Born without a brain
It's good to be back. Upon chuckling and seeing more of the "born without a brain" threads from desperate dualists, I decided to compose this and inserted it into my essay on the absurdity of dualism.
Of the most ludicrous attempts to prove the existence of the “soul”, surely, the so-called “born without a brain” is one of them.
Of course, it is possible to be born without a brain. The precursor to the neural clusters of the brain are called neural tubes, which close and develop around 25 weeks into embryonic development, and partition along the brain’s major longitudinal axis into the four major partitions (prosencephalon, mesencephalon, rhombencephalon and the cerebrospinal fluid duct. The first three then split again into the brain’s sub-partitioning, the prosencephalon develops along the optic ducts and into the precursor of the cerebrum, which contains all of the higer-level functions and partitions (temporal lobe, occipatal lobe, prefrontal cortex and parietal lobe), and the rest develops into the sub-structures of the primary and secondary tiers of the brain, the midbrain, the fluid ducts that run between the lobes, the pons medullas and hypothalamus, the cerebellum and the brain stem.
To be born without a brain is a classed neural tube defect, which occurs around 26 weeks of human embryonic development, with the failed closure of the neural tubes. The most serious of these is called anencephaly. An anencephalactic baby has no isocortex or cerebral hemisphere, in short, they are missing 85% of their brain, the part necessary for higher-level brain function.
Very few anencephelactic babies are born, since it can be detected in utero, and nearly all mothers who learn of the baby’s condition choose to abort it, many of those who are born are stillborn. A very tiny portion remain alive. It is possible to be alive in an anencephelactic state since the brain stem is present, and hence the cardioregulatory center, so the heart will beat. Eventually, however, with no brain, the body will die very quickly (Morpheus, in the Matrix, my favorite film, was correct when he said “the body cannot live without the mind”) the record, I believe, for an anencephelatic baby is one week outside of the womb.
Unsuprisingly, an anencephaltic baby is in a permanent vegetative state, unable to feel pain, unconscious, blind, deaf and dumb. In short, there is no higher level function to speak of. No consciousness develops, no mind etc. They just...exist, although there is no “I” to speak of in an anencephelactic baby. So why do dualists use "born without a brain" to support their assertions. It turns round and bites them, because it supports materialism, indicating that the mind and the conscious process are products of the neocortex!
Anencephaly is not to be confused with a much, much rarer condition called Acephaly, which is the abscence of the entire head of a parasitic twin fetus, which appallingly, can survive for a few hours by leeching blood from the heart of its twin.
"Physical reality” isn’t some arbitrary demarcation. It is defined in terms of what we can systematically investigate, directly or not, by means of our senses. It is preposterous to assert that the process of systematic scientific reasoning arbitrarily excludes “non-physical explanations” because the very notion of “non-physical explanation” is contradictory.