The concept that brain is behavior is an interesting notion that undoes many assertions that are made everyday. Control-obsessed man has been raised with notions of free-will and self determination that bring about several assertions. In example, man believes that he walks, sees, studies, thinks, watches, and is. More importantly, he believes that he has choice over these actions, an ability to choose whether he wants to do them, and inherently control over the brain in making these behavioral decisions. It is therefore most difficult to account for free-will and soul with regards to this brain-behavior relationship.

What is most abstract about the position of free-will in this relationship is man's desire to pursue his free will and control all aspects of his behavior. As a child, man is instructed to do complete arbitrary tasks which he is held accountable for: taking out the trash, doing homework. When not doing them, man is reprimanded for not having executed his will to complete the tasks. His brain is not blamed for the behavior, man is. The concept of free will commonly is placed outside of the brain, when really it's place is inside the brain. Free will and choice are thereby inseparable from the brain. This implies that man truly cannot isolate his behavior from the brain. He cannot say, my brain wants me to do this, but I am going to do that. The freedom to override the behavioral decisions of the brain does not exist. And this perhaps is the most perplexing concept to understand. Why? Because we are a society of choice.

The constructs of our life as we know it depend on this notion that man has ultimate control and the ability to decide (that would seem to be free from the brain). Burger King asks us to choose, "with ketchup or mustard?". My mother tells me that I have the ability to resist the peer pressures of friends. College tells us to discipline ourselves, to control and maintain the schedules and routines of everyday life. We believe that all of this lays in our desire, our free-will, and that we, the mortals, then tell our brain what to do. We create this separate notion of free-will to empower ourselves, but indeed, it may not be true. It may be that, given the brain = behavior principle, our free-will is not a separate entity from out brain. Indeed, man's autonomy and seemingly endless control over his actions is, perhaps, less will based and more based on the neural interactions within the brain and nervous system, contrary to what man's desires would like to believe. And even his desires are the brain, just as is his thoughts, his walking, and his studying. The brain = behavior principle humbles man's ego, his desire to control all and to control the brain so much as to overpower the brain. Ultimately, it undoes the ego-centric notion of everyday behavior we as a society have come to accept.

Lovely, and very thoughtful essay. I very much agree with you that a better understanding of the free-will/brain connection could well lead to a (desireable) change in the kinds of demands and expectations we place on people. No, of course, we can't control "everything", and a clearer understanding of this might, ironically, give us all a greater capacity to influence what we CAN influence. PG