Mind and Cosmos: The Complex Interplay Between Mind, Brain, Gene, Behavior and Environment. Towards an Integrated Conceptual Framework
Keywords:Scientific reductionism, Dualism, Pluralism, Consilience, Mind, brain, gene and environment
Scientific reductionism - either epistemological (the body of scientific knowledge pertaining a given domain can explain the knowledge of other domains), ontological (the complexity of reality is just given by molecules and their interactions, and nothing more), or methodological (the knowledge of certain phenomena can be explained just taking into account simpler components) - has dominated centuries of scholarly production, discoveries and dissemination. Only recently, multidisciplinary, holistic approaches based on consilience (convergence or concordance of evidence) have emerged, suggesting that reality can be understood in terms of non-linear feedback loops and complex, multifaceted webs of interactions underlying the emergence of consciousness and self, thus overcoming the shortcomings derived from adopting a strict reductionism (mentalism versus physicalism), classical compartmentalization-based approaches or the Cartesian dualism (immaterial mind, res cogitans, versus material body, res extensa). The need of more integrated conceptual frameworks explaining the emergence of the self has led to conceiving reality and phenomena not as static, interacting concepts but as complex, dynamic, self-organizing networks and highly adaptive systems. Recently, merging biological and psychological disciplines (ranging from developmental genomics to neurobiology and neuropsychology), the US psychologist and psychotherapist John Arden has elaborated a complex conceptual framework, consisting of i) self-organization, ii) social self and social brain, iii) epigenetics, iv) psycho-neuro-immunology, v) self-regulation and self-maintenance and vi) habits and motivation. This conceptual theory integrates different complexity levels in a coherent framework and appears to be a promising proposal for exploring the emergence of self and consciousness as well as for integrating the different psychotherapeutic approaches available. Obviously, this is only the beginning of a grand theory that can shed light on the relationship between mind and cosmos, and on the complex interplay between mind, brain, gene, behavior and environment, leading towards an integrated conceptual framework.