Your brain does this; your brain does that;
Your brain does other stuff.
Your brain controls your body, and
(If that was not enough)
Your brain makes all your choices, and
Your brain dreams all your dreams—
So much of what you are is in
Your brain… or so it seems.
I’ve learned about neurology,
Psychology, and more;
I’ve learned about the brain, its parts,
And what each part is for;
My books, and journal articles,
Have overflowed my shelf
And still, I’ve never found a brain
That did it by itself.
Your brain is in your body
And your body moves around,
And you interact with others
And to others you are bound
And the world is full of stimuli
Which influence your brain—
Your brain is not the cause, but just
A link within the chain
Of course the brain’s important, but
It isn’t where things start.
It relies upon your kidneys; it
Relies upon your heart.
It depends on your environment,
And everything you do…
The thing that does such wondrous stuff?
It’s not your brain. It’s you.
Dammit. We got rid of Cartesian dualism, and still I can’t swing a dead cat without hitting seventeen examples of a de facto brain-body dualism that maintains the same annoying tradition. I swear, today I saw it in blogs, in newspaper articles, and now sitting down and watching “Through The Wormhole” with Morgan Freeman (in particular, the episode on “did we create God?” or some such–“the brain sees patterns”, “the brain makes connections”, “the brain blah blah blah…”
No. The brain does not see patterns. The brain is a major part of how we see patterns. The brain does not do so without the eyes, and it does not do so without two very important sets of environmental histories–the individual’s interaction with the environment (literally beginning with the environment in the womb, in development), and the interaction with the environment over millennia that is reflected in the genes. The brain is not magic (which Descartes’s concept of “mind” was, technically); it is part of how we gather information from the environment and act upon that environment. Other parts include our eyes & ears, our bones and muscles, our teachers and histories, our communities and our cultures.
As one of my commenters (sorry for forgetting your name) said a while ago, the brain is necessary but not sufficient. In context, that meant “for consciousness”, but it’s pretty much true for the rest of what we do, innit?