I found it on the blog The Grail Code -- John Donne and the Case of the Missing Toilet Paper -- and it links to a very interesting article on reductionist literary criticism -- The Neuroscience Delusion. From the article, which is by Raymond Tallis, a professor of geriatric medicine:
Overstanding -- as opposed to understanding -- is a nice word. I like it for lots of reasons.
The key point is this. The range of “mental objects” Changeux’s theory encompasses is hardly unique to mentally demanding and enriching experiences such as those associated with reading poetry. The processes leading up to mental objects – if they really do correspond to distinctive realities and are anything other than artefactual dissections of consciousness – are ubiquitous. Bellowing in a rage when one discovers that the toilet paper has run out, and someone has neglected to replace it, would involve the very same processes Byatt invokes to explain the particular impact of the poems of a genius, if such processes do occur. The mental objects constructed under such irritating circumstances also involve percepts, memory images, abstract concepts, and an extraordinary confection-by-association of them, as one justifies one’s rage and allocates blame, and deploys sophisticated neural algebras that simultaneously locate oneself in an unsatisfactory toilet and a careless world populated with thoughtless people.
That is, by adopting a neurophysiological approach, Byatt loses a rather large number of important distinctions: between reading one poem by John Donne and another; between successive readings of a particular poem; between reading Donne and other Metaphysical poets; between reading the Metaphysicals and reading William Carlos Williams; between reading great literature and trash; between reading and a vast number of other activities – such as getting cross over missing toilet paper. That is an impressive number of distinctions for a literary critic to lose. But that is the price of overstanding.