The Integral Heart

lectoraI dipped my hand into a tub of liquid and pulled out an amorphous mass of muscle and fat.  I shook it thoroughly, till the last drops of the pungent fluid had left its chambers, and plopped it onto a tray.  The only things that I knew for certain were that a) it was the heart of a sheep and b) it had a stench beyond compare. 

But what is a heart? I did not know what its structure was or how it worked.  But everything I needed was right in front of me. 

Our instructions were simple: “Prod around and see what you find.” 

This could be the slogan for the entire Integral Studies Program. Unlike most traditional laboratory classes, in Integral, nothing is provided as a given. In other classes we may have learned what the heart does: pumps blood. But here, we weren’t concerned with the “what” so much as we were with diving deeper into the intrinsic questions of “why” and “how come?”

We discuss elements of existence on an anatomical and philosophical level, deeply seated in the theories of the Greek physician-philosophers Aristotle (384 BC) and Galen (129 AD) and the later works of Flemish anatomist Andreas Vesalius (1514 AD).

Reading through their works we find antiquated, absurd claims that today we know to be false. By studying these observations, however, we can personally disprove them. From this, we become empowered to find our own answers, and we learn a valuable process for discovery. Not only are these skills useful in the classroom but outside it as well, giving us a fresh perspective on everything around us. Based solely on empirical methods, we seek to find answers to questions that many ask.

As humans, we try not to forget what we know, but Integral majors develop the ability to ignore their knowledge, freeing them to think differently, without constraint.

-Benjamin Rehm ’16

Rehm is interested in a communications career.