Various interpretations of the phenomenon of consciousness crop up in disciplines as far afield as cosmology and lexicology. Neuroscientist William Calvin has authored many engaging and enlightening books about the brain and intelligence. In How Brains Think he makes a commendable point of separating the brain from Mind, and he candidly admits that he’d rather not talk about consciousness (the “C” word, as he terms it) because . . . Well, because he’s got a lot more brains than me, to be honest.

“ Some clinicians unintentionally trivialize consciousness by redefining it as mere arousability (though to talk of the brain stem as the seat of consciousness is to thereby confuse the light switch with the light!).”

— William H. Calvin, How Brains Think 1996

The brain comprises two masses partially attached at the base. The brain stem then connects them to the nervous system within the spinal cord. The two masses, the cerebral hemispheres, are considered to be both the captain’s bridge, as it were, and the engine room, so to speak, of the conscious and so-called subconscious functions of life support.

  These novel and autonomic functions are not allocated to the left or the right, but are distributed in various regions throughout both hemisperes.

Of the two sections, no single area, nor mass grouping, has been charted as the “seat” of Mind. Another theory holds that both fundamental human consciousness, and its higher functions, are complex electrochemical operations that are induced by manifold neural channels throughout the brain. This suggests that consciousness is organic and unitary, similar to the philosophical concept of integrated wholeness. If this is so, why is humankind’s single most important attribute distributed piecemeal between two halves of a whole connected by an antiquated four inch viaduct (the corpus callosum)?

Why, indeed, is the brain in halves at all? Sure, it evolved that way over a million years. But for what possible purpose? Anthropological science has definitively reasoned the objective value of opposability in thumbs, and the logical contraposto of other oblique muscle structures, but no reason has yet been confirmed for the separation of the contrapositive, mirror-like formations of the brain’s split hemispheres. Mechanistic reason suggests that the brain would function a great deal more efficiently, happily even, if it were not separated at birth.