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Institute of Advanced Study

Lecture 2

Professor Raymond Tallis: Brain Science and Human Nature: A Critique of Neuromythology
9 February, 18:30, Room 407, Calman Learning Centre

New technologies permitting imaging of the waking brain in humans have prompted increasingly extravagant claims about the extent to which advances in neurocience are casting light on human nature. The proliferation of new disciplines, such as neuro-aesthetics, neuro-ethics, neuro-law and neuro-economics, is a symptom of the widespread belief that the activity of the stand-alone brain explains our subjective experiences and our objectively observed behaviour.

The talk will critically examine this central notion of neuromythology, demonstrate the inadequacy of neural accounts of human nature, discuss the reasons they command such wide support, and spell out the dire consequences they might have if they were truly believed.

Raymond Tallis is a Professor of Geriatric Medicine at University of Manchester, a position he has held since 1987, and is a Consultant in Health Care of Older People at Salford Royal Hospitals Trust.

He is a leading figure in British gerontology and has been awarded many prizes, including most recently the Dhole-Eddleston Memorial Prize for his medical writing about the care of older people. His major research interests are in stroke, epilepsy and neurological rehabilitation and he was elected Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences in acknowledgement of this work.

Over the last 15 years, he has published fiction, several volumes of poetry and over a dozen books in the fields of the philosophy of mind, philosophical anthropology, literary theory, and cultural criticism. His books offer a critique of current predominant intellectual trends and an alternative understanding of consciousness, the nature of language and of what it is to be human.