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Her coffee-themed approach to life fulfillment is the perfect blend of creativity, motivation and inspiration to give readers of all ages and from all walks of life a boost. The qualities of mental life that we associate with souls are purely corporeal; they emerge from biochemical processes in the brain…. Santoro et al. They concluded that there exist two dominant and, in many respects, incompatible concepts of the soul: one that understands the soul to be spiritual and immortal, and another that understands the soul to be material and mortal.
In both cases, the soul has been described as being located in a specific organ or anatomic structure or as pervading the entire body, and, in some instances, beyond mankind and even beyond the cosmos. Rationalists are doubtful. What do you mean by soul? The brain? Is there not something immortal of or in the human brain — the human mind?
Because we do not know what that power is, shall we call it immortal? As well call electricity immortal because we do not know what it is… After death the force or power undoubtedly endures, but it endures in this world, not in the next. And so with the thing we call life, or the soul — mere speculative terms for a material thing which under given conditions drives this way or that. It too endures in this world, not the other. Because we are as yet unable to understand it, we call it immortal. In , Dr. Duncan MacDougall of Haverhill, Massachusetts, decided to weigh the soul by weighing a human being in the act of death.
It seemed to me best to select a patient dying with a disease that produces great exhaustion, the death occurring with little or no muscular movement, because in such a case the beam could be kept more perfectly at balance and any loss occurring readily noted. He lost weight slowly at the rate of one ounce per hour due to evaporation of moisture in respiration and evaporation of sweat.
During all three hours and forty minutes I kept the beam end slightly above balance near the upper limiting bar in order to make the test more decisive if it should come. At the end of three hours and forty minutes he expired and suddenly coincident with death the beam end dropped with an audible stroke hitting against the lower limiting bar and remaining there with no rebound. The loss was ascertained to be three-fourths of an ounce. It is the belief that when the heart stops beating the soul leaves the body. Something may be learned of the soul by observing the changes in its habitat, the marrow-like brain, at the moment when life ceases.
I myself do not believe the soul to be a thing without the brain though I am neither an atheist nor an agnostic. Otto Rank has summed the situation regards the soul well. He felt that belief in the soul grew out of the need to reassure ourselves of immortality, despite our knowledge of the immutable biological fact of death:. Ramachandran, brain scientist at the University of California, San Diego, is less tactful.
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For scientists who are people of faith, like Kenneth R. Miller, a biologist at Brown University, asking about the science of the soul is pointless, in a way, because it is not a subject science can address. If we accept the existence of the soul and its localisation in the brain, we must focus on the brainstem. Christopher Pallis , discussing the definition of whole-brain death, provided a modern concept of the soul. We do not have too much intellect and too little soul, but too little intellect in matters of soul.
Perhaps, we shall eventually come to conclusions similar to those reached by Sir Thomas Browne 19 October, —19 October, in his most famous work, the Religio Medici :. The mind and the soul remain fascinating enigmas. Whilst we have made some progress in our understanding of these two hazy constituents of life, much is as yet poorly understood.
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Religious scholars ask us scientists to desist from any attempt at studying the soul. Hindu philosophers tell us that the soul of a person who has attained moksha liberation from the cycle of re-birth unites with God.
The soul has often been termed the God within each of us. The spirit of enquiry that is the essence of science must stimulate us to continue our efforts at understanding it better.
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If, in doing so, we understand God better, this can only be to our advantage. The study of the brain, mind and soul has engaged some of the finest intellects of yesteryears. It remains an ennobling and inspiring pursuit, worthy of all those who are dedicated votaries of science. Which of the many modern tools used in the study of the brain should we use to further our understanding of the mind? Philosophers have argued that the soul is not amenable to scientific scrutiny. Accepting this point of view, would mean an end to any serious exploration of this hitherto nebulous entity.
What studies can we undertake to advance our knowledge and understanding? Sunil Pandya is a neurosurgeon and thinker on medical ethics. He retired on superannuating in , and has since worked at the Jaslok Hospital and Research Centre, Mumbai. I am grateful to Dr.
Shakuntala and Dr. Ajai Singh for stimulating me to study this subject in greater detail. The adequate time provided by them between the invitation to participate in that very stimulating meeting and the event itself enabled me to consult books and journals and works available on the internet and put together this essay.
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Ajai Singh has also kindly made important suggestions for the improvement of my essay and helped in its writing and editing. Conflict of interest. An earlier version was also published in the Proceedings of the Seminar. This paper is my original writing, and has not been submitted for publication elsewhere. Singh and S. Singh eds. National Center for Biotechnology Information , U.
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Journal List Mens Sana Monogr v. Mens Sana Monogr. Sunil K. Find articles by Sunil K. Author information Article notes Copyright and License information Disclaimer. Address correspondence to: Dr. Email: moc. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
This article has been cited by other articles in PMC. Abstract Treatment of diseases of the brain by drugs or surgery necessitates an understanding of its structure and functions. Introduction Millennia ago, we embarked on a quest for knowledge of the wonderful structure of man. Similar abnormalities also follow chemical derangements in the brain. The Mind We are embodied spirits and inspirited bodies, or, if you will, embodied minds and minded bodies.
Open in a separate window. Figure 1. Where is the Mind Located? How does the Mind Function? Two great British masters of neurology summed it up best. John Hughlings Jackson 4 March, —7 October, addressed anatomy. Is there any point in searching for the location of the soul? Figure 2. Figure 3. Figure 4. If there be a soul, where is it located?
Views of neuroscientists If we accept the existence of the soul and its localisation in the brain, we must focus on the brainstem. Concluding Remarks [see also Figure 5 ]. Figure 5. Take home message The study of the brain, mind and soul has engaged some of the finest intellects of yesteryears. About the Author Sunil Pandya is a neurosurgeon and thinker on medical ethics.
Acknowledgments I am grateful to Dr. Footnotes Conflict of interest None declared. References 1.