Cardiocentric vs. Cephalocentric Debate in Ancient Times

Throughout antiquity there was a controversy about which organ of the body served as the seat of the soul, the intellect, the passions and was in control of the motor and sensory systems.

Egyptians and Mesopotamians selected the heart as the central organ. The Greeks were divided, those favoring the caridocentric (heart) view and those favoring the cephalocentric (brain) view. Those who favored the heart or cardiocentric view were: Empedocles, Democritus, Aristotle, Diocles, Praxagoras, the Stoics, and the Epicureans. Those who favored the brain or cephalocentric view were Alcmaeon, Pythagoras, one writer of the Hippocratic Corpus, Plato, Herophilus, Erasistratus, Rufus of Ephesus, and Galen (Clarke & O’Malley, 1968, p. 1).

Clarke, E. & O’Malley, C. (1968). The human brain and spinal cord. Berkeley: University of California Press.