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Brain Chemistry And The Self

Brain chemistry and the self. Neurophilosopher Patricia Churchland argues our self is our brain. And that’s it. She joins us.

Brain Art showcases prizewinners in the 2012 Brain-Art Competition that honors outstanding visualizations of brain research data. The works are by John Van Horn (US), Neda Jahanshad (US), Betty Lee (US), Daniel Margulies (US) and Alexander Schäfer (DE). (Flickr/Ars Electronica)

Brain Art showcases prizewinners in the 2012 Brain-Art Competition that honors outstanding visualizations of brain research data. The works are by John Van Horn (US), Neda Jahanshad (US), Betty Lee (US), Daniel Margulies (US) and Alexander Schäfer (DE). (Flickr/Ars Electronica)

When Galileo took Earth out of the center of the universe, it shook a lot of people’s worlds. Patricia Churchland wants to shake worlds again. She studies the brain and philosophy. A “neurophilosopher”.

And her message is this. That the more we know about the brain, the clearer it becomes that the brain is each of us. That there is no “mind” beyond the brain. No “self” beyond it. No soul, she says. She knows that rocks world now. She’s here to make the case.

This hour, On Point: Neurophilosopher Patricia Churchland on the brain as all we are.

- Tom Ashbrook

Guest

Patricia Churchland, professor emerita of philosophy at the University of California, San Diego. Author of “Touching A Nerve: The Self As Brain.” (@patchurchland)

Sanford Goldberg, professor of philosophy at Northwestern University.

From Tom’s Reading List

The New York Times: Science Events — “After early chapters debunking the soul and afterlife, Dr. Churchland gives a nuanced account of sex, violence and morality, working up gently but ambitiously from brain chemicals to ethical norms. She predicts that consciousness, which she believes may be shared in some form by all mammals and birds, will eventually be understood by the convergence of “a million little important results,” not by a miraculous discovery.”

Nature: Neurophilosophy: My brain and I – ”Patricia Churchland is the doyenne of neurophilosophers. She believes, as I do, that to understand the mind, one must understand the brain, using evidence from neuroscience to refine concepts such as free will. Many philosophers and others are unhappy with this proposal. The problem, Churchland writes, is that deep down we are all dualists. Our conscious selves inhabit the world of ideas; our brains, the world of objects.”

Psychology Today: Brain Scans and Brain Scams — “If I peek at your brain, can I tell whether you are a criminal? In his book, The Anatomy of Violence, Adrian Raine thinks he can make a pretty good bet. The giveway? A bigger bit here or smaller bit there. That is the anatomy his title refers to. My last blog (Criminal brains and criminal genes) unearthed a slew of problems undermining Raine’s idea that we can already identify ‘criminal genes’. Now let’s look closely at his claims to identify criminal brains.”

Excerpt: ‘Touching A Nerve’

 

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  • Expanded_Consciousness

    To think that we will someday speak in neurophysiological terms is to ignore the natural human need for expressive, poetic, metaphoric language. We also will never talk in 0s and 1s either, even if our computers do. Humans will remain all too human, especially in our use of language, no matter what advances are made in science, technology, and artificial intelligence.

  • Wm_James_from_Missouri

    Would Professor Churchland comment on sugar use and its’ effect on brain chemistry? Would she also compare the use of Ribose sugar versus traditional sugars, on health and brain glucose and on any promising work being done in the study of “Nootropics” ? I would so love to see us enhance our brain’s potential, as was so overly dramatized in the movie, “Limitless”.

    -
    Lastly, might Prof. Churchland comment on the incredible story of Jason Padgett ? His story is an extraordinary, real life story of a man that was mugged and left unconscious, only to recover
    and find that he had become a mathematical genius, (of sorts) !
    -
    Why this man’s story is not more well known is a mystery to me.

    Jason Padgett story:

    http://www.punemirror.in/index.aspx?page=article&sectid=5&contentid=20120429201204290226500076986569

  • Ed75

    “After early chapters debunking the soul and afterlife”. Science, natural philosophy, the study of nature, is the study of the physical world, the material world. It doesn’t have the tools or scope to say anything about non-physical substance, like the soul. She probably argues along the lines of ‘we can explain x or y without reference to the soul, or we think we can, so the soul doesn’t exist’. That argument doesn’t hold.

    The brain is the tool of the soul. But scientists don’t have to be concerned about that at all, they can just study the brain. They have nothing to say one way or the other about the soul.

    For example, Jesus said ‘Do not fear the first death, but fear the second death, the death of the soul’.

    • 1Brett1

      Well, there’s “the” soul, Ed…and then there’s just plain old SOUL!!! Something Don Cornelius had out the wazoo! 

      I’m surprised you didn’t mention Don Cornelius!?!?! 

      You did mention this little gem: “She probably argues along the lines of ‘we can explain x or y without reference to the soul, or we think we can, so the soul doesn’t exist’. That argument doesn’t hold.” 

      Way to build a straw man! The show hasn’t even been on yet and you are already criticizing the guest and science in general.

      Okay, seriously, though, Ed, in a very general sense, to give some validation to your comment, you are saying that science has its limitations…so too does religion have its limitations.

      • Ed75

        That’s funny, let’s hear it for good old Soul!

    • gemli

      Scientists have a lot to say about the soul.  To claim that a soul exists in the theological sense is to make a very definite claim about how the world works.  At the very least it would claim that the physical brain is able to detect a soul that the physical sciences can’t detect.  It would imply that other animals have a brain that must also be the tools of their souls.  But most importantly, it would claim that everything we know about the universe, about physics, chemistry, biology and every other science, would be wrong.  That seems to be giving up quite a lot in order to satisfy the need for the consolation of religion.

      Lots of people believe silly thing.  I certainly do.  But we have to draw the line when rational thought takes a back seat to mystical speculation and fairy tales.  Our feelings and consciousness are hard to understand, but that lack of understanding does not justify the claim that it all works by magic.  Everything we’re sure about today was once a mystery.  We used to accept religious explanations for many things, but those explanation have been replaced by scientific ones.  How often has the reverse happened?

      • Ed75

        A very thoughtful comment. I don’t think the existence of the soul would mean that scientific understanding is incorrect at all since science is concerned with physical causes and effects. And physical causes completely explain many situtaions. Science is all valid, and is a valid inquiry.
        I wouldn’t call a soul ‘magic’, or ‘spooky’. God, as God, is spirit, the angels are pure spirit, the soul is non-material. God created physical and non-physical things.
        As science has progressed lots of things are explained by science that superstitions used to attribute to non-material causes. But that doesn’t mean that God and angels and the soul aren’t active in the world. One has to point to events that can’t be explained by science. The Church teaches us that there are three historical things (besides others) that can’t be explained by natural causes: the Jewish religion, the historical person Jesus Christ, and the Catholic Church and it’s persistence over time.
        I would add, for example, the saints who were removed from their graves to churches and found incorrupt (still visible today), or the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, etc.
        Religion has anticipated science several times. For example, in the 1950′s Pope Puis XII wrote the encyclical ‘Humani Generis’ in which he said that the human race developed from two individuals. He was scorned by scientists. In the 1990s the biologists declared that the human genome showed that the human race developed from two individual people.
        But this show certainly makes us think!

    • J__o__h__n

      The soul is a myth.  Fear the first death, because that is all you get. 

  • Yar

    The desire to belong is a hormonal feedback loop that marketers understand and we seldom discuss.  We could spend the entire hour talking about hair and what we do to it.  All to identify with a group and to be identified within a group.  Whatever God gave you  is never enough, we have to change it to claim our identify. I would enjoy a late night conversation with Patricia Churchland.

  • Shag_Wevera

    I’m going to choose to believe that my self and consciousness is more than a chemical formula or reaction.  Not even religious or spiritual, just more.

    • geraldfnord

      Well, do you believe that there are things that go on in the mind that do not correlate with anything going-on in the brain?

      • Shag_Wevera

        Excellent question.

        • geraldfnord

          Thank-you; I think many people are materialist without knowing so…elsewhere in these pages I suggest that it’s because most if us have been raised with what one might call the God Standard, which would have us believe that nothing contingent and material and (so) temporary can be worth anything. There us real sadness in contemplating the ephemeral natures of cherry blossoms , the Mayfly, us…but to make that impermanence a bar against appreciation is crippling to the soul (which, like a justice, is a good term which need not correlate with a particular thing or substance, but rather a wonderful arrangement of real and knowable things).

      • Expanded_Consciousness

        No. We just experience thing through our language and experience of consciousness, but it occurs in the brain.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001290571412 Fred Lenkeit

    I find the first pages of Mrs. Churchland´s book tremendously moving. I hope she talks more about her ideas about realism which is in danger of being lost to ideas of fear and ignorance.

  • 1Brett1

    Both guests are in the realm of philosophy and may not touch on this component specifically, but I have always found it odd that medications manipulating certain neurotransmitters are prescribed everyday, yet doctors and pharmacologists don’t really understand the relationship between mental health problems and neurotransmission all that well to vouch for the efficacy of most of these medications other than the claim of “they work.” Double blind studies show that most medications are no more effective than placebo. And, pharmaceutical companies compete with each other using diametrically opposed theories; one company may make a drug that increases, say, serotonin and another may make a drug (for the same problem) that suppresses serotonin…it’s all so ridiculously conflicting in evidence and practice. 

