But he departs from the conventional progressive viewpoint that characterizes most such materialist works, seemingly ticking off reviewer Jennifer Latson:
The thread that ties the collection together is Swaab’s strong stance on the philosophy of neuroscience. He is a firm believer in the concrete, absolute role our brain structure and chemistry play in determining who we are.
Swaab lambasts believers in “social engineering” and takes particular aim at feminists who believe that differences in occupation and interests between the sexes might be socially conditioned. He describes the women who attended his lectures in the 1970s as “demonstratively knitting and crocheting” while objecting to his conclusions that gender disparities began and ended in the brain. He claims they also protested when he dimmed the lights to show slides, “because they couldn’t see their knitting anymore.”
“From then on,” he boasts, “I turned the lights down and showed slides throughout all classes.”
If you feel your blood boiling when you read this book, take heart: It may be all in your brain.
Well yes, and remember, realizing that you are just an ape anyway is a crucial part of your enlightenment. So chill out.
Seriously, materialism goes down well in many quarters in part because it is usually combined with a progressive political outlook that would justify infanticide but revolt against Schwaab’s views on brain and gender.
One outcome is, people are surprised when they discover what materialism sounds like, separated from the context in which they usually encounter it. It’s the same basic proposition though.
Hat tip: Stephanie West Allen at Brains on Purpose
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