Szabo-Gendler aims to bring a deeper philosophical understanding to the cognitive sciences and neuroscience (popular neuroscience especially) by bringing up an important argument that philosophers from Aristotle to Hume have consistently made:
“life goes very well when one’s reasoned commitments and one’s habits are in line with one another”
In other words, one’s relationship between the reason and the passions can potentially get you out of whack (addiction would be a good example). Also, the depths of moral philosophy can help to deepen cognitive science.
Perhaps it can even guard against excessive idealism (we’re seeking the holy grail of human knowledge kind of thinking) that could be best avoided when thinking about the limits of neuroscience. Perhaps, as one commenter points out, such idealism is an inevitable product of popularization (and writing) as found in the works of Jonah Lehrer and Jonathan Haidt. They’re not the first to write books about the pursuit of happiness:
“It’s really irritating to read, for example, Haidt’s book on happiness or Jonah Lehrer’s introduction to _How We Decide_ where Plato and Aristotle (because they regarded man as “rational” in some sense) are presented as having held the ridiculous belief that all or most of our actions must be the direct result of conscious, plodding deliberation.”
I’d also offer that some people who are attracted to and develop skills in music, poetry, literature often find some of their skills transferable in psychology and the social sciences (mutual fear of mathematics? a specific kind of habitual development of the passions? would Nietzsche be an extreme example?).
Something to think about.
Also On This Site: Jesse Prinz argues that neuroscience and the cognitive sciences should move back toward British empiricism and David Hume…yet…with a defense of multiculturalism and Nietzsche thrown in: Another Note On Jesse Prinz’s “Constructive Sentimentalism”