  • geraldfnord

    The word ‘just’ is not apt here: I, for one—and almost certainly you as well—am some pretty amazing chemistry.

    I once saw a Brit incorrectly opine that the Euro ‘…couldn’t be money, it doesn’t have the Queen’s head on it!, ‘ and it were just as wrong to believe that wonder and awe and a salutary gratitude were predicated on there being immaterial spirits running our bodies or the Universe as a whole…or that anything need be eternal in order to be significant or meaningful.

  • JobExperience

    More than 40% of Americans use prescription and illegal drugs and substances to alter their brain chemistry. Do they remain themselves?

    I’ve had interesting conversations with heroin, alcohol, nicotine and Prozac (among others), and they don’t act human.

    • mdelvecchio

      different drugs affect the brain (via chemistry) in different ways. comes down to their design.

  • Epysteme

    There is no good reason to believe that we are anything more than physical things, except for our own wishful thinking that a non-physical “thing” or “energy” (i.e., God, or some “metaphysical” variant thereof) could somehow benefit us, especially in foxholes (i.e., when we need “salvation”). Accepting this might seem to make the “self” somehow less valuable for the greediest among us, as well as for those of us who simply fail to understand the truly wonderful complexity of the natural world in general and the human brain in particular. But, EVEN BESIDES THIS, neither “salvation” nor “wonder” is really necessary to find value in the self. Most of us, thankfully, find value in ourselves just as easily and automatically as we breathe.

  • PeterBoyle

    Some of us in the Archaeology field have been trying to get this point across since the 50′s.  Religions and philosophies are means of control, and not very effective means at all.  Both have led to many of the worst cases of human suffering because hey can not accept ‘other’ ways of viewing life and living.  Both are currently causing much of the misery on this world.  Yet both are constantly held up as the ‘salvation’ for us all.  V. Gordon Child pointed out that “Man has never adapted to reality, only to his interpretation of reality.”  Religion and philosophy cloud our view of reality by forcing us to look through the particular lens they construct, thereby limiting us to the answers they have already prepared.  Isn’t it time we cleared the view of reality by accepting what science has to say.

     

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=595452520 Cynthia Rose Osorio Florez

    If…and it’s a big if…we understood the brain [at the least a bit more than we understand it now] I might give this opinion some weight…we aren’t even close…

  • Tom

    Anti-social behaviour such as racism – in the news a lot lately – could be a solidified neurological brain-state, after millions of years of evolution in fear of “the other”, as is any ingrained pattern in the brain which results in un-changeable thoughts and actions.
    There is some evidence that this may be the case, and this needs to be researched more, because a brain-state that can  naturally and easily cure this mental disability has been documented in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

    http://drgrandville2.wordpress.com/2011/07/17/racism-a-stress-disorder

    “if TM were a pill, it would be a billion-dollar blockbuster.”
    — Norman Rosenthal, M.D. Professor of Psychiatry, retired chief scientist at NIH.

    — from Tom in Vermont.

  • Tom

    The Thalamus is the CEO of the brain, but all the brain and body are your consciousness. You need to think about physics more, such as the the work of Oxford’s Roger Penrose on what is called “Quantum Consciousness” in the brain.

  • Tom

    All the aspects of the body together create the sense of self. The wholeness that
    is more than the sum of the parts, is an evolving, changing sense of
    Self. The universe is its home. We are at home in the universe, and our sense of self is a result of our state of mind. The state of mind can be changed.

  • ToyYoda

    In 1983, Benjamin Libet published an important paper whereby he did an experiment where he could predict what a person would choose before the person makes the subjective choice.  The conclusion was that the brain chooses first and then the subjective self thinks it made the choice.  In other words, we don’t have free will.

    Anyways, the conclusion was controversial at the time.

    However, the notion of free will was saved.  Instead of free will, we have free won’t.  Meaning, the  brain can choose, but we can be reject the choice.But to me, if the brain chooses before the mind does, then the attempt to recover free will is wrong.  Because rejecting a choice is itself a choice; and choice is controlled by the brain.  

    I am wondering if we are just chemicals has the debate been settled in favor of NO free will at all?

  • Coastghost

    “Basic neuroscience will explain ALL!” . . . but whose basic neuroscience? The basic neuroscience that has barely emerged from the 20th century, or an informed basic neuroscience with 22nd century insights into the quantum dimensions of brain chemistry and brain physiology?

    • mdelvecchio

      can you quote Churchland where she says neuroscience explains all? i dont see that anywhere…did you make it up?

      • Coastghost

        I was relying on the summative introduction provided by host Tom Ashbrook. So I did not make it up . . . .

  • Tom

    A simple intellectual understanding that you ARE nature, and that your sense of self is a result of nature, not ego … is a good start, but it is not enough. The brain can change and evolve dramatically in its subtle energies (EEG, and MRI) in a short time and continue to evolve in your lifetime. You must experience it in your own brain, and see it documented in scientific research published in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

    “if TM were a pill, it would be a billion-dollar blockbuster.”
    — Norman Rosenthal, M.D. Professor of Psychiatry, retired chief scientist at NIH.

    http://drgrandville2.wordpress.com/2011/07/17/racism-a-stress-disorder

    Tom in Burlington Vermont
     

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001708537001 Joshua Evans

    This is true. She is right. There’s nothing beyond the brain; how could there be? Whether or not you want to believe it is irrelevant; the truth is the truth.

  • Coastghost

    Why has quantum cosmology had zero impact on the contemporary thought of such a leading theorist as Professor Churchland?

  • Jon

    It’s eternally naive trying to convince others how to define themselves. what a geek.

    • spudoo

       Exactly.

      She’s trying to define logically how come we have no souls.  Seems like she’s missing the whole point.

      • Jon

        because logic deduction has to starts with a premise. She doesn’t have one that is factual.

        • GaryO

          Her premise is that the presence of a working brain means that souls cannot exist. And that’s ridiculous.  

  • perihelion22

    Soul? Where are we…in the dark ages? I’d buy your book but you are addressing it to the wrong audience. Don’t be an idiot.

  • Tom

    If you change the electrical activity (or magnetic activity) of the brain, you can see the physical brain change over time. This proves that there IS a subtle non-physical aspect to the brain.
    You need to look at more recent physics. The conservation of law and mass energies you mentioned is not where modern physics is. Its a more basic understanding of physics. A neuroscientist needs to confer with cutting edge physicists.

  • Emily311

    Of course there is nothing but the brain. But the brain includes a sense of morality, consciousness and emotion. This is hardly on the level of Galileo or Copernicus- agnostics and atheists have always known this.

    • J__o__h__n

      Most atheists prefer it to be proven than just always known.

  • sheryltr

    I saw the truth of Ms Churchland’s theory when I watched my mother die of Cruetzfeldt Jacob Disease 15 years ago. As proteins ate her brain over the course of 2 months, she went from human to life form with the consciousness of a tree. In the end, her brain was the consistency of oatmeal and her body was dead. There was no sense of her soul leaving the body as everything that had made her unique, made her–her, had been gone for weeks. There is no soul beyond the brain.

  • NazarRR

    Despite of attempts to make it looks scientific it is primitive view…soul is not physical, you can’t measure it, find physical energy etc. It reminds Russian scientist’s affords to find a god in the sky…

  • creaker

    All we have is now. And regardless of whether it’s grounded in science or religion or metaphysics, and though it’s all interesting, all this discussion is all just contemplating your navel. We’ll all find out soon enough – or we won’t.

  • Tom

    When you have an anesthetic, the subtle non-physical aspects of the brain change dramatically. The EEG and MRI.

  • Tom

    If you change the electrical activity (or magnetic activity) of the brain, you can see the physical brain change over time. This proves that there IS a subtle non-physical aspect to the brain.
    You need to look at more recent physics. The conservation of law and mass energies you mentioned is not where modern physics is. Its a more basic understanding of physics. A neuroscientist needs to confer with cutting edge physicists.

  • donjam

    Tom & team –

    The breezes of the Zeitgeist these days is blowing strongly in Patricia Churchland’s direction.  Since science today is so much the arbiter of truth, it would be great if you could have a serious scientist on the show to provide some counter-current.  I would suggest Arthur Zajonc, longtime professor of physics at Amherst.  Brilliant guy and a mind-opener.

  • NazarRR

     Despite trying hard and attempts to make it look scientific it is primitive and limited view. Reminds Russian scientist’s attempts to find a god in the sky…soul is not physical

  • noncompliant privateuser

    she is a philosopher, i am a physicist.  I am bothered less about the conservation than she is.

    There is a lot that we do not know about causality and space time.  (think about quantum mechanics and remember also that the conservation laws are tied into the geometry of space time.)

    Therefore , the most you can say about this is that its a 50/50 proposition.

  • Tom

    Dr. Churchland seems to be stuck in an unchangeable brain state.
    It is not one or the other, physical or non-physical. It is both, at one and the same time. This is the actuality of physics and neuroscience.

    Tom in Burlington, Vermont

  • Coastghost

    Physical cosmology accounts for the 5% of baryonic matter our senses alert us to. By pure extrapolation I guess Professor Churchland might be correct about at least 5% of what she’s discussing. I mean, if “it’s all chemistry” is the notion she’s defending, then “it’s all physics” is one other reductionist argument to apply, no?

