Monday 1 January 2018

Being-in-the-World: My Body and I. Raymond Tallis conducts Inner Circle Seminar 243 (15 July 2018)


My Body and I

Raymond Tallis
conducts Inner Circle Seminar No. 243
introduced by Anthony Stadlen
Sunday 15 July 2018
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Raymond Tallis

Raymond Tallis is one of our best-loved invited speakers. Today he conducts his fifth Inner Circle Seminar (his first was on 2 December 2012).

He has shown in four profound Inner Circle Seminars that he is one of the world’s leading demystifiers of what he calls the ‘neuroscience delusion’ (‘neuromania’) and the ‘intellectual plague of biologism’ (‘animalism’). His ruthless, good-humoured exposure of reductive natural-scientism continues the tradition of Heidegger and  Szasz, for example, but is utterly his own. Psychotherapists are free to choose to go on pretending to be ‘validated’ by ‘neuroscience’; but their work, such as it is, sometimes radically transforming and helpful, sometimes best passed over in silence, speaks for itself, and no pseudo-scientific ‘validation’ can disguise this.
Raymond Tallis 
Raymond Tallis is one of the select few who affirms and advocates the devoted use of devotedly human language to depict and describe the human world and human relationships.

In his most recent book, Logos, Professor Tallis exposes the absurdity of the argument that evolutionary biology or neuroscience show that our thinking is merely a function of our bodies-as-objects-for-science and therefore can have no truth-value of its own unless it is in some way itself derived from evolutionary biology or neuroscience, which are taken to beobjectively true. But those sciences are themselves human creations, and therefore, by this argument, not ‘objectively true. Professor Tallis remarks that those who use this argument are worthy successors of the Cretan of old who said all Cretans were liars.

In todays seminar he focusses on the so-called problem of embodimentBergson, Marcel, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty, and Heidegger in his Zollikon Seminars, have struggled with what Heidegger called the difficult quest of finding an adequate, ‘Daseinappropriate’, human language for our bodily being-in-the-world.

Professor Tallis asserts and establishes our lived body (variously termed in the literature body-for-self, subtle body, Leib), our embodied being-in-the-world, as the primary reality. This is of fundamental importance for psychotherapists of any school. The confusion between lived body and body-as-object lies at the heart, the unlived, objectified heart, of the misunderstanding about ‘mental health’ and ‘mental illness’, and of the attempt by psychotherapists to masquerade as some kind of profession ancillary to modern natural-scientific medicine, the admirable and appropriate science of the body-as-object.

Raymond Tallis writes about todays seminar:

That we are organisms cannot be denied: we are generated by processes common to other living creatures and die of similar causes. Between our biological beginning and our biological end, however, we live lives that are distant from the organic processes that sustain them. The seminar will explore our nature as embodied beings-in-the-world, inseparable from, and yet not identical with, our bodies, and the tension between the I am of the person and the it is of the organism.’

For an account of how Raymond Tallis writes his extraordinary books, see his article ‘My writing day: In my favourite pub, the staff turn down the speaker in my writing corner’, in The Guardian Review of 29 April 2017:

Raymond Tallis was a Professor of Geriatric Medicine and consultant physician in Health Care of the Elderly. He has published two hundred research articles in the neurology of old age and neurological rehabilitation, as well as a novel, short stories, three volumes of poetry, and thirty books on philosophy of mind, philosophical anthropology, literary theory, the nature of art, and cultural criticism. He has received many awards and honorary degrees. In 2009, the Economist listed him as one of the world’s twenty leading polymaths.

Nicholas Fearn wrote in The Independent:

When Kirsty Young was asked to name her favourite guest on Desert Island Discs, the rock star Paul Weller was beaten into second place, for her own luxury item would be the writer Raymond Tallis.

Raymond Tallis, whose fifth Inner Circle Seminar this will be, kindly confirms that our seminar structure, in which dialogue is of the essence, enables him to communicate and reflect on his ideas. He wrote, after his first Inner Circle Seminar, The Intellectual Plague of Biologism, on 2 December 2012:

The seminar was for me an incredible experience. I have never previously had the opportunity to discuss the topics we covered in such depth with a group of people who came at it from such different angles but in a way that I found illuminating. I learned a lot. It was a tremendous privilege.

Venue: Durrants Hotel, 26–32 George Street, Marylebone, London W1H 5BJ
Cost: Psychotherapy trainees £132, others £165, some bursaries; coffee, tea, Durrants rock, mineral water included; payable in advance; no refunds or transfers unless seminar cancelled
Apply to: Anthony Stadlen, ‘Oakleigh’, 2A Alexandra Avenue, London N22 7XE
Tel: +44 (0) 20 8888 6857     E-mail:
For further information on seminars, visit:

The Inner Circle Seminars were founded by Anthony Stadlen in 1996 as an ethical, existential, phenomenological search for truth in psychotherapy. They have been kindly described by Thomas Szasz as ‘Institute for Advanced Studies in the Moral Foundations of Human Decency and Helpfulness’. But they are independent of all institutes, schools, and universities.

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