“Julian Baggini has written a masterpiece, and what a timely masterpiece it is. The toxic gloating of ‘gut feelings’, hateful politics and heart-over-head attacks on good sense urgently need an antidote. Baggini has risen to the occasion. In this compelling book, he is fair-minded, incisive and bold; he never ducks the hard questions, but faces […]
Some people just find the whole idea too fanciful to even think about. But many other find it terrifying, exciting or both. Why would such an apparently outlandish idea have this effect?
There is nothing new in “playing God”, it’s just that we’re getting better at it.
This book really walks the literary high wire, and Roberts not only keeps his balance, he makes the spectacle compelling. I can’t think of another such ostentatiously clever novel that is so dramatically successful, as rigorous psychologically as it is logically. Like Kant’s thing in itself, Roberts’s eponymous novel does not fit into any standard categories.
To be truly empowered we need both to better understand the information we are given, and to realise that the biggest abuses of information concern how it is used, not how it is gathered.
Oliver Sacks had the expertise of a neuroscientist, the mind of a philosopher and the voice of a poet. Excelling in all three domains, he was one of those rare writers and thinkers who was able to to make us see ourselves differently.
Too many guides for novices are pedestrian trudges through the key names and topics in a subject. Like the best introductions, this is more manifesto than textbook, making a convincing case for its subject by explaining why it is both important and interesting. There is no better, clearer case for why both science and philosophy matter and why neither can replace the other.
Emotional suffering is real and that there should be no shame in seeking the help of others to diminish it. Whether it has an agreed name and a scientific definition is secondary.
The undeniable fact is that brains provide the material means by which conscious life is sustained. Without brains there can be no human consciousness. But it does not follow from this that we can explain all human behavior in neurological terms alone and that conscious thoughts contribute nothing to our actions. That is a much stronger claim, which goes against the evidence of experience.
The idea that unconscious biological forces drive our beliefs and actions would seem to pose a real threat to our free will. We like to think that we make choices on the basis of our own conscious deliberations. But isn’t all that thinking things over irrelevant if our final decision was already written in our genetic code? And doesn’t the whole edifice of personal responsibility collapse if we accept that “my genes made me do it”?