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Out of Our Minds: Hacker, Heidegger and Wittgenstein contra Neuroscience

(25 September 2017)

This research seminar will take place on Wednesday, 18 October, at 1pm, in ED 134 at the School of Education. The seminar will be led by Dr Emma Williams from Warwick University. Everyone is welcome to attend and booking is not required. For more information please contact

In this paper, I will critically explore the vexed question of whether education should be interested in neuroscience. While there have been claims that neuroscience has a ‘fundamental and increasing relevance’ to education, I will seek to argue that there are limits to what brain science can offer to research and practice in the field of education. To make the case for this, I shall initially draw upon ordinary language philosopher Peter Hacker’s exposition of ‘neuro-mystifications’: the mistaken ascription of psychological concepts to the human brain. Hacker’s main challenge to the neuroscientist can be summarised in the following way: brains don’t think, human beings do. However, I should also like to extend the critique of neuroscience by demonstrating the metaphysical signification of Hacker’s linguistic challenge. To do this I shall appeal to certain Wittgensteinian and Heideggerian arguments. Wittgenstein and Heidegger, I will argue, move us toward a holistic picture of human thinking – one that is richer than the neuroscientific account, and should itself be of more interest to the field of education.