  • Anirban Chatterjee

    Being an Atheist and a scientist, Dr. Churchland’s views neither shock nor shake me. The fact that the brain is our self, should be evident from “brain-death” being equated to clinical death in medicine for a long time.
    For those believing in a separate “soul”, where is the “connection” coming from and how?

  • http://lowenfoundation.org/index.html Flowen

    She might be right only in the narrow realm of objective measurable science where non-quantifiable nature is ignored, ie in ego fantasy land.
    In subjective science she is blind to reality, and unaware of energetic connections,
    IMO

    I find it annoying to listen to, so I only heard 5 minutes.

    • mdelvecchio

      “unaware of energetic connections”

      mumbo jumbo. and listening to only 5 minutes is the equivalent of plugging your ears and saying “la la la la!”

  • Chris

    The idea of a soul is not a scientific one.  It’s non-sense to say that science tells us that it is “unlikely” that there is a soul.  The existence of souls is not a testable hypothesis and neither is the after-life.  To claim that science tells us anything about these topics is pseudoscience.

  • GaryO

    Sorry Tom, but your show today has little merit. Here you have an “expert” who decrees that the presence of a brain indicates there is not soul. Think about it.  Does that really make sense?  Comparing her to Galileo is ridiculous.   It’s an insult to Galileo and an insult to science.

  • ToyYoda

    If Churchland believes that “I” and brain is the same, then what about the miraculous stories of people who lose -literally and physically- about half their brain to strokes, and yet recover nearly all their functionality? If you lose half your brain, you should lose have your self, right? According to the logic presented here.

    • mdelvecchio

      it doesnt work that simply. after a stroke you can re-learn things, like language, which is the brain re-routing to new neural pathways. it’s a slow, frustrating task.

  • dt03044

    In general I agree with the professor.  But it leads me to wonder about people with Alzheimers or other dementia.  As their brains deteriorate, who and what are they?  They are not their former selves, so……what then?

    • mdelvecchio

      they are broken meat-machines. which is sad.

      • Expanded_Consciousness

        They are themselves with reduce number of neurons and neuronal connections.

  • Chris Thelen

    This seems like an extension of the age old problem of science being pitted against religion. I don’t think neuroscience and the existence of the soul have to be mutually exclusive. By lumping in the existence or non-existence of the soul with the conversation about the progress of neuroscience, it seems you are only succeeding alienating or outraging a large group of people unnecessarily. Understanding the brain explains the how but not the why.

  • Coastghost

    Does this discussion not reveal clearly the DISCONNECT between contemporary neuroscience & brain physiology and contemporary physics & astrophysics? Are our macro sciences on the same page historically as our micro sciences? I hear a loud loud disconnect in this discussion, and that’s all I’m hearing.  

  • dontlookup

    Professor Churchland (ah, the irony of that name) calls into question the one carrot that The Church has held before the masses: “You have an immortal soul … do as we say or that soul is at risk.”  

    Imagine the waste, the folly, the cruelties that could have been avoided (and still can be) if we lived this finite life as if it was the only one we’d ever have.

    • Wm_James_from_Missouri

      I’ll pass your sentiments on to the “Hell’s Angels” . :)….

  • 1Brett1

    I haven’t started listening to the show, yet. I tend to view the world as having a lot of mystery, and I tend to believe there is an inherent greater good in attempting to solve mysteries. I also believe that we will never fully solve all mysteries and that is also inherently good. I am also a gestalt kind of guy, i.e., the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. As this relates to how the brain functions and what is “self”…I don’t know; I don’t rule anything out, however. One example comes to mind, and that pertains to out-of-body experiences and near death sensations. Some view these as evidence of a spiritual reality we just haven’t yet been able to measure; some view these as common sensations that occur when there is significant neurological/physical trauma which causes our body’s systems to shut down abruptly. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1203468048 Audrey Joyce Greene

    I became an atheist largely because of Jaynes’ The Origin of  Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind; an interesting take on roots of religious experience.  There is no soul, only chemistry and electricity.  

    • Coastghost

      Is atheism scientifically tenable any longer? the received body of scientific self-evidences likely will never be able or willing to admit “God” as answer to any theory or hypothesis, but can science today with its tacit epistemological capabilities insist that “God” is not the preface to any question?
      The vast expanses of dark matter and dark energy need not be invoked as “hiding places” for God to hang out in: the Large Hadron Collider is revealing that we have no reliable grasp yet of the character and condition of existence. But certainly as our physicists and astronomers have reduced their immediate scope of confidence to the measly realm of baryonic matter, how well do our geneticists and neuroscientists succeed in assuring us that tentative and preliminary accounts of brain chemistry and brain physiology will “solve the human problem”? (By the way: what IS “the human problem” that these applied technicians of the soul seek to solve?)

  • jkwalker111

    Give her view on Bio-Chem and Neurology I wonder about her views on the emotional lives of non-human animals (potential for Love, Fear, Joy, Sadness) within their brains.

  • Expanded_Consciousness

    I understand that we are our brain, and I thought this conversation that we have religious souls died hundreds of years ago. My question for Professor Churchland is about the future. 

    We are neurons (biology and chemistry). Can we reduce it to physics? It that the ultimate level? Can we someday explain all through physics? What about information theory? Are we just information? Can we reduce all to 0s and 1s? Will artificial intelligence be able to equal and then surpass human intelligence? Or is computer intelligence of a different kind, and human intelligence is unique?

    • Wm_James_from_Missouri

      All good questions that she did not answer.

  • Johnnyoc1

    Saying the self entirely exists in the brain is like claiming a nation entirely exists in its capital…

  • CesarBenjaminRancier

    As far as I see in Philosophy & Science, a proper definition of the Brain & Soul should be a; Conglomeration of Complex Unique Electrochemical Processors/Processes that Collectively, though Influenced by Internal Organization, Makeup(damage) & External Influence(interaction), creates an Distinct Energy Pattern that Processes Abstract & Tangible Data that has the POSSIBILITY of creating a Singular Entity in Multidimensional Non Space when Common Patterns of Responses are not Prevalent. I guess I would describe it as a Soul in Birth.

  • Mari McAvenia

    “What else is there?” Art and literature can complement dry neuroscience, particularly for the scientifically untrained, when examining human consciousness.

    The “soul” may or may not be something we can manifest on the material level- to the satisfaction of hard science- but the expression of our souls, through art and literature, may inform us that we are not merely a collection of walking, talking neurons.   

    • Expanded_Consciousness

      Or, we are a collection of walking, talking neurons, and those neurons are so fascinatingly interconnected that they can produce beautiful and meaningful art works. In other words, art does not prove the soul, rather art is an expression of our marvelously interconnected neurons.

      • Mari McAvenia

        We DO create things which are unimaginable to others until observers other than ourselves sense, individually, something different from their usual sensory patterning.

        Some people have lucid dreams. We know that we are dreaming while we are “unconscious”. We remember both states of being after awakening and integrate- or filter, perhaps- both interminable conditions of “life” into one comprehendible stream of conscious creation.  

        Yeah.
         

        • Wm_James_from_Missouri

          There is much poetry in you comment.

          Our lives are but the dreams of souls.

  • mdelvecchio

    The “soul” is a creative concept invented by man in a time before neuroscience. We cling to it for comfort in the same way that we clung to the notion of the earth as center of the universe — because letting go means…discomfort. Admitting the unknown.

    It should be quite obvious that we are our brains, and nothing more. Dust to dust.

    • Wm_James_from_Missouri

      Language is a creative concept invented by man in a time before neuroscience. We cling to it for comfort in the same way that we clung to the notion of the earth as center of the universe — because letting go means…discomfort. Admitting the unknown.

  • noncompliant privateuser

    She is a philosopher.  I am a PhD physicist and a chemist.   The conservation law arguments do not bother me.  We do not know enough about a list of subjects, for example causality or space time or quantum mechanics, to say anything intelligent about this

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  • http://www.facebook.com/brandon.forbes.984 Brandon Forbes

    I’ve always beleived that there is an eternal part to each person. But I have not assumed that that part is able to make decisions, experience emotions, or even be concious apart from the brain. Is it possible that there is an eternal part of ourselves that requires a physical brain to provide the ‘structure’ required for thought and action?

    • mdelvecchio

      is it possible these external parts of of ourselves are little green gnomes living under our beds that vanish when looked upon? uh, i guess it’s “possible”…but there’s no reason to believe it’s possible or at all probable.

  • Coastghost

    Philosophy: a muscular demonstration of throat, jaw, tongue, and brain.

    • Expanded_Consciousness

      And of hand and pen, fingers and keyboard.

  • Tom

    How do you explain autistic savants?
    The brain is not remotely understood by neuroscientists.
    It is the electrical activity and the magnetic state, along with other subtle energies DICTATE the state of the brain.
    There is eletro-magnetic energy in the brain.
    Try an experiment: Put a magnet up to your brain for a week — just kidding, DO NOT do this. It will affect the magnetic and physical aspect of the brain too dramatically. Your brain may change forever.
     

    • mdelvecchio

      one is not required to explain everything in order to be right on something. logic 101. 

      that one cannot explain Random Thing #307 (autistic savants) has no bearing on her argument that the soul is made up.

