Most of us believe that our material bodies extend beyond the nightfall of documented history. This is one big reason why symbols of reverence for the dead are commonplace in certain civilisations — especially, ancient Egypt. This is not all. The good, old connotations in Greek philosophy are, likewise, well keyed to the idea that the soul is immortal — while in the philosophical contexts of Eastern thought, the soul is represented with resplendent properties. This is now part of modern thinking, as also our conscious awareness and mind-body connect.
While Socrates, the wisest of Greeks, emphasised that our ability to reason comes from the soul, his great protégé, Plato, epitomised that the material body interacts with the soul in myriad ways — right from the acquisition of knowledge to the functioning of our senses. This, Plato also underlined, provides all of us with the solitary means of understanding the true nature of ourselves and the world around us. The body and its sensations, Plato again observed, represent ever-altering appearances, or reflections, of the ageless universal forms that mirror the configuration of our world. This, in simple terms, suggests that our soul has instinctive knowledge of forms, ascertained and recalled through its clout for reason. It is truly a ‘form of life,’ having the aptitude to make our body move about and act. To cut a long story short, our soul is the ‘perceptive manager’ — the fountainhead of consciousness, reason and wisdom. It has the power to ‘tutor’ our will and manipulate our body by way of our ‘mindful intelligence.’
While the whole idea of the existence of our soul consciousness is indisputable, it is intriguing that the most detailed scientific assessment of the brain could not divulge the doctrine in toto — until recently. Agreed that there is also interestingly no allusion to consciousness, or mind, in chemistry and biology, yet one cannot state categorically that the intricacy of the chemical and biological machinery in the brain does not celebrate ‘natural laws,’ or the surfacing of such extraordinary non-material identities that we call as consciousness and mind. This is primarily because “the self-conscious mind,” as Sir John Carew Eccles, the distinguished neuroscientist and philosopher, argued must have more than an element of non-material existence. He rightly contended that our self-conscious mind has fundamental effects on brain functioning — if this was not the case, it would not have evolved in the first place.
Eccles suggested too that theories that expound our mental functions in the context of brain functions are in disagreement with the code of biological progression. What does this connote? That since such variances affirm the underlying futility of consciousness per se, they fall utterly short of ‘bookkeeping’ the biological progression of our consciousness. To illustrate the point — there is, to begin with, the emergence of our consciousness, followed by its progressive expansion, along with increasing convolutions of the brain. This is, again, in consonance with the biological evolution of our mind and consciousness states — they could not have developed, if they were not fundamentally effective in setting off changes in the neural configuration in the brain with consequential changes in our behaviour.
This brings us to a fascinating modern saga that suggests that not all scientists are manifestly averse to wrestling with spiritual contexts. Stuart Hameroff and Sir Roger Penrose, celebrated quantum scientists and thinkers, assert that they can demonstrate the existence of the soul, a quantum entity, which acts as the computer of our brain and exists autonomously of the physical body after death — just as others contend that our soul confers a sense of individual equanimity and competitive spotlight.