Thursday, August 08, 2013

Mary Midgley - Are Selves Unreal?


In part, this post serves as a counter-balance to the earlier post this morning from Steven Pinker, his defense of scientism. Mary Midgley is a British moral philosopher and served as a Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at Newcastle University. One of her most recent books is The Solitary Self: Darwin and the Selfish Gene (2010).

She is known for her work on science, ethics, animal rights, and, in particular, for her strong opposition to reductionism and scientism, and any attempts to make science a substitute for the humanities. From Wikipedia:

She has written extensively about what philosophers can learn from nature, particularly from animals. A number of her books and articles have discussed philosophical ideas appearing in popular science, including those of Richard Dawkins. She has also written in favour of a moral interpretation of the Gaia hypothesis. The Guardian has described her as a fiercely combative philosopher and the UK's "foremost scourge of 'scientific pretension.'"[1]
In the talk below, she argues against the growing consensus that there is no "real" self, only an illusion of self that offers a sense of continuity and coherence.


Mary Midgley - Are Selves Unreal?


From Hume to Dennett, philosophers often claim that the self is an illusion, and neuroscientists and psychologists are inclined to agree. But are they wrong?

Moral philosopher and "The UK's foremost scourge of scientific pretension" Mary Midgley (Guardian) debunks the establishment's attack on the self.

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