Parenting and neuroscience


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Parenting and neuroscience

  1. 1. Aping Mankind: Neuromania, Darwinitis and the Misrepresentation of Humanity<br />Raymond Tallis<br />Monitoring Parents: Science, Evidence, Experts and the New Parenting Culture<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />1<br />
  2. 2. That we are not responsible for our behaviour: ‘my brain makes me do it’<br />That it has show the early experience is crucial because its consequences are hard-wired into us<br />That neuroscience can guide social policies<br />That we can look beyond the politics of ‘left’ and ‘right’ to the politics of left brain and right brain<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />2<br />Neuroscience Has Shown<br />
  3. 3. Summa contra Biologism<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />3<br />
  4. 4. The belief that human beings are essentially biological organisms and that they are best understood through the biological sciences<br />The humanities should aspire to be ‘animalities’<br />Biologism<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />4<br />
  5. 5. A conscious agent<br />An organism, a piece of living matter<br />Two Ways of Seeing a Human Being<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />5<br />
  6. 6. Advances in the scientific understanding of the organism H. sapiens<br />The assumption that the only alternative to a supernatural account of humanity is a naturalistic one<br />Behind the Rise of Biologism<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />6<br />
  7. 7. We are not identical with our bodies understood as animal organisms<br />We are embodied subjects who have many different relationships to our body: being, having, using, taking care of, judging, interpreting, factually knowing<br />We are ‘extra-natural’ – both a part of nature and apart from it<br />Against Biologism<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />7<br />
  8. 8. Neuromania<br />Darwinitis<br />The Two Pillars of Unwisdom<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />8<br />
  9. 9. Human consciousness is identical with neural activity in the human brain<br />‘I am my (you are your) brain’<br />Neuromania (1)<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />9<br />
  10. 10. The brain explains every aspect of awareness and behaviour<br />To understand human beings, you must peer into the intracranial darkness using the techniques of neuroscience<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />10<br />Neuromania (2)<br />
  11. 11. ‘The Fast-acting Solvent of the Critical Faculties’ <br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />11<br />
  12. 12. Love<br />Wisdom<br />Sense of beauty<br />Wanna Know About…?<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />12<br />
  13. 13. An inflamed or pathological version of Darwinism<br />Asserts that evolutionary theory explains not only how the organismH. sapiens arose but also the nature of people like you and me<br />Darwinitis (1)<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />13<br />
  14. 14. Evolutionary forces – natural selection, survival advantage – explain the origin and purpose of human behaviour and human institutions<br />All is forged in or indirectly relates to the blood bath in which the gene is shaped by differential survival<br />The processes that produced Mozart were those that produced millipedes<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />14<br />Darwinitis (2)<br />
  15. 15. Darwinism encompasses not only the biological roots (of the human organism) but the cultural leaves (of the human person)<br />Darwinitis in Brief<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />15<br />
  16. 16. The brain is an evolved organ<br />‘Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution’ Theodosius Dobzhansky <br />The neural explanation of human consciousness therefore demands a Darwinian interpretation of our behaviour.<br />The Link between Neuromania and Darwinitis<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />16<br />
  17. 17. The human brain is a machine which alone accounts for all our actions, our most private thoughts, our beliefs…All our actions are products of the activity of our brains. It makes no sense (in scientific terms) to try to distinguish sharply between acts that result from conscious attention and those that result from our reflexes or are caused by disease or damage to the brain.The Mechanics of Mind<br />Colin Blakemore<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />17<br />
  18. 18. Passive: in the grip of biological forces which boil down to physical forces<br />Ignorant: unaware of the reasons for his/her actions<br />Not a conscious agent<br />The Image of Humanity<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />18<br />
  19. 19. Absorbed into nature rather than offset from it<br />A material part of the material world<br />Wired into the forces of physical nature<br />Unfree<br />Biologised Humanity<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />19<br />
