When I read the following passage in Colin Wilson’s book on Rudolf Steiner it occurred to me that this article is has deeper significance because it advances the argument that has plagued religion and philosophy since the ‘the Age of reason’ gave us reductionism ... “ Reductionism, the temptingly simple theory that tries to explain the mind in terms of physical mechanisms.” (Page 78). [Consciousness] is a mechanism of the brain and nervous system. So the central problem is to prove that a psychological process cannot be explained in terms of mechanisms. (Page 79).
Reductionists say the mind is a function of the brain’s activity. Steiner, and others like him, said the mind (and by implication the human soul) is separate – a fact that you can see in how your consciousness works.
The materialist’s answer to this is, “But consciousness is simply a function of how the brain works.”
Both points of view have a validity. But there now is an answer to this argument. CAT scans show us that people who effectively have no brains still seem to have totally useful daily consciousness. So QED, the argument is over; our brains are not what produces out mind. So by implication we have a soul.
No, as this article shows it is possible that something else is happening … see, particular, the last two paragraphs.
There are people with 9/10ths of their brain cells replaced with water that still function normally. Look at the images. On the left the dark area in the CAT scan is water (cerebrospinal fluid) and on the right is a normal brain. The horrifying photo of mother and child shows a child with hydrocephalus. In babies, who have a soft skull, excess water in the brain can results in hugely inflated skulls ? In adults the same process results in a brain that is squashed against the side of the rigid skull (as in the CAT scan). In some cases less than 10% of brain remains, yet these people often continue to function normally.
OK we know this is impossible because the image below shows the areas in which various functions of the mind take place. The image further down illustrates the way electrical and chemical impulses turn the brain into our mind allowing us to think, to have memories and to function in our daily lives. But …
… it appears that there is something is wrong with this concept …Well, maybe, not wrong but inadequate.
The CAT scan image of the water filled skull belongs to 44 year old French Civil Servant (proving, I guess the old adage, that Civil Servants’ are often brainless) who is married, has two children and lives a normal life. Another case often cited in the literature is of a man with a brain weight of between 50 and 150 grams – normal brain weight is 1500 grams who has a first class honors degree in mathematics and a tested IQ of 126. This man was documented by neurologist Dr John Lorber who ran the spinal bifida unit at Sheffield Hospital. He studied 600 people who had this condition. Some had ‘only’ between 50 and 70% of their brains replaced by fluid, some between 70 and 90% replaced fluid and there were 60 people who had 95% of their brains replaced by fluid. Of the last group half had an IQ of over 100% (which is considered the mean average for intelligence).
So you can see that there are enough cases of, for all intents and purposes, average people who have their head filled with water not the normal ‘grey cells’.
This is a challenge to the accepted wisdoms that mind, personality and consciousness are the result of chemical and electrical activity between ‘grey matter’ in the brain.
Perhaps the ideas that our personality rests in our heart or liver have something to recommend them? Aristotle believed that the brain just served to cool the blood.
How does the medical and psychology establish explain the ‘inconvenient’ fact that there are a considerable number of people (but really one human would do) who can function without a brain?
But first a few quotes.
… “Scores of similar accounts litter the medical literature and they go back a long way,” Patrick Wall, professor of anatomy, University College London. He adds, “To talk of redundancy is a cop-out to get around something you don’t understand. How, can we explain it?”
… “There is a tendency in the medical community and elsewhere to marginalize anomalous observed phenomenon, to shove such troubling stuff into a closet where it can be safely ignored.”
From, source forgotten.
… “We live in a definition based reality, with a peer review ensuring that definitions are maintained.”
From personal communication with a Jesuit priest.
… “If the facts in a discussion are against you, ignore them or change them.” Jesuit priest describing how to win an argument.
And here are the two common explanations.
“We use such a small percentage of our brains anyway – perhaps as little as 10%.”
“… there is such a high level of redundancy of function in the normal brain that what little remains is able to learn to deputize for the missing material.”
And here is a further thought by a neurologist …
Cut below from http://www.tblog.com/templates/
“[The discussion] reminds us of the mystery of memory. At first it was thought that memory would have some physical substrate in the brain, like the memory chips in a PC. But extensive investigation of the brain has turned up the surprising fact that memory is not located in any one area or in a specific substrate. As one eminent neurologist put it, ‘memory is everywhere in the brain and nowhere.’ But if the brain is not a mechanism for classifying and storing experiences and analyzing them to enable us to live our lives then what on earth is the brain for? And where is the seat of human intelligence? Where is the mind?”
“One of the few biologists to propose a radically novel approach to these questions is Dr Rupert Sheldrake. In his book A New Science of Life Sheldrake rejected the idea that the brain is a warehouse for memories and suggested it is more like a radio receiver for tuning into the past. Memory is not a recording process in which a medium is altered to store records, but a journey that the mind makes into the past via the process of morphic resonance. Such a ‘radio’ receiver would require far fewer and less complex structures than a warehouse capable of storing and retrieving a lifetime of data.”
My position is close to that of Sheldrake. My antenna concept of the brain also takes into account the Spine Brain, which is associated with the cerebellum. I consider this the seat of the “monkey mind” – the body mind that we use for everyday worldly functioning. The skull brain I consider a link to the cosmic whole, what in some literature is referred to as the “Higher Self”.
Hence I suggest that my Antenna Theory of human consciousness has much to recommend it as an explanation of the “brainless” phenomena. I suggest that the people involved are missing only one aspect of their consciousness – their connection to the stela cosmos – and retain the use of their spine brain and cerebellum and so they retain functional in a social sense. To see if my hypothesis has value it would be interesting to see if the severely affected have a spiritual awareness and creative ability. What are their dreams, their sleep patterns? Can any electrical activity in their brains be found and assessed? The fact that this research apparently hasn’t been done may be simply because … as quoted above, “There is a tendency in the medical community and elsewhere to marginalize anomalous observed phenomenon, to shove such troubling stuff into a closet where it can be safely ignored.”
Steven died January 2018
Colin Wilson, “Rudolf Steiner, the man and his vision”
Aquarian Press 1985 England.