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Distinguishing Brain From Mind - Sally Satel - The Atlantic


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I do wonder how much of what we think is under our control:

Although it's cloaked in neuroscientific garb, this free-will question remains one of the great conceptual impasses of all time, far beyond the capacity of brain science to resolve. Unless, that is, investigators can show something truly spectacular: that people are not conscious beings whose actions flow from reasons and who are responsive to reason. True, we do not exert as much conscious control over our actions as we think we do. Every student of the mind, beginning most notably with William James and Sigmund Freud, knows this. But it doesn't mean we are powerless.

The study of the brain is said to be the final scientific frontier. Will we lose sight of the mind, though, in the age of brain science? While the scans are dazzling and the technology an unqualified marvel, we can always keep our bearings by remembering that the brain and the mind are two different frameworks.

The neurobiological domain is one of brains and physical causes, the mechanisms behind our thoughts and emotions. The psychological domain, the realm of the mind, is one of people -- their desires, intentions, ideals, and anxieties. Both are essential to a full understanding of why we act as we do.

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