6.18.2005

"The Ethical Brain" by Michael Gazzaniga

Have you ever wondered about how the study of ethics would enhance whatever field of work or study you're presently involved in? I think this is a timely field and The Ethical Brain, a book reviewed by Stephan L. Chorover in The Lancet, is thought provoking. This book review starts out by talking about another book, "The Astonishing Hypothesis....."
In The Astonishing Hypothesis: The Scientific Search for the Soul (1994), Francis Crick famously suggested You, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules ... You're nothing but a pack of neurons. The idea that neurons and their associated molecules behave and that there is nothing more to it than that is, I would suggest, a flawed supposition.
As Chorover reviews The Ethical Brain, in the last paragraph he argues that, "There is simply no escaping the fact that we are social organisms. As such it is not our brains in neurological isolation, but we, ourselves, individually and collectively in our relationships with each other and our surroundings who must be held responsible for our actions..." Chorover talks in his review how especially in the US and under President Bush's direction, "entrepreneurially inclined neuroscientists are increasingly able to claim 'ownership' of 'intellectual property' arguably belonging to the public. Unfettered by moral and ethical concerns for the greater public good, private, for-profit, biotechnology firms can thus easily and legally pursue new neurotechnologies, not because they are socially needed, but merely because they are technically possible and likely to generate lucrative financial returns."

I found the book review thought provoking. This type of reading/field of study fascinates me. The more technical advances within our reach the more we need to understand their ramifications. I feel like I'm in kindergarten when it comes to understanding these things but I'm willing to "go back to school" and become conversant in the subject.

2 comments:

  1. We'll be discussing "Ethical Brain" on BookTalk.org during Q4, 2005. Come on by and get involved! We'll be asking the author to join us in the BookTalk chat room.

    Chris

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  2. Chris, thanks for the heads up. As you finalize things, please come back and tell us the dates. Visited your link to booktalk.org. Great site/service you're providing! I'd love to write about booktalk.org on the CCF site. Send me a blurb and I'll post it under your name. Thanks again for posting news about upcoming discussion on "Ethical Brain." I'd like to attend and pass the word around as well.

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