Neuroscientist, writer and ‘possibilian’ David Eagleman popped into the podcast studio to tell Charlotte Stoddart about his new book on the secret, subconscious, lives of the brain. Find out how much of what you think and perceive is subconscious (more than you might expect!) and how neuroscience could change the way we think about criminal behaviour and punishment.
Also huffduffed as…
Samad Aidane - Jonathan Jordan reveals the "7 Habits of Highly Effective Brains", based on his recent presentation to the United States Senate staff.
Episode 53 of the Brain Science Podcast is a discussion of Did My Neurons Make Me Do It?: Philosophical and Neurobiological Perspectives on Moral Responsibility and Free Will by Nancey Murphy and Warren S. Brown. This book challenges the widespread fear that neuroscience is revealing an explanation of the human mind that concludes that moral responsibility and free will are illusions created by our brains. Instead the authors argue that the problem is the assumption that a physicalist/materialistic model of the mind must also be reductionist (a viewpoint that all causes are bottom-up). In this podcast I discuss their arguments against causal reductionism and for a dynamic systems model. We also discuss why we need to avoid brain-body dualism and recognize that our mind is more than just what our brain does. The key to preserving our intuitive sense of our selves as free agents capable of reason, moral responsibility, and free will is that the dynamic systems approach allows top-down causation, without resorting to any supernatural causes or breaking any of the know laws of the physical universe. This is a complex topic, but I present a concise overview of the book’s key ideas.
Neuro-aesthetics, neuro-evolutionary literary cricitism, neuro-ethics, neuro-law and neuro-theology - has the cult of ‘neuromania’ left us with a hollow, reductive account of human nature? Are we just a bunch of neurons firing in some soft tissue? Is society just a bunch of brains interacting? Can fMRI scans explain love, creativity, altruism, evil and religious beliefs?
Recent advances in neuroscience have taken the world by storm – they allow us an incredible insight into the motivations for our nature and behaviour, and have deepened our understanding of what it means to be human. They allow us greater compassion for each other’s faults and actions (which are suddenly seen to be not quite so intentional) but limit our responsibility for our own actions (my enlarged amygdala made me do it).
But has our fascination with the discipline gone too far – does all this searching for the ‘God-spot’ somehow diminish the importance of taking a leap of faith?
Philosopher and author Professor Raymond Tallis and RSA chief executive Matthew Taylor debate the competing claims made for the ability of neuroscience to explain human behaviour, culture and society.