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Aping Mankind (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 17. April 2012

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"A major and erudite statement of a position that is intellectually, morally, and spiritually of the first importance to those of us living now." Roger Scruton, of numerous books including A Political Philosophy: Arguments For Conservatism

"A wonderful book and an important book, one that all neuroscientists should read. Tallis's fearless criticism of the work of some distinguished contemporary academics and scientists and the rather ludicrous experimental paradigms of MRI work needs to be made." Simon Shorvon, UCL Institute of Neurology

"A splendid book. Tallis is right to say that current attempts to explain major elements of human life by brain-talk are fearfully misguided. Tallis is exceptional in having both the philosophical grasp to understand what is wrong here and the scientific knowledge to expose it fully. He documents the gravity of this menace in a clear, vigorous style, with real fire, venom, and humour." Mary Midgley, author of The Owl of Minerva: A Memoir and The Solitary Self: Darwin and the Selfish Gene

"Despite its mischievous title, "Aping Mankind" is a very serious book, and represents the author's current location in his decades-long stream of multifaceted thinking. Tallis has been called a polymath he is a physician, philosopher, public speaker, and a prolific writer Much of his speaking and writing over the past several decades has been deliberately controversial and engagingly argumentative, and "Aping Mankind" is no exception The breadth of Tallis's familiarity and facility with the positions of others both in his own field and in others (such as the arts) is impressive throughout the book The reader will find it richly rewarding, packed with thoughts worth sharing and ideas worth considering, and quite a lot of fun. For what more could we reasonably ask?" "Metapsychology Online"
"This is an immensely valuable book because it makes us think hard about what we are and 'if any ideas are important, then ideas about the kind of creatures we are must be of supreme importance'. My bottom line is buy it and read it and then read it again and again and again A landmark book." Network Review"
""A triumph of rational thought over the Darwinian afflictions that the author argues against in such an eloquent fashion" "The Quarterly Review of Biology"
"A terrific book, though readers must be prepared to read it at least twice, not because it is in any sense obscure, but fully to appreciate the richness and subtlety of Tallis s novel insights, with all their implications for our understanding of humanity s precious attributes of freedom, intentionality and moral responsibility." James Le Fanu, "The Tablet
"A trenchant, lucid and witty attack on the reductive materialism of many scientific accounts of consciousness not from a religious point of view, but that of an atheist humanist with a distinguished record in medicine and neuroscience." David Lodge, "The Guardian" s Books of the Year 2011
"Neuroscience, we are implausibly informed by white-coated Simon Baron-Cohen, will help dispense with evil. Who better to debunk its pretensions while instructing us in its uses than wise, literate Raymond Tallis, a neuroscientist himself, in his entertaining Aping Mankind." George Walden, "Evening Standard s "Best Books of the Year
"With erudition, wit and rigour, Tallis reveals that much of our current wisdom is as silly as bumps-on-the-head phrenology." Jane O Grady, "The Observer
"Impassioned and intensely erudite." Dominic Lawson, "Sunday Times
"Brilliantly written . . . renowned polymath Raymond Tallis puts the picture back into much clearer perspective in his scathing expose of neuroscientific narcissism." "Human Givens
"A pleasure to read. . . Tallis is fighting for a good cause." Willem B. Drees, "Times Higher
""This kind of personhood the capacity, in fact the compulsion, to bring things together into some kind of coherent narrative, without which experience is not just senseless, but almost impossible, is what Tallis believes science cannot now explain. Anyone tempted to suppose that science has explained it even in principle and that means almost all of us should read him, and realise we re wrong." Andrew Brown, "The Guardian
"an all-out assault on the exaggerated claims made on behalf of the biological sciences . . . an important work. Tallis is right to point out that a fundamental shift in our self-perception is under way and frequently going too far." Stephen Cave, "Financial Times
."" . . a relentless assertion of common sense against a delusive but entrenched academic orthodoxy. Few books evince their authors complete mastery of his subject like Aping Mankind." "The New English Review
"A provocative, fascinating, and deeply paradoxical book. . . Tallis displays a wit and a turn of phrase which often made me howl with laughter." Allan Chapman, "Church Times
"A major and erudite statement of a position that is intellectually, morally and spiritually of the first importance to us living now." Roger Scruton
"A splendid book. Tallis is right to say that current attempts to explain major elements of human life by brain-talk are fearfully misguided. He is exceptional in having both the philosophical grasp to understand what is wrong here and the scientific knowledge to expose it fully. He documents the gravity of this menace with real fire, venom and humour." Mary Midgley
"A wonderful book and an important book, one that all neuroscientists should read. Tallis s fearless criticism of the work of some distinguished contemporary academics and scientists and the rather ludicrous experimental paradigms of fMRI work needs to be made." Simon Shorvon, "UCL Institute of Neurology
""I strongly recommend this work to existential therapists and indeed to anyone who has ever asked the question of what it is to be human...Tallis writes eloquently and argues brilliantly" " Existential Analysis""

Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

Raymond Tallis trained as a doctor before going on to become Professor of Geriatric Medicine at the University of Manchester. He was elected Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences for his research in clinical neuroscience. He retired from medicine in 2006 to become a full-time writer. He has published fiction, poetry and over a dozen books of cultural criticism and philosophical anthropology including, most recently, the acclaimed The Kingdom of Infinite Space (Atlantic, 2008) and Michelangelo's Finger (Atlantic, 2010).


