Aping Mankind

Aping Mankind

Book - 2016
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Neuroscience has made astounding progress in the understanding of the brain. What should we make of its claims to go beyond the brain and explain consciousness, behaviour and culture? Where should we draw the line? In this brilliant critique Raymond Tallis dismantles "Neuromania", arising out of the idea that we are reducible to our brains and "Darwinitis" according to which, since the brain is an evolved organ, we are entirely explicable within an evolutionary framework. With precision and acuity he argues that the belief that human beings can be understood in biological terms is a serious obstacle to clear thinking about what we are and what we might become. Neuromania and Darwinitis deny human uniqueness, minimise the differences between us and our nearest animal kin and offer a grotesquely simplified account of humanity. We are, argues Tallis, infinitely more interesting and complex than we appear in the mirror of biology.

Combative, fearless and thought-provoking, Aping Mankind is an important book and one that scientists, cultural commentators and policy-makers cannot ignore.

This Routledge Classics edition includes a new preface by the Author.

Publisher: New York : Routledge, 2016
Edition: 1 edition
ISBN: 9781138640320
Branch Call Number: 612.8233 T146A 2016
Characteristics: xviii, 388 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm


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Nov 01, 2017

At the least this is two books conjoined. One on 'neuromania', and one on 'darwinitus'. Frankly i didn't get far enough to comment on the latter at all, and didn't get very far into the former either.
My reason is simple: both knock down straw dogs. Neuroscience is a fad, vastly overextended, suffering from the delusion that correlation proves causation? Gee, no kidding? But the real core of his objection is philosophical, at which point i lost interest. Sorry, i do not share the assumption that everything in the universe can be squeezed into the box of language/logic, so i don't care how his arguments relate to Heiddiger and Wittgenstein. I also had the impression that he was a man industriously sawing the limb off a tree while sitting on it. "I'm a monist and atheist but i disagree with all this monism and atheist reductionism."!? He seemed to be pointing to human culture as some emergent 'cloud' containing para- monkey consciousness/values, but never spelled that out.
He's really witty and sarcastic tho (loved how he tore into that pompous ass, Dennett!) and he presents so much material that it's definitely worth skimming and dipping. But that means that you'll have to buy it- there are too many randomly-dispersed juicy bits to find in 3 to 6 weeks.

Apr 29, 2016

This book is two parts with a similar argument against both parts. The first is an attempt, which in my opinion fails, to prove consciousness, specifically human consciousness is not biologically determined. Secondly is to dismiss neurological investigations, specifically fMRI brain scans into the humanities, such as art, law and economics. The author presents a more cogent and compelling argument for this second endeavor. The arguments against biological determinism is inchoate with some fallacious and reductio ad asurdum musings. The author seemingly contradicts his own arguments in the concluding note in Chapter 6 The obfuscated prose can be a bit tedious if you are not in to philosophy. The neuromania arguments are better presented and deal more with scientific arguments then philosophical. Overall this book could have been more concise and perhaps presented a counter argument. Still worth reading if you are interested.


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