  20. 20. The Humanities Welcome the Occupying Forces<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />20<br />
  21. 21. ‘[T]he humanities, ranging from philosophy and history to moral reasoning, comparative religion, and interpretation of the arts, will draw closer to the sciences and partly fuse with them’ EO Wilson <br />The Prophet of the Humanities become Animalities <br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />21<br />
  22. 22. [T]otalConsilience holds that nature is organised by simple universal laws of physics to which all other laws and principles can eventually be reduced.<br />EO Wilson Consilience. The Unity of Knowledge 1998),<br />Physics the Final Destination of the Humanities<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />22<br />
  23. 23. Some Half-Way Houses (1)<br />Neuro-aesthetics: Neural explanation of creativity and aesthetic pleasure<br />Darwinian aesthetics: evolutionary explanations of artistic creation and appreciation<br />Neuro-law – brain science and ‘biological justice’<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />23<br />
  24. 24. Neuro-economics: brain science explains unwise purchases<br />Evolutionary economics: conspicuous consumption advertises genetic health (‘peacock’s tail)<br />Neuropolitics – replace arguments over left versus right with looking at the balance between left and right hemisphere<br />Neuro-theology: God is a tingle in the ‘God-spot’ in the brain<br />Evolutionary theology: religious belief is genetically implanted in us to maximise inclusive fitness<br />Some Half-Way Houses (2)<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />24<br />
  25. 25. The sum of an organism’s classical fitness (how many of its own offspring it produces and supports) and the number of equivalents of its own offspring it can add to the population by supporting or cooperating with others. <br />Inclusive Fitness<br />Royal Institution <br />25<br />
  26. 26. Parenting and neuroscience<br />26<br />Camilla Batmanghelidgh<br />
  27. 27. Seems to have excellent results <br />Now wants to do brain scans to see if the changes are ‘real’<br />It works in practice but does it work in theory?<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />27<br />Camilla Batmanghelidgh<br />
  28. 28. The thought that I am going to die makes me very miserable but that does not prove I must be immortal.<br />‘Yuk’ is not an argument<br />The Palatable and the True<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />28<br />
  29. 29. Neuromania<br />Darwinitis<br />Critique<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />29<br />
  30. 30. Logical: the conceptual muddle <br />Empirical: current methodological limits of neuroscience<br />Logical/Empirical: the future limits of neuroscience<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />Problems with Neuromania<br />30<br />
  31. 31. The Central Muddle <br /> While to live a human life requires a brain in some kind of working order, it does not follow from this that living a human life is to be a brain in some kind of working order.<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />31<br />
  32. 32. My position (2)<br />Neurosciencereveals some of the most important necessary conditions of behaviour and awareness. <br />Neuromania holds that it will give a complete account of the sufficient conditions of awareness and behaviour. <br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />32<br />
  33. 33. The correlation between neural activity and consciousness means that neural activity is consciousness. <br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />The Fundamental Error of Neuromania<br />33<br />
  34. 34. ‘Evidence’ that our deepest and most complex feelings are identical with activity in the brain (Barthels, Zeki)<br /> ‘Evidence’ that our brains are calling the shots (Libet, Soon)<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />Empirical Problems with Neuromania: Exemplary Cases<br />34<br />
  35. 35. Andreas Bartels and Semi Zeki ‘The Neural Basis of Romantic Love’ NeuroReport 2001 11: 3829-3834<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />The Secret of Love (Romantic) <br />35<br />
  36. 36. Place head of subject (attached to body) in fMRI scan<br />Record responses to pictures of the beloved and pictures of mere friends<br />Subtract brain activity of latter from former<br />Repeat many times on many subjects<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />Finding the Secret of Love<br />36<br />
  37. 37. Love (romantic) is due to activity in a highly restricted area of the brain: ‘in the medial insula and the anterior cingulate cortex and, sub cortically, in the caudate nucleus and the putamen, all bilaterally’. <br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />What, Then, is Love?<br />37<br />
  38. 38. What, Then, is Love?<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />38<br />
  39. 39. Not like a response to a simple stimulus such as a picture. <br />Not even a single enduring state, like being cold. <br />A many-splendoured and many-miseried thing<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />What is Love?A Primer for Martians and Neuromaniacs (1)<br />39<br />