      • Tom

        Logic 101 is for beginners mate.
        You’ll need to go further than that.
        I didn’t say anything about a ‘soul’.

        To me Nature IS your Soul.
        You are Nature, you are not something else. You only think that because of small sense of self ego,  that persists in a state of ignorance for about 70 to 100 years of your lifetime. But nature is vast and mysterious.
        Humans barely understand any of it, sitting on their speck of dust that is just the third rock from the Sun, in this vast universe.

  • Johnnyoc1

    Saying we exist entirely in our brain is like claiming a nation entirely exists in its capital…

    • mdelvecchio

      except it’s not, because that is a false analogy. people live in all parts of a nation. our body is dictated to by its brain…thus the notion of a living body that is “brain dead” due to physical brain trauma. 

      do enough damage to the brain and you are over — no matter how healthy the rest of your body.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Suzanne-Smith/100002924693484 Suzanne Smith

    Could we address evolution of the brain?  After our planet was created, humans developed from stone to flesh. How can we not be connected to the evolutionary power that created us?

    • mdelvecchio

      sounds like mysticism. 

  • Jon

    What else is there? Is there soul? We human simply don’t know. Don’t even try to prove there is or there is not. The real deal is how we carry on with our lives with what is factual. These so-called scientists should be put out of their professions for goodness sakes.

    • mdelvecchio

      rubbish. to say “there is no way to know” is as childish as for me to claim that all life originated from a little green gnome living under my bed, right now. what’s that? you don’t seem him? oh, well that’s because he’s invisible when he doesnt want to be seen. prove im wrong. you cant. therefore….ANYTHING GOES!! science doesnt know anything!!

      that’s what youre’re saying.

      • Jon

        her neuroscience is pseudoscience. science should be based strictly on facts not mambo-jumbo theories or speculations

  • CabH

    If she is right, and the brain is all there is, doesn’t how we live and treat each other here and now remain as important to an atheist as well as a persons of any faith? To do harm to another is all the more destructive since, if you accept her argument, there is no cosmic re-adjustment afterwards. To do good or others would at the least give one’s reputation a better shot at being well remembered.

    • mdelvecchio

      quite right. how we treat each other is just as important to any atheist i know as it is a person believing in the supernatural. why shouldnt it be?

  • Yar

    Is information physical? Does an image beamed at the speed of light exist? How do you explain something from nothing?

  • RichCg

    Consider the brain as having two parts: one which is that part common among undamaged humans (with some dissimilarities according to heritage), and another part which consists of the add-ons acquired through living. This second part has sub-parts: one which is simply memories, different memories stored by similar brain structures, and the other sub-part being different ‘mechanisms’ (or versions of them) created in the nervous system (including the brain) in response to life experiences.  By analogy to a computer: the CPU and the data plus software (or firmware).  
        All of these custom memories and arrangements can be analogies of the “soul” or the personality, but are they “the brain?”

  • Coastghost

    Yes, Professor Churchland, and modern science with applied technology gave us the internal combustion engine and contemporary levels of air and water pollution, science and applied technology gave us nuclear power and nuclear weapons, et cetera.
    “Applied technology giveth and applied technology taketh away: blessed be the name of applied technology.”

    • geraldfnord

      Science, as opposed to scientism and extreme technophilia, is against worship, which always seem to reduce at some point to ‘stop asking questions and testing’, which is anathema to scientific thought.

  • Tim

    I find Dr. Churchland’s use of the phrase “Ghostie, spooky soul” rather belittling.  It seems to lump together all views of the soul as the stuff of childhood nightmares.

  • GaryO

    Your  guests repeated references to  a fictitious “ghosty, spooky soul,”  highlights her  ghosty, spooky leaps of logic.

    How does the presence of a brain indicate that there can be no soul?

    Your guest is not a real scientist. She’s a blowhard trying to sell a book.

    • Sy2502

      Did you even listen to the interview?

      • GaryO

        Yes

  • Jon

    There is no soul then there is no morality – that is the silly premise Tom and the majority believe in for their logic of human lives.

    • mdelvecchio

      it’s silly because the two are unrelated — the “soul” is a mystic form of after-life, and morality is what a society deems is right or wrong ways to treat each other. the latter has zero to do w/ the former.

      • Jon

        so it’s the society dictates you what’s right or wrong? that makes Jesus was wrong?

        • 1Brett1

          Don’t let atrocious sentence structures/ fractured syntax stand in the way of a ridiculous argument, aye, what?

          • Jon

            ok if bring up Jesus is atrocious, then (ignoring christian culture in a giant society) answer me this if gay marriage is a value deemed by society?

          • 1Brett1

            Are you a word generator ‘bot?

          • Jon

            it’s a challenge to your IQ to answer the question rather than getting curious about who ask the question

    • Sy2502

      Please provide a cogent logical argument that ties the existence of the soul and the existence of morality.

      • Jon

        misunderstood. I merely stated the fact 80+% people believe morality is given by god – belief in soul is equivalent to belief in god. Science has to be based on sufficient facts. that’s why neuroscience is pseudoscience – you just cannot prove god doesn’t exist just like you cannot prove it does.

        • Sy2502

          Belief in the soul is not equivalent to belief in god (ask a Buddhist). Neuroscience is not a pseudoscience because it’s based on observable physiological events. Neuroscience is NOT the science that proves god doesn’t exist. You sound confused on the subject.

          • Jon

            sounds like Buddhism really spreads. as to the 2nd part, did you listen to the show – Ashbrook’s implication?

          • Sy2502

            What do you mean with “sounds like Buddhism really spreads”?

          • Jon

            means you don’t have to use a Buddhist excuse to answer my question

          • Sy2502

            You made an incorrect statement, that believing in the soul is equivalent to believing in god. I provided you an example (Buddhism) in which this is not the case. Maybe learning you were wrong should give you some pause and food for thought?

          • Jon

            we live in democracy, would you rather talking with the majority Christian culture or minority Buddhism culture? That was exactly what Ashbrook implying

          • Sy2502

            Your comment is entirely irrelevant to the discussion. Once again: you made the assertion that belief in god is equivalent to belief in the soul. I proved you it’s entirely possible to believe in the soul without believing in god. This means the 2 are not equivalent. All of this has nothing to do with what religion has the majority in the US, democracy, or which religion is better than which other. Please make an effort to stay on point.

  • Annie

    Wish Id been able to make it to my computer sooner!
    In my studies of cognitive neuroscience one of the subjects I found most fascinating was Awareness below the level of Consciousness, where our body is shockingly skilled at responding to stimui before, or even WITHOUT them passing through our conscious mind. We’re conscious of our response, however, and are very skilled at coming up with stories, in our conscious mind, to explain our own actions to ourselves. In regards to this conversation, this implies to me that much of we consider to be “ourselves” are actually stories made up after the fact. I don’t find this disheartening whatsoever, instead I find it awesome in the fullest sense!

  • Tom

     The physical universe is dependent on non-physical forces, which are at its basis. This is basic physics.

    • tbphkm33

      “Luke, may the force be with you.”

    • Sy2502

      Please enlighten us on what such non-physical forces are. 

  • Tim

    I find Dr. Churchland’s use of the phrase “ghosty, spooky soul” rather belittling.  It’s also an overgeneralization of how various people understand what the soul is.

    • mdelvecchio

      yet it is correct in essence — the soul is referred to as a magic entity disconnected from our bodies. sounds pretty spooky to me. 

      • kenrubenstein

        String theory refers to magic extra dimensions that nobody can detect, now or ever, sounds pretty spooky to me.

    • Tom

       That’s correct. Good point. The use of the word ‘soul’ here shows a parochial understanding of culture, science,  and language.

  • Ion Simbotin

    It’s delightful to listen to Prof. Churchland;  common sense, especially when espoused by philosophers, is tremendously reassuring.  There is hope for philosophy, yet.

    • mdelvecchio

      yes.

  • GaryO

    Tom, your show was truly ridiculous today, unworthy of air time on NPR.   Way to drop the ball.

    Who’s your guest tomorrow?

    . . .  Someone who thinks  gravity doesn’t exist because we can’t see it?

    • Sy2502

      Jump off a window and admire gravity at work. Now why don’t you give me a good, reliable method for testing the existence of the soul? 

      • GaryO

        You go first.  Prove to me that souls do not exist.

        • Sy2502

          You are not in the least familiar with Logic, are you? Try an internet search for “argument from ignorance” closely followed by a search for “burden of proof”. That should keep you occupied for a while.

  • Expanded_Consciousness
  • turkoz

    don’t see the big deal: i never could grasp the concept of “mind” or “soul”

  • Ion Simbotin

    Giving up the thought that there is purpose in the Universe is terribly difficult;  it only comes easily to heathens such as physicists.

    If Woody Allen were to do a remake of “Annie Hall”, he would have the depressed nine-year-old boy say that he stopped doing his homework because he learned that physicists discovered that there isn’t any purpose in the Universe.

    PS/addendum:
    Having to explain why my own joke makes me feel deflated; plus, this series of comments will be permanently abandoned soon by all of us. Anyway, just wanted to clarify that I am a physicist; hence, a heathen; or, is it the other way around? And about the lack of purpose, I’m talking about the big scheme of things; it’s actually liberating to find out that the Universe is free of purpose. There could be a surprisingly large number of physicists who believe otherwise; but that would only show that we are human, after all. Of course, when it comes to the purpose in our lives, I got nothing against that. Although, I would say the main driver is pleasure; we only obsess over things (tangible, or intellectual) that give us pleasure.

