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Congwen Wang's picture

My thoughts about brain and behaviors


I find “brain = behavior” is a very thought evoking idea. Although I have noticed that all of the “spiritual” things human have come from the brain, usually I still tend to think about the physical existence of brain and the behaviors separately. This is perhaps a legacy from how most people define our relationship with other animals – we are animals, but meanwhile we are not animals. And to may people, what makes homo sapiens different is our ability of creating thoughts, emotions, languages, etc. It is probably quite disturbing for many to see the idea that we are not different than any other animals – animals with considerably well developed nervous systems, at least – that all of our greatest creations are merely the result of some chemical reactions and electron transportation. And not mentioning that “the magic of love” is now totally reduced to nothing more than a shot of noradrenaline – how unromantic. On the other hand, I do appreciate this idea from a scientific perspective. Nervous system is the material base of all human behaviors. Just like our other organs’ structures determine their functions, the cells and chemicals in our brains determine how we think and act.
The only thing that I feel confused about is Emily Dickinson’s poem. I can understand “the brain is wider than the sky” in a poetic sense, but I am less than convinced by Professor Grobstein’s interpretation that everything is the construction of the brain. Surely one can argue that sky, as well as everything else in the world, has been processed by the brain, thus becoming a creation of the brain. But I find this leads to another question: what about the brain itself? There has to be something there that is not totally constructed by the brain, or there would be no brain in the first place. And since the brain does exist as a matter, so can other things in the world. I personally think it is better to stay with the statement that behaviors, instead of everything, are created by brains.



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