Nearly a month ago, author Benjamin Fong wrote an op-ed for the NYTimes- Bursting the Neuro-Utopian Bubble. Most opinion pieces about neuroscience, and there are plenty of them, flit from my memory pretty quickly, but this one has stuck with me. Fong was the first to put into words the danger underlying our inflated hope in neuroscience. He did so by talking about tuberculosis.
Most philosophers who’re wary of neuroscience critique it by talking about the problem of consciousness- What is consciousness? Most commonly they point out that many neuroscientist’s solution to this question is implicit in their methods and research: they’ve already assumed that consciousness is just a product of brain juices, now the task is just to find which brain juices. When they find the right brain juices, they then take that as confirmation of their initial assumption- that consciousness simply is those brain juices. I tried to make that understandable by saying “brain juices,” but the point these philosophers are making is that neuroscience is side-stepping the question by assuming its answer from the beginning.