The Difference Between the Brain and the Mind

My guess is that nearly all modern English-speaking adults have heard the incredibly commonly used phrase, “Mind over Matter.”

Looking at the phrase and considering how the words within it are used separately, I can’t help but wonder if we truly understand what the words mean. Personally, I don’t feel that the truth found in these three, combined words, making the above phrase, is given enough credit. While the majority of us seem to think that it means something like having belief in oneself within the mind, one can achieve one’s goals in the world of matter, it’s rather clear to me that it means much more!

If people are their physical bodies, this would have to mean that they have no spiritual essence residing in their bodies as vessels. With this belief, we could then safely assume that we have a brain, but not a mind. While people frequently use the two words as if their meanings are interchangeable and synonymous, this is incorrect.

A brain is tangible, but the mind is intangible.

Obviously, the brain is a physical organ inside of the skull, which communicates data throughout the physical body with the help of the spinal cord and the rest of the nervous system. The mind is vastly different from the brain. By definition, the mind is an aspect of a person, that enables awareness and experiences through the power of thought; or consciousness.

Although there are faculties of brain function often related to the mind, such as memory and cognition, it is more accurate to say that the brain is a part of the mind. This is because the brain is purely physical, while we can equate the mind to consciousness, making it greater. Although the brain can interpret data through our senses and relay the input to our perception and feelings, the mind energetically houses the brain.

Now that we understand the ideas behind these two words, let’s look at our above phrase again. For context, the word mind doesn’t change, but now we may recognize that the brain is matter. Therefore, we could say, “Mind over Brain,” and it would still make sense.

To further comprehend the distinction between the brain and the mind, let us consider some of the work of Philosophers and Psychologists alike.

  • According to philosopher René Descartes, the mind and the body are separate entities, with the mind being non-physical and the brain being its physical counterpart (Descartes, 1641).
  • Philosopher Daniel Dennett proposes that the mind is a product of information processing, emphasizing the role of the brain in generating the mind’s consciousness (Dennett, 1991).
  • Cognitive psychologist John Searle argues that the brain, arising from the collective activity of neurons, is an emergent property of the mind (Searle, 1992).
  • Neuroscientist Antonio Damasio suggests that the mind is an embodied process, given physical life with both the brain and the body (Damasio, 1999).

Let’s look at another word of related interest.

The word ‘Psyche’ is similar to the word Mind. Not as widely used as the word Mind, however, Psyche is generally found within subjects like Psychology, Philosophy, and sometimes Sociology and refers to the higher mind. Meanwhile, the higher mind is associated with intuition, surpasses the ego, and is thought to reveal cosmic truths that transcend physical reality.

The word, ‘Psyche‘ derives from Greek. Interestingly, it refers to the personification of the soul. Another meaning of Pysche is that it describes an invisible entity that occupies the physical body.

Furthermore, while the mind is related to consciousness, Pysche is related to consciousness and unconsciousness. If you’re unfamiliar with unconsciousness, this is consciousness that we are usually unaware of. Likewise, unconsciousness often points to consciousness that is hidden from our awareness.

From Within the Labyrinth,


  1. Descartes, R. (1641). Meditations on First Philosophy.
  2. Searle, J. R. (1992). The Rediscovery of the Mind.
  3. Damasio, A. (1999). The Feeling of What Happens: Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness.
  4. Dennett, D. C. (1991). Consciousness Explained.

2 thoughts on “The Difference Between the Brain and the Mind

  1. Michael boyle says:

    Well referenced. I feel you have touched my mind . If you don’t mind then it won’t matter. Consenting content 👏.


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