We've bashed NY Times columnist David Brooks before on this blog for his attempts at philosophy, and I absolutely feel for the guy from a logistical perspective: he's not an academic that can take a sabbatical and hole up to write and revise. He's more or less a blogger who has to fumble around every few days to figure out something that he's read about to spit back in an insightful way, and I don't think that's a recipe for great depth and profundity.
Well, now he's released a book on neuroscience
In this article in "The Nation," Gary Greenberg rips Brooks for his pretentious (Brooks: "I'm going to walk, stylistically, in the footsteps of Jean-Jacques Rousseau.") scientism. (Greenberg: "These science-minded utopians may disagree wildly with one another about the essence of human nature, and the kind of world best suited to its flourishing, but they all are equally certain that only scientific inquiry... can settle the matter. We can crack our own source code..., and... we can build a world in which we cannot help being, as Skinner once put it, 'automatically good.'")
As Newt Gingrich said a week or so back in a wholly different context, "I don't think right-wing social engineering is any more desirable than left-wing social engineering."
I'm currently reading both Plato's Republic and Charlotte Perkins Gilman's Herland (both utopian visions) for future episodes, so this is all right on topic for me.