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Table of Contents

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6



Further Reading

The Mysterious Matter of Mind



by Lee Edward Travis

     A dominating assumption held by psychologists today is that the human being is body and nothing more and what is real can be perceived only by the sense organs or by a physical instrument. Based on this assumption, persons are essentially totally defined by the physical parts that constitute them and to know them one must ultimately understand their anatomy and their physiology. They can be reduced completely to physics and chemistry, and there is nothing left over.
     The ordinary person does not share this assumption. Such people believe that there is something else, that there is a conscious mind that takes control, possibly even of one's whole life, and to a large degree determines one's destiny. It is true, they think, that genetics plays a large role in one's development and that chance enters into the picture. But mainly they believe that consciousness faithfully attends them as long as they live and reluctantly leaves at their death to live on forever in another world. Scientists and philosophers have too quickly dismissed the testimony of the common person about his or her experience. As a scientist Dr. Custance not only respects the common person but also solicits the aid of other noted scientists to tell of their lifelong work on mind-body problems.

     One could say either that the brain produces the mind as an epiphenomenon, the melody that floats from the harp, or that the mind programs the brain, using it as a faithful servant in the complicated job of living. The evidence that Dr. Custance gives us strongly supports the second possibility. It comes largely from the great works of two men, the neurosurgeon Wilder Penfield and the neurophysiologist John C. Eccles.
     Penfield would stimulate electrically the proper motor cortex of conscious patients and challenge them to keep one hand from moving when the current was applied. The patient would seize this hand with the other

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hand and struggle to hold it still. Thus one hand under the control of the electrical current and the other hand under the control of the patient's mind fought against each other. Penfield risked the explanation that the patient had not only a physical brain that was stimulated to action but also a non-physical reality that interacted with the brain. Could this non-physical reality be the mind? With other patients being stimulated in other cortical areas, a double consciousness was produced. Patients, while being fully aware of their immediate surroundings on the operating table, were also experiencing a suddenly re-enacted scene from the past, a scene so clear that it included sounds and even the odour of coffee being brewed. Penfield considered such double-consciousness experiences as an argument for independent mind action, for a dualism of object and subject and for a separateness of brain and mind.
     Eccles became fully persuaded after his lifelong work in neurophysiology that mind was not an emergent out of the brain but somehow an independent programmer of it. The mind acts on the brain in a purposeful, manipulating, and actively creative way. Dr. Custance draws attention to the congruity between the revelation of Scripture and the conclusions of these two modern scientists.
     Both the Old and the New Testaments proclaim the union of the mind and the body as essential to the existence of the whole person. The Bible sees a form of severance between the mind and the body at death that will be neither undone nor remedied until the body is resurrected and united with the mind. For the whole person as portrayed in the Bible the mind and the body belong together, always with the former as master and the latter as servant. Behaviourism is not a psychology of man but only of man's object self. Man has a computer, not is a computer.
     I like Dr. Custance's beautiful description of the new body to which the mind is returned when the whole person comes back to life. Basically his description is based on the story of Jesus Christ after his resurrection.

     I believe this little book is sound and stimulating, and I will plan to use it in my classes.

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For Further Reading


Eccles, Sir John C., Facing Reality. Springer Verlag International, 1970.
     This is subtitled "Philosophical Adventures of a Brain Scientist," and it would be difficult to describe the volume more aptly. It is at times a rather technical study that requires some dedication, but it is relieved throughout by what must surely strike the reader as both brilliant and refreshing excursions into some of the more philosophical aspects of mind/brain interaction.

Koestler, Arthur and Smythies, J. R.. editors, Beyond Reductionism. London, Hutchinson, 1967; New York, Macmillan, 1970.
     A record of the Alpbach Symposium held in Switzerland in 1968 under Koestler's initiative. The rostrum of participants reads like a "who's who" of those in the scientific community who are concerned with the problem of the origin and nature of consciousness in man and his attendant aspirations. The entirely free exchanges which followed the reading of each paper are included, making the volume a reservoir of fresh, stimulating, and sometimes surprising ideas.

