Headhunters: The Search for a Science of the Mind by Ben Shephard - review by John Gray

John Gray

Shocks to the System

Headhunters: The Search for a Science of the Mind


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Summing up the current intellectual situation, Ben Shephard writes:

On the face of it we now live in a completely new world. All the old gods are dead – neither nationalism, Marxism, psychoanalysis nor Christianity any longer provides philosophical ballast. Instead, the modern intellectual landscape is dominated by two phenomena, Neo-Darwinian genetics and modern neuroscience – just as it was in the 1890s. 

As Shephard shows in this refreshingly sceptical mix of biography and intellectual history, the present intellectual climate is not as unprecedented as some would like us to think. The belief that a synthesis of Darwinism and neuroscience would revolutionise understanding of human behaviour was pervasive in the late 19th and

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