Monday, November 5, 2012


Byrant has a quick reaction to reading the disturbing SF novel Neuropath. He also links to Shaviro's quite lengthy and deep review of it. Sounds like a book that belongs here. From Shaviro:

"Scott Bakker’s Neuropath is a science-fiction thriller about a rogue neurosurgeon who kidnaps people and grotesquely manipulates their brains, sometimes killing them in the process, and other times releasing them once their minds have been subtly but horribly deformed. It’s pretty disturbing on a visceral level.

"The Argument in Neuropath goes something like this. Consciousness is severely limited. It is a very recent evolutionary adaptation, superimposed upon a wide array of older neural processes of which it is unaware, and which it cannot possibly grasp. We are only conscious of a very thin sliver of the external world; and even less of our internal, mental world. Most of our 'experience' of the inner and outer world is a neurally-based simulation that has been evolutionarily selected for its survival value, but the actual representational accuracy of which is highly dubious. We are not conscious, and we cannot be conscious, of the actual neural processes that drive us. And indeed, nearly all our explanations and understandings of other people, of the world in which we live, and above all of ourselves are delusional, self-aggrandizing fictions. It’s not just that we misunderstand our own motivations; but that such things as 'motivations' and 'reasons' for how we feel and what we do actually don’t exist at all. Everything that we say, think, feel, perceive, and do is really just a consequence of deterministic physical (electro-chemical) processes in our neurons. 'Every thought, every experience, every element of your consciousness is a product of various neural processes' (pp. 52-53). In particular, 'free will' is an illusion. We never actually decide on any of our actions; rather, our sense of choice and decision, and the reasons and motivations that we cite for what we do, are all post-hoc rationalizations of processes that happen mechanistically, through chains of electrochemical cause-and-effect. All our rationales, and all our values, are nothing more than consolatory fictions."

I know, sounds like reductive eliminativism. Read on!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.