Previous Contributors to the Great Debate
Professor Raymond Tallis
Raymond Tallis is a philosopher, poet, novelist and cultural critic and
was until recently a physician and clinical scientist. In the Economist's
Intelligent Life Magazine
(Autumn 2009) he was listed as one of the top living polymaths in the world.
Born in Liverpool in 1946, one of five children, he trained as a doctor at
Oxford University and at St Thomas' in London before going on to become
Professor of Geriatric Medicine at the University of Manchester and a consultant
physician in Health Care of the Elderly in Salford. Professor Tallis retired from
medicine in 2006 to become a full-time writer, though he remained Visiting Professor
at St George's Hospital Medical School, University of London until 2008.
Raymond Tallis has published fiction, several volumes of poetry and over
twenty books on the philosophy of mind, philosophical anthropology,
literary theory, the nature of art and cultural criticism. His work offers a
critique of current predominant intellectual trends and an alternative
understanding of consciousness,
the nature of language and of what it is to be human.
For this work, Professor Tallis has been awarded three honorary degrees:
DLitt (Hon. Causa) from the University of Hull in 1997; LittD (Hon. Causa) at
the University of Manchester 2002 and Doc (Med) SC, St George's Hospital 2015.
He was Visiting Professor of English at the University of Liverpool until 2013.
Raymond Tallis has contributed to The Great Debate on numerous occasions:
He was on the panel at
The Great Debate: Whatever Happened to the Subject?
in March 2004
and The Great Debate: Genes, Memes, Minds
in November 2004 and gave a key note speech on
Darwinism without Darwinitis
at the event
Agents of Change? Darwinian Thought and Theories
of Human Nature Revisited on 25th October 2008.
He will be a keynote speaker at The Art of Reason:
Curiosity, Creativity, Mystery in September, 2018.
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Logos: The mystery of how we make sense of the world by Raymond Tallis
Our sense-making capabilities and the relationship between our individual and collective intelligence and the comprehensibility of the world is both remarkable and deeply mysterious. Our capacity to make sense of the world and the fact that we pass our lives steeped in knowledge and understanding, albeit incomplete, that far exceeds what we are or even experience has challenged our greatest thinkers for centuries. In Logos, Raymond Tallis steps into the gap between mind and world to explore what is at stake in our attempts to make sense of our world and our lives. With his characteristic combination of scholarly rigour and lively humour he reveals how philosophers, theologians and scientists have sought to demystify our extraordinary capacity to understand the world by collapsing the distance between the mind that does the sense-making and the world that is made sense of. Such strategies - whether by locating the world inside the mind, or making the mind part of the world - are shown to be deeply flawed and of little help in explaining the intelligiblity of the world. Indeed, it is the distance that we need, argues Tallis, if knowledge is to count as knowledge and for there to be a distinction between the knower and the known. Tallis brings his formidable analysis to bear on the many challenges we face when trying to make sense of our sense-making. These include the idea of cognitive progress, which presupposes a benchmark of complete understanding; cognitive completion, which unites the separate strands of our understanding (from the laws of nature to our ineluctable everyday understanding of things, incorporating the meanings we live by); and the knowing subject - us - with our partial and limited viewpoint mediated by our bodies. The book showcases Tallis's enviable knack of making tricky philosophical arguments cogent and engaging to the non-specialist and his remarkable ability to help us see humankind more clearly. For anyone who has shared Einstein's observation that "the eternal mystery of the world is its comprehensibility", the book will be fascinating and insightful reading.
Of Time and Lamentation: Reflections on Transience by Raymond Tallis
Time's mysteries seem to resist comprehension and what remains, once the familiar
metaphors are stripped away, can stretch even the most profound philosopher. In
Of Time and Lamentation, Raymond Tallis rises to this challenge and
explores the nature and meaning of time and how best to understand it. The culmination
of some twenty years of thinking, writing and wondering about (and within) time, it is
a bold, original and thought-provoking work. With characteristic fearlessness, Tallis
seeks to reclaim time from the jaws of physics.
