Geoffrey wrote: ↑
Sun Jan 09, 2022 5:52 pm
...it is one's brain that is the driving force of what we do. i have often wondered why leonard cohen wrote "your heart
was a legend" when it was janis joplin's brain that should have been given the credit. the heart is just an unemotional, mindless pump, is it not? naturally i am aware that ignorant people often confuse the heart with the brain...
While I cannot speak for the ignorant and unlearned masses (as to what they know or do not know), I do know that many "learned" people will speak of the heart in a purely figurative way, and in the manner to which you refer. For instance, I am fully aware of the fact that my heart is simply a mechanical pump, and yet, I have often thought and spoken of something being in my heart, or something making my heart soar (or ache), etc.. For me (and probably one or two others), my "heart" is simply a term that I give to that part of me that feels emotions deeply, and/or in which those emotions and feelings seem to reside, but again, only (or mostly) figuratively. I added the "mostly", because sometimes, when I feel things deeply and strongly, there certainly seems to be a physical sensation in my chest, roughly in the vicinity of my actual physical heart, which is sometimes quite real (my heart may actually and physically be pounding or racing), and sometimes it may be merely illusory, but nonetheless I still "feel" something in my chest more-or-less where my physical heart is.
And, of course, there is a vast history of the "heart" being considered to be the location/origin of our feelings and emotions and "soul" (and for some, all "mental" activity was ascribed to the heart, too), going back to Ancient Egyptian and Greek thought and society. And, as you well know, even after science determined that it was the brain, not the heart, that contained and controlled emotions, feelings, thoughts, etc. (which became the predominant scientific belief in and since the Renaissance), writers, poets, and many people in general continued to speak of the heart in the figurative way that persists to this day. As to how many of those people actually believed -- and still believe -- the heart to be the literal location and source of emotions/feelings, and how many knew/know that it was/is merely figurative, I have no idea and cannot possibly know.
I suppose that one could try to condition oneself to try to feel things within one's brain, and to speak of emotions and feelings as being in the brain -- basically, all those things which are often ascribed to the "heart" could be ascribed to one's brain as a matter of habit, and maybe eventually, one would actually think and feel those things as brain states. In fact, there is a school of thought known as "Eliminative Materialism", which asserts that everything we think and feel is in the brain, and, for the more radical proponents, not only should we never speak of something as being in our "hearts", but neither should we speak of "mental states" or "states of mind", for those terms (mental and mind) are equally inaccurate. Instead, say some Eliminative Materialists, we should think about and refer to everything as being in the brain and as a "brain state".
To some extent, I already do what the Eliminative Materialists suggest -- as you noted in my comment about autostereograms -- but, as I have happily and openly admitted, I am just as likely to speak of something (feelings, a person, a passion, etc.) as being in my heart, and I really don't have any problem with that. It depends on the context, too, as to when and to whom and why I am speaking/writing, as to whether I will use figurative or literal terms/language, or perhaps a combination of both (maybe hoping/assuming that the recipient(s) of my words will understand what I mean and how I am using language, if and when that matters). I think that is one of the joys of the complexities of the human brain, to be able to use language in many and varied ways, as well as to think of oneself and all aspects of oneself and one's life (and life and the universe in general), in complex and multifaceted ways that may or may not be accurate representations of reality (if we can even know that, anyway), but which nonetheless add spice and colour to the experience(s) of one's existence!