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Brain Structure, Life on Other Planets, and the MoQ

by Bob Wallace

When I first read "Lila" a few years ago and encountered Pirsig's thesis of the four levels of reality it occured to me that these four levels correspond to the structure of the human brain as it evolved. According to Pirsig, the levels, in order of evolution, are the Inorganic, the Organic, the Societal, and the Intellectual. Now let's take a look at the brain. Brain researchers state it is made up of different layers--or levels--much like an onion. They believe there are three layers, from the most primitive and least evolved at the bottom of the brain to the most advanced and most evolved at the top of the brain.

The most primitive, the least evolved part at the bottom of the brain, is is the reptilian complex, or r-complex. On top of the that is the more evolved paleomammalian system, which is commonly known as the limbic system. On top of that, at the top of the brain, is the most evolved and most advanced, the neomammialian, or neocortex. The r-complex deals with sex, aggression, establishment of territory, foraging, hierarchies, and establishment of groups. It's called the "reptilian complex" because it's just about all reptiles have. And we have it, too.

On top of the r-complex is the limbic system. It is our emotional/social brain. It's the part we share with mammals. It's why dogs instinctively understand our tone of voice.

On top of the limbic system is the neocortex, which is the rational, intellectual brain. We have a great deal of it. (Dogs don't, which is why they don't understand our words.)

Here I quote brain researcher Dr. Paul MacLean in Dr. Richard Restak's book, "The Brain": "In its evolution the human brain expanded in a hierarchial fashion along the lines of three basic patterns. These three formations are markedly different in chemistry and structure and, in a evolutionary sense, are eons apart...[t]he three brains amount to three interconnected biological computers, each having its own intelligence, its own subjectivity, its own sense of time and space, and its own memory and functions."

And, I might add, each has its own morality, which is opposed to the one above it.

Now let's take a look at Pirsig's four levels and apply them to the brain.

Obviously, the brain is Inorganic--atoms and molecules and whatnot. That's the first level.

Now let's look at the second level, the Organic. This is the biological, the animal.

This corresponds the r-complex.

The third level, the Societal, correponds to the emotional/social limbic system.

The fourth level, the Intellectual, corresponds the rational, intellectual neocortex.

If this correspondence it true (and it seems to me that it is) then it means that the structure of reality outside of our heads is the same as the structure of our brains.

This raises some interesting questions. If the MoQ existed before humans did, then of course our brain structure should mirror it. I don't see how it could be otherwise.

Another thought that occurred to me if that the MoQ is not a localized phenomena, if it indeed is the structure of reality throughout the universe, then by a process of deduction if there is any intelligent life on other planets it would have to have the same brain structure that we do.

They would have to be much like us. It should be fairly easy to understand them. If dogs can understand us because we share part of the same "brain" with them, it seems to me that we would have to share the same "brain" that "aliens" do (I don't like using the word "aliens" because it conjures up visions of fetuses traveling trillions of miles to perform proctological examinations on people, but I can't think of a better word).

This, of course, doesn't mean there is life on other planets, but if there is they wouldn't be utterly and permanently incomprehensible to us, as I have read in some science-fiction stories. We'd be able to understand each other's literature, music and art. We'd probably even understand each other's jokes.

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