For most of us, time is composed of mornings, afternoons and evenings and expressed in hurry, hope, longing, waiting, enduring, planning, joyful expectation and grief. Thinking about it is to meditate on our own mortality. Yet, physics has little or nothing to say about this time, the time as it is lived. The story told by caesium clocks, quantum theory and Lorentz coordinates, Tallis argues, needs to be supplemented by one of moss on rocks, tears on faces and the long narratives of our human journey. Our temporal lives deserve a richer attention than is afforded by the equations of mathematical physics.
For anyone who has puzzled over the nature of becoming, wondered whether time is inseparable from change, whether time is punctuate or continuous, or even whether time, itself, is real, "Of Time and Lamentation" will provoke and entertain. Those, like Tallis himself, who seek to find a place at which the scientific and humanistic views of humanity can be reconciled, will celebrate his placing of human consciousness at the heart of time, and his showing that we are more than cogs in the universal clock, forced to collaborate with the very progress that pushes us towards our own midnight .
Aping Mankind by Raymond Tallis
Neuroscience has made astounding progress in the understanding of the brain.
What should we make of its claims to go beyond the brain and explain consciousness,
behaviour and culture? Where should we draw the line? In this brilliant critique
Raymond Tallis dismantles "Neuromania", arising out of the idea that we are reducible
to our brains and "Darwinitis" according to which, since the brain is an evolved
organ, we are entirely explicable within an evolutionary framework. With precision
and acuity he argues that the belief that human beings can be understood in biological
terms is a serious obstacle to clear thinking about what we are and what we might
become. Neuromania and Darwinitis deny human uniqueness, minimise the differences
between us and our nearest animal kin and offer a grotesquely simplified account of
humanity. We are, argues Tallis, infinitely more interesting and complex than we
appear in the mirror of biology.
The Mystery of Being Human: God, Freedom and the NHS by
'This is the challenge for believers and infidels alike:
To awaken out of the sleep of normal wakefulness to a
deeper awareness of the fundamental truth of out condition.'
Raymond Tallis tackles the big questions: Do we have free will? Can humanity
flourish without religion? Will science explain everything? In a fierce polemic
'Lord Howe's Wicked Dream', Tallis exposes the corrupt politicians who are
destroying the NHS and the values that have sustained it.
The Black Mirror: Fragments of an Obituary for Life
by Raymond Tallis
In this beautifully written personal meditation on life and living,
Raymond Tallis reflects on the fundamental fact of existence: that it is finite.
Inspired by E. M. Forster's thought that 'Death destroys a man but the idea of it
saves him', Tallis invites readers to look back on their lives from a unique
standpoint: one's own future corpse. From this perspective, he shows, the world now
vacated can be seen most clearly in all its richness and complexity.
Blending lyrical reflection, humour and the occasional philosophical argument,
Tallis explores his own post-mortem recollection and invites us to appreciate
anew the precariousness and preciousness of life
Hippocratic Oaths: Medicine and its Discontents by
In this book, Raymond Tallis brings together his diverse intellectual interests
to address profoundly important questions about our well being.
Hippocratic Oaths blends philosophy with public opinion, polemic and
personal experience to bridge the disjunction between the health care we believe
we are entitled to expect, and the difficult realities of what is possible.
In a series of fiercely stimulating and impassioned arguments, Tallis looks at
the truth behind public health scares; why we continue to incorrectly treat our
bodies as if they were machines, separate from ourselves; and why the popularity of
alternative therapies is bad for doctors and patients alike.
The Kingdom of Infinite Space: A Fantastical Journey around Your Head by
From the act of blushing and the amount of manganese in our tears (tears of pain
contain more than tears of distress) to the curiousness of a kiss,
The Kingdom of Infinite Space explores the astonishing range of activities
that go on inside our heads, most of which are entirely beyond our control. After
escorting his readers on a fantastic voyage through every chamber of the head and
brain, Raymond Tallis demonstrates that not only does consciousness not reside
between our ears, but that our heads are infinitely cleverer than we are.
