Alcmaeon of Croton, a natural philosopher in 450 BC, concluded, based on his animal dissections, that the brain, not the heart, is the central organ of sensation and thought. However, a couple of centuries later, someone then articulated the idea that the seat of mental function resides in the ventricles of the brain – cavities filled with cerebrospinal fluid. Galen, the famous physician at the Roman Imperial Court in 170 BC, popularized this idea further in his extensive writings that were eagerly read throughout the dark Middle Ages.
The great Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci still held on to this ancient belief that the senso commune (sense of community), phantasy and imagination originated in the anterior ventricle; that the middle ventricle served cognition; and that memory was contained in the posterior ventricle.
We owe it to Andreas Vesalius to dispute the theory that higher brain function resides in the ventricles. Vesalius was headed for Art school but then, apparently, yielding to family pressure, he entered Med school. Breaking with the medieval tradition of bowing to Galen’s authority, Vesalius believed in hands-on direct observation. He carried on his own dissection on humans and published his findings in a textbook ‘humani corporis fabrica’.
Supposedly, the popularity of the ventricle theory had to do with the following reasoning: Because the soul resides in the head and the soul is incorporeal, therefore, its locus has to be in the brain cavities filled with fluid rather than in the surrounding brain tissue (solid and eatable). Of course, this thinking mixes up Mind and Soul.
A couple of centuries later, dissatisfied with purely biological explanations, Rene Descartes, the great mathematician, articulates the theory of dualism, mind – body dichotomy. He distinguished between the ‘brain’ and the ‘mind’, arguing that the brain organizes animal behavior while the mind contains a person’s thoughts, desires, soul.
copied from the web .
This belief in mind-body dichotomy persists into the present. A couple of years ago, I quit the class of a local Yoga teacher, Ruth Fisk, a disciple of the famous Iyengar, when she disturbed my ‘Peace of Mind’ voicing that the BRAIN is there to remember telephone numbers while the MIND…..
I don’t pretend to know any answers to these issues.
However, I do believe in evolution. While Descartes argued that animals were just machines, I embrace Darwin’s thoughts, 1872, on the expression of Emotions in Man and Animals.
What are your thoughts on this subject?