22 von 25 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
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As a neuroscientist, Tallis writes with obviously intimate insider knowledge of the field, and he argues with a lot of common sense as well as with deep philosophical understanding and reasoning regarding the issues. He shows the severe methodological and conceptual limitations of brain scans and he refutes in detail what he calls Neuromania, the tendency to reduce the human mind and consciousness to the firing of neurons, and "Darwinitis", the attempt to minimize the profound differences between humans and animals via a misguided biologism. While he debunks Darwinitis, Tallis is a full-blown Darwinian (as am I, except when it comes to the human soul). He is also an atheist, which may make his knowledgeable and fearless attacks against Neuromania and Darwinitis, which are in themselves mostly rooted in atheistic views, considerably more devastating than if they had come from a theist (of course there is no shortage of effective theistic rebuttals of these intellectual tendencies, but they usually follow different avenues of argumentation).
Against popular modern philosophical thinking, the author strongly affirms the obvious realities of consciousness, qualia and intentionality. It is most impressive and intellectually delicious how, with razor-sharp reasoning, Tallis lays waste to Dan Dennett's ideas who seeks to explain these issues "away" (at some point he rightfully argues why Dennett's book "Consciousness Explained" should rather be called "Consciousness Evaded"). He also superbly demolishes Dawkins' meme theory and, while he does not mention his name that frequently, Steven Pinker's ideas as well. Tallis convincingly demonstrates why evolutionary psychology and its spin-offs neuroaesthetics, neuroethics, neurolaw and neurotheology, among others, are thoroughly misguided (and in part dangerous) pseudo-science -- even if some of the studies have been published in the most reputable top scientific journals like Nature and Science. He also refutes the popular but unfounded idea that the human mind is (like) a computer, and shows how hollow the assertion is that one day computers may acquire consciousness once they are "complex enough". Tallis affirms that the mind is not identical with the brain, but that it is far more than just the brain. His arguments to that effect, which do not invoke an immaterial soul, are original, and while I do not by any means think they tell the entire story, they certainly appear to have considerable merit.
Tallis also affirms the profound and common-sense reality of human freedom, against all the facile and pseudo-scientific dismissals, born from nothing more than plain naturalistic dogma, that it is just an illusion of our brains. He tries to argue for freedom from the perspective of intentionality which, he appears to think, simply allows us to somehow step back from the laws of nature and make choices by "aligning ourselves for our means" with one law or another. Yet Tallis treats intentionality as a brute given, and it seems hard to envision how intentionality, even from his particular view of how the mind is more than just the brain, somehow might escape the web of determinism without the assumption of an immaterial soul. This section appears rather contrived, and to me clearly shows some of the limitations of an atheistic world view. Tallis shines the right light on the common-sense reality of human freedom and he does it so well; the more stunning it seems how his solution appears so flawed. Yet this is an exception in a book that is otherwise soundly reasoned (a few remarks here and there also reveal a crude lack of understanding of theistic philosophy; yet these remarks are not directly relevant to the ideas discussed in the book).
Tallis rightfully rejects scientism, the silly and dogmatic idea that science is the only valid source of human knowledge and understanding (just like him, I reject the idea also as a scientist, knowing the limitations of science). He restores proper authority to philosophy which, while it should be informed by science, is not subservient to it. Interestingly, while as an atheist the author repeatedly dismisses dualism and what he calls "supernaturalism" as unnecessary alternative, he ultimately has to admit that he has no good explanation for the mysteries of the human mind himself -- which puts into question if dualism is really as unnecessary an alternative as he wants it to be. It makes the impression that Tallis does protest a bit too much. It is refreshing, however, that he exhibits the intellectual honesty, the profound philosophical thought and the common sense to admit to these mysteries, rather than being content with modern materialistic pseudo-explanations.
