimeReads.
  8. Even babies distinguish between good and evil.” (2017, December 12). Jacobs Foundation. [The quote is useful, but the title of the article is unfortunate. “Good” and “evil” are socialized concepts of morality that humans learn after infancy and early childhood. Old mammalian-minded adults who still function at the childish level of consciousness divide the universe into a “good vs. evil” drama to explain their dualistic view of the world. This view was originally grounded in the biological, survival-related drives of attraction and withdrawal. The discussion on emotional empathy is also relevant to the old mammalian mind].
  9. Hudson, P. J. (n.d.). The National City Bank of New York and Haiti, 1909–1922. “Johnson points to a structuring paternalism shaping Farnham’s vision of Haiti and the Haitian people. Yet paternalism was but a subset of what Cedric Robinson calls ‘racial capitalism’—the idea that modern racial ideology (with its overvaluation of whiteness and extra-demonization of Blackness) and contemporary capitalism conjointly arose and cannot and should not be separated or disaggregated analytically. Following this, for Farnham and National City, their interest in Haiti was not simply about the extension of markets and the search for new frontiers for US finance capital. Their interest in Haiti was in the establishment and reproduction of white supremacy.” [An in-depth examination, hosted by Projects at Harvard, of the role taken by people at National City Bank of New York and Roger Leslie Farnham in their exploitations of the Haitian people, as well as the atrocities committed against Haitian people by the U. S. Marines’ occupation force].
  10. Gamio, L., Méheut, C., Porter, C., Gebrekidan, A. M., & Apuzzo, M. (2022, May 20). The ransom: Haiti’s lost billionsNew York Times.
  11. Rose, J. (2021, November 6). The inquiry into border agents on horseback continues. Critics see a ‘broken’ system. Heard on All Things Considered. NPR. [Emphases added].
  12. Nevertheless, even at the epicenter of high stakes professional team sport, a more human-minded person can still speak out, such as Steve Kerr. However, I think we are not being held hostage by “50 senators in Washington,” but by the people whose money has bought those senators: the ownership power elites (some of whom own professional sports teams). The entrenched ownership elites conserve the status quo of their power status through the artful manipulation and distraction of a progressively-minded, but socio-economically and politically impotent, citizenry. And even after Kerr’s sincere and impassioned plea it was never-the-less bigtime, big money, exciting sport as usual. Making meaningful changes in life (that is, our minds) has to come by what we do differently in between tragedies.
  13. Quote is from The Sense of style: The thinking person’s guide to writing in the 21st century.
  14. Anderson, S. (2018). Boom town: The fantastical saga of Oklahoma City, its chaotic founding, its apocalyptic weather, its purloined basketball team, and the dream of becoming a world-class metropolis. [Pages 257-258. Sam Anderson drills deep under the dirt of a frontier oil town and unexpectedly strikes the American soul].
  15. Stowe, H. B. (1852/2021). Uncle Tom’s cabin: Or, life among the lowly. New York: Barnes & Noble. [Page 112. Emphasis added].
  16. History of modernism (n.d.). Miami Dade College.
  17. Quadrune Mind Study Guide, page 6.
  18. Robinson, G. (2013, January 24). THE GREAT UNKNOWN AND THE UNKNOWN GREAT: Woody Guthrie, folk singer, songwriter and musician, and friend of Nikkei. Nichi Bei.
  19. Bruni, F. (2020, April 11). A politician takes a sledgehammer to his own ego: Just in time for Easter, the story of a blind state leader who is giving up his office to join the Jesuits. New York Times. [See also Cyrus HabibWikipedia, last edited March 28, 2022. Of course, as with all of us, his story is still being told with the ending unknowable].
  20. See this blog post for more detailed information about ways to heal our dissociated pre-Human minds.
  21. We will explore this topic in more depth in our next blog post.
  22. MacLean, P. D. (1977). The triune brain in conflict. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 28(1/4), 207-220. [Also see the JSTOR preview of this article. Emphases in the original].

2 replies on “What Is It Like to Have a Mind?”

An excellent discussion of the various levels of the mind as well as clear examples of individuals exhibiting the various qualities. One question: In the conclusion the statement relative to moving from one level involves individuals representing different levels, one with the pre-Human mind and one at the proper Human level. What would allow them to communicate with one another? We understand that the individual at the Human level would want to help the other pre-Human mind rise, but would the pre-Human mind individual be receptive to an understand of the pre-Human mind and the need to change?

Paul, I believe you have asked a very basic and important question. How does the more conscious Human-minded person help a pre-Human-minded person mature into a spiritually conscious Human being?

Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, the person functioning from a pre-Human mind does not need to understand the quadrune mind model, or the “existential” need for change to become fully Human. This is fortunate because it would likely be impossible for a lower consciousness to be able to grasp the subjective experience of a higher consciousness. (See our post, QM and the Future of Spiritual Consciousness, for a related discussion.)

What matters is that there are people who understand and take seriously the quadrune mind as a lifetime model for the kind of life our brain indicates we are “meant” to live. This is our purpose for presenting the model.

In our next post we will go into more detail regarding specific examples of habits of mind we can practice to develop a spiritual consciousness.

Humanizing relationships would be Humanizing with or without the quadrune mind model. The significant contribution of the model, I believe, is to bring the responsibility to all of us for treating each other humanely out of the realm of “morality” and into the spiritual traditions previously reserved to a professional class of ministers, priests, rabbis, etc. It is through the acceptance by the more general public of this responsibility, or “calling,” that we can hope to make a healing difference in our suffering world.

I hope these comments are helpful. Please feel free to present any further questions or thoughts you might have.

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