  40. 40. Not feeling in love at that moment<br />Hunger for, simulated indifference to, delight over the beloved<br />Wanting to be kind to, wanting to impress the Special Other<br />Lust, awe, surprise, joy, guilt, anger, jealousy.<br />Imagining conversations, events;<br />Speculating what the loved one is doing, feeling<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />Love: A Primerfor Martians and Neuromaniacs (2)<br />40<br />
  41. 41. Not simply a property of part of an organ (brain)<br />It is not simply a property of an organism as a whole<br />It belongs to a self that relates to a community of minds<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />Love <br />41<br />
  42. 42. Reduce it to a response to a stimulus<br />Take it out of the community of minds/selves and stuff it back into the intracranial darkness<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />How to Neuralise Love Etc<br />42<br />
  43. 43. Vul, E., Harris C., Winklielan, P., & Pashler, H. ‘Puzzlingly high correlations in fMRI studies of emotion, personality, and social cognition’ Perspectives on Psychological Science 2009; 4(3): 274-290<br />[Originally called ‘Voodoo Correlations in Social Neuroscience’]<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />Rumblings of Doubt<br />43<br />
  44. 44. Libet, B ‘Unconscious Cerebral Initiative and the Role of Conscious Will in Voluntary Action’ Behavioural and Brain Sciences 1985; 8: 529-566.<br />‘one of the philosophically most challenging studies.. in modern scientific psychology Haggard, P. and Eimer, M. 1999 ‘On the relation between brain potentials and voluntary movement’ Experimental Brain Research 126: 128-133. <br />Neurodeterminism (1)<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />44<br />
  45. 45. Subjects asked to flex wrist or digit<br />Time the Readiness Potential (RP)<br />Subjective timing of forming intention<br />RP precedes the timing of awareness of intention<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />Libet’s Experiment<br />45<br />
  46. 46. Chung Siong Soon, Marcel Brass, Hans-JochenHeinze, John-Dylan Hayes ‘Unconscious determinants of free decisions in the human brain’ Nature Neuroscience (2008); 11: 543-545.<br />A network of control areas ‘that begins to prepare a decision long before it enters awareness’. <br />Neurodeterminism (2)<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />46<br />
  47. 47. We don’t know what we are doing until we have found that we have done it. <br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />Conclusion from Libet/Soon<br />47<br />
  48. 48. ‘The only connexion between willing and acting is that both come from the same unconscious source’.<br />Daniel Wegner The Illusion of Conscious Will Cambridge MA: The MIT Press, 2002)<br />Neurodeterminism (3) Unconscious Influences on Behaviour<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />48<br />
  49. 49. Simple action<br />Only a small component of a bigger action<br />The story of the action begins much earlier<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />Critique of Libet/Soon (1)<br />49<br />
  50. 50. Action reduced to atoms of movement<br />Context stripped off<br />Overlooks that intention is a field<br />Ignores the human world<br />Removes the very conditions that make the experiments possible<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />Critique of Libet/Soon (2)<br />50<br />
  51. 51. Neural activity is consciousness (and the origin of behaviour)<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />Key Assumption<br />51<br />
  52. 52. When we are talking about the brain, we are talking about a piece of matter subject to the laws of physics<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />The Neuroscientistic Orthodoxy<br />52<br />
  53. 53. The Neuroscientistic Orthodoxy<br />There is only one sort of stuff, namely matter – the physical stuff of physics, chemistry and physiology – and the mind is somehow nothing but a physical phenomenon. In short, the mind is the brain… We can (in principle!) account for every mental phenomenon using the same physical principles, laws and raw materials that suffice to explain radioactivity, continental drift, photosynthesis, reproduction, nutrition and growth.<br /> Daniel Dennett Consciousness Explained<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />53<br />
  54. 54. If we have serious problems understanding the relationship between brain and even ground floor consciousness it is absurd to look to brain science to cast light on the upper storeys of human consciousness.<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />Central Message<br />54<br />
  55. 55. Parenting and neuroscience<br />The Ground Floor: Perception of an Object<br />55<br />
  56. 56. The mystery of intentionality: Perception<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />Neural activity<br />Identity<br />Perception<br />Light as Cause <br />Intentionalityof gaze<br />Glass<br />“Glass”<br />56<br />
  57. 57. Limitations of the Physiology of Visual Perception<br />The inward causal chain explains how the light gets into my brain but not how this results in a gaze that looks out.<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />57<br />
