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« Psychopathy Without (the Language of) Disorder | Main | Responsibility, Dysfunction and Capacity »

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The chief problem here is: what does the perfectly balanced brain look like? You need to reverse engineer the organism. You need to know its potential, connectivity and functionality wise. Right now we know things in isolation. We need to know the whole thing as a whole. When you know that; then you can make saline solutions instead of cartoon print band-aids; then you can engineer pharmaceuticals that are progressive instead of suppressive. You're not going to get there until you know it, what it is designed to be, no kinks in the system, full throttle, bottom-line.

Is there any reason why you can't be a neurobiologist and still believe that not all diseases of the brain are due to chemical imbalance? Could there be more than zero (at least one) brain disease that is caused by something else? Are all diseases and disorders of the non-brain parts of the body caused by chemical imbalances?

Jamie - I am certain that one can be a neurobiologist and believe anything. My point was that every thought that we have, every time we use our brains, there is a change in chemistry. When you look at these words, when you watch a movie, there are a series of chemical changes beginning in your retina, traveling through your optic nerve to your lateral geniculate nucleus and on to your visual cortex, and from there the information moves to countless parts of your brain, each involving a change in chemistry [the same sort of thing happens, via different pathways, when you listen to music, smell a flower, or just sit in a room, quietly thinking). The issue is that while we might be able to describe this process in general terms, the details of the chemical changes remain elusive. From this perspective, it is a near-certainty that any disease of the brain, just as any other change in the brain, involves a change in chemistry.

Peter, that's certainly a relevant issue. But when (sensible) people deny that
a mental disorder is a question of chemical balance, they are making a claim
about explanation, not ontology. All the facts about neurobiology commit us
to is a supervenience thesis: no mental differences without neurobiological
differences. But supervenience theses are neutral with respect to explanation.
Compare: supervenience is true of all physical events (say Barack Oboma winning
the election). But it would be crazy to say that Barack Obama's winning the election
"was just an arrangement of subatomic particles"

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