Tuesday, January 30, 2007

"Your Soul Just Died" Tom Wolfe's Exploration of the Future of Neuroscience

Sorry, But Your Soul Just Died.

In this article from 1996 Tom Wolfe, of The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test fame, examines the new, hip field of neuroscience. The article is well written and witty, but what is particularly interesting is the connections he draws to values, morals, justice, and the soul in light of work being done in this field. As neuroscientists claim with increasing confidence that man is determined by his genes, the politically correct attempt at equality between people comes to be seen as working against our natural state; our desire to see life as filled with value and to find morals outside of ourselves to govern our actions also appears ludicrous. Wolfe, however, does not see this as a good thing at all. In fact he even hopes that those who are advancing this field (and it's handmaiden in evolution) will lose out so that our society will not fall into decay:
Unless the assurances of the Wilsons and the Dennetts and the Dawkinses also start rippling out, the lurid carnival that will ensue may make the phrase "the total eclipse of all values" seem tame.
Although this article is quite long, it is worth the read and as it discusses the fall of Marxism and Freudism and the rise of sciencism. The title of the article comes from Nietzsche's idea that "God is dead," which the German philosophy presented as a historical fact about 19th century Europe's abandonment of religion. Wolfe argues that the next step away from God is the idea that the soul is dead, which he believes a "prophet"/scientist will soon proclaim, thus leading to an age of utter immorality (amorality) unparalleled in our history. At times the article seems dated (such as the mention of the Sega Genesis), but the mention of David Berlinski and Michael Behe as two men who were challenging established science is interesting. This article also shows some of the complications in neuroscience that Pinker fails to adequately address in his article as I previously pointed out.

1 comment:

Slots Online said...

I thank for the information. I did not know it.