The Brain Is Not The Mind

Emotional Activity - AmygdalaIn the modern field of neuroscience, there are two extreme positions that ignore the simple fact that the brain is not the mind.

According to David Brooks, an accomplished New York Times columnist, these two extremes are:

At the lowbrow level, there are the conference circuit neuro-mappers. These are people who take pretty brain-scan images and claim they can use them to predict what product somebody will buy, what party they will vote for, whether they are lying or not or whether a criminal should be held responsible for his crime.

At the highbrow end, there are scholars and theorists that some have called the “nothing buttists.” Human beings are nothing but neurons, they assert. Once we understand the brain well enough, we will be able to understand behavior. We will see the chain of physical causations that determine actions. We will see that many behaviors like addiction are nothing more than brain diseases. We will see that people don’t really possess free will; their actions are caused by material processes emerging directly out of nature. Neuroscience will replace psychology and other fields as the way to understand action.

These two forms of extremism are refuted by the same reality. The brain is not the mind. It is probably impossible to look at a map of brain activity and predict or even understand the emotions, reactions, hopes and desires of the mind. [Read More…]

David Brooks goes on to say that activity in the brain is widely distributed over many different areas. Also, a single action can results from many different brains states, and conversely, a single event can trigger many different brain reactions.

Furthermore, he states that people can change their brains by changing their patterns of attention.

A while ago, in The Enneagram: From Personality To Awakening, we learned that energy follows attention. Changes in the brain make use of this fact.

If your brain is not your mind, what is it? Please share!

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