British philosopher Mary Midgley stopped by The RSA recently to talk about her new book, Are you an illusion? Her book addresses what she sees as a disconnect between our experience of having a self and the neuroscience that suggests we only think we have a self.
22nd May 2014
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(full recording including audience Q&A)
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Are we our brains?
For the last 50 years, the idea of the self has dramatically fallen out of favour. The incredible discoveries of neuroscience have prompted us to largely dispense with our gut instincts about our subjective selves, and in their place many of us have adopted the materialistic ‘we are our brains’ thesis.
But is the self really an elaborate illusion created by our brain cells and processes, and what do we have to sacrifice in order to hold that view? How do our subjective experiences and thoughts contribute to our selfhood, and is there an inherent contradiction at the heart of a physical answer to a moral problem?
Britain’s leading moral philosopher Mary Midgley, visits the RSA to investigate the breach between our understanding of our sense of our ‘self’, and today's scientific orthodoxy that claims the self to be nothing more than an elaborate illusion.
In conversation with Rob Newman, writer, political activist and comedian.
Are you an illusion? by Mary Midgley (Acumen, 2014)