Responding in the transcript of a SEED salon featuring Tom Wolfe and the founder of The Law and Neuroscience Project, Michael Gazzaniga, to a question on the state of neuroscience, Wolfe recounts what another scientist had to say on the subject of what we really know about the human brain:
'The human brain is complex beyond anybody's imagining, letalone comprehension.' He said, 'We are not a few miles down a long road; we are a few inches down the long road.' Then he said, 'All the rest is literature."
Now I realize that a celebrated author like Wolfe would say that, but the remainder of the discussion is quite good, taking its cue from that remark as the two tackle literature, social standing, why, alone among our cultural achievements, speech should be celebrated, and the role of human narrative in defining and, in one amusing anecdote relayed by Gazzaniga, expanding ethical boundaries.
They also question whether or not an understanding of the relevant science, such as it is, renders the idea of free will obsolete. And in a welcome nod to the futility of that discussion, Gazzaniga gets to the heart of the matter by asking rhetorically, "free from what?"
An edited video of the latest SEED paring is here.