Thursday, September 06, 2007

We’re no slaves to our senses

The fundamental mistake that Frith makes – and this is a common error – is to believe that agency or free will are products only of the human brain. The brain is necessary but it is not sufficient, and chasing agency into the brain will only yield disappointment or, in this case, a sense that agency is illusory. If agency is not merely a product of ordinary brains, then it follows that abnormal brains might not be the whole or only answer when there are psychiatric problems and delusions of agency such as in schizophrenia.

To his tremendous credit, Frith is ready to push neuroscience past the hype that can be generated by a pretty picture and into a deeper understanding of what makes mental function. For that alone, Making up the Mind should be read by anyone interested in understanding contemporary neuroscience. The idea, however, that the brain constructs the mind is incomplete, and the quicker we realise that, the quicker we will make progress in understanding both normal and abnormal minds. (Stuart Derbyshire, We’re no slaves to our senses)


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