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The Two Faces of Our Three Brains (Part I)

Robert Campbell


Arthur Koestler’s Janus–facedholonis explored as characteristic of hierarchical levels that pervade the natural order. The self-transcending face of theholonidentifies with an integrating ideal entertained by the conscious intellect that is easily subverted to the emotional desires of the crocodile and the horse wired into our limbic brain. This allows our self-assertive face to act without human conscience thus accounting for the tragic mess we have made of our history. The “flatland” vision of cause and effect has ruled the development of the psychological, social, physical and biological sciences while ignoring hierarchies implicit in the cosmic order that pervade all phenomena. Theholonis shown to derive from Universal and Particular active interfaces that are requirements of universal wholeness implicit in the cosmic order. It is called System 2. The hierarchically nested Systems 3 and 4 require that there are three mutually closed active interfaces essential to physical reality, and to the mental integration of phenomenal experience, respectively.

This article reviews the Papez-MacLean Theory of Emotions from the perspective of theholon. MacLean researched the schizophysiology of the split between the ancient emotional limbic brain and the new brain or neocortex to account for humanity’s tragic history. Sperry’s work on split-brain patients confirms that the right and left hemispheres function independently, the holistic right brain acting as a self-transcending face with respect to the self assertive left brain. Together they can be conscripted into the service of our primitive limbic brain. Polar relationships between the sensory and motor topologies of the neocortex explored by Penfield and later by Woolsey act as two of the three polarities essential to the integration of human experience, the third being the ancient limbic system that reflects autonomic emotional experience in conscious awareness. The mind is shown to transcend and subsume the physical brain by regulating archetypal patterns behind the scenes that direct brain chemistry.

Part I of this two-part review article includes: The Unsolicited Gift; The Poverty of Psychology and the Need for a New Paradigm; MacLean Relates Brain Structure to Evolutionary History; Koestler Reviews Some Historical Evidence; The Schizophysiology of Horse and Rider; Aristotle’s Horse and Hierarchies; Janus and the Holon; and The Holon as an Active Interface.

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ISSN: 2153-8212