21 comments March 18th, 2005at 08:38pm Posted by Eli
Aristotle: Colossal Dumbass or Bullshit Artist Supreme?
I was reading a review of The Dress Lodger, which the shadowy and mysterious Codename V. recently recommended to me. The heart seems to be a recurring motif, which reminded me of a question I wonder about from time to time:
If the ancient Greeks believed that the heart was the seat of consciousness, and the brain was merely a cooling system for the blood, does that mean that they perceived their thoughts and inner voice (and, um, Personal Narrative) as coming from their chest? I cannot imagine my inner voice coming from anywhere other than my head, but is that just cultural conditioning? Would it possible to raise a child in such a way that they perceive their inner voice as originating from their toes or their pancreas or their naughty bits? (That last one may be redundant for some guys…)
Actually, thanks to The Miracle Of Wiki, I have learned that maybe it was just Aristotle:
Ancient Greeks held differing views on the function of the brain. Hippocrates believed the brain to be the seat of intelligence, but Aristotle held that the brain was a cooling mechanism for the blood, while the heart was the seat of intelligence. Aristotle reasoned that humans are more rational than the beasts because they have a proportionally larger brain to cool their hot-bloodedness (Bear, 2001).
I started to go off on an angry rant about Aristotle just making shit up, but I think I will just limit myself to noting that there are probably a whole bunch of animals with gigantic hearts who are just plain dumb as stumps, and that it is really quite extraordinary to believe that a person or animal could be knocked out or killed instantly by a sharp blow to their blood-cooling system. Also, shouldn’t such victims have conspicuously overheated blood?
But I digress.