History & Philosophy

History & Philosophy:

The first has normally been thought the proper education of princes; the latter, the road to the greatest possible human understanding. Modern educators seem to doubt the use of history:

Is history as good as finished? Our school system seems to think so. Often it seems that the teaching of history is treated by the educational establishment as the rough equivalent of the teaching of dead languages: an unnecessary luxury of a bygone age, and something the modern world no longer requires. In the most recent debates about the national curriculum, history has been granted the status of an "inessential subject."
Even philosophers sometimes question the role of philosophy:
The philosophical use has stumbled from one intellectual catastrophe to another. It’s never recovered since the days of Descartes, Locke and Kant.
I'd have to go along with that: back to the medievals and the ancients! Well, what about science, then?
"The main barrier is the scientism that pervades our mentality and our culture. We are prone to think that if there’s a serious problem, science will find the answer. If science cannot find the answer, then it cannot be a serious problem at all. That seems to me altogether wrong...."

One of his larger criticisms of contemporary neuroscience concerns the way it characterises the activities of the brain. Dualists about the mind and brain – those who hold that there are thinking substances like souls in the world as well as all the ordinary physical stuff – say that the mind sees and thinks and wants and calculates. Contemporary neuroscience dismisses this as crude, but Hacker argues that it just ends up swapping the mind with the brain, saying that the brain sees and thinks and wants and calculates. He says, “Merely replacing Cartesian ethereal stuff with glutinous grey matter and leaving everything else the same will not solve any problems. On the current neuroscientist’s view, it’s the brain that thinks and reasons and calculates and believes and fears and hopes. In fact, it’s human beings who do all these things, not their brains and not their minds. I don’t think it makes any sense to talk about the brain engaging in psychological or mental operations.”


“The fact is that if you look from one domain of cognitive neuroscience to another you will find that the operations of the brain thus conceived are being advanced as explanations for human behaviour, for our thinking, believing, seeing, hoping and fearing. That’s wrong, because it’s no explanation. If someone wants to know why poor old Snodgrass, as the result of some lesion, can’t do something that normal people can do, and you say that his brain can’t do it, you haven’t advanced any explanation at all. One cannot explain why someone cannot see by saying that his brain cannot see. One cannot explain why someone behaves in a certain way by suggesting that his brain tells him to. Cognitive defects can indeed sometimes be explained by reference to damage to the brain – but not by reference to cognitive deficiencies of the brain, since the brain has no cognitive powers at all. There is no such thing as a brain’s thinking, wanting, reasoning, believing or hypothesizing.”
I suppose there's always poetry.

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