We don't know how our brains work, so we use metaphors to understand it.
At different times, we used to compare our brain with the most advanced thinking we had at that moment:
- The earliest one was that God created us with clay and dirty, and His spirit infused intelligence.
- In the 3rd century BCE, with the invention of hydraulic engineering, we believed that our body and mind worked with a flow of different fluids called 'humours'.
- In the 1500s, we compared the brain with complex machines because of the systems composed of gears and springs.
- In the 1600s, the philosopher Thomas Hobbes suggested that the motion of small mechanics in the brain creates thinking.
- In the 1700s, discoveries about electricity and chemistry created new theories.
- In the 1800s, inspired by recent advances in communication, the German physicist Hermann von Helmholtz compared the brain to a telegraph.
- In the 1940s, with the creation of computers, the brain was said to operate as a computer - we save, and process memories as computers do. This analogy is also called Information Processing (IP) metaphor.
Metaphors to Explain the Brain
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