    • geraldfnord

      I’m a physicist, and I don’t know any of us who believe that there were no purpose in the Universe.

      Many of us believe that there were no _inherent_, baked-in, purpose—plenty of purpose we’ve made, and with which all the living things were born….

    • Sy2502

      So your argument is that a purpose must exist because you wouldn’t like it if it didn’t? Very profound. As a famous writer said, “reality is that which, after you stop believing it, doesn’t go away”.

  • Al Gamow

    My self is my brain?  You mean it’s not my nose or some other protruding member?  Well, OK.

    • Expanded_Consciousness

      Well, you get a nose job or lose a limb, and you are still you. We don’t get a new name and social security number. But, yes, we are embodied brains, and not brains in a vat or digitally uploaded brains. And then there is the extended minds theory which claims that our minds don’t ended at the skull, but extend out to our body, environment, social network, tools, technology, etc., which can be understood as a part of ourselves (or, at least, as part of the same cognitive system).

      • kenrubenstein

        Lose your washing machine? Lose your favorite vase? You can still wash or stick your flowers in a milk jug. Lose your TV and you can’t watch your favorite programs. Does that mean that the TV is the source of these shows? C’mon.

        • Expanded_Consciousness

          Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ksasPjrYFTg

          Wiki:

          “The “extended mind thesis” (EMT) refers to an emerging concept that addresses the question as to the division point between the mind and the environment by promoting the view of active externalism. The EMT proposes that some objects in the external environment are utilized by the mind in such a way that the objects can be seen as extensions of the mind itself. Specifically, the mind is seen to encompass every level of the cognitive process, which will often include the use of environmental aids.

          The seminal work in the field is “The Extended Mind” by Andy Clark and David Chalmers (1998).[1] In this paper, Clark and Chalmers present the idea of active externalism (similar to semantic or “content” externalism), in which objects within the environment function as a part of the mind. They argue that it is arbitrary to say that the mind is contained only within the boundaries of the skull. The separation between the mind, the body, and the environment is seen as an unprincipled distinction. Because external objects play a significant role in aiding cognitive processes, the mind and the environment act as a “coupled system”. This coupled system can be seen as a complete cognitive system of its own. In this manner, the mind is extended into the external world. The main criterion that Clark and Chalmers list for classifying the use of external objects during cognitive tasks as a part of an extended cognitive system is that the external objects must function with the same purpose as the internal processes.

          In “The Extended Mind,” a thought experiment is presented to further illustrate the environment’s role in connection to the mind. The fictional characters Otto and Inga are both traveling to a museum simultaneously. Otto has Alzheimer’s Disease, and has written all of his directions down in a notebook to serve the function of his memory. Inga is able to recall the internal directions within her memory. In a traditional sense, Inga can be thought to have had a belief as to the location of the museum before consulting her memory. In the same manner, Otto can be said to have held a belief of the location of the museum before consulting his notebook. The argument is that the only difference existing in these two cases is that Inga’s memory is being internally processed by the brain, while Otto’s memory is being served by the notebook. In other words, Otto’s mind has been extended to include the notebook as the source of his memory. The notebook qualifies as such because it is constantly and immediately accessible to Otto, and it is automatically endorsed by him.”

          • kenrubenstein

            Interesting speculation, but not compellingly convincing. Far from it.

        • 1Brett1

          Well, you sure convoluted that potential conversation fast…

        • 1Brett1

          Well, you sure convoluted that potential conversation fast…

  • scottguth

    The short form or Doctor Churchland’s position is that we’re just  brain chemistry. 

    Biology tell us that the interaction between our gene-informed body and our continuum of exposure to our environment results in what we are and what we do.  This is all physical stuff complying with the laws of physics.  We can expect a non-linear explosion of understanding of this stuff in our century of the brain.  We can also expect that engineering technology to modify this stuff will come on line. 

    Engineering both genomic other somatic elements combined with environment engineered to specification will allow us to control some aspects of a persons behavior.  Some people may come to control some of what other people do. We need to study and plan how we’re going to manage this most fundamental and radical change sooner rather than later.

    My terror is that people will be created to have an even greater propensity to war, torture and slavery than we have displayed over the millenia.  People like Ray Kurzweil seem to suggest that no attention need be paid to the moral character of modified people who will be light years ahead in smartness. A caste society will be the inevitable outcome.  Ethics of 

    My dream is that people will be engineered to be more generous, compassionate and kind than we have been.  I believe the technology to make this possible will be developed but I realize that the politics to get there would be forbiddingly difficult.  If we’re going over the ecological cliff in  few decades, could that be a crisis that could bring us together to avoid a world condition like a city under siege?

         

  • kenrubenstein

    She’s solved “the hard problem,” the mind-body problem? Gimme a break. Opinion? Si. Science? Fuggedaboutit.

    • Sy2502

      She never said she solved the hard problem. Did you even listen to the interview?

      • kenrubenstein

        Then her material reductionist perspective is a hypothesis and nothing more. Not worthy of fussing over. Her guess is as good as anyone’s.

        • Sy2502

          Scientific hypothesis are not guesses. 

          • kenrubenstein

            As a real, live scientist, I can attest that they are educated guesses. One’s that can’t be proved experimentally, at least at present, will remain hypotheses for the foreseeable future.

          • Sy2502

            Ah wonderful, that little word, “educated”. One thing about scientific hypothesis is that they don’t blatantly go against fundamental and well confirmed science, unless they show good reason for it. Another is that they at least try to make verifiable predictions, even though the means to verify them may not be currently available (as the Higgs Boson used to be). 

          • kenrubenstein

            Many subjective and repeatable observations are not open to objective experimental verification, but are clearly real nonetheless. As a crude example, can you measure love?

  • Mattyster

    No doubt my brain defines me in the physical world, but the idea that nothing else exists is an assumption.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=691113757 Luther Epperhart

    I felt that Dr. Churchland’s comments were demeaning to the millions on Earth who ascribe to any religion which asserts the existence of a spiritual reality.  I also thought the repeated comparison to Galileo’s astronomical discoveries were grandiose, considering that Galileo used observable evidence to prove that the earth was not flat, but Dr. Churchland presented no evidence of the non-existence of the soul.  But how could she? Her philosophy is nothing new or exciting- naturalism and materialism has been around at least since the ancient Greeks and earlier.  If the soul is a immaterial, then it can never be proven or disproven by the scientific method, no matter how far we come in neuroscience.   

    • Expanded_Consciousness

      Santa Clause doesn’t have to be proven to not exist. You have to prove Santa Clause exists, if you believe he exists. The same with the soul thesis.

      Religion is infantile. The human race needs to grow up and stop acting like little school children.

      Galileo took the Earth out of the center of the universe. Darwin took the human species off its high horse and put it back into the continuum of evolving life on Earth. Freud took our notion of our self possessing complete conscious control, and exposed unconscious factors. Neuroscience is also poised to redefine our understanding of reality. Every advance has been a blow to human narcissism, and the weakest humans have always been the most resistant to each new truth. Pathetic.

      • kenrubenstein

        The interesting thing is that modern physics describes a universe very much different than our commonly accepted paradigms allow. Why, we haven’t even dealt with a world described by quantum mechanics, much less string theory with its hidden dimensions. Einstein, for example, went to his grave convinced that matter existed as one manifestation of an all-encompassing unified field. Ain’t that something.

      • GaryO

         The soul is not Santa Claus.  The soul is defined is being  spiritual and immaterial.  You can’t sense it empirically.

        • Expanded_Consciousness

          The onus is on you to prove that part of you is immaterial. I can say I am 10 feet tall, and not 6 feet tall. 6 feet of me is material, and you can see that part of me, and 4 feet of me is immaterial, invisible, and you cannot see it. Just cause I declare it, does not make it true. You can make up any fiction you want, yet it is still fiction.

          • GaryO

            No, the onus is on those of you who say that science supports your case.  And science cannot disprove the existence of a soul. Science can prove that you are not 10 feet tall however.  Height is measurable. The soul, by definition immaterial and spiritual, is not measurable.

          • Expanded_Consciousness

            No, one does not have to disprove that your invisible, immaterial, made-up fantasy life does not exist. One just needs to reject it, since there is absolutely no reason to indulge it.

      • Wm_James_from_Missouri

        This article is not very comprehensive but it suggests that a major advance in computing power is near.
        … “We could map the whole Universe — all of the information that has existed since the Big Bang — onto 300 qubits,” Lloyd says. …

        http://www.nature.com/news/quantum-boost-for-artificial-intelligence-1.13453

        This article is also indirectly suggestive of the Resurrection.

        I might add that it is faith that keeps such ideas in play.

        You may also get a kick out of “ God, Cosmology, and the Resurrection of the Dead“, by; Frank Tippler. Tippler was a former atheist and is (or at least did, for sometime) now a Christian.

