Who has seen the mind? Neither you nor I — nor any of the legions of neuroscientists bent on opening the secrets of that invisible force, as powerful and erratic as the wind.
. . . . In the book’s final essay, Joy Hirsch, a neuroimaging specialist at Columbia, sympathizes with readers who hate the idea that they — their essential selves, their likes and dislikes, their premonitions, biases and life decisions — are nothing but neural circuits.
“These cells and molecules, awash in various neurochemical cocktails in my basal ganglia, are presumably the basis for my love and attachment to my husband,” she writes. “Earlier in my academic journey I would have resisted this unavoidable fact of biology on the misguided rounds that a physical basis would diminish the grandeur and centrality of my choice of a life partner.”
Now, however, Dr. Hirsch says she joyfully embraces “the astonishing unity of the physical brain and the mind” for the potential it clearly holds for improving the lot of humankind. And furthermore, she doesn’t see that anyone has much choice about accepting it.
“People assumed for thousands of years that there must be something else,” the scientist Jonah Lehrer writes in the introduction. “And yet, there is nothing else: this is all we are.”