One of my big philosophical hangups is the nature of the Self. What defines what we are? I don't believe in the idea of soul (although I love Soul music...).
However I also believe that our physical brains are malleable enough to alter any identifiable characteristic of our personalities; our temperament, how we respond to different stimuli, how we react to situations; our emotional, social, philosophical, and intellectual temperaments...
All these can be altered by the twisting and rewiring of neurons in the brain.
This is a fascinating story in The New York Times about Dr Anne Adams, a teacher and scientist, who suffered from a neurological condition called frontotemporal dementia.
This caused her skills, abilities, and interests to shift away from mathematical, language-based, and scientific, and towards visual, spacial, and artistic.
FTD also changes your temperament.
Another story I noticed in the news today was a feature in The Independent about nootropics: these are drugs that improve the abilities of the brain in certain ways.
This sort of technology and this area of study is going to do the same for the 21st century what automobiles, HTA flight, and computers did for the 20th.
We don't even have the language required to describe many of the ideas of how our brain works and psychology and neurobiology are surrounded by myths and perceived weirdness.
Combining greater understanding with an ability to combat pathologies of the brain and even alter the brain to improve it's abilities will lead to a revolution, not just in medicine, but a revolution in what it means to be human.
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