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Jen Benson's picture

I really like how you have

I really like how you have equated the mind with unpredictability and the brain with predictability. I do think that believing in the mind certainly can make one feel as if ones life has “meaning,” or something above and beyond what could be explained by neurobiology, genetics, or environmental stimuli or input. Believing in the existence of the mind might eliminate the need for a neurobiological account of unpredictable behavior and instead provide a more parsimonious and attractive account for such actions. I found Professor Grobstein’s reminder that believing in a mind or soul is a more appealing explanation quite important. Perhaps people have evolved psychologically to have this proclivity for believing in a greater un-seeable power (residing within or without individuals). Perhaps an fmri could track the parts of the brain involved in nurturing such a belief.
I certainly find it appealing to consider the possibility that risky behavior and the experience of imagination (as opposed to more rational behavior and reality-focused thought) could be attributable to something unexplainable by biology or the environment. Stories of heroes and artists who have been culturally idealized often emphasize their ability to overcome great odds against them as presented by their biological makeup (like disabilities) or by their backgrounds/cultures/environments (like being really poor or marginalized). I think people prefer to believe that their behaviors and identities are greater than the physical reality of their brains and world. Such movies as Gattaca and Dark City have explored this concept and I provide examples of this desire to believe in the existence of something greater than genetics and experience (environmental input) in explaining identity and behavior.

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