Ten Ounces

Whereas the brain is mostly water and fat (see my previous post), the heart is a ten-ounce muscle that beats 72 times a minute, 100,000 times a day, 3,650,000 times a year and 2.5 billion times during the average lifetime. Every 24 hours it pumps 2,000 gallons of blood through 60,000 miles of arteries, veins and capillaries—enough to circle the globe more than twice.

  • Plato theorized that reasoning originated with the brain, but that passions originated in the “fiery” heart.
  • The term “heartfelt” originated from Aristotle’s philosophy that the heart collected sensory input from the peripheral organs through the blood vessels. It was from those perceptions that thought and emotions arose.
  • The Roman physician Galen agreed with Aristotle that the heart was the body’s source of heat, a type of “lamp” fueled by blood from the liver and fanned into spirituous flame by air from the lungs. The brain merely served to cool the blood.
  • The Egyptians thought the emotions and intellect arose from the heart. So did the Hebrews. “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life” Proverbs 4:23. (Random Facts)

We now know that the actions and emotions ascribed to the heart really take place in the brain. But when it comes to metaphorical anatomy, the heart still serves as a synecdoche of the inner person; a nexus where the physical and spiritual connect; a portal between dimensions.

Knowing what we do about the physiology of the brain and heart, where does that leave the soul and the spirit? Where are they based in the body?

Stay tuned . . .


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