Mind is the most fundamental yet enigmatic layer of a being. Arthur Schopenhauer, describing Kantian philosophy’s relation to Christianity, may have described the human being’s relation to his or her own mind: “a man who at a ball has been flirting the whole evening with a masked beauty, in hopes of making a conquest; till at last, throwing off her disguise, she reveals herself—as his wife” (Basis 105). Intimate yet occulted by proximity, mind and consciousness have seemed largely beyond understanding; some have altogether “ignored the phenomena … [as] inappropriate for empirical investigation” (Salamone n.p.). Far from inappropriate, however, Thomas Nagel suggests that mind and consciousness may be simply incompatible with materialist and new-Darwinian paradigms. Ultimately, “existence presents us with the fact that somehow the world generates conscious beings … We don’t know how this happens, but it is hard not to believe that there is some explanation” (Nagel Mind 31).
I recently came across a useful bit of advice: in essence, to highlight often when reading an ebook, and then to revisit those highlights in order to gain not only the gist of a text, but perhaps to see what attracted your attention the most.
Nowadays I mostly read ebooks—PDF, epub, Kindle, etc.—partly because of visual impairments (I can read print books just fine, but I can enlarge ebooks to my heart’s content). But a happy byproduct of my preference for ebooks is that, as mentioned in the advice above, they make it easier to extract and compile notes taken and highlights made. I’ve been thinking about this bit of advice for some time, and, as an experiment, I ended up reaching back for one of my favorite novels, Hermann Hesse’s Demian: The Story of Emil Sinclair’s Youth.