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Neuroscience and Philosophy: Brain, Mind, and Language Paperback – 17 Apr 2009

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Product details

  • Paperback: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press; 1 edition (17 April 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0231140452
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231140454
  • Product Dimensions: 13.7 x 1.5 x 20.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 217,631 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Review

"A useful introduction." -- Barry Dainton, "Science"

"Readable and accessible." -- James Sage, "Metapsychology"

"A good introduction to this dynamic subfield." -- "Library Journal"

"[A] rare opportunity to appreciate an encapsulated philosophical debate... Recommended." -- "CHOICE"

A useful introduction.--Barry Dainton"Science" (01/01/0001)

Readable and accessible.--James Sage"Metapsychology" (01/01/0001)

If you can get two sworn and unrestrained philosophical enemies such as Daniel Dennett and John Searle to join forces against you, you must at the very least be described as the controversialists of our time.--Akeel Bilgrami, Johnsonian Professor of Philosophy and director, Heyman Centre for the Humanities, Columbia University

Neurophysiology has made astonishing progress in recent decades and has learnt many hitherto unknown facts about the brain and its functioning. But what do these discoveries tell us about the mind? Peter Hacker and Maswell Bennett adopt an avowedly Aristotelian stance. Many cognitive scientists, they maintain, covertly endorse the dualism of Plato and Descartes, merely substituting brain-body dualism for mind-body dualism. If Daniel Dennett and John Searle are right, philosophical psychology is about to be superannuated by a scientific breakthrough in the study of the mind. If Bennett and Hacker are right, then much of cognitive neuroscience is not sound science but muddled philosophy. The resulting four-cornered discussion must rank as one of the great philosophical debates of our generation.

The points at issue between these four sophisticated and articulate thinkers concern not only neurophysiology and philosophy of mind but the whole nature of philosophy itself and its relationship to science. The debates here give the reader an unparalleled chance to reach a personal decision on issues of fundamental intellectual importance.--Anthony Kenny, Fellow Emeritus, St. John's College, Oxford University

If you can get two sworn and unrestrained philosophical enemies such as Daniel Dennett and John Searle to join forces against you, you must at the very least be described as the controversialists of our time.

--Akeel Bilgrami, Johnsonian Professor of Philosophy and director, Heyman Centre for the Humanities, Columbia University

Neurophysiology has made astonishing progress in recent decades and has learnt many hitherto unknown facts about the brain and its functioning. But what do these discoveries tell us about the mind? Peter Hacker and Maswell Bennett adopt an avowedly Aristotelian stance. Many cognitive scientists, they maintain, covertly endorse the dualism of Plato and Descartes, merely substituting brain-body dualism for mind-body dualism. If Daniel Dennett and John Searle are right, philosophical psychology is about to be superannuated by a scientific breakthrough in the study of the mind. If Bennett and Hacker are right, then much of cognitive neuroscience is not sound science but muddled philosophy. The resulting four-cornered discussion must rank as one of the great philosophical debates of our generation.

The points at issue between these four sophisticated and articulate thinkers concern not only neurophysiology and philosophy of mind but the whole nature of philosophy itself and its relationship to science. The debates here give the reader an unparalleled chance to reach a personal decision on issues of fundamental intellectual importance.

--Anthony Kenny, Fellow Emeritus, St. John's College, Oxford University

A useful introduction.

--Barry Dainton"Science" (01/01/0001)

Readable and accessible.

--James Sage"Metapsychology" (01/01/0001)

A useful introduction.

--Barry Dainton-Science- (01/01/0001)

Readable and accessible.

--James Sage-Metapsychology- (01/01/0001)

If you can get two sworn and unrestrained philosophical enemies such as Daniel Dennett and John Searle to join forces against you, you must at the very least be described as the controversialists of our time.--Akeel Bilgrami, Johnsonian Professor of Philosophy and director, Heyman Centre for the Humanities, Columbia University

Neurophysiology has made astonishing progress in recent decades and has learnt many hitherto unknown facts about the brain and its functioning. But what do these discoveries tell us about the mind? Peter Hacker and Maswell Bennett adopt an avowedly Aristotelian stance. Many cognitive scientists, they maintain, covertly endorse the dualism of Plato and Descartes, merely substituting brain-body dualism for mind-body dualism. If Daniel Dennett and John Searle are right, philosophical psychology is about to be superannuated by a scientific breakthrough in the study of the mind. If Bennett and Hacker are right, then much of cognitive neuroscience is not sound science but muddled philosophy. The resulting four-cornered discussion must rank as one of the great philosophical debates of our generation.

The points at issue between these four sophisticated and articulate thinkers concern not only neurophysiology and philosophy of mind but the whole nature of philosophy itself and its relationship to science. The debates here give the reader an unparalleled chance to reach a personal decision on issues of fundamental intellectual importance.--Anthony Kenny, Fellow Emeritus, St. John's College, Oxford University

A useful introduction.--Barry Dainton "Science "

Readable and accessible.--James Sage "Metapsychology "

About the Author

Maxwell Bennett is professor of neuroscience and university chair at the University of Sydney and scientific director of the Brain and Mind Research Institute. His most recent books are History of the Synapse, The Idea of Consciousness, and Philosophical Foundations of Neuroscience, which he coauthored with Peter Hacker.Daniel Dennett is Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Philosophy and director of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University. He is the author of numerous books including Freedom Evolves, Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon, and Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life.Peter Hacker is a fellow of St. John's College, Oxford. The leading authority on the philosophy of Wittgenstein, his seventeen books include, most recently, Human Nature: The Categorical Framework, Philosophical Foundations of Neuroscience, which he coauthored with Maxwell Bennett, and Wittgenstein: Connections and Controversies.John Searle is Slusser Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of sixteen books, including Freedom and Neurobiology: Reflections on Free Will, Language, and Political Power, Speech Acts: An Essay in the Philosophy of Language, and Mind: A Brief Introduction. His works have been translated into twenty-one languages, and in 2004 he was awarded the National Humanities Medal.


