Ghosts in The Machine

In 1949, #GilbertRyle introduced the phrase – ‘#Ghost in the Machine’ to critique the notion that mind is distinct from the body.  The word ‘Ghost’ was used to mock the concept.

In 1967, #ArthurKoestler wrote a book with the title – ‘#GhostInTheMachine’.  Written at the height of the cold war it focused on mankind’s movement toward self destruction.  In this book, the ‘Ghost’ referred to the primitive structures in the brain that have remained preserved despite an explosive growth of the cortex which is involved in thinking.  Is this design mistake the cause of mankind’s path to self-destruction, he wondered.  He referred to #PaulMclean’s (1966) concept of the triune brain which divided the brain into a reptilian primitive brain, the emotional mammalian brain, and the thinking cortex.  Importantly, drawing on neurophysiological investigations Mclean concluded that these three brain could work independently from each other with their own inputs and outputs.

Koestler noted that other parts of the body have not evolved like the brain.  For example, the hand has evolved with little trace of the primitive claw or hoof seen in reptiles or mammals.  What if our hand had evolved like what Mclean and Koestler thought about the brain.  Here is a photoshopped picture of what the hand may look like.

Though this picture may look scary, such a hand may actually be quite useful in terms of what each part would be able to do – the claw would be very useful when to scratch or tear something apart, the hoof useful in hitting things but at the same time being warm and nice to touch and the fingers and thumb would still be available to do complex tasks.

It might be troublesome though if the three parts started working independently.  For example, the claw may scratch somoebody just when you were going to give them an outwardly warm handshake or the twisting and spasming of the claw and hoof may interfere with the fingers delicate fine movements.

Can we develop a better brainscape than what Koestler and Mclean conceptualized or is there no way out from the hand that evolution has dealt us with?