THE BRAIN – A PLATONIC VIEW
Aristotle’s teacher, Plato, reasoned that the mind had to exist inside the brain because of geometry and pure logic. The brain was round, he said, and close to the perfect roundness of the sphere. It also inhabited the part of the human body closest to heaven.
The idea that the mind survives the body's death appears quite ancient. Burial sites from 100,000 years ago reveal bodies interred with tools and food, possibly to help on journeys in the afterlife. Cave art possibly depicts spirit worlds.
Plato and other Greek philosophers theorized about the existence of a force that kept people alive and left them at death. They called this force psyche, or soul, and several said it resided in the brain. Some split the soul into three spirits.
Humans and all living creatures took in life-giving essence from pneuma, or air. As pneuma moved through the body, it changed in ways that animated and strengthened its host. Digested food provided energy for the liver, where the pneuma became “natural spirit.”
This spirit traveled to the heart to become the “vital spirit.” Then it traveled to the brain, where it transformed into the “animal spirit” that creates the conscious mind. Plato considered the soul that resides in the brain to be immortal, surviving the death of the body.
The relationship between the brain and consciousness has long been a topic of fascination and inquiry. Scientists and philosophers have grappled with the question of how the brain, a physical organ, gives rise to our conscious experiences. This intriguing phenomenon has led to various theories and debates in the field of neuroscience.
Some theories propose that consciousness emerges from the complex interactions of neurons in the brain. According to this perspective, the brain acts as a vast network of interconnected cells, constantly communicating and processing information. It is through these neural processes that conscious awareness arises.
Other theories suggest that consciousness arises from specific regions or structures within the brain. For example, the idea of the “global workspace” theory posits that certain brain areas act as hubs, integrating information from different regions and allowing for conscious perception and cognition.
Additionally, advancements in brain imaging techniques have allowed researchers to investigate the neural correlates of consciousness. By studying brain activity patterns during different states of consciousness, scientists have made strides in understanding the neural mechanisms underlying our subjective experiences.
Despite these advancements, the nature of consciousness remains a profound mystery. The question of how the brain and consciousness are intricately linked is far from being fully answered. The exploration of this fascinating topic continues to fuel scientific curiosity, pushing the boundaries of our understanding.
In conclusion, the relationship between the brain and consciousness is a complex and captivating area of study. While we have made significant progress in unraveling the mysteries of the brain, the true nature of consciousness remains elusive. The ongoing research in neuroscience strives to deepen our understanding of this fundamental aspect of human experience.