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Published on Dec 6, 2012
Increasingly, it is assumed that human beings are best understood in biological terms; that, notwithstanding the apparent differences between humans and their nearest animal kin, people are, at bottom, organisms; that individual persons are their brains, and that societies are best understood as collections of brains ("Neuromania"); and that we should look to evolutionary theory to understand what we are now ("Darwinitis"); that our biological 'roots' explain our cultural 'leaves'. I will argue that we are not just our brains; rather we belong to a community of minds that has grown up over the hundreds of thousands of years since we parted company from the other primates. The gap between our nearest animal kin and ourselves is too wide to read across from the one to the other. RAYMOND TALLIS is Professor of Geriatric Medicine at the University of Manchester and a consultant physician in Health Care of the Elderly in Salford 1988-2006. He has 200 research publications in the neurology of old age (epilepsy and stroke) and neurological rehabilitation and is a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences. He has also published fiction, three volumes of poetry, and 22 books on the philosophy of mind, philosophical anthropology, literary theory, the nature of art and cultural criticism. He was awarded a DLitt, University of Hull, 1997; and LittD, University of Manchester 2002. He is an Honorary Visiting Professor in the Department of English at the University of Liverpool. His most recent books include Aping Mankind. Neuromania, Darwinitis and the Misrepresentation of Humanity (2011 Acumen) and In Defence of Wonder (2012 Acumen). His forthcoming books include The Reflections of a Metaphysical Flaneur (2013 Acumen) and The Great Betrayal (OneWorld). He is also Chair of Healthcare Professionals for Assisted Dying. In 2009, The Economist listed him as one of the world's leading polymaths.