Der Inkarnierende Embryo – Menschliche embryonale Entwicklung in einer phänomenologischen Perspektive. In: Morphodynamik in der Osteopathie, Torsten Liem (ed), 2006, Hippokrates Verlag. Kapitel 9, geschrieben von Jaap van der Wal, MD Phd und G.H, van der Bie, MD.
From the biological point of view, prenatal existence includes the stage of embryonic life, which is about organo- and somatogenesis. The difference between the fetus and the embryo is that in the former the body structure is basically completed, while in the embryo the organization of the body structure is still developing. The change from embryo to fetus occurs at about the 10th week after conception.
In terms of human biology and psychology, the embryo functions in a fundamentally different way than the child or adult human. This concerns in particular the functioning of the brain and senses before birth. Today, almost everyone is convinced that the center of the human mind and consciousness, psyche and soul is located in the nervous system and especially in the brain. For most people it is considered proven that the human mind and consciousness are generated by the brain. In typical Cartesian thinking, the brain and CNS functions are considered the origin, the cause of human behavior and psyche. With this philosophy, psyche, soul, mind and spirit become purely physiological processes. The view has prevailed that within the natural sciences soul or mind (as parts of the Cartesian mental res cogitans) are nothing but products of the brain and thus belong to the realm of material res extensa. Recent literature on prenatal psychology and embryonic existence puts the Cartesian dualism of body and mind to the test. How can an embryo have mind or soul if it has not even yet formed the shape of an actively functioning brain or nervous system? For most people, moreover, the embryo leads a kind of semi-existence, a phase in which the human being is not yet complete. As in the case of brain death, the embryo is considered inanimate, which is very often equated with not human or not yet human in the ongoing moral and ethical debate.
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