It is surprising how little most people know about the mind and its interworkings. Seriously, everybody on this planet has a brain and everybody has a mind, so it makes sense that knowing, even just slightly, what is going on up there is essential.
The six faculties of the mind are much like the body’s five senses. The five senses are hearing, smelling, seeing, tasting, and touching. They define how we interact with each other and the world around us. Without them, we would be nothing like we are. The faculties of the mind also play a huge role in how we interact with the world except that they aren’t physical. They help us think, make decisions, overcome mental problems, and go about our lives in ways that would otherwise be impossible.
The mind’s six faculties are will, perception, memory, reason, imagination, and intuition. Below each individual faculty is briefly described. An explanation of how it affects our everyday life and influences everything that we do accompanies the description.
Perhaps the most important faculty of the mind, will is what motivates us to do stuff. Really, without will, we wouldn’t do anything at all. It is what allows us to focus on one task or one thing and exclude everything else. You’ve probably heard of “willpower” before and will is essentially the same thing. It is the ability to push on and overcome opposition and obstacles.
We wouldn’t be able to understand anything that happens to us without perception. It is the faculty that is most closely linked to our five physical senses. Without perception our brains wouldn’t be able to translate what our eyes see into images that we can interpret. The same goes for hearing, touching, tasting, and smelling. The mind’s faculty of perception helps translate those sensations into something that our brains and bodies can understand.
The faculty of the brain known as memory does exactly what it sounds like. It gives us the ability to memorize and remember things that happen to us or that we learn about. It is the process of retaining information for future use. But memory also works on another level. Your brain remembers a lot of things that you might not. This is most clearly evidenced in our dreams or from brief flashbacks during traumatic moments in life.
Without reason, it would be hard for us to make any decisions at all. Reason is what governs our decision making process and allows us to do what we feel is the right thing. Reason is also one of the main things that make us different from all of the other animals that live on the Earth. Other animals act on instinct, but we think about things and have a “reason” for doing them before we take action.
Nothing in the world would be how it is today without imagination. Though will might be the most important human faculty, imagination is truly the most miraculous. Without reason we might never have built any of the things that we have today. We probably would never have imagined that we can harness the power of fire to use it to cook food and provide warmth. We probably never would have understood that plants can be cultivated and grown for food. Inventors never would have been able to make wagons or light bulbs or computers or anything else. Imagination is basically the human ability to create images and thoughts that can’t be realized with the five physical senses. It is creating something, a thought, feeling, or concept, with the mind alone and nothing else.
Many people debate the legitimacy of intuition. A good number of scientists and philosophers doubt that it even exists. In fact, many lists of the faculties of the mind only include five, the five listed above, without including intuition. Intuition is a feeling that you get before something happens. It can be about a person, place, thing, or situation. It is a mystical sort of judgment where you almost know that something will happen before it does. Most people have experienced a feeling like this before. Maybe you called it a “gut feeling.”
It is important to understand that the faculties of the mind overlap often. They do not only work independently of each other. In fact, they are almost always working together. It is very rare that one is acting alone. For instance, memory crosses with imagination to create realistic imaginings. Without memories of past experiences you probably couldn’t imagine anything realistic. Another example is the blending of will and reason. If you didn’t have a reason for doing something, then you probably wouldn’t have the will to accomplish it. The six faculties of the mind all go hand in hand with each other.
The six faculties of the mind are incredibly important to us as humans. Without them, we would be nothing like we are today. It is important to understand them so that you know what is going on in your own head. In addition, each faculty can be worked on and made stronger, so that you can become a happier and more successful person.