    • Wm_James_from_Missouri

      Professor Churchland would have us believe that reductionism is the be-all and end-all, but how far down does her reductionism go ? Doest it end at the cellular level, the molecular level, the atomic level, the quark level … the mathematical substrate level ? Don’t you find it interesting that “God” haters can believe in the “Multiverse Universe concept ” but not accept the possibility of a “God” ? Who “made” the rules of mathematics ? Would the Pythagorean formula; a^2 + b^2 = c^2, still be true if one could not see or find a triangle? We need more effort to understand computation and the concepts of a “state”, “sets”, “isomorphism”, etc., and the limits of what can and cannot be known ! There are just too many “wannabe” truth soothsayers and not enough transcending open minds !

      • Expanded_Consciousness

      • thinkingiscritical

        As to your comments on reductionism,  I will just quote John Holland. “For the last 400 years science has advanced
        by reductionism … The idea is that you could understand the world, all
        of nature, by examining smaller and smaller pieces of it. When
        assembled, the small pieces would explain the whole”  No one is a god hater, ridiculous, how can you hate something that does not exist.  But what irritates “free thinkers” is listening to arguments for a god when no argument exists.  Believing in a god is all about faith, and faith is no different than living in a delusional state of “being”

        • Wm_James_from_Missouri

          Would you fault a father who had faith in his children ?

          • thinkingiscritical

             I would, if he did not have any children.  The same way you do not need the Pythagorean formula if no triangle exists . . . you do not need faith in a non entity.

          • Wm_James_from_Missouri

            Would the Universe exist if the Pythagorean formula did not exist or would it just be a different “type” of Universe ?
            If a different type, how would you justify your postulating a different type of Universe. If the Universe did not exist, how would you test your hypothesis, as I am assuming that you are a part of the Universe? Of course YOU could be God, and are, in fact, testing me ! : )
            Just having some fun. Hope you are too !

    • Sy2502

      How were they demeaning?

    • thinkingiscritical

       Sounds like you turned off the interview upon hearing the first thing your very closed mind did not agree with.  You have a ways to go, to any kind of awakening as to what was really being said today.  This was not supposition but physics.  Natural Laws.   

  • http://www.facebook.com/phil.freeman.79 Phil Freeman

    What next?  A show about how there really may not be a Santa Claus?  That we are having this discussion in the 21st century says a lot about the superstition still rampant among people today, and helps to explain why we can’t tackle problems like climate change. 

    • Ion Simbotin

      True, and depressingly sad;  also, speaking of Galileo — Tom kept comparing Galileo’s achievements to those of the guest — I can’t help recalling what Feynman was saying in 1964, at the Galileo-Symposium celebrating 400 years since his birth:

        “[…] as I’d like to show Galileo our world, I must show
         him something with a great deal of shame. If we look
         away from the science and look at the world around us,
         we find out something rather pitiful: that the environment
         that we live in is so actively, intensely unscientific.”

      Also, Feynman wonders “why is it possible for people to stay so woefully ignorant and yet reasonably happy in modern society when so much knowledge is unavailable to them?”

    • Ion Simbotin

      A very eloquent essay by Neal Gabler in the NYTimes, two years ago, laments the current decline of rationality in general;  he says:

        “It is no secret, especially here in America,
         that we live in a post-Enlightenment age in which
         rationality, science, evidence, logical argument
         and debate have lost the battle in many sectors,
         and perhaps even in society generally, to superstition,
         faith, opinion and orthodoxy.”

      Although we still make huge technological advances, Neal Gabler says that

        “[...] we may be the first generation to have turned
         back the epochal clock — to have gone backward
         intellectually from advanced modes of thinking
         into old modes of belief.”

  • Wm_James_from_Missouri

    Professor Churchland would have us believe that reductionism is the be-all and end-all, but how far down does her reductionism go ? Doest it end at the cellular level, the molecular level, the atomic level, the quark level … the mathematical substrate level ? Don’t you find it interesting that “God” haters can believe in the “Multiverse Universe concept ” but not accept the possibility of a “God” ? Who “made” the rules of mathematics ? Would the Pythagorean formula; a^2 + b^2 = c^2, still be true if one could not see or find a triangle? We need more effort to understand computation and the concepts of a “state”, “sets”, “isomorphism”, etc., and the limits of what can and cannot be known ! There are just too many “wannabe” truth soothsayers and not enough transcending open minds !

    • Expanded_Consciousness

      Believing that a God exists, and that he consciously and intentionally set the physical laws of the universe in motion, is evidence of a closed mind and not an open mind. The unknown is the unknown, and remains unknown until it is known. That there are unknowns does not prove that what you were taught in Sunday school was right, or that there is a conscious and intentional being somewhere in the sky creating everything.

      • Wm_James_from_Missouri

        Never went to Sunday school ! I have arrived at my conclusions, which are in constant review, by life’s experiences, and my engineering and math studies. I have spent much of my life reflecting on these topics. Don’t believe in Bible thumping preachers, that walk up and down a stage spewing out Greek root words, that help to reinforce a particular viewpoint. I look for truth. I don’t start with emotional biases only hypotheses. I “do my own thinking”, a phrase that my father forced me to hear most of my life. I try and look for motive and where, and from what background those that disagree with me are coming from. Mr. E_C, we have had a similar conversation before, you have not attempted to demonstrate why my Gödel-ian, argument was wrong. You haven’t, because you can’t ! Gödel proved certain things about the limits of knowledge in answer to Hilbert. Alan Turing, Alonso Church and others have done the same. These were great men and great minds. Some of their writings are so deep and involved that very many, even very many educated people do not know of them. Even more do not understand them ! It is too bad. If you and others would just take the time to learn them and understand them we would then have a meaningful basis from which to discuss such issues. The Clergy would do well to understand such issues also !

        • kenrubenstein

          Did it ever occur to you that people far more sophisticated in spirituality than bible thumpers might exist and have perspectives worthy of consideration?

          • Expanded_Consciousness

            How is it more complex? Because you take a spiritual notion and paste it onto a notion in theoretical physics? Filling in the unknown with a spiritual story is writing fiction.

          • kenrubenstein

            I’ve familiarized myself with this stuff over more than forty years. Can’t tell you in a sound bite. If you’re interested, make your own investigation. Who knows, you might even learn something you don’t know. Unlikely, I admit, but…

          • Expanded_Consciousness

            You can’t explain it, can’t see it, can’t measure it, can’t prove it, can’t support it, can’t reason through it, but it exists. You guarantee it. Wonderful.

          • kenrubenstein

            Actually, that’s your take. I’m agnostic on the whole deal, but I don’t accept scientism as a religion any more than I do actual religions. There’s good stuff to contemplate on both sides of the (nonexistent) fence. 

          • Expanded_Consciousness

            Just because there are unknowns and science doesn’t know all yet, does not support the validity of one single religious notion.

          • kenrubenstein

            That’s what I mean by scientism. You’re one of the faithful. 

          • Expanded_Consciousness

            No. An unknown is just an unknown. It doesn’t prove science or religion. It is just an unknown. Live with it.

          • Wm_James_from_Missouri

            Yes.

        • Sy2502

          Actually, Godel proved the limits of arithmetic systems, not of knowledge. Turing extended Godel’s findings to computational systems. Please don’t be one of those who misuse these theorems to fit anything they please. They are actually much more limited in their application than the layman thinks.

          • Wm_James_from_Missouri

            Using Gödel numbering, Gödel created a method to form a one to one correspondence between a unique number and a unique mathematical character(s)/symbol(s) . He asserted that this isomorphic relationship, being unique could be used to “map” to truths represented as mathematical statements to be proved or disproved. He asserted that if the mathematical statement that was formed by this method was true the associated “English” ( I am speaking loosely when I say “English”) statement must also be true ! This is a form of truth machine ! An oracle, if you will. I am sorry, but you are not correct.
            Note: “They” are only limited because people have chosen not to pursue this field of study. Gödel’s concepts were so far ahead of his time that they are still not a part of mainstream thinking. The day this begins to change, is the day that a super-intelligent being will begin to evolve ! I hope that we are that being !

          • Sy2502

            I recommend the book ”
            Gödel’s Theorem: An Incomplete Guide to Its Use and Abuse” It covers the common misuses of the Theorem.

          • Wm_James_from_Missouri

            I do appreciate your comments and your gift of title. I am very pressed for time. I currently have 5 unread books to read. I will, however, add this to my to do list. I find this subject profound. I, as a hobbyist programmer, have written some programs that I hope to integrate into a Gödel “ structure” someday. I hope to bring them to market in some way, also. I assure you that, although, I find it frustrating convincing others of my reasoning, the critiques are welcome.

          • Wm_James_from_Missouri

            Check out the links and conversation I gave to Expanded_Consciousness on the “On Point Show”, of, July 15, 2013, “The Examined Life”.

            http://onpoint.wbur.org/2013/07/15/grosz-examined-life#disqus_thread

        • http://www.facebook.com/brajarajasutadasa Braja-raja Suta Dasa

          i just recently heard a little and then read some on godel. very interesting. 

          • Wm_James_from_Missouri

            Check out the links and conversation I gave to Expanded_Consciousness on the “On Point Show”, of, July 15, 2013, “The Examined Life”.

            http://onpoint.wbur.org/2013/07/15/grosz-examined-life#disqus_thread

          • http://www.facebook.com/brajarajasutadasa Braja-raja Suta Dasa

            will check out the link now. thanks.