In Defence of Wonder and Other Philosophical Reflections by
In these lively and provocative essays, Raymond Tallis debunks commonplace truths,
exposes woolly thinking and pulls the rug from beneath a wide range of commentator
whether scientist, theologian, philosopher or pundit. Tallis takes to task much of
contemporary science and philosophy, arguing that they are guilty of taking us down
ever narrowing conduits of problem solving that only invite ever more complex
responses and in doing so have lost sight of "wonder" - the metaphysical intoxication
that first gave birth to philosophy 2,500 years ago. Tallis tackles some meaty topics
- memory, time, language, truth, fiction, consciousness - but always with his
characteristic verve, insight and wit. These essays showcase Tallis's skill for
getting to the heart of the matter and challenging us to see, and wonder, in
different ways. Wonder is the proper state of humankind, and as these essays show
it has no more forceful a champion than Raymond Tallis.
The Hand: A Philosophical Enquiry into Human Being by
What are the origins of human difference? This book argues that the nature of
difference between human beings and other animals is the result of a complex
sequence of events which began several million years ago with the evolution of
the human hand. Raymond Tallis combines philosophical reflection with a light-hearted
look at gestures, the role of each finger, the origins of numbers and the case for
and against what he names "handkind".
I am: A Philosophical Enquiry into First-person Being by
I Am focuses on two crucial aspects of the escape from being a mere organism: selfhood and agency. These are seen as originating in what Tallis calls the Existential Intuition - the sense 'That I am this' - within the human body. The nature and origin of the Existential Intuition is described in outline and it is related to the certainty of his own existence that Descartes established through his Cogito argument. The primary reference point for the sense 'That I am this' is the body. Raymond Tallis describes the logical and existential necessity of embodiment and the complex relationships we have to our bodies such as being, using, having, suffering and knowing. He goes on to argue that bodily continuity and psychological connectedness through memory both require the Existential Intuition in order to underpin an enduring self.Moreover, the self-realising intuition 'that I am this' creates a new point of departure in the physical world enabling persons to be the origins of their acts and to establish a vantage point from which they are able to influence the course of events. I Am is full of fascinating insights into the nature of personal identity and offers an entirely new way of reconciling human freedom with the deterministic universe in which humans act. Key Features: *Addresses fundamental philosophical questions. *Approaches these questions from a novel view point. *Reconciles Darwinism with Humanism. *A major attempt to redefine what it is to be a human being and the scope of human possibility.
The Knowing Animal: A Philosophical Enquiry into Knowledge and Truth
by Raymond Tallis
In the final volume in 'The Hand' trilogy, Raymond Tallis argues that knowledge is unique to human beings and sufficiently important to call man 'the knowing animal'. Raymond Tallis examines the profound difference between knowledge 'That things are the case' and mere sentience. He criticises both accounts of knowledge that marginalise the consciousness of the knower and naturalistic accounts that assimilate knowledge to sense experience and, ultimately, neural activity. He argues that knowledge arises because humans are embodied subjects and not just organisms: knowing subjects know both about events in the material world which they can perceive as well as non-material 'facts'. It is because knowledge is relatively 'uncoupled' from the material world that active inquiry, reason-directed behaviour and deliberate manipulation of nature are possible. A critique of evolutionary psychology examines these phenomena and looks at the replacement of animal 'appetites' with propositional 'attitudes', at carnal knowledge and at explicit awareness of death. The various ways humans have dealt with the 'wound' opened in consciousness by knowledge - religion, art and philosophy - are also discussed. The Knowing Animal completes a trilogy that aims to revolutionise our understanding of what it is to be a human being without recourse to theology and supernatural explanations on the one hand or scientism and naturalistic explanations on the other. Features: *The question of humankind's unique ability to know things is covered in this volume and follows on from Ray Tallis' inquiry into humankind's unique 'handedness' (The Hand) and ability to reflect on itself (I Am) - he has explore our ability to know, to hold and handle things and to think of our own being. *The book provides a fascinating philosophical insight about the way humankind comes to know the things it does (as opposed to having sensations) because it (humankind) has awareness of itself. *It also provides a critique of other theories of knowledge. * The book continues Ray Tallis' argument that humans are distinctly different from animals while yet being creatures.