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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is an important topic which is usually a challenge for the lay reader to follow. Or at least, even if you can follow the views expressed by an author it is difficult to critique their argument.
The format chosen here of the debate between two groups with different views makes the argument come alive and helps you to think through the strengths and weaknesses of the views.
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Format: Hardcover
This brilliant book contains selections from 'Philosophical Foundations of Neuroscience' of Maxwell Bennett (neuroscientist) / Peter Hacker (Wittgenstein specialist) and a 'triangle' discussion between these authors and Daniel Dennett and John Searle.
It is common in science to use intentional and phenomenal terms ('thinking', 'feeling', 'deciding') not only for people, but also for parts of people (especially brains and brain parts). According to 'Philosophical Foundations of Neuroscience' this is not - as it seems - a matter of handy metaphor, but it reveals a misunderstanding and in the end incoherence of the language used. Talk about human beings and talk about biology are mixed in a way that adds smoke, to say the least.
Searle (as usual, imho) misses the point and keeps repeating that, for example, the foot as we feel it (part of the 'phenomenal body') is 'in our head'. It is just this sort of embarrassing silliness that Bennett and Hacker expose. In this way Searle does not really add to the discussion, but nevertheless he provides a clear illustration of the misunderstanding at stake.
The reaction of Dennett (beautifully written, but maybe a bit too sharp and personally hurt) is much more important. The differences between Bennett/Hacker and Dennett reveal an interesting tension: in what way can or must we stretch the common use of words like 'think', 'interpret', etc. that they provide more insight and not less?
Yes, Bennett and Hacker are right to warn us that you cannot jump to conclusions by using words in inconsistent ways (with clashing criteria or 'rules'). Don't confuse metaphor with explanation. Projecting human properties on body parts can actually hinder our understanding of the way brains work.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Outstanding analysis of the problems of cognitive neuroscience, put in historical context. Today cognitive neuroscience has a huge impact which is based on misunderstanding of the functions of the brain. The model is borrowed from neurology, in which brain damage, correctly , is related to behavioural sympotms. The brain does not have this role in normal circumstances, in which it pemits, rather than controls behaviour. This point is made with admirable clarity by Bennett and Hacker. In their previous book on the same topic they expanded considerably on psychological issues related to "brain control" and incisively noted that Cartesian mind/body dualism remains essentially intact in today's cognitive neuroscience, it has merely been replaced by brain/body dualism. It is compelling reading. Recent studies on mice and Drosophlia provide strong support for the idea that the brain allows animals/humans to adapt to what goes on rather than control what they/we do. Defenders of traditional thought within neurophilosophy contributing to this book present arguments which Bennet and Hacker conveniently undermine, and with elegance and often in a funny, yet serious, manner. Strongly recommended!
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Excellent.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)

Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars 9 reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Useful summary 22 Aug. 2016
By Leonidas - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A helpful summary of the views of distinguished authors concerning the importance of a broadly Wittgensteinean perspective on neuroscience.
4.0 out of 5 stars Mind/Body Problem 13 Dec. 2016
By Kenwit - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A lively and current debate about how philosophers and scientists talk about the mind/brain.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It was okay 20 Aug. 2014
By Chris H - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
So the concept of the book is a good one. Usually you end up with one author's opinion and he is responsible for summing up and responding to his opponents' works; having some of that dialogue in the same place seems interesting, and the individuals contributing are worthwhile.

Unfortunately the whole thing feels a bit stitched together. I'm left with a puzzle that, despite finished, fails to fit together in a satisfactory manner as well as a distinct impression that everyone was talking past and misunderstanding each other.

There are insightful nuggets, of course. But you'd be better off getting them from the authors' individual works rather than trying to parse through this cluttered compilation.

It's possible some of my disappointment stems from how expensive such a short book was, for full disclosure :)
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An interesting book which is mostly about philosophy, neuroscience ... 17 Nov. 2015
By PJH - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An interesting book which is mostly about philosophy, neuroscience and critical theory. This book is of little interest to people tortured by psychotronic "mind control".
22 of 35 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not impartial enough 24 Feb. 2008
By N. Powell - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Granted, Bennett and Hacker were the impetus behind this book's creation, but I feel they could have allowed more back-and-forth with Dennett and Searle, their two primary interlocutors. Instead, they republish sections of their own original arguments to give some context to Dennett and Searles' responses, which don't differ except in tone from their positions at the conference from which the book came. Then the book grants Bennett and Hacker another answer (composed, so far as I could tell, of almost willful misreadings of Searle's and Dennetts' criticisms), then a conclusion from a "referee" who, naturally, mostly judges them to have come out ahead in the argument. I expected more interlocution, but instead it seems to be a vehicle for Hacker and Bennett's position.
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