Learn This By Heart
Paul from Boyne City
asked why we say that we learned something by heart rather than by head, which is where the brain actually resides.
The ancient Greeks
believed that the heart was the most critical and central bodily organ, so they
mistakenly assigned thought and rational functions to the heart. Aristotle, for
instance, thought that the five senses fed directly into the heart. The brain
and the lungs existed only to cool the blood to keep the heart from
This cardiocentric view
probably came to the Greeks from the Egyptians. They also named the heart as
the seat of thought. In their mummification process, the brain was destroyed,
but the heart was preserved. After death, the heart was examined by Anubis and
other deities in a crucial ceremony called The Weighing of the Heart. The heart was placed on one tray of a balancing
scale, and the feather of the Goddess Ma’at on the other. If the weight of the
heart matched the weight of her feather, it was on to the afterlife. If the
brain weighed more than the feather, the monster Ammit—a combination crocodile,
lion, and hippopotamus—chewed it to pieces.
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