Thursday, June 4, 2015

The Fragile Brain

The Fragile Brain: Troublesome questions like did Neanderthals have souls? In short it is being proved over and over again that parts of our person or soul die while we are still alive. The brain is altered and fragile and so is the "soul". Something that is fundamental to this existence, to this Universe, is that everything falls apart, is fragile, finite, vulnerable, and passing away. The fragility of this "glass existence" is something known to humans but it is at the same time a vague fog in our consciousness. Awareness of this comes and goes. The model of the "Bundle Theory" points to the fact that our ego our "self" is made up of a variety of connected parts in our neurology and physiology. There is no fixed you. It is an assembly of parts and connections that are in this moment coming together to be what you think you are but it is balanced on a precarious bundle of strings that can unravel by too much force, drugs, or disease. The self is a sand castle that will not last the incoming tide of time and entropy. The sand will be carried away to the sea and continue but the sand castle no longer exists as it was bundled together.
Michael Graziano
Professor of Neuroscience and Novelist, Princeton University:
"Nobody who spends appreciable time with brain-damaged patients can avoid the obvious conclusion. The brain is the source of the mind. Descartes' idea, aside from being wrong in the particulars, has a deeper problem. There is no part of the brain that, when damaged, takes away the Cartesian soul. Instead damage to different structures takes away different chunks of the mind. The ability to formulate a sentence? Lost in damage to Broca's area. The ability to understand language? Lost in damage to Wernicke's area. The ability to see, imagine, or comprehend color? Lost in damage to specific regions of the visual system. The ability to think about the space around the body? Lost in damage to another set of brain areas. The ability to intuit the feelings and intentions of others? Impaired after a stroke to a specific network of brain regions. And so on. The mind is a collective and bits of it die when parts of the machinery are mucked up. Even awareness itself, as I wrote about last time, can be splintered apart and compromised by brain damage."

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