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The Germination of the Mind

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SUBJECT: Early Mental Development

QUESTION: Does the mind exist at the moment of birth, or does it develop afterwards?

There has been much confusion on this subject among the student body of the various colleges or universities in which I have worked. It is the purpose of this hand-out to explore, in as dispassionate and logical a fashion as possible, the answer to this question.

A CLARIFYING ANALOGY: I would liken the mind, with all of its myriad parts, to the root, branch, and leaf of a mighty oak. And as you've already undoubtedly devined, the root, branch, and leaf are products which spring from a tiny acorn. In other words, all three of these things develop after the seed finds itself in fertile ground (remember, --acorns are not dicotyledonous, i.e., they are seeds that do not have two, or even one, cotyledon or seed-leaf in them when they fall to earth, -- In fact, they are Acotyledonous or cryptogamous. Hence, the analogy holds because with an acorn at the time of planting, the leaf & branch do not as yet exist, any more than a foundation and a cornerstone alone constitute a building, or the brain, instinct, and soul constitute the mind.

There is potential here for the development of a tree; but there are many factors which may preclude its germination, and still more which will influence its development and ultimate mature form thereafter. These are primarily environmental factors which influence the actualization of a tree's genetic potential. In women a literal seed is planted; but does that fertilized egg at the moment of conception have a brain? No. Does it have a mind? No. At the end of gestation a figurative seed of the human mind is ready to be planted in the soil of culture, society, and family environment, where it will develop from that point onward.

A human seed (or fertilized egg) has inherent within it certain base elements or building blocks from which a body, and much later a mind, will grow, just as does the acorn. A 1-minute-old infant has: a soul, emotions, instincts like curiosity (instinct: a natural, innate, and involuntary propensity or tendency, -- not the product of reason or experience), a brain (capable of storing, processing, and retrieving information, where said information comes to the child through life's experiences), + reflexes.

You must be aware that many of the perspectives of Psychology generally describe the mind as "a pool of experience." If a "brand-new" baby has any stored experience from the period of gestation, and this is highly doubtful, they would lack the cognitive wherewithal to make any sense out of it. Nor does it initially have the cognitive wherewithal to make sense out of the flood of sensation which it is showered



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