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Scientific explanation of free will?

robin walker rwalker at grithill.demon.co.uk
Tue Nov 15 08:12:44 EST 1994

In article <3a0gu7$ld4 at network.ucsd.edu> mtaffe at psy.ucsd.edu "Mike Taffe" writes:

> In article <39u3ck$sok at geraldo.cc.utexas.edu>,
> Tai-Wu Chiang <twchiang at utxvms.cc.utexas.edu> wrote:
> >There seems a interesting book concern about this topic:
> >
> >"The astonishing hypothesis : the scientific search for the soul." by      
> >          Crick, Francis, 1916- / New York 1994                               
> I don't know if you are going from the title or have actually read this book
> but I have to disagree.  I hate to dis Francis but the book struggles to find
> a compromise between reaching the lay (and I mean completely uninformed lay(
> audience while not boring the neuroscience community. I think that it fails
> for a couple of reasons.  
>         The book tends to concentrate on the visual systems as a model of what
> we know about neurological bases for cognitive processing--a good idea.
> Unfortunately, this sort of info is beaten into *all* u-grad and grads who
> take courses even remotely related to the topic.  The outcome is that Crick's
...stuff deleted...
> mike
> -- 
> Mike Taffe      * "..The cool thing about email is that when 
> mtaffe at ucsd.edu * you send it, there's no possibility of con-
>                 * necting with the person on the other end. "
>                                 -D. Coupland

As the sort of lay person on neuroscience issues referred to by Mike, I fully 
endorse his comments on this book except that visual systems look like a rotten
idea for illustrating discussions on free will and the soul. Since most 
dualists and others of that ilk regard humans as fundamentally different to 
animals in these specific issues, better to concentrate on a uniquely
{arguably :) } human capacity to press the argument with these folk. I favour 
language, particularly as this is a very live topic at present.

BTW, I really liked the "further reading" list, complete with pithy comments.

Robin Walker

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