« Neither the one nor the other


The neuroscientists cannot help us with evil, because in most cases it emanates from a defective mind rather than a defective brain – and all the king's evolutionary psychologists and all the king's experimental philosophers cannot make this elementary distinction between mind and brain go away by parroting the slogan that "the mind is what the brain does." I am willing to adopt this brand of empty talk long enough to agree that the mind is entirely dependent on the brain, and once the brain is unplugged, the mind is gone too. As the Darwinian fundamentalists and neurobiologists are now fond of saying, the brain is indeed analogous to your computer's hardware and the mind is like a software program that it runs; but the practical gap between the two is as great as the gap between the electronic circuitry of my motherboard and the meaning of the sentence that I am now typing on my word processor. Trying to find evil in the neurons is like trying to find this sentence by taking the computer apart and examining the wiring.

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About Stephen Kennamer

For several years I have taught a course titled The Anthropology of Evil. I chose the term “anthropology,” not to indicate a restriction to the study of evil among primitive tribes, but rather to widen the lens to take in every relevant discipline: history, philosophy, theology, psychology, sociology, and current events.

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