Tuesday, June 18, 2013

David Brooks Is a Cartesian Dualist

See his column (here) in today's New York Times. But I suppose most people, like Brooks, continue to distinguish the mind from the brain. It's not altogether clear what Brooks considers the "mind" to be, in distinction from the brain; his main complaint with neuroscience seems to be that it is not already more advanced because it cannot yet distinguish adequately between the various functions in which specific parts of the brain engage. He notes, for example, that "the amygdala lights up during fear, happiness, novelty, anger or sexual arousal (at least in women). The insula plays a role in processing trust, insight, empathy, aversion and disbelief. So what are you really looking at?" But the limits of current neuroscience and associated technologies (MRI machines, etc.) hardly mean that something outside the brain must play an important, controlling role. This is akin to the argument that because evolutionary genetics cannot yet explain everything about the origins of life and human development, there must be a god.

My question for Brooks and other mind-body dualists is how would they explain the profound character, emotional, and other personality changes that individuals go through after suffering traumatic brain injuries?

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