The Enemies of Hope: A Critique of Contemporary Pessimism by
Enemies of Hope identifies the themes common to anti-humanist twentieth-century thought and challenges the cult of pessimism that pervades our age. Tallis teases out the many strands of the comfortable, self-congratulatory cynicism of modernist and postmodernist cultural critics, exposing their self-contradictions and their wilful blindness to the distinctive mystery of human nature. The 'pathologisers of culture' and 'the marginalisers of consciousness' are shown to be the enemies of hope - the hope of progress based upon the rational, conscious endeavours of humankind.
Perceptive, passionate and often controversial, Raymond Tallis's latest debunking of Kulturkritik explores a host of ethical and philosophical issues central to contemporary thought, raising questions we cannot afford to ignore. After reading Enemies of Hope, those minded to misrepresent mankind in ways that are almost routine amongst humanist intellectuals may be inclined to think twice. By clearing away the hysterical anti-humanism of the twentieth century Enemies of Hope frees us to start thinking constructively about the way forward for humanity in the twenty-first.
In Defence of Realism by
In Defence of Realism" is a powerful indictment of the fog of bad philosophy and worse linguistics that has shrouded much contemporary literary theory and criticism. Raymond Tallis, one of the most important critics of post-Saussurean literary theory in the English-speaking world, examines the reasons often cited by critics and theorists for believing that realism in fiction is impossible and verisimilitude a mere literary 'effect'. He clearly demonstrates not only that the arguments of critics hostile to realism are invalid, but that even if they were sound, they would apply equally to anti-realist fiction, indeed to all intelligible discourse.
The Raymond Tallis Reader by
Raymond Tallis, Michael Grant (Editor)
The Raymond Tallis Reader provides a comprehensive survey of the work of
this passionate, perceptive and often controversial thinker. Key selections from
Tallis's major works are supplemented by Michael Grant's detailed introduction and
linking commentary. From nihilism to Theorrhoea, from literary theory to the role of
the unconscious, The Raymond Tallis Reader guides us through the panoptic
sweep of Tallis's critical insights and reveals a way of thinking for the
Newton's Sleep: The Two Cultures and the Two Kingdoms
by Raymond Tallis
This book examines the contemporary roles of scientific investigation of the world
and the creation of art in contemporary life.
A Conversation with Martin Heidegger by
Martin Heidegger is widely regarded as the most important and one of the most
difficult philosophers of the last century. His masterpiece
Being and Time was described by Jurgens Habermas as the most profound
turning point in German philosophy since Hegel. Raymond Tallis, who has been
arguing with Heidegger for over thirty years, engages him in an imaginary
conversation which illuminates his fundamental ideas in an accessible way.
A Conversation with Martin Heidegger illuminates and celebrates Heidegger's
ontology while being sharply critical of its deficiencies.
Tallis' conversation with this giant of twentieth century thought defines some
of the important themes of the philosophy of the century to come.
It will be of interest to those who are familiar with Heidegger and those
encountering his work for the first time.
Increasing Longevity: Medical, Social and Political Implications
by Raymond Tallis (editor)
Brocklehurst's Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology
by Raymond Tallis, Howard M. Fillit
This new edition of Brocklehurst's Textbook of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology
builds on the structure and content of previous editions. Four sections cover
gerontology, clinical geriatric medicine, problem-based geriatrics, and health systems
and geriatric medicine. The most important feature of this new edition is the
increased emphasis on clinical practice - practising geriatricians will be able to
turn to Brocklehurst's sixth edition and easily find the answer to both common and
rarer clinical problems.
On the Edge of Certainty: Philosophical Explorations
by Raymond Tallis
Raymond Tallis's The Explicit Animal (1991) was a passionate attack on
attempts to explain human consciousness in purely biological terms. This
ground-breaking book defended the distinctive nature of human consciousness
against the misrepresentations of those many philosophers and cognitive
scientists who aimed to reduce it to a set of functions understood in
evolutionary, neurobiological and computational terms.
Not Saussure: A Critique of Post-Saussurean Literary Theory
(Language, Discourse, Society) by
The Politics of Sex and Other Essays Raymond Tallis (Foreword), Robert Grant
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