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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Review: Alva Noe's "Out of Our Heads"


Here is my review of Alva Noe's Out of Our Heads at MercatorNet:
He raises vital issues but, unfortunately, he fails to offer a convincing solution. Arguing that consciousness must be understood as involving the body and the environment as well as the brain, he offers platitudes such as, “Where do you stop and where does the rest of the world begin?”

An interesting question, but if consciousness is real — and not well described by materialist theory — we are no closer to an answer even if our brains, bodies, and environment are all one world. He offers only a different description of the problem.

Noë seems to want to move away from reductive explanations, but not away from the materialism that underlies them. So he ends up with non-reductive explanations that still don’t explain. By the time he ends up arguing that most human language is like dogs barking, he sounds like the people he critiques.


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