Friday, May 01, 2009

Enkrateia and neuroscience

Look! Those wonderful neuroscientists are at it again, showing that different parts of the brain are active when we weigh up healthy but not tasty v. unhealthy buttasty foods. People whose 'angel' (bad name, I know, but let's leave it for now) bit of the brain did not 'speak up loudly enough' (unpick that metaphor...) when shown a choice between something neutral and something tasty but unhealthy tended to choose the latter. Poor akratic souls. Maybe Plato was right about distinctly located centres of motivation. Or perhaps not.

1 comment:

Phil said...

So when Socrates gazes at the beautiful Charmides (156) and become very excited but manages to control himself, we are to imagine his dorso-lateral PFC lit up like a Christmas tree? That may explain something about his pattern of baldness, but does it do much to explain his (rather marginal) display of enkrateia? Is more activity in the PFC supposed to represent better self-control or a greater struggle to control oneself? And where is the temperate part of the brain, Aristotle wants to know?