Peter Hacker, philosopher and Emeritus research Fellow at St John’s College, Oxford University, on the place and importance of philosophy:
“Philosophy patrols the borders between sense and nonsense; science determines what is empirically true and what is empirically false. What falsehood is for science, nonsense is for philosophy.
Let me give you a simple example or two. When psychologists and cognitive scientists say that it is your brain that thinks rather than nodding your head and saying, “How interesting! What an important discovery!”, you should pause to wonder what this means. What, you might then ask, is a thoughtful brain, and what is a thoughtless one?
Can my brain concentrate on what I am doing, or does it just concentrate on what it is doing? Does my brain hold political opinions? Is it, as Gilbert and Sullivan might ask, a little Conservative or a little Liberal? Can it be opinionated? Narrow-minded? What on earth would an opinionated and narrow-minded brain be? Just ask yourself: if it is your brain that thinks, how does your brain tell you what it thinks? And can you disagree with it? And if you do, how do you tell it that it is mistaken, that what it thinks is false? And can your brain understand what you say to it? Can it speak English? If you continue this line of questioning you will come to realise that the very idea that the brain thinks makes no sense. But, of course, to show why it makes no sense requires a great deal more work.“
So, why study philosophy?
One great task of philosophy is to function as a Tribunal of Sense before which scientists may be arraigned when they transgress the bounds of sense. For when a neuroscientist tells us that the mind is the brain or that thinking is a neural process… then we need philosophy to constrain science run amok.” (emphasis added)
Perhaps it’s nothing more than the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon, but it seems that there are increasingly more in the physiotherapy world who are becoming interested in philosophy. Equally, there are those who criticise and dismiss philosophy and its big words as being irrelevant to the clinic. I’ve seen members of the latter suggest that members of the former might not have the intellectual wherewithal to understand the musings of great philosophical thinkers. But, maybe, just maybe, we need a bit of philosophy – a bit of Merleau-Ponty with your Maitland, if you will.
“Our own body is in the world as the heart is in the organism: it keeps the visible spectacle constantly alive, it breathes life into it and sustains it inwardly, and with it forms a system.
To understand is to experience harmony between what we aim at and what is given, between the intention and the performance – and the body is our anchorage in the world.”
Last chance to get on an Australian Explain Pain or Graded Motor Imagery Course for 2016
Gold Coast 30 September – 2 October Explain Pain and Graded Motor Imagery (Close to full, remaining tickets selling fast)
Perth 15 – 17 October Explain Pain and Graded Motor Imagery
EP3 events have sold out three years running in Australia, and we are super excited to be bringing this unique format to the United States in late 2016 with Lorimer Moseley, Mark Jensen, David Butler, and few NOI surprises.
EP3 EAST Philadelphia, December 2, 3, 4 2016
EP3 WEST Seattle, December 9, 10, 11 2016
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