Aping Mankind: Neuromania, Darwinitis and the Misrepresentation of Humanity
Date: Wednesday 23 May, 6:45pm (for 7pm start) to 8:30pm
Venue: Millennium Room, Carriageworks Theatre, Leeds
Speaker: Ray Tallis
£5 waged/£3 unwaged
Leeds Salon welcomes back Ray Tallis to discuss his latest book Aping Mankind.
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 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. We are, shows Tallis, infinitely more interesting and complex than we appear in the mirror of biologism.
Aping Mankind has been chosen as one of the books of 2011 by the Guardian, Observer and Evening Standard.
Aping Mankind is available at Blackwell’s Bookshop, 21 Blenheim Terrace, LS2 9JH, opposite Leeds University Parkinson Building, price £15.
The Guardian, Andrew Brown, 11 September 2011
The Observer, Jane O’Grady, 7 August 2011
Spiked Review of Books, Tim Black, August 2011
Culture Wars, Robin Walsh, August 2011
The brain… it makes you think. Doesn't it?, The Guardian, 19 April 2012