Aping Mankind, by Raymond Tallis: Review

"The views I challenge, chapters 1 and 2. Why they are wrong chapters, 3-8. Where we might go from here, chapter 9." Sounded like a long slog so I went straight to chapter 9. In the last two pages of the book I struck gold. "Intentionality, which tears the seamless fabric of the causally closed material universe, could be the equivalent of black body radiation [in pointing to a revolution in physics]....An enquiry that begins here could mean the beginning of a new dawn in human thought... Criticizing the Neuromania and Darwinitis that locates us entirely in the material world is the first step in the task of understanding the place of the human spirit in the great drama of existence and seeing more clearly than we do at present what it is to be a human being."

Nice. But that's about it. A few pages earlier he writes, "Surely, as Francis Bacon asserted my...(criticism) should be followed by... (positive suggestions). I have not done this." [Latin omitted.]

There's the latest word (just published) on the free will-determinism front. There is nothing to be said about it. The materialists' theories stand alone, and one may only grumble, for want of challengers.

I then started at the beginning, and read forward. It was hard going. I gave up and began skimming when I ran into this sentence:

"For humans, perception is not simply a means by which, as organisms, we are wired into the world; it is also the basis of the distance that is opened up between ourselves as conscious agents and the world we can operate on as if from the outside: a virtual outside that is built up, as we shall see in Chapter 6, into a real, but non-physical outside that is the human world."

The author is professionally qualified to criticize what he calls neuromania, but I experienced him as trapped in its terms like an insect wrapped in a cocoon. He limits himself to medical and philosophical terminology, and the reality of consciousness seems very remote. I felt reinforced in my belief that the issue is best dealt with in simple everyday English. What do we experience? What must an account of that be like? Now, how close to that is the language of the neuromaniacs?

I can't do this book justice, I am not qualified to appreciate its arguments. I am pleased to see someone so qualified defending free will.

Below, microdata:

Evolution for the Humanities
Aping Mankind evolution