This book should be considered mandatory reading for atheists who are interested in genuine reasoning about the reality of the uniqueness of the human mind, rather than in superficial pseudo-scientific reasoning that is rooted in Neuromania and in a simplistic biologism that seeks to minimize what distinguishes us from the remainder of the animal world, including apes. It should also be considered mandatory reading for theists who want to inform themselves how a convincing case can be made that evolutionary psychology, Neuromania and Darwinitiis are terribly mistaken, simply by reasoning "from within", without having to invoke an immaterial soul (I do believe that correct philosophy about human rationality and freedom is ultimately impossible without the concept of a soul, but that is another issue). Be prepared though to invest some mental energy into following the arguments, which can be demanding at times. But it is worth it.
I recommend this well-reasoned and exciting book in the highest terms.
32 von 41 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Edward A. Schroder
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Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
In this book Tallis attacks scientism: the mistaken belief that the natural sciences (physics, chemistry, biology and their derivatives) can or will give a complete description of everything, including human life. We are not just our bodies. Humans are more than just animals. Scientists are deluded if they have the notion that our consciousness, the self to which the successive moments of consciousness are attributed, our personality, our character, personhood itself, are identical with activity in our brains. He calls this belief Neuromania.
Contrary to what evolutionary psychologists have argued, our behavior is not just determined by our biology. "The reduction of human life to a chain of programmed responses of modules to stimuli overlooks the complexity of everyday experience and the singularity of the situations we find ourselves in, to say nothing of the role of conscious deliberation." The human brain alone does not account for all our actions, our most private thoughts and our beliefs.
Religious belief is not the result of certain parts of the brain, so-called "God-spots". We are not just "hard-wired" for religious belief.
Darwinism cannot give a satisfactory answer to the questions: how did consciousness emerge, and what is consciousness for, anyway? When Darwinists teach that natural selection is random, and that we have evolved without any intelligent design or purpose, they still have to account for the emergence of humans who have consciousness, and seek for meaning and purpose in their lives. The logic of human development presupposes purpose. Atheists cannot explain the fact that we are purpose-seeking beings. We have the need to ask "Why?" We seek reasons. We are rational beings. Random natural selection does not explain this feature of life.
Tallis protests too much when he opines, "As an atheist humanist I reject the idea that evolution has a goal. More particularly, I do not for a moment think it had us in mind as its destination and crowning glory....it is a mindless, pointless process...Darwin had argued that there was an alternative to a conscious, super-intelligent designer: the operation of unconscious, although non-random, natural selection over hundreds of millions of years." He is going against his fellow atheists, like Dawkins, who see no purpose in the blind forces of physics. He claims that Darwinism leaves something unaccounted for.
"Isn't there a problem in explaining how the blind forces of physics brought about (cognitively) sighted humans who are able to see, and identify, and comment on, the `blind' forces of physics, even to notice that they are blind, and deliberately utilize them to engage with nature as if from the outside, and on much more favorable terms than those that govern the lives of other animals? On the Origin of the Species leaves us with the task of explaining the origin of the one species that is indeed a designer. How did humans get to be so different?...Something rather important about us is left unexplained by evolutionary theory. We are not mindless and yet seem to do things according to purposes that we entertain in a universe that brought us into being by mindless processes that are entirely without purpose. To deny this is not to subscribe to Darwinism but to embrace Darwinitis."
Tallis addresses the issue of God rigging the outcome of evolution, but concedes that that notion would not be compatible with evolutionary theory. He thinks that evolution is a shockingly cruel and inefficient process that has nothing to do with love, mercy or even common decency. It is no place for a God of love. He has a problem with the relationship between God and nature, and opts for eliminating God from the equation. He thinks that belief in a Creator is a man-made notion to explain why the world makes sense. However he is disgusted with those who would reject religion on the basis of a devastating reductionism. "In defending the humanities, the arts, the law, ethics, economics, politics and even religious belief against neuro-evolutionary reductionism, atheist humanists and theist have a common cause, and, in reductive naturalism, a common adversary: scientism."
This book will keep the new atheists like Dawkins, Dennett, Harris, Hitchens and Wilson up late at night. If ever Tallis has a religious experience he will be hard put to maintain his atheism since he has rejected scientific reductionism.