  58. 58. The mystery of intentionality<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />Neural activity<br />Identity<br />Perception<br />Light as Cause <br />Intentionalityof gaze<br />Glass<br />“Glass”<br />58<br />
  59. 59. My perception of the glass would require the neural activity in the visual cortex to reach causally upstream to the events that caused them.<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />The Mystery of Intentionality if Neuromania Were True<br />59<br />
  60. 60. Tears the hitherto seamless fabric of a causally closed material world<br />The seed out of which grows first-person being (unique to humans)<br />And freedom<br />And the community of minds<br />And the human world – the semiosphere<br />All beyond the reach of neuroscience<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />Intentionality: More Than Meets the Eye<br />60<br />
  61. 61. It creates the possibility of an ever-widening gap between the conscious individual and the material world<br />This possibility is realised in humans who are not simply organisms but embodied subjects<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />The Significance of Intentionality (1)<br />61<br />
  62. 62. The emergence of awareness of the form ‘That such-and-such is the case’<br />Humans are not just immersed in matter but are surrounded by ‘Thatter’ most clearly expressed in factual knowledge<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />The Significance of Intentionality (2)<br />62<br />
  63. 63. It requires that the interaction between two material objects – the glass and my brain – should cause the one to appear to the other.<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />Neuromania in Trouble<br />63<br />
  64. 64. The progressive enclosure of the world within the framework of physical science tends towards the elimination or disappearance of (phenomenal) appearance<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />Physical Science: The Disappearance of Appearance<br />64<br />
  65. 65. Physical Science: The Disappearance of Appearance<br />Replacement of phenomenal appearance by measurements<br />Drift from the phenomena of subjective consciousness a realm of abstract, general quantitative terms. <br />The elimination of ‘secondary qualities’ (Galileo, John Locke)<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />65<br />
  66. 66. The Disappearance of Appearance. The Bottom Line<br />Nothing in physical science can explain why a physical object such as a brain should find, uncover, or create, appearances and, in particular, secondary qualities, in the world.<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />66<br />
  67. 67. Matter does not generate viewpoints<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />The Bottom Line<br />67<br />
  68. 68. The Phenomenal Appearance of a Rock from No Viewpoint<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />68<br />
  69. 69. Parenting and neuroscience<br />The Material World as Revealed by a Piece of the Material World<br />69<br />
  70. 70. Parenting and neuroscience<br />The Gaze of Physics<br />70<br />
  71. 71. Subjects (Selves, Persons)<br />Unity-in-multiplicity<br />Temporal depth<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />71<br />
  72. 72. Unity-in Multiplicity of Consciousness<br />We are co-conscious of many separate things in a conscious field<br />Models of integration do not deliver unity-in-multiplicity - i.e. merging without mushing<br />Models of binding do not deliver unity never mind unity-in-multiplicity<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />72<br />
  73. 73. Subjects (Selves, Persons)<br />Unity-in-multiplicity<br />Temporal depth<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />73<br />
  74. 74. Neurophysiology of Memory<br />Memory as a cerebral deposit<br />‘Stored’ in the form of the altered reactivity of the brain<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />74<br />
  75. 75. Critique of Neurophysiology of Memory<br />Do not capture important modes of memory e.g. autobiographical memory<br />The past states of a material object cannot be retained in the present state of a material object<br />Memories are explicitly of the past. <br /> Tensed time not evident in the material world<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />75<br />
  76. 76. Einstein on Tensed Time<br />Physicists know that the distinction between past, present and future, is only a stubbornly persistent illusion. Einstein, 1952<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />76<br />
  77. 77. Neuromania<br />Darwinitis<br />Critique<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />77<br />
  78. 78. Feeding behaviour<br />Learning behaviour<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />78<br />The Distance between Man and Beast<br />
  79. 79. Feeding behaviour<br />Learning behaviour<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />79<br />The Distance between Man and Beast<br />
