Why neuroscience is largely irrelevant to ethics

I’m in no position to substantiate or refute this, but I will say: Though neuroscience may be irrelevant for some, I find it incredibly useful as another source of information that helps us understand how we’re put together, and how all our parts work in concert. Neuroscience and philosophy comfortable occupy complementary “spaces” in my approach to understanding life.

I’m not much for the schism between body and mind. That strikes me as more useful for folks whose sense of identity hinges on their perceived ability to bend the physical world / experience to their mind’s (apparent) bidding. It’s less useful for me; I’m more interested in their interplay and understanding the unfolding dynamics.

I’m also more interested in seeing how each discipline makes room for and augments the other, rather than establishing how they disqualify each other from participating in our ongoing search for meaning. Why settle for less, when you can actually have (and learn from) both?

Footnotes to Plato

Benjamin Libet, neuroscientist

A few days ago, over at my other blog, I published an article that I touted on my social media as “the last piece on free will you will ever need to read.” That was a slight exaggeration, but only slight. The specific point of the post was to explain in some detail the ancient Stoic take on human decision making, what I and modern psychologists prefer to call volition rather than free will (given how loaded with metaphysical nonsense the latter term is). I also wanted to see how the Stoic position squares with the findings of modern science. As it turns out, that ancient view is highly compatible with what contemporary cognitive science says about the matter, but this is neither a miraculous coincidence nor indication that somehow the Stoics managed to anticipate scientific discoveries that would be made more than two millennia later. (Which…

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