Human Understanding, Randomness, Free Will, and Delusion: Part III

Kent Bottles

Posted 3/12/12 on Kent Bottles Private View

In this exercise I am trying to understand what is going on in my world. Car Talk with the Magliozzi brothers is popular with 4 million listeners because they attempt to fix real world problems that callers have with their cars.Genomics, proteomics, and gene therapy have captured the attention of the public and science journalists because they attempt, so far with limited success, to move us from diagnose and treat to predict and prevent which should help us lead longer and more satisfying lives. In Part I and Part II, we saw that even experts like Ray and Tom Magliozzi sometimes are stumped and that science does not always deliver what I desperately need and want: a clear and truthful understanding of what is going on in my world.

Neuroscience and evolutionary psychology are fascinating subjects to read and claim to provide a framework to give me what I want. The natural sciences claim to give an explanation for everything in my world, including me as a human being. However, the explanation the scientists offer clashes with my understanding that I am a conscious person who has a coherent and unified self that is capable of exercising free will. I am a little worried that my left-brain interpreter is making up this story, but that is how I feel.

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Survival and Music

By Dov Michaeli

Survival and music? I am sure your reaction is some variation on ‘give me a break!’ Well, read on and you’ll be surprised.

By now every fifth grader has heard about the limbic system in the brain. But in case you already forgot, it is a system of highly interconnected brain structures that integrates stimuli of emotional content and coordinates reactions to those stimuli. For instance, the structure called the amygdala (see picture on the right) receives stimuli that have to do with survival, and it engenders reactions to them, such as fear and aggression (the familiar flight or fight response). The limbic system also contains the nucleus accumbens which has to do with reward. If you are an ape and an attractive female telegraphs her receptivity to sexual intercourse, it makes a certain area in your brain secrete copious amounts of dopamine which in turn arouses the nucleus accumbens, and you.

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