  80. 80. Between Human and Animal Feeding<br />Cooking<br />Time-regulated eating<br />The structure of meals<br />Meals as festivals<br />Table ware<br />Food miles<br />People miles<br />Money<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />80<br />
  81. 81. Feeding behaviour<br />Learning behaviour<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />81<br />The Distance between Man and Beast<br />
  82. 82. It is something that is done rather than merely happening<br />Involves practising<br />Involves teaching<br />Is mediated by institutions<br />Includes acquisition of knowledge<br />Is part of a life narrative<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />82<br />Learning in Humans<br />
  83. 83. Woven out of shared/joined attention<br />A ‘semiosphere’<br />Woven out of a trillion cognitive handshakes<br />A public domain that transcends the organism H sapiens <br />Constructed over 100s of 1000’s of years<br />This is how far Darwinitis is out of date <br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />83<br />The Human World<br />
  84. 84. Parenting and neuroscience<br />84<br />Man: Reminders for Martians (1)<br />We guide, justify, and excuse our behaviour according to general and abstract principles<br />We create cities, laws, institutions<br />We entertain theories about our own nature and about the world<br />
  85. 85. We frame our individual lives within a shared history<br />We systematically inquire into the order of things and the patterns of causation and physical laws that seem to underpin that order.<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />85<br />Man: Reminders for Martians (2)<br />
  86. 86. Lead our lives rather than merely organically live them<br />Live out narratives based on an elaborate sense of possibility<br />Conscious of ourselves<br />Conscious of other selves<br />Conscious of the material world and its intrinsic existence and properties <br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />86<br />Man: The Explicit Animal<br />
  87. 87. ‘Humanity transcends apehood to the same degree by which life transcends mundane chemistry and physics’.<br /> VS Ramachandran The Tell-Tale Brain. A Neuroscientist’s Quest for What Makes Us Human 2011<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />87<br />Distance from Our Nearest Animal Kin<br />
  88. 88. Language<br />Misplaced sense of honesty<br />Thinking that Darwinism requires it of us<br />Confusing organisms and people<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />88<br />Why We Avoid Seeing the Obvious<br />
  89. 89. We personify the brain – it ‘decides’, it ‘signals’, it ‘judges’ etc<br />So we can ‘brainify’ the person<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />89<br />The Power of Words<br />
  90. 90. Biology is the key to understanding human nature<br />We are best understood as (largely) unconscious or programmed organism operating in a natural world<br />We are not best understood as conscious agents acting in a uniquely human world<br />The humanities are biological sciences in a primitive state of development<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />90<br />Biologism<br />
  91. 91. The gap between humans and non-human animals elided<br />Even higher level awareness reduced to the properties of living matter<br />The assumption of a fundamental difference between human actions and other events in the world looks shaky<br />The personless laws of the physical world encroach upon, engulf and digest humanity<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />91<br />Consequences of Biologism(if taken seriously)<br />
  92. 92. Neuromania Darwinitis<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />92<br />The Proper Home of the Pillars of Unwisdom<br />
  93. 93. ‘I hear the tortoise of time explode in the micro-wave of eternity’<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />The End Is in Sight<br />93<br />
  94. 94. Parenting and neuroscience<br />The Silent Acorn: The Brain<br />94<br />
  95. 95. Parenting and neuroscience<br />The Whispering Wood: The Community of Minds<br />95<br />
  96. 96. Trying to find the community of minds, forged from a trillion cognitive handshakes, in bits of the stand-alone brain lighting up in the intracranial darkness.<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />The Quintessence of Neuromania<br />96<br />
  97. 97. I am not against biological science.<br />I do not have a religious agenda – I am an atheist humanist<br />I accept Darwin’s theory is beyond reasonable doubt<br />I am not a Creationist Nutter<br />I am not a dualist: man is not a ghost in a machine<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />97<br />To Head off Misunderstanding<br />
  98. 98. Parenting and neuroscience<br />98<br />A Hard-Wired Politician?<br />
  99. 99. Man need not be degraded to a machine by being denied to be a ghost in a machine. He might, after all, be a sort of animal, namely a higher mammal. There has yet to be ventured the hazardous leap to the hypothesis that perhaps he is man. <br /> Gilbert Ryle The Concept of Mind<br />Parenting and neuroscience<br />99<br />A Hazardous Leap<br />