Koestler, Arthur, The Ghost in the Machine, London, Hutchinson, 1967; New York, Macmillan, 1968.
     A stimulating volume by one who has established an international reputation as a highly informed layman who approaches the evidence for reductionism and finds it unsatisfactory. He demonstrates that the reductionist position is insufficient to account for the evidence in history of some serious flaw, some built-in deficiency, in the working of the human mind resulting from the explosive growth of the human brain. The book is a fresh approach to an old problem: the inability of man to diagnose his own nature correctly and order himself and society successfully.

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Luria, A. R., The Man With a Shattered World, New York, Basic Books, 1972.
      A book that is in a more popular style and may disappoint at times, but which does give a valuable insight into the world of a man who, as the result of a head wound, has virtually no short-term memory. So short is his memory span that even the beginning of a sentence may be forgotten before the end of it is reached. The record shows dramatically how important it is (and why) to have both a short- term and a long-term memory operating normally.

Penfleld, Wilder, The Mystery of the Mind, Princeton University Press, (Toronto, Little, Brown & Co.), 1975.      This is an overview of Penfield's research while treating epileptic patients in the Neurological Institute in Montreal. It is subtitled "A Critical Study of Consciousness and the Human Brain." Though the subject is often technical, Penfield's effective style, which is both pleasant and informative, easily manages the details of his pioneer work in this area. He describes how his findings led to some remarkable demonstrations of the primacy of the mind (or the "will") over the circuitry of the brain, showing that the mind appears quite capable of using the brain as a tool for its own purposes.

Popper, Sir Karl, and Eccles, Sir John, The Self and Its Brain, Springer Verlag International, 1977.
     The subtitle is "An Argument for Interactionism." This volume essentially takes the form of a debate between a philosopher of international repute and a neurophysiologist of similar stature, conducting an inquiry into the origin, nature, and even the possible destiny of human consciousness. In considering these three fundamentally important subjects, differences of opinion do not in any way make the volume disjointed or contradictory. It is a large volume, both in size and reach, and makes what is perhaps a unique contribution to the current debate between those who see mindedness as a mere epiphenomenon of brain and those who see it as something of independent origin whose very nature suggests continuance even after the dissolution of the brain. There is, moreover, a real agreement between the two authors that the mind is master of the brain, making it its own. The original title, "The Self and the Brain," was accordingly later re-worded to read "The Self and Its Brain."

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Sherrington, Sir Charles, Man on His Nature, Cambridge University Press, 1951, 2nd edition.
     This is the text of the Gifford Lectures presented by Sherrington in the University of Edinburgh during the winter of 1937—38. Revised and updated, it now represents the distilled wisdom of a prince among scientists contemplating the nature of the mind/brain relationship. It is written in retrospect of a life time spent in research, reflected upon by a man no longer concerned merely to preserve his reputation as orthodox and therefore entirely free to express some doubts as to the sufficiency of current reductionist views of the nature of man.

Custance, Arthur, Journey Out of Time, Doorway Publications, Hamilton (Canada), 1981.
     In Part II of this book, the author deals with the question of the constitution of man, as a body/spirit entity.



Best, J. Boyd., "Protopsychology." Scientific American, February 1963, pp.55—62.

Kety, Seymour S., "A Biologist Examines the Mind and Behavior," Science, vol.132, 1960, p.1861—69.

Penfield, Wilder, "Engrams in the Human Brain," Proceedings of the Royal Society of Medicine, vol.61, 1968, p.831—40.

Penfield, Wilder, "Epilepsy, Neurophysiology and Some Brain Mechanisms Related to Consciousness" in Basic Mechanisms of the Epilepsies, edited by H. H. Jasper, et al., Toronto, Little, Brown & Co., 1969.

Penfield, Wilder, and Perot, Phanor, "The Brain's Record of Auditory and Visual Experience: A Final Summary and Discussion," Brain, vol.86, 1963, p.595—696.

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Copyright © 1988 Evelyn White. All rights reserved

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