Aping Mankind

Raymond Tallis, Aping Mankind: Neuromania, Darwinitis and the Misrepresentation of Humanity

On the everything-list Craig has written his expression about this book


and I have decided to read it. I am personally annoyed by statements from science that we are just biological machines and I have decided to read the opposite camp. Craig’s recommendation happens to be a good choice. It is enjoyable reading that gives a good overview of Neuromania and Darwinitis. Below there are quotes from the book that present typical statements from the biologism side. I highly recommend you to read what Raymond Tallis says about it.

Neuromania and Darwinitis

p. 52 Colin Blakemore: “The human brain is a machine which alone accounts for all our actions, our most private thoughts, our beliefs … All our actions are products of the activity of our brains. It makes no sense (in scientific terms) to try to distinguish sharply between acts that result from conscious attention and those that result from our reflexes or are caused by disease or damage to the brain.”

p. 147 Humphrey: “One of the most cherished assumptions of contemporary psychology … [is] that ape minds and human minds are in fact basically of the same type and shape, that there is no great qualitative gulf between human ways of construing the world and apes’ ways, that apes are in effect just like us, only less so.”

p. 263 Blackmore: ‘All human actions, whether conscious or not, come from complex interactions between memes, genes and all their products. The self is not an initiator of actions, it does not “have” consciousness, it does not “do” the deliberating. There is no truth in the idea of an inner self inside my body that controls the body and is conscious. Since this is false, so is the idea of my conscious self having free will. ‘

p. 277 Wilson: “It may not be too much to say that sociology and the other social sciences, including humanities, are the last branches of biology waiting to be included in the Modern Synthesis.”

p. 284 Zeki: “The artist in a sense is a neuroscientists, exploring the potential and capacities of the brain, though with different tools. How such creations can arouse aesthetic experiences can only be fully understood in neural terms. Such an understanding is now well within our reach.”

p. 323 Camerer: “Because people have little or no access to these [brain] processes, or volitional control over them, and these processes were evolved to solve problems of evolutionary importance rather than respect logical data, the behaviour these processes generate need not follow normative axioms of inference and choice.”

p. 327 Savulescu: “The coming decades will be a time when neuroscience really goes forward exponentially. We will be able to influence the basic human condition, our cognitive abilities, our mood and perhaps even our romantic relationships. Further down the track, we may be interfering in early human development or contributing to augmenting early human development or even genetic engineering.”

Related topics

Stephen Hawking: Philosophy is Dead

Neuroscience as Science of Thought?

Science: Free Will is Illusion

Mathematics as a part of neuroscience