Read Aping Mankind: Neuromania, Darwinitis and the Misrepresentation of Humanity by Raymond Tallis Free Online
Book Title: Aping Mankind: Neuromania, Darwinitis and the Misrepresentation of Humanity|
The author of the book: Raymond Tallis
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Date of issue: December 23rd 2014
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In a devastating critique Raymond Tallis exposes the exaggerated claims made for the ability of neuroscience and evolutionary theory to explain human consciousness, behaviour, culture and society.
While readily acknowledging the astounding progress neuroscience has made in helping us understand how the brain works, Tallis directs his guns at neuroscience’s dark companion – "Neuromania" as he describes it – the belief that brain activity is not merely a necessary but a sufficient condition for human consciousness and that consequently our everyday behaviour can be entirely understood in neural terms.
With the formidable acuity and precision of both clinician and philosopher, Tallis dismantles the idea that "we are our brains", which has given rise to a plethora of neuro-prefixed pseudo-disciplines laying claim to explain everything from art and literature to criminality and religious belief, and shows it to be confused and fallacious, and an abuse of the prestige of science, one that sidesteps a whole range of mind–body problems.
The belief that human beings can be understood essentially in biological terms is a serious obstacle, argues Tallis, to clear thinking about what human beings are and what they might become. To explain everyday behaviour in Darwinian terms and to identify human consciousness with the activity of the evolved brain denies human uniqueness, and by minimising the differences between us and our nearest animal kin, misrepresents what we are, offering a grotesquely simplified and degrading account of humanity. We are, shows Tallis, infinitely more interesting and complex than we appear in the mirror of biologism.
Combative, fearless and always thought-provoking, Aping Mankind is an important book, one that scientists, cultural commentators and policy-makers cannot ignore.
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Read information about the authorProfessor Raymond Tallis is a philosopher, poet, novelist and cultural critic and was until recently a physician and clinical scientist. In the Economist's Intelligent Life Magazine (Autumn 2009) he was listed as one of the top living polymaths in the world.
Born in Liverpool in 1946, one of five children, he trained as a doctor at Oxford University and at St Thomas' in London before going on to become Professor of Geriatric Medicine at the University of Manchester and a consultant physician in Health Care of the Elderly in Salford. Professor Tallis retired from medicine in 2006 to become a full-time writer, though he remained Visiting Professor at St George's Hospital Medical School, University of London until 2008.
Prior to his retirement from medicine to devote himself to writing, Raymond Tallis had responsibility for acute and rehabilitation patients and took part in the on-call rota for acute medical emergencies. He also ran a unique specialist epilepsy service for older people. Amongst his 200 or so medical publications are two major textbooks - The Clinical Neurology of Old Age (Wiley, 1988) and the comprehensive Brocklehurst's Textbook of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology (Harcourt Brace, co-edited with Howard Fillitt, 6th edition, 2003). Most of his research publications were in the field of neurology of old age and neurological rehabilitation. He has published original articles in Nature Medicine, Lancet and other leading journals. Two of his papers were the subject of leading articles in Lancet. In 2000 Raymond Tallis was elected Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences in recognition of his contribution to medical research; in 2002 he was awarded the Dhole Eddlestone Prize for his contribution to the medical literature on elderly people; and in 2006 he received the Founders Medal of the British Geriatrics Society. In July 2007, he received the Lord Cohen Gold Medal for Research into Ageing, and in November 2011 he was honoured with the International League Against Epilepsy's Special Excellence in Epilepsy Award. He is a Patron of Dignity in Dying.
Over the last 20 years Raymond Tallis has published fiction, three volumes of poetry, and 23 books on the philosophy of mind, philosophical anthropology, literary theory, the nature of art and cultural criticism. Together with over two hundred articles in Prospect, Times Literary Supplement and many other outlets, these books offer a critique of current predominant intellectual trends and an alternative understanding of human consciousness, the nature of language and of what it is to be a human being. For this work, Professor Tallis has been awarded three honorary degrees: DLitt (Hon. Causa) from the University of Hull in 1997; LittD (Hon. Causa) at the University of Manchester 2002 and Doc (Med) SC, St George's Hospital 2015. He was Visiting Professor of English at the University of Liverpool until 2013.
Raymond Tallis makes regular appearances at Hay, Cheltenham, Edinburgh and other book festivals, and lectures widely.
Raymond Tallis's national roles have included: Consultant Advisor in Health Care of the Elderly to the Chief Medical Officer; a key part in developing National Service Framework for Older People, in particular the recommendations of developing services for people with strokes; membership of the National Institute for Clinical Excellence Appraisal Committee; Chairmanship of the Royal College of Physicians Committee on Ethics in Medicine; Chairman of the committee reviewing ethics support for front-line clinicians; and membership of the Working Party producing a seminal report Doctors in Society, Medical Professionalism in a Changing World (2005). From July 2011 to October 2014 he was the elected Chair, Healthcare Professionals for Assisted Dying (HPAD).
In 2012 he was a member of the judges' panel for the Samuel Johnson Prize.
In 2015 he judged the Notting Hill Essay prize.