The way humans work, in general, is that events in their nervous systems cause physical actions in their bodies. This is the same process as occurs in all animals. Sparrows' actions are caused by events in their nervous systems. Humans just have more complex nervous systems than sparrows do. This seems to me to be an important point: if humans do anything, ever, it is due to things affecting their nervous systems, which in turn cause physical actions. This is the route of causation in all of human action, and as all of human society and culture reduces to the actions and thoughts of individual humans, it is the way in which social and cultural phenomena are caused as well. In order for 'the economy', 'culture', 'neo-liberalism', etc, to affect human actions, they have to affect human nervous systems.
Sunday, 10 February 2013
Friday, 8 February 2013
Gene Expression by Razib Khan is a wonderful blog about the human sciences by a sensible, scientifically-minded chap who also manages to write clearly about complex topics - even about race, a topic that is nothing if not a minefield. I've followed Gene Expression on and off for years, and I was subscribed to it while it was part of the ScienceBlogs fold. It left a long time ago, as did many other excellent blogs, causing an unfortunate fragmentation of the science blogosphere and making it harder to keep up with the blogs I used to follow; many of them have joined other blogging stables, including Freethought Blogs (which has largely abandoned the topics covered by ScienceBlogs) and Discover magazine (which has taken the lion's share of the good ScienceBlogs content).
Monday, 13 August 2012
I apologise for not having updated with anything recently. I have been extraordinarily busy. I have also been unable to follow the comments on blogs I read, and so I've unfortunately left some hit-and-run comments on some of them in the spare time I've had. Anyway, here is a post on some thoughts I've been having about meaning and language.*
Monday, 16 July 2012
One of the reasons anthropologists rarely present a united front and often direct their ire at good academics - like, say, Steven Pinker - is their inability to agree about the most basic facts concerning Homo sapiens. They discuss long-term debates like 'structure' versus 'agency', many of which become highly politicised, and work from philosophers (often very bad ones) and concepts (often very vague ones) instead of first principles.