Neuroexistentialism: Meaning, Morals, and Purpose in the Age of Neuroscience
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"Caruso and Flanagan's edited collection neuroexistentialism provides a carefully considered selection of writings that discuss a broad range of themes pertaining to a contemporary discourse that is both fascinating, thought provoking and complex." -- Anna Westin, Metapsychology
"There's been lots of grounds for existential dread. First, God died in Nietzsche's arms. Then, the 20th century nearly drowned us in human carnage. Now, we are beset with what Caruso and Flanagan call the "third wave" of existential despair--what do we do as neuroscience shows that "mind" is
solely a product of "brain," that "brain" is solely a product of an indifferent physical universe, and that free will is a myth? In this superb volume, some of the smartest people on earth wrestle with the implications of neuroexistentialism, including with the deepest question of all - how do we
find meaning if we are merely the sum of our biology?" --Robert M. Sapolsky, Professor of Neuroscience, Stanford University
"This book brings together leading neuroscientists and philosophers to examine concepts such as free will, love, and morality through the lens of modern brain research, and will be indispensable to scholars interested in what neuroscience can tell us about human nature and selfhood." --Mo Costandi,
Neurophilosophy blog, The Guardian, and author of Neuroplasticity (2016)
"Philosophy is indispensable in the effort to sort out the complexities of nature, especially human nature. The ability of the human brain to envision future existence gives us great advantages in planning our lives, but also allows us to worry, to be anxious about the future. The essays in
Neuroexistentialism by leading philosophers and scientists offer fascinating perspectives on the human search for meaning at the present time, the age of the brain." --Joseph E. LeDoux, neuroscientist and author of Anxious: Using the Brain to Understand and Treat Fear and Anxiety (2015).
"A splendid collection of papers that address (unflinchingly and from a variety of perspectives) anxieties - personal, social, and political - unleashed by recent advances in neuroscience that appear to undermine agency, responsibility, and human dignity...The book will serve as an indispensable
resource for specialists and nonspecialists alike." --John Heil, Washington University in St. Louis and Monash University
About the Author
Gregg D. Caruso is Associate Professor of Philosophy at SUNY Corning.
Owen Flanagan is James B. Duke Professor of Philosophy at Duke University.
- Publisher : Oxford University Press (March 8, 2018)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 392 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0190460733
- ISBN-13 : 978-0190460730
- Item Weight : 1.21 pounds
- Dimensions : 9.2 x 1 x 6.1 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #350,936 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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The essay by Tse caused me considerable pause, but perhaps only because it presented such an interesting thesis that defied my unraveling. I still don't know whether or not it said anything. I've read a fair amount about quantum mechanics, but the multitude of overlapping imponderables was overwhelming. I don't think it need be so hard. The contrast between Tse and say, William James, well displays the extremes in the measure of reader friendliness of philosophical presentations.
Oral Sedimentation by Prinz – it seems that he loves the sedimentation concept and takes energetic efforts to translate things that are commonly spoken about in simpler language into his phenomenological jargon. We carry around prejudices; who would deny it, let alone feel the need to write an essay?
Behavioral Control by Glannon – I started underlining his question begging assertions and ended up underlining half the essay. He shows that he knows the important questions and in a flash sets forth his answers.
Relational Authority, Gallagher, et al/. I was impressed by their hard working philosophical creativity extending and enlarging the stances of foundational existentialists. This is philosophizing where it is of assistance. I retrospectively link periods of severe personal depression to a sense of meaninglessness, especially after being brought up in a brand of Christianity that Dostoeyevsky shattered for me when I was 16. Existentialism fed my depression. This essay addresses such a real problem that philos0phy can create. create
Neuroscience of Meaning and Morals by Rollo. I appreciated this treatment of the delicate question of purpose, which evokes that fraught notion of teleology.
On Determinism and Human Responsibility by M. Gazzaniga – I found his arguments enticing until I understood the extent to which he was relying on a metaphor of layers of functionality and questioned his definition of the term. It turns out to be his secret implement that can perform any required missing element in his argument. Gazzaniga explains his key concept as follows: “Each layer preferentially communicates with the layer above and the layer below. Each layer uses the layer below to perform its function. ‘A Layer is a design construct. It is implemented by any number of classes or modules that behave like they are in the same layer. That means that they only communicate with classes in layers immediately above or below their layer and with themselves.’ (Van Bergan)” In response, I quote from W. Churchill’s description of Russia in 1939 as “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.” My own sense of a "layer" brings to mind beds of sedimentary rock or piles of books, not a network of widgets communicating through multidimensional space. A better analogy might be to a hairball, certainly harbingers of human responsibility.