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HASH(0x9beddb4c) von 5 Sternen A Revolution in understanding humanity 27. September 2011
Von Amazon Customer - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
This is a rare and remarkable work of synthesis of scientific fact and philosophy from a medical professional immersed in the neurological and biological sciences. Although Tallis is one of the most literate and clear writers in science and philosophy, it is important to acknowledge that portions of the book are "heavy" and require serious concentration due to the density and uniqueness of the ideas he is presenting. But, by contrast, there are many places where one can't help but laugh out loud sometimes at his inventive phrases and words to help describe and drive home his essential viewpoints.

The book strikes me as having two basic goals:

1) A withering critique of reductionists who believe
---a) that our great conceptual abilities as humans can be reduced to (is equivalent to) the neural firings in our brain. These he call neuromaniacs.
---b) and those intellectuals who seek to minimize human differences from other animals by either anthropomorphizing animals or animalizing humans, in wrong ways. This phenomenon he calls Darwinitis. [However he is a committed Darwinian in the original meaning of the term.]
2) A fascinating theory of human origins that involves explaining the origin of free will in humans, the origins of self-consciousness, the origin of conceptual development and language development, resulting from the *nature* of our entire body and its unique set of features.

The first five chapters are devoted to item (1) above, and is largely a sustained and intense attack on many commonly promulgated and accepted scientific/philosophical myths, misconceptions and mistakes of the 20th and 21st centuries (and some earlier).

In chapter 6 he starts into his positive theory phase, and it is worth waiting for. It is quite a revelation of factual, biologically driven ideas that very plausibly explain proto-human and human development over the past four million years.

I still need to absorb some aspects of his thesis, so I'm not sure I agree with all of it yet. For example his conclusion that there is a "collective space" made up of a "community of minds" that inhabit a kind of conceptual world that is beyond biology -- is using terms in a way that are not clear to me. Despite this talk of collective this and community that, he still seems to be basing his theory on individuals, so perhaps he's really talking about "society" or "civilization", sort of. In any case, this is a seminal work in the understanding of our unique human consciousness.

I do have a few quibbles with his positions, such as his unquestioning acceptance of the classical philosophical primary vs. secondary qualities distinction, that tends to cloud his usual clarity in one portion of one chapter.

Some of his other books from recent years, apparently are components or precursors to this opus. That is, he frequently refers to some of these other titles, so it looks to me that the earlier works were pieces of the "puzzle" that he was working on, item by item -- with this book being the culmination of them all. So, now I'll have to go check out some of these previous works, since they sound fascinating, as detailed workings-out of aspects of the overall theory that he presents in "Aping Mankind."
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HASH(0x9bdc4f24) von 5 Sternen Not pop-pseudoscience 15. November 2011
Von Real Name - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
Negative scientific studies, studies that demonstrate negative findings (like showing that a drug does not lower blood pressure any more than a sugar-pill), aren't as sexy as positive studies. Very few professors have gotten tenure by only showing what is not true. No one has won a Nobel prize for solely criticizing other people's research. That said, negative research can be as practical and useful as positive research. Look at recent research on vitamins--there is now good evidence that several vitamins and anti-oxidants decrease your life-expectancy rather than make you more healthy. It is important to know that vitamins can be bad for your health, even though it is a negative finding.

Aping Mankind is negative research. While most popular-science writers attempt to weave compelling stories from the latest neuroscience experiments to explain 'why we are the way we are', Tallis attempts to show why these stories simply cannot be true. If you are skeptical of media--and scientific journal--headlines such as "Researchers discover the location of love in the brain", then you may enjoy Aping Mankind. In this work Tallis exposes the odd proclivity of scholars, from biologists to literary critics, to anthropomorphize pieces of matter while simultaneously dehumanizing human beings. In effect we are systematically transferring our humanity to matter, and this may not be good for our health--just like vitamins.
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HASH(0x9beee420) von 5 Sternen A well-reasoned and exciting book 4. September 2012
Von Albrecht Moritz - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
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.
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HASH(0x9beddb94) von 5 Sternen An Honest and Fair Atheistic Humanist 16. Februar 2012
Von Edward A. Schroder - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
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.
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HASH(0x9bdc4f84) von 5 Sternen Fresh look at the human animal 18. September 2012
Von Arthur Witherall - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
This is part of a series of books by Raymond Tallis that challenge the current scientific consensus on the nature of the mind and the status of human beings within nature. It is distinctive not merely for the depth, subtlety and power of its argument, but also the fact that the author has no "alternative explanation" waiting in the background. He does not just claim that consciousness is irreducible to neural activity, he also claims that evolution does not provide an explanation for its existence, and that it is in fact a bare-faced mystery.
Perhaps the most effective part of his critique is that which deals with "neuromania" and its dependence upon fMRI brain scans. Tallis defends the view that the mind is not the brain, and that brain scans reveal nothing of interest about mental activity beyond a vague correlation - yes, our neurons do fire when we think, but no, this is not what thinking actually is.
There is also a valuable and enlightening discussion of what makes humans different from the other animals. Tallis relies upon commonsense here, but also highlights the idea that humans are explicit animals. The striking idea that a human tool is a "sign of itself" - in other words, it looks like a designed artifact rather than something sculpted by nature - was worth much more space than he gives it. This may provide a key to understanding the whole network of signs and symbols, the objects and practices that transcend animal awareness and provide the basis for human existence.
Raymond Tallis is a fascinating philosopher whose latest work is stylish, provocative, and intellectually rewarding. Four stars.
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