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Brain vs. Mind: The Big Smackdown

Posted Sep 23 2008 7:56am

Video Game Faces.jpg

As a regular subscriber, I've noticed that Newsweek has sort of gone downhill since it changed editors several months ago. And I generally dislike its reporting on mental health issues. But I suppose there are some good nuggets to be gleaned from "Sad Brain, Happy Brain," which is about the way feelings derive from brain function.

Many express amazement that emotions, pain, sexual feelings or religious belief could be a product of brain function. They are put off by the notion that such rich experiences could be reduced to mechanical or chemical bits. Or they worry that scientific explanations may seduce people into a kind of moral laziness that provides a ready excuse for any human failing: "My brain made me do it." Our brains indeed do make us do it, but that is nonetheless consistent with meaningful lives and moral choices. Writing for the President's Council on Bioethics earlier this year, philosopher Daniel Dennett made the point that building knowledge about the biology of mental life may improve our decision making, even our moral decision making. And it could enhance our chances of survival as a species, too.

Fore more, go here. If you feel like it.

[I got this image from BoingBoing. It's by Ari Pescovitz -- photos of his friends playing Guitar Hero, during which the brain and the mind are clearly fully engaged.]

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