Charles Krauthammer announced today that he has only weeks to live. Though I've disagreed vehemently with some of his views in recent years (I changed, not him), I've always regarded him as a very smart and compassionate man who is a credit to political conservatism.
I also admire the resilience he showed after being left quadriplegic by an accident during his first year of medical school. After the accident, he completed medical school with his entering class and went on to a career in psychiatry and research before becoming a successful political commentator.
Going all the way back to the mid-1980s, something Krauthammer wrote that stuck with me had nothing to do with politics. Commenting on the trend toward material reductionism in psychology and psychiatry, Krauthammer observed that studying the brain to understand psychological life is like dismantling a television set to understand the plot of the then-popular TV show, Dynasty.
While I'm sure he did not mean to suggest that we shouldn't study the brain, he was making the point that going an entirely material reductionist route in the field is not helpful to the problems many people face. That was true then and is still true.