Love, meaning and neuro-nonsense

Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 10.18.44 PMNeuro-nonsense occurs when people take on board the supposed discoveries of neuroscience – all these brain images that tell us, for instance, that we’ve discovered now exactly what love is, it’s this little bit in the hippocampus, so we have no need to question what the meaning of these things is. But these images have no meaning, any more than a chemical reaction in a test-tube has a meaning. All kinds of nonsense come into being as a result of this, the nonsense being essentially what happens when our own human nature is confiscated from us by science or pseudosciences which claim to explain us without really going into the question of what we are.

–Roger Scruton

The Mona Lisa is more than pigment

Roger Scruton 4Its true that we learn a lot from science about how we function, but there’s a danger in thinking knowledge of how we function is the full account of what we are. If you’re a chemist who is really interested in the optical properties of certain pigments you could analyse the Mona Lisa and describe it completely, but you would never have mentioned the face, which is the meaning of this thing. In that way a neuroscientist can put together an enormously impressively picture of the brain, but would not have described what goes on when we react to another person.

–Roger Scruton