Researchers seek compromise between materialist and non-materialist neuroscience?
|September 25, 2013||Posted by News under Mind, Neuroscience, News|
Neuroskepticism? There’s been a lot of that lately, as ridiculous materialist claims get trimmed (see here, here, and here, for example. Much of it is coming from sources you might not expect, and for good reason. The discipline risks discredit through nonsense.
That said, big guns are still rushing to the defense of materialist neuroscience, most notably eliminative materialist Daniel Dennett
Meranwhile, Adam Zeman and Oliver Davies weigh in at Standpoint, offering a compromise:
The earlier undifferentiated view of mind and matter, and its successor, the radically differentiated Cartesian view, will gradually give way to a more fully integrated understanding, which acknowledges both our ineradicable subjectivity and our inextricable, yet often invisible, involvement with matter. We will come to recognise that the line between mind and matter, like the line of demarcation between psychiatry and medicine, has been drawn in the wrong way and in the wrong place. We will come to understand ourselves as free within rather than from our material existence.
They propose that mind and matter “form an integrated system in us.” True, an old insight reacknowledged, but what follows?
Sure enough, they immediately put their foot in it by trying to “understand” religion: As soon as people do that, in the context of neuroscience, you know that theirs is a conventional materialist project, no matter what they want to call it or how they hope to make up for lost credibility with soothing noises:
Second, we believe that the new paradigm will help us to understand how religions work, and how they can go wrong. These ancient traditions straddle the globe and deeply shape our contemporary world. Under a dualist view, it was difficult to make sense of religious practices and embedded beliefs since these are the product of earlier ages and integrated cosmologies which assumed a “porous” relationship between mind and body, self and world. Religions have so baffled and fascinated us because they were born “under different skies”. …
Religion isn’t entirely understandable in the terms that many researchers want it understood.
For example, what does “go wrong” mean in the paragraph above? Did the Tsarnaev jihadis go wrong when they bombed the Boston Marathon? You and I probably think so but they and their crowd don’t. And apparently the groupies on whose behalf the surviving brother was lionized on the cover of Rolling Stone are turned on by jihad, or self-destructiveness, or something. These matters are too deep for materialist neuroscience, just as acts of self-sacrificing heroism are. Materialism must cram them all into structures they don’t fit, structures that assume that there is nothing beyond the material, and then make up caveman stories about how they originated.
Sadly, everything can indeed be explained by materialism, if all you want from an explanation is that it conform to materialist thinking. We tend to notice that defect the more, the less sense any given explanation makes.
On a more positive note, the authors clearly grasp that subjectivity is, by nature, not objective and cannot be made so. That is what is wrong with most projects to “explain” consciousness; consciousness is experience from the perspective of the experiencer, not the researcher; what life feels like when it is happening to you and not him. His consciousness is what life feels like when it is happening to him and not you.
No doubt there is plenty to research, but not much more to “explain.” Indeed, consciousness research has continued since its dawn in India 2500 years ago, but I always suggest that anyone begin the project by reading Nagel’s ”What is it like to be a bat?“, to get some sense of perspective about what research projects would be useful.