Seeking A Bridge Between Body And Soul – Part 1
Searching for a link connecting body and soul is a perilous journey, like trying to walk a tightrope between Science And Theology. Rene Decartes, for example, is largely known for his contributions in Philosophy and Mathematics, but he was also very interested in Anatomy and Physiology. In his Treatises Of Man, he proposed a conceptual model for man as a creature composed of a body and a soul. His model for this hypothetical man referred to him as being a machine made of earth.
Decartes observation stemmed from his mathematical knowledge of the mystical nature of “two” which emanates from “the one.” He intimated that “anything we experience as being in us, and which we see, must be attributed only to our body. On the other hand, anything in us which we cannot conceive in any way as capable of belonging to a body must be attributed to our soul.”
The philosopher was also particularly interested in the pineal gland, and spent a lot of time thinking about it. “My view is that this gland is the principle seat of the soul, and the place in which all our thoughts are formed. The reason I believe this is that I cannot find any part of the brain, except this, which is not double.”
In the east, the pineal gland is best known as one of the seven main Chakras (centers) of the body and often referred to as the third eye. This pea size gland, shaped like a pine cone, is located between the lobes below the mid-cavity of the brain. It’s function remains for the most part unknown, although its size, existence and location has evoked many questions about its purpose.
Decartes compared philosophy to a tree of which Metaphysics is the root, Physics the trunk, and all the other sciences the branches of which grow out of this trunk are reduced to three – Medicine, Mechanics, and Ethics. Why this particular gland held so much fascination for him is unknown, but it is fitting to begin the search for a connection between body and soul with him, the father of western philosophy.