Vollmer Fries Lecture Series, Dr. Raymond Tallis, Emeritus Professor of Geriatric Medicine, University of Manchester

The weekly 'Issues in Cognitive Science' series provides an informal setting in which faculty, graduate students and invited speakers present their current research or plans for future research, and discuss recent journal articles of general interest to cognitive scientists. The 'catered brown bag' meetings take place every other Wednesday, 12-1:30pm, Sage 4101. Many of these presentations may be viewed in our video archiveGeneral information for speakers

Vollmer Fries Lecture Series, Dr. Raymond Tallis, Emeritus Professor of Geriatric Medicine, University of Manchester

Center for Biotechnology & Interdisciplinary Studies (CBIS) Auditorium

April 16, 2019 4:00 PM - 5:30 PM

My talk will subject the idea that we are 'just animals' to critical examination and defend the claim that we are unique - and in unique respects.  Its central thesis is that we human beings, while not supernatural, are extra-natural.  So long as we are alive, we are part of nature to some degree but we are also apart from nature.  We construct and inhabit a distinctive world in a way that is not paralleled by other species, not even our nearest primate kin.

The two major strands of my argument will criticize respectively:  "Neuromania" - the idea that we are identical with our evolved brains; and "Darwinitis" - the belief that Darwinian evolution explains not only the origin and nature of the human organism (which it does) but also the human person (which it doesn't).  The critique of Neuromania will focus on the impossibility of understanding consciousness in neural, that is to say material, terms and the insuperable barriers to any brain-based account of the unity of consciousness, of our temporal depth, of memory, and of agency.  The critique of Darwinitis will examine the distinctive nature of the human community of minds, expressed in shared knowledge, norms, institutions, and the collective past called 'histories'.

The talk will be a contribution to meeting the fundamental challenge of humanism in the 21st century; namely to form a clear view of what kinds of beings we humans are.  At the heart of such a humanism is to realize the extent to which we humans make our own nature.


Dr. Tallis is a philosopher, poet, novelist and cultural critic, and a retired physician and clinical neuroscientist.  He has published fiction, poetry and 25 books on the philosophy of mind, philosophical anthropology, literary and cultural criticism.  Aping Mankind (2010) was reissued in 2016 as a Routledge Classic.  A series of 8 seminars on Humanism given in the philosophy department of Charles Universit yPrague, is the basis of his next book due out in autumn of 2019, Seeing Ourselves Humanism for 21st Century.  



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