Head v heart
how did the "heart" come to mean emotions? you know when we say something like "think with your head" to mean think logically, and we say "follow your heart" or such to mean emotions. i mean, the heart, as an organ doesn't think. we don't say "follow your liver," for example... help! thanks.
The role of the central nervous system in an organism's behavior in modern biologic theory is a relatively recent addition to science. The conjecture that the heart is the seat of mind recurs in many cultures throughout time, but the Greeks are a relevant point of reference to the influence of this notion in the Western tradition. There is a general cluster of paradigms in the area. There is a modern expression of obeying one's "gut," and similarly with thinking with one's genitals. Emotions involved with excitement have a physiologic response in the heart's beat and likewise with the resulting tactile sensations (feeling one's heart beat faster). Aristotle put forward the idea that the brain is used to cool the blood; that a runny nose is coolant being released. Wars circa the Renaissance and Restoration gave an opportunity for physicians to study the effects of brain injuries on wounded soldiers. The heart-for-emotion has enough of a metaphoric contrast to the brain-for-logic that a symbolic appeal is retained when speaking figuratively. There are likewise a number of paradigms by which the body is animated by a kind of immaterial substance, Qi, or soul. The liver is the center of personality attributes such as courage or strength under certain paradigms.
Frank Pierce
Perhaps in future generations, the term heart-versus-head in the examples Lisa cited will be replaced by an expression now becoming more current and biologically more accurate: Left-brained versus right-brained thinking."
Quite apt, though the distinction between the functions of the vagus nerve in contrast to the spinal-cord bares a similar analogy to this dichotomy as well. Ultimately I'd maintain that it's a false dichotomy and fruitless to look for a material counterpart to explain it.
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