Durham Branch Seminar
In this paper, I will critically explore the vexed question of whether education should be interested in neuroscience. While there have been claims that neuroscience has a ‘fundamental and increasing relevance’ to education, I will seek to argue that there are limits to what brain science can offer to research and practice in the field of education. To make the case for this, I shall initially draw upon ordinary language philosopher Peter Hacker’s exposition of ‘neuro-mystifications’: the mistaken ascription of psychological concepts to the human brain. Hacker’s main challenge to the neuroscientist can be summarised in the following way: brains don’t think, human beings do. However, I should also like to extend the critique of neuroscience by demonstrating the metaphysical signification of Hacker’s linguistic challenge. To do this I shall appeal to certain Wittgensteinian and Heideggerian arguments. Wittgenstein and Heidegger, I will argue, move us toward a holistic picture of human thinking - one that is richer than the neuroscientific account, and should itself be of more interest to the field of education.