Can the part explain the whole? A video interview with Dr Guy Saunders, UWE

by adamsopticks

This video debate is a kind of a sequel to the written debate I conducted with Guy between October 2013 and May 2013. That’s available here. And here’s a direct link to the Horizon clip that we discuss.

Notes on an exchange:

I first got talking to Guy in the corridors at UWE where I work as a notetaker for disabled students. The joy of the job is that I get to attend a great many lectures and seminars – with the catch being that my professional responsibilities prevent me from engaging in any class discussion. Guy has a lovely attitude to free speech – he insists that everyone must be allowed a voice – and indeed I’m very thankful to him for letting me attend a few of his seminars on my own time where I was permitted to pipe up!

We disagree about a lot of things, and our starting points are very different. Nevertheless, I like to think that over the course of our interaction we’ve worn each other down on a few issues. Guy’s discussion of John Dylan Haynes’ work has been especially enlightening to me – there are some real problems with the interpretation of neuroscientific results in terms of human freedom, and with the ways these conclusions are sold to a wider audience. For my part, I’m hopeful that my attempts to collapse the distinctions between reductionism and holism, physicalism and non-physicalism, and patterns and stuffs have been persuasive to Guy. My feeling is that such dichotomies say more about academic tribalism than the nature of the world, and my hope is that a more comprehensive vision of science – as the search for predictive patterns – might preserve the best of all possible worlds, and promote exactly the kind of ‘collegiate’ approach that Guy himself advocates.

Finally, I’d just like to wish Guy the best of luck with his book, ‘Acts of Consciousness’. I was originally moved to disagree with Guy over his arguments against those sciences and scientists that I find valuable and interesting. It will be a real delight to hear his positive vision of a ‘Cubist psychology’ outlined in full.

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