The Brain: Organ of Thought? A Dialogue Part 1


Langley: Greetings Socrates, what a pleasure to meet you so early in the  morning here in the Agora!

Socrates: Why bless my soul! Is it morning already? I suppose I have lost my sense of time. As a matter of fact I had been thinking about time, and was so engrossed in asking “time…what is it?” that I had quite forgotten to ask “what time is it?”

Langley: Do you mean that you have been standing here all night long, on this corner, where I saw you last evening? My word Socrates, really… you should have more care for the good of your body like the rest of us, or perhaps your own time to philosophize and consider such useless questions will be cut short!

Socrates: Yes I suppose my body might be angry with me.  It must be quite jealous of other bodies which receive a good deal more attention. Most men take great pains to dress the body and feed it. They make certain that the body sleeps in a comfortable bed and take heed as to whether it is too warm or too cold. It’s a wonder that my body has not risen in rebellious protest- perhaps it doesn’t know any better?

But why did you suggest that my time for philosophy might be cut short if I pay little attention to my body? Isn’t the soul immaterial?

Langley: Well Socrates, I am ashamed to remind you of the obvious!

But if you should catch your death of a cold or pneumonia or some other infectious ailment blown by the south wind, then it will surely come to pass that a fever or noxious bile will pass into your brain and consequently, since the brain is the organ of thought, you will either die or lose your capacity for thinking.

In either case you will no longer be able to indulge in your favorite pastime – thinking!

Socrates: Upon my word Langley, now it makes sense to me why you pay such close regard to your body. You are merely trying to protect your brain which you believe is the organ of thought!

But why do you say that the brain is the organ of thought? It must be an extraordinary organ to be able to accomplish such a thing!

Langley: Socrates, you are asking questions that a child might ask! But as a grown man you certainly ought to be ashamed for asking such questions! I am not the first one to tell you, to be sure, that your bad habit of philosophy would get you nowhere.

And besides your toga is torn and Xanthippe is surely quite worried about where you are!

In my opinion Socrates, you should give up philosophy altogether, seeing that you do not even know what organ of the body is responsible for thought and philosophy.

You would be far better off to pursue something more profitable for you and your family.

After all every man must look to his own good- his honor, his wealth and reputation.

Socrates: Perhaps what you say contains some truth Langley, for you appear to be very wise. Please enlighten me then, for I very much want to know- and if indeed the brain is the organ of thought – then I will give up philosophy.

Langley: Very well Socrates. There is really no great mystery here and I will be happy to show you, or rather as you might say “help you to remember.”

Socrates: Ahhh … then you will ask me questions and I will answer them… and thus you will draw the truth from me.

Langley: Exactly…shall we proceed then?

Socrates: Please and without further delay.

Langley: very well then.

Socrates: very well indeed!

Langley: Then I shall ask you a question.

Socrates: I stand ready and will do my best to render an intelligent reply.

Langley: Then please have patience because in important matters we should not rush.

Rather we should make haste slowly as they say or “festina Lente!” as the Romans would say or “σπεῦδε βραδέως” as your countrymen are fond of saying.

Socrates: I agree and will do my best to contain my impatience with what might appear to some to be a rather cumbersome and pedantic procedure.

Langley: Very good and I needn’t remind you that the wise Friar Lawrence also advocates a slow procedure…although perhaps you have not read the play, I will quote it:



O, let us hence; I stand on sudden haste.


Wisely and slow; they stumble that run fast.

Socrates: thank you, I am convinced! Let us proceed very slowly.

Langley: very well, then we shall.

Socrates: Good I am all for it!

Langley: one can not be too careful.

Socrates: No indeed…one cannot.

Langley: Then let us proceed

Socrates: Yes….Please do….proceed at once!

Langley: but slowly.

Socrates: Yes slowly…slowly…slooowwwlly!

Langley: Yes, but perhaps we should have a bite to eat first, for as you know it was Odysseus himself who famously said “Belly must be fed!”

Socrates: Yes, I remember that. This was after the lovely princess Nausikaa discovered him on the shore of Phiakia- and he subsequently appeared before the court of Alkinoos and his lovely queen Arete.

Langley: Yes, and we should follow his example because Homer is certainly the teacher of all!- there is a time for talking and a time for eating! 

Socrates: And evidently, for you, this is a time for eating.

Langley: Quite so…shall we? And later we may pick up the thread of our discussion.

Socrates: If we must, then let it be.


About marklangley

Presently, the founding Headmaster of Our Lady of Walsingham Academy in Colorado Springs (see www., former headmaster and Academic Dean at The Lyceum (a school he founded in 2003, see Mark loves sacred music and Gregorian Chant and singing with his lovely wife, Stephanie, and their children.
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