14 August 2008

Neuropath



It's been a very long time since I read a book and then re-read it, highlighting large portions of every single chapter. I cannot recommend this book strongly enough.

Science has all but banished magic, God and souls from our thinking, yet we continue to insist on the importance of morality, responsibility, personhood, meaning and reason. Why? Because we feel their importance so directly. But feelings are neurons, and neurons have no selves. Nor, science continues to reveal, do brains.

This Argument (and I'm not saying I agree with it, but it should not be left unsaid) is summoned with truly exceptional depth, intensity and repetition in this thriller. Someone finally said it, said it all and more. Although occasionally storyline-light and over-American, the uncomparable interweaving of psychology, philosophy and ruthlessly reductionistic neuroscience into the plot makes this book an absolute must for anyone tired of and troubled by the wishful, superstitious and self-glorifying excuse of an existentialism we are fed with in this quasi-religious culture of ours (referred to as 'Disney World' throughout the book). What happens when the bullshit finally fails, when the scientific findings can no longer be ignored? This book rigorously pushes that question further than any text I've ever read.

Rest assured I will return with some quotes from the book once I've finished highlighting and shed some light on what it is I'm raving about. I certainly differ with Bakker here and there, particularly on the Spinozean slant on some of the later chapters, but at this point I just wanted to get the word out.

Adrian, I wish you everlasting beer, BBQ, pussy and sunshine for insisting I read this book.
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