By Raymond Tallis
In a devastating critique Raymond Tallis exposes the exaggerated claims made for the facility of neuroscience and evolutionary concept to give an explanation for human attention, behaviour, tradition and society.
While without difficulty acknowledging the marvelous growth neuroscience has made in aiding us know how the mind works, Tallis directs his weapons at neuroscience’s darkish better half – "Neuromania" as he describes it – the assumption that mind task isn't really purely an important yet a adequate for human attention and that accordingly our daily behaviour could be fullyyt understood in neural phrases.
With the bold acuity and precision of either clinician and thinker, Tallis dismantles the concept that "we are our brains", which has given upward thrust to a plethora of neuro-prefixed pseudo-disciplines laying declare to give an explanation for every little thing from artwork and literature to illegal activity and non secular trust, and indicates it to be pressured and unsuitable, and an abuse of the status of technological know-how, one who sidesteps an entire diversity of mind–body difficulties.
The trust that people will be understood basically in organic phrases is a significant difficulty, argues Tallis, to transparent brooding about what people are and what they could turn into. to give an explanation for daily behaviour in Darwinian phrases and to spot human recognition with the task of the advanced mind denies human area of expertise, and via minimising the variations among us and our nearest animal relatives, misrepresents what we're, supplying a grotesquely simplified and degrading account of humanity. we're, indicates Tallis, infinitely extra fascinating and complicated than we seem within the reflect of biologism.
Combative, fearless and continuously thought-provoking, Aping Mankind is a vital booklet, one who scientists, cultural commentators and policy-makers can't forget about.
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Extra resources for Aping Mankind: Neuromania, Darwinitis and the Misrepresentation of Humanity
For this reason, it is worthy of our attention here. 27. See Harrington, Medicine, Mind and the Double Brain. 28 Locke’s enormously inﬂuential Essay Concerning Human Understanding had attacked the notion of innate ideas. All knowledge, he said, came from the senses. The mind at birth was a tabula rasa – a clean slate or blank sheet – and it was eﬀectively constructed out of experiences organized only according to their associations. But if the mind starts oﬀ as a blank sheet, and is built up out of experiences, how does it manage to avoid ending up as just “a heap of impressions”: a slop of accumulated experiences and their echoes in memory, not too diﬀerent from delirium?
As a clinical neuroscientist I was awestruck by the images that became available towards the end of my career. The brain can be visually “sliced” and examined from diﬀerent angles, and changes in its structure can be tracked over time. For example, the correlation between shrinkage of a part of the temporal lobes called the hippocampus in patients with dementing illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease and their degree of memory loss can be investigated. But there has been another important development critical to the rise of Neuromania.
Protons in diﬀerent tissues resonate at diﬀerent frequencies. As a result, brain grey matter such as the cerebral cortex, white matter such as the nerve tracts that connect the cortex with other structures, and the cerebrospinal ﬂuid, appear in distinctive shades. The contrast between structures can be enhanced by administering agents that inﬂuence the resonance of the protons in various tissues – or damaged versus undamaged tissues – in diﬀerent ways. There are many modes of MRI scanning. One of particular value is “diﬀusion MRI”, which exploits the fact that water molecules are in a constant state of motion.
Aping Mankind: Neuromania, Darwinitis and the Misrepresentation of Humanity by Raymond Tallis