Aping Mankind: Neuromania, Darwinitis and the by Raymond Tallis

By Raymond Tallis

In a devastating critique Raymond Tallis exposes the exaggerated claims made for the facility of neuroscience and evolutionary conception to give an explanation for human cognizance, behaviour, tradition and society.

While effectively acknowledging the impressive development neuroscience has made in assisting us know how the mind works, Tallis directs his weapons at neuroscience’s darkish better half – "Neuromania" as he describes it – the idea that mind job isn't really purely an important yet a enough situation for human realization and that accordingly our daily behaviour will be totally understood in neural phrases.

With the ambitious acuity and precision of either clinician and thinker, Tallis dismantles the concept "we are our brains", which has given upward push to a plethora of neuro-prefixed pseudo-disciplines laying declare to provide an explanation for every little thing from paintings and literature to illegal activity and spiritual trust, and exhibits it to be harassed and incorrect, and an abuse of the status of technological know-how, person who sidesteps a complete variety of mind–body difficulties.

The trust that people might be understood primarily in organic phrases is a significant challenge, argues Tallis, to transparent wondering what people are and what they could turn into. to give an explanation for daily behaviour in Darwinian phrases and to spot human cognizance with the job of the advanced mind denies human distinctiveness, and by means of minimising the variations among us and our nearest animal relations, misrepresents what we're, delivering a grotesquely simplified and degrading account of humanity. we're, exhibits Tallis, infinitely extra attention-grabbing and intricate than we look within the reflect of biologism.

Combative, fearless and consistently 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

Example text

The circuitry Most of the work in brain science relevant to our present interest has focused on looking at how very large numbers of neurons work together and, centrally for the theme of this book, how different parts of the nervous system support different functions. Equally important is how the locations of these functions may vary over time, during the course of development towards adulthood and in association with the learning of new facts, the acquisition of the skills of movement, of perception and interpretation, and new ways of being.

It was not, however, clear whether Erasistratus believed the cerebral cortex or the meninges (the 23. This account of the arguments over localization has been drawn from many sources but is most indebted to Bruyn, “The Seat of the Soul”. 31 APING MANKIND membranes covering the brain) to be the privileged place. At any rate, there was a bitter, indeed delicious, argument between these two great men. Over the centuries, both ventricular and parenchymal theories underwent considerable elaboration.

It is the physical basis of what Charles Sherrington (1857–1952), perhaps the greatest neurophysiologist of all time, termed the “integrative action” of the nervous system,5 in virtue of which inputs from different sources, such as sight and sound and touch, and awareness of one’s own body and feedback from muscles engaged in movements, can all be taken account of in performing complex actions (and all actions, even simple ones, are complex). It is also a means by which an input can sensitize (“up-regulate”) or desensitize (“down-regulate”) the response to a stimulus when another is also being received or in response to the previous history of stimuli received by that particular part of the brain.

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