Complete this quote: The “chief activity [of the mind] consists…”

How would you complete this excerpt from Ambrose Bierce’s definition of the mind in his book, The Devil’s Dictionary?


Mind, n. A mysterious form of matter secreted by the brain. Its chief activity consists…


In a post a few weeks ago, I provided an open and flexible context-driven definition of the mind with an evolutionary spin and a systems outlook: “the brain is the context for the mind, and culture is the context of the brain keeping in mind that it is the context which evolves.”  But what does the chief activity of the mind consist of? This week’s quote is inspired by Ambrose Bierce’s “The Devil’s Dictionary” . The book certainly requires to be taken with a grain of salt, but Bierce certainly offered some funny definitions. I love his definition of “Brain, n. An apparatus with which we think that we think.” Bierce was very witty, and here is an opportunity to provoke your wit and have some fun. Try and finish the incomplete quote above. Reply below and tell us, what does the chief activity of the mind consist of?

Some highlights  from previous weeks:

Marc Hauser: “…the theories, technologies and findings of molecular biology, evolutionary developmental biology, neuroscience, cognitive psychology, linguistics and anthropology can be productively combined to…” 
         Cfraftbition wrote: “… to create a true Restaurant at the End of the Universe….”
Antonio Damasio: “To some extent, in a variety of imperfect ways, individually and collectively, we have the means to…”
          Kiran wrote: “…so many ends yet no end to the means we employ.”
Terrence Deacon: “Our cherished belief in the specialness of human consciousness has not prevented us from…”
          Nicholas wrote: “thinking of the other person as less than worthy of true consideration.”
Paul Ekman: “Emotional expressions are crucial to…”
          Romeo Vitelli wrote: “…conveying your feelings after hitting your thumb with a hammer.”
Richard Dawkins: “If a meme is to dominate the attention of a human brain, it…”
          Janis wrote: ” … had better have something to do with beer, sex, or pizza.”
Diane Ackerman: “Shaped like a little loaf of French Country bread, our brain is…”
          Anon1 wrote: “… begging for a dose of wine.”
          Janis wrote:  “… just as tasty with a little olive oil and garlic, and low-carb to boot!”
Richard L. Gregory: “One of the difficulties in understanding the brain is…”
          Anon1 wrote: “… once you have dissected it, it doesn’t work anymore.”
Francis Crick: “There is no scientific study more vital to man than…”
          John McCreery wrote: “…woman.”
          Peter wrote: “…the optimal cheese to ham ratio in a ham and cheese sandwich.”
Dr Seuss: “You have brains in your head, you have…”
          Skye wrote: “…brains on your plate, just add some mustard sauce and I’ll bet they taste great!”
          Phredd wrote: “… a fish in your MRI.”
          Stefan wrote: “…thoughts in your brain, thoughts control actions which make us insane.”

Over to you. How would you complete this excerpt from Bierce’s definition of the mind?

Mind, n. A mysterious form of matter secreted by the brain. Its chief activity consists…

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Paul Mason

I am a biomedically trained social anthropologist interested in biological and cultural diversity.

15 thoughts on “Complete this quote: The “chief activity [of the mind] consists…”

  1. of particles still relatively unassessed by mainstream scientists but explored in depth by those of the metaphysical realm.

  2. of determining what is possible and how it is to be achieved. However, most of the time, this process is highjacked by fear and emotional insecurity.

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