Do you think with your mind or soul?
Published: Saturday, March 3rd, 2007
What does it take to “make up your mind?” Making up your mind takes thinking, doesn’t it? And you do your thinking with that mass of jelly between your ears, right? You know, your brain. Your physical brain. That’s what runs your body, that’s what you ponder with, create with, see and hear with. And after watching the television program “The Medium” the other night, the question is: “Is there a psychic dimension to your brain?” Getting to the basics meant a trip to the OED. (the Oxford English Dictionary) and its definition of the word “mind.” The great wordfinder says: “The seat of a person’s consciousness, thoughts, volitions and feelings; the system of cognitive and emotional phenomena and powers that constitutes the subjective being of a person; also the incorporeal subject of the psychical faculties, the spiritual part of a human being, the soul as distinguished from the body.” But then its definition for “brain,” said: no “incorporeal subject of the psychical faculties.” Does that mean that “the spiritual part of a human being, the soul as distinguished from the body” isn’t a part of the physical brain? That the “mind” has something in it that the brain doesn’t? Believe it or not, there’s been a great deal of philosophical discussion about that question. Here’s one idea: “Whether a person is good or bad, believes or doesn't, is controlled by that person's thinking and brain. Whether he or she goes to Heaven then depends on the person's thoughts. In such a situation, it would seem that the soul is related to the brain. “Following this logic, if the soul is related to the brain, the soul would develop as the brain develops in an infant. Does the soul change? Can it affect a person's decisions in life?” Now neither the “idea” above nor the OED represents “science,” but there is a science of the brain. And the story of how brain science got its beginnings in the 17th century is told in a book: “Soul Made Flesh: The Discovery of the Brain--and How it Changed the World,” by Carl Zimmer. Today, neuroscience (brain science or the study of the nervous system) is a multi-disciplinary science. It involves not just neurology, neurosurgery, and neuroradiation,and lots more. Today, all those disciplines are studying and treating stroke, epilepsy, neuromuscular disease, Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, sleep disease, spinal disorders, critical care patients, and neuro-oncology (neuro-cancer, that is). Neuroscience may not find the soul in the brain. But it does seem that, yes, the discovery of the brain could be making a world of difference – in the lives of a lot of people. Thank God for our brains. Chelle Delaney is associate publisher for the Quay County Sun. Contact her at (505) 461-1952 or by e-mail at: email@example.com
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