There was a time when what counted most living inside us was our heart. And, even more important, what was called our soul. That time has passed. Today researchers have shown the brain more than the heart determines who we are; as for the soul, well they can't find it anywhere so it's pretty much off their radar.
All right, then, lets stick with just the brain. The New York Times book listings feature a slew of titles on the subject. Like Daniel Kahneman's "Thinking Fast and Slow," and Leonard Miodinow's "How Your Unconscious Rules Your Behavior."
Bottom line they seem to be saying our brain mostly functions without checking with us. Like a fencer responding to a thrust with a parry, we often act before we think. Call it impulse, intuition, instinct, but for heaven's sake don't call it what it isn't: Thinking!. These authors appear to be saying we are surely not masters of our fate; rather we are captives of our brain. We are "captives of biological determinism, for once we enter the portals of the strange neural world known as the brain, we literally have not idea what we're doing."
Upon closer reading they recall other quasi-determinists like David Hume and Williams James. Authors and ideas long debated but rarely settled.
If you're one of those inclined to apply theories like these to practices like, say Wall Street, can a case be made for why the wheeler-dealers there do what they do? Why they do it so ruthlessly and without regard for others? Are their brains just wired that way -- that proud right-wing Ayn Rand way of making-it-anyway-that-works?
Hard to say, although that might conveniently exonerate whatever souls they still have. To this summer's Occupiers they may simply explain:"Nasdaq made me do it....!"
Filed under: Uncategorized