Steven Pinker on the Brain

I’m not an atheist like Pinker is. In fact I think he makes a “non-sequitur” when he argues there exists nothing “beyond” the brain, hence atheism, because of what we know.

However, I have argued before that “the brain is provably a bag of chemicals.” Emphasis on the word provably. According to the relentlessly strict rigors of scientific rationalism and empiricism. That’s what we see below.

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2 thoughts on “Steven Pinker on the Brain

  1. Skipping through the lecture, I agreed with his description of religion as reasonable given a previous prevailing state of scientific knowledge about the brain. Now with neuroscience at a more advanced level, not so much. I would rephrase this as something like – religion was a useful heuristic given a less advanced level of scientific knowledge, but now not so much. I do this to move on to his consideration of “free will” which he takes some pains to redefine so as to allow its existence. I would simply plug it into the heuristic characterization I used for religion.

    The point is that we can not cognitize our brain states as such, so left to incomplete introspection, there will always seem to be something unaccounted for, which we attribute to faith in religions, souls, transcendence of what have you, or as Pinker points out faith in science.

    The material description of consciousness seems then to entail that consciousness experiences itself as something immaterial. As an executive brain function we can “know” that is not the case, but it seems that the brain works best if left to its heuristics much of the time.


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