          • http://www.facebook.com/brajarajasutadasa Braja-raja Suta Dasa

            “Be clear, I do not reject science! But I will say, that, so much of what so many believe to be ‘science’ is nothing more than, reasoning based on simplistic mathematics and a kind of tunnel vision about the complexity of the Universe.”
            liking it so far! :-)

            i am just too short on time. hope i can get back to reading some of your links one day. thanks.
            pls look me up on facebook if you can.

    • Sy2502

      The difference is that, as the guest said, the idea of soul violates the laws of physics, like conservation of energy. The multiverse doesn’t. Moreover, while many scientists toy with the idea of multiverse, you are mistaken if you think it is some kind of established scientific theory. It is only a hypothesis and it will stay that way until actual proof of its validity. There is no proof of the “soul hypothesis” either, therefore there’s no reason why science should embrace it. 
      Also on a side note, who’s the “god haters” you refer to?

      • http://www.facebook.com/brajarajasutadasa Braja-raja Suta Dasa

        can you explain why the idea of soul violates the conservation of energy? thanks.

        • Sy2502

          The guest explains it in the interview. Feel free to replay it.

      • Wm_James_from_Missouri

        Boltzmann would disagree with your concept of ‘universal violation’. It is just improbable, in our time frame and locality.

        • Sy2502

          Where did I talk of “universal violation”?

      • Wm_James_from_Missouri

        … “We could map the whole Universe — all of the information that has existed since the Big Bang — onto 300 qubits,” Lloyd says. …

        http://www.nature.com/news/quantum-boost-for-artificial-intelligence-1.13453

        This article is also indirectly suggestive of the Resurrection.

        I might add that it is faith that keeps such ideas in play.

        You may also get a kick out of “ God, Cosmology, and the Resurrection of the Dead“, by; Frank Tippler. Tippler was a former atheist and is (or at least did, for sometime) now a Christian.

  • Tom

    To me Nature IS your Soul. Your brain is nothing other than Nature.
    You are Nature, you are not something else. You only think that because of small sense of self ego, that persists in a state of self-perpetuating ignorance for about 70 to 100 years of your lifetime. But nature is vast and mysterious. It is your true Self.
    Humans barely understand any of it, sitting on their speck of dust that is just the third rock from the Sun, in this vast universe. 

    • Expanded_Consciousness

      It is the complete opposite. The universe is boring and monotonous. What is important is the third rock from the Sun (the Earth), the most complex creatures on the planet (Humans), and especially the most complex part of humans (the Brain). That is where it is at in this universe. Nowhere else.

  • Tom

    The concept of soul is just the same as ego.
    It is unscientific and poor quality logic to think that you were born and you will die. You were not born. You are just a continuum of what Nature has always been doing for billions of years. To think that you are somehow separate from that continuum and somehow autonomous is unscientific and ego-centric. Therefore, you do live forever. Your idea of death is a naive illusion. Nature is highest. The brain is just an instrument of it.

    • Expanded_Consciousness

      Atoms have been around for billions of years, but humans have not. If I sell you a computer, you want the whole working and interconnected machine. You would not be happy if I chopped it into millions of unconnected atoms and handed it to you like that. It wouldn’t help if I said that it is all in the same continuum.

    • kenrubenstein

      How the brain might generate consciousness, the sense of ‘I am’ for example, has not been solved by science, is called ‘the hard question,’ and still comes under the heading ‘promissory materialism.’ As a biologist of long standing, I can assure you that anything science has to say on the matter is, at present, entirely hypothetical, and nowhere near the status of supported theory. Perhaps our cartoonish idea of the ‘soul’ falls short of actuality, and in fact several spiritual traditions have much more sophisticated views on the matter, e.g., kashmir shaivism and its doctrine of vibration, which sounds as if it might have been cooked up by a theoretical physicist.

  • tbphkm33

    Great show today!  A testament to reason and intellectualism.  

    I have always  recognized the fallacy of individuals and humanity in this realm, namely the inability to grasp the reality that there is not and does not need to be some grand meaning to our existence.  The existence of us and the universe around us is grand enough.  It is supremely arrogant of us to think that some greater force has a divine meaning for our existence.  That is akin to still believing Earth is the center of the universe.  

    If the universe was created by a supremely advanced intellectual being, is it not arrogant for us to think we are the ultimate outcome of that effort?  After all, humanity is more akin to parasitic infestation on one planet than a divine gift to the universe.  We drive other species into extinction while we poison our own environment, thus threatening our own survival.  Some outcome we are proving to be.  

    I look across the universe, space and time without any doubts that my existence, as well as the existence of humans and all ape species, are but a fraction of a blink of the eye.  Here and gone, a mere infinitesimally small footnote to the opera of immense forces that shape the universe. 

    Take your superstition in godly beings if it makes you feel better or you can parlay that adherence into material gain for your existence, but realize that at the end of the day, we are but the chemicals and their subcomponents that combine for a limited time to make what we recognize as ourself.  Only to scatter to the wind, the atoms combining to compose countless other beings. 

    … and, speaking as a Humanist Monk, realize that our greatest power is to make this a better life for all of humanity and all life on Earth.  Lets not use religion and all the “-ism’s” to divide, instead we have the power to unite and improve.

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      yes. that does not exclude the existence of god.

      • tbphkm33

        Let me recast your reply in different words:
        “I can see the curve of the horizon, but the plate could be so large that its weight makes it curve at the ends; hence, the world could still be flat.”

        I think I clearly stated my refutation of a mythical or superstitious god like being looking over humanities shoulder.  

        • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

          ah so you feel as though you have proven a negative?
          how good is your understanding of string theory?

  • Laur5000

    Thank you for this interesting show. Based on the volume of comments indicating a total lack of scientific literacy, we need more shows like this. Considering there is no evidence to suggest the existence of a “soul” outside the brain, one wonders why so many still cling to this Bronze Age myth and bash others for questioning it. It’s the same hackneyed argument from the religious: if I don’t yet understand something, a god must have done it. 

  • philaheel

    I’m surprised at the lack of rigor present in this piece. I was disappointed to see Tom let Churchland dismiss the need to account for causality.

    This is really an “is too, is not” conversation. I’ve heard nothing yet to account for her belief that the brain accounts wholly for the self and that the idea of personality as eternal is farcical. OK, I say we are more than our biology and personality is eternal. Let’s shout back and forth at each other across our backyards. There’s only one way to find out what happens after death. Who’s with me?

    After all this rationalizing she introduces buddhism and says she feels at peace with the universe. Universe? We assume there is order to all that is and yet it is just here. She has a sense of wonder at the beauty of the universe, which implies that beauty, not necessarily efficient or useless, is just there. Why in the world would it be there? It just is. Is not. Is too.

    She is no Galileo or Copernicus. She is trying to sell a Betamax.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1359092520 Christian Draz

    I am always appalled at the number of people — the majority it seems — who accept, simply on inherited faith, the existence of a soul independent of our brain. Shouldn’t this be the very first question one asks oneself when you reach the age of reason? What demonstrable reason do we have to believe this? (None. The fact that billions of people believe something doesn’t perforce make it true!) Why isn’t this belief simply a case of magical thinking so as to avoid accepting our mortality and the annihilation of our consciousness? It seems to me that the claims of the soul’s eternity are far more outlandish than any strictly materialist argument people like Churchland make. And yet Tom Ashbrook presented Churchland as positing something deeply radical! It was as he had never considered the question himself. Why do smart people who otherwise hold everything up to examination fail to do so with the most basic and existential question?

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      how good is your understanding of string theory?

    • thinkingiscritical

       Tom always sounds like he is hearing something for the first time.  It is his charm . . .  his MO.

      • Expanded_Consciousness

        Haha. He is such an actor. “Really? So, you are suggesting that some scientists have different views than religious people. Wow!”

        • thinkingiscritical

           I am not sure what views you are talking about.  But most scientists from their own training can not except “faith” as a reason to believe something. I wish I could live long enough to see that day that a vast majority of the general population starts to think more like a scientist.  Using the tools a scientist uses to test a theory instead of relying on the brainwashing and general delusional state of belief that was taught them by parents and society.
           ”I believe that ultimate reality escapes our intelligence. Professing
          this ignorance is more basic for me than professing any special
          knowledge that could be called faith”.
          That is a quote from Jack Miles who wrote and won a Pulitzer prize for “God – A biography”.  Ex-Jesuit, who, upon examining the bible learned faith was not enough.

          • Expanded_Consciousness

            I was just mimicking and mocking Tom’s interviewing technique of faking surprise and incredulity.

          • thinkingiscritical

             Of course. Note to self: Lighten up.  lol

          • Expanded_Consciousness

            Haha.

          • GaryO

            Science has not disproven that souls exist.   How could it? After all, a soul is defined as being immaterial and spiritual. It should be expected that no material evidence for the soul’s existence will be found. Science does not support your prejudices.

    • Expanded_Consciousness

      One problem is that in our language we use the word soul in another sense: to denote words, emotions, writing, or art that embodies great and deep feeling (“that trumpet player has a lot of soul”). People get used to hearing the word. 

    • GaryO

      What is even more appalling is the presumption that the existence of a brain precludes the existence of a soul, and that the existence of a physical world rules out the existence of a spiritual world. That’s not even rational, is it?

  • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

    does she address that much of your nervous tissue is actually in your gut area? we only understand the tip of the iceberg

  • http://www.facebook.com/brajarajasutadasa Braja-raja Suta Dasa

    Hi. Did she discuss anything about plants which have no brain? 

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      what about it?

  • Gaius_Casius

    An interesting scholarly book published back in 2007 called Irreducible Mind: Toward a Psychology for the 21st Century moves one in completely the opposite direction from what Churchland is suggesting. The total human experience cannot be reduced to brain function. There isn`t a shred of evidence to suggest this yet hard core materialists continue to cling to this basic belief. 

  • Tate Breswick

    Could you comment on the interaction of the brain and the rest of the body (central nervous system)? Does the rest of the body have an equal effect on our conciousness?

  • reimac

    Seventh Day Adventist Christians believe, as your guest, that there is no concept of the soul.  They use biblical theology to formulate their arguments.  At the same time they do believe in a creator God but not in a soul that remains after death. Consciousness is from God through the brain and brain only as he communicates with man.  The concept of God does not at all interfere with their belief in the absence of a soul.  

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      and girls should not wear pants

      • Expanded_Consciousness

        Ooh. I hope they can still shave their legs.

  • http://www.facebook.com/luckyhubbie Jeff Harris

    Oh the logic.  :)  ’We didn’t find a soul in the brain so there isn’t one.  Brains work all by themselves so something larger than ourselves is impossible.’  Using this “new” idea.  I would like to be the first to submit that there is no life outside of that which we find here on earth. We’ve been looking for ages and have found nothing substantial. Nothing to prove extraterrestrial life exists; thus no such thing.  

    No arguing please.  Its been proven fact now…By ME!!!

    Seriously though, here are the cold hard facts.
    1. Life on this planet exists.
    2. This planet has not always been able to support life.
    3. Life on this planet began at some point in history.

    So… there are three possibilities for how life began on this planet.
    1. It began of its own accord. (No proof. No one has ever created life where there was none before in a repeatable experiment.  Spontaneous generation was disproved by Francesco Redi in 1668.)
    2. Life traveled here from some other planet. (No proof. If life was floating around all over the cosmos, skipping from planet to planet, no evidence has as yet been found to prove this.)

    3.  It was created by something.  (No proof.  The existence of God precludes that God can never be proven or disproved beyond doubt.  Thus it is impossible to prove God exists.  That’s why its called faith.)

    So matter what you believe you are being just as irrational in your thoughts as everyone else who believes differently.  

    • Greg Janzen

      ‘We didn’t find a soul in the brain so there isn’t one. Brains work all by themselves so something larger than ourselves is impossible.’
       
      Nobody appeals to ignorance this way, certainly not in professional philosophy. What philosophers (right-thinking ones anyway) DO say is that since there’s no evidence for souls, minds, etc., we can conclude, provisionally but also with a reasonable degree of certainty, that there are no souls, minds, etc. (just as, since there’s no evidence for fairies, we can conclude, provisionally but also with a reasonable degree of certainty, that there are no fairies). 

      This is elementary stuff. The person who proportions her beliefs to the evidence is always a good fallibilist.

  • richardemmanuel

    it is my opinion that: Patricia is the first woman to describe in “Touching a Nerve” the failed “Male Experience”of thinking of the world as touching ones penis. For whatever discipline Patricia has:It is a “belief”. . . the brain is all there is. . .IS THE RELIGION OF SCIENCE. . . [SCIENCE PERHAPS THE BEST ATEMPT YET]. . . 
    The penis is all that is, is the core of the failure of Western religion. The religion of science is a male religion and I feel Patricia has made a tremendous sacrifice of disconnecting from her being a “Woman” to tell this story.The claim that the physical brain is all there is . . . is the same prejudice that male religions claim as “God the Father” is all there is. The concept of “Woman” has not been addressed and Patricia is still promoting “HIS-STORY”. Patricia I suggest digital masturbation is like the sound of one hand clapping. Please: WE HAVE HAD ENOUGH DESCRIPTION AS TO OTHERS DESCRIBING WHAT BEING IS. . . “just physical matter”is just another “EGO TRIP” . . . “MASTURBATION MAY BE A CLUE”…
    rev@thechurch.org

  • Expanded_Consciousness

    Why would a soul exist apart from your material body? You hear this as a child and as an adult you want to cling to the notion. Why do you postulate that a brain has emotions and a soul has emotions? Why would they be located in two places and realms? Why don’t you postulate that you have a material heart and stomach, and an immaterial heart and stomach that also effects blood flow and digestion? Why don’t you postulate that you have one material brain and 100 immaterial souls? Why just one soul?

    There is just no need to postulate an immaterial soul.

    • Expanded_Consciousness

      Of course, no responses.

    • Expanded_Consciousness

      And why don’t you talk to your car, believing that your car has emotions residing in an invisible, immaterial car-soul? 

    • WRestwood

      Well, in fact, most tenable philosophies see a problem with saying “apart from”.  ”Man” is body and soul, but not the trivial “ghost in the box”, or a “haze” around the body.  The only thing that makes sense is  integrated in some way.  There has been a few thousand years of thought on this and, unfortunately, one does have to separate out some postulations that do lead to bizarre implications, as you have pointed out. Another faulty notion is “duality” .. material is bad, immaterial (and soul) is good.  Very strange where that leads you (like, for some, no reproduction allowed).  

  • Kevin Johnson

    Ah positivism, as presumptuous and arrogant as ever.  Patty’s flaw: if the brain can “see” it or understand it, it doesn’t exist.

    Patty simply shows her (Western) blind spots here. So, in original forms of Eastern/yogic philosophy, there is no causal connection between the mind/brain and the soul–we shouldn’t expect to see a linkage. Further, these philosophies claim that it is our very rootedness in the brain that keeps our knowledge of the soul hidden. According to them, looking more minutely into the brain just furthers our distant from discovering the soul.

    Descartes introduced the West to the existential nightmare that continues to plaque us and is furthered by narrow researchers like Patty. Don’t abdicate to “science”  over your own experience.  Moral theories involving social contracts will do little for you in your daily life or on your death bed.  And anyone who studies science/positivism in depth knows that the field itself knows it is flawed in its truth claims–yet we are asked daily to subscribe to those claims.  

    Finally, Thoreau writes that in solitude he became aware of a part of himself that was not himself; a watcher that is unaffected by his life and thought and simply moves on when he dies.  Thoreau discovered the soul, and I intend to follow in his, not Patty’s footsteps.

    • Expanded_Consciousness

      Becoming aware of something does not prove its existence or amount to a discovery. Hallucinating a pink elephant is to become aware of a pink elephant, but it doesn’t mean the pink elephant exists in reality or was discovered to exist in reality.

      • GaryO

        If you’re really aware of something, then it does in fact exist. Hallucinating is not becoming aware. 

        • Expanded_Consciousness

          Being aware of something larger than yourself is akin to a hallucination. Why is it always something larger than yourself? Why not something smaller than yourself? Is it because believers are perpetual children looking up to the bigger, larger adults to take care of them forever?

          • GaryO

            No, the awareness of reality is the opposite of hallucinating.  Hallucinations are deceptions, not awareness. We believers in reality are realists. Deniers of reality may follow hallucinations as they please, but whether those hallucinations are big or small does not in any way alter the reality they try to deny.

          • Expanded_Consciousness

            For the person hallucinating, the pink elephant is reality. For the believer in the soul, the soul is their pink elephant.

          • GaryO

            That’s merely an opinion, completely unsupported by science.  Got anything else?

          • Expanded_Consciousness

            Brother, you’ve got no soul, no matter how much you think you do. Got anything else besides immaterial fantasy worlds? Can’t you make it through life without childish fantasies? Have you ever tried? You are that dependent on religion?

          • GaryO

            You still have offered nothing in the way of logic, reason, or science to back up your claims. You’re just flailing away. while I and my soul watch you gallop off into the sunset on your pink elephant.

          • Expanded_Consciousness

            Enjoy your delusions!

        • Expanded_Consciousness

          It exists in your brain, not in reality or the world.

          • GaryO

            Denial of reality exists in your brain and is inconsistent with the real world.

          • Expanded_Consciousness

            Feeling aware of something, does not show that it exists in the world, in outer reality.

          • GaryO

            If one truly is aware, then that of which he is aware does exist in reality. But if he’s mistaken, then he’s not really aware. He only thinks he is, and his certainty is misplaced.

          • Expanded_Consciousness

            No, the pink elephant does not exist in reality, no matter how convincing it truly appears to the person hallucinating.

          • GaryO

            In which case there was no awareness.

          • Expanded_Consciousness

            Circular argument!

      • Kevin Johnson

        Thoreau wasn’t trying to “prove” anything with that “discovery.”  He was simply explaining a sense of being that was larger than his circumscribed, materially-based life. 

        Also understand that science “proves” by an agreed consensus that a certain proposition is more likely than not.  We accept most facts of science because of the authority we grant to that consensus (i.e Hawkins says there’s only material, so it must be so).  I’m not willing to alter my internal sense of being simply because Patty and co agree to something else.  But to get to the heart of the matter–if you are a strict materialist, you presuppose a whole series of “facts” to account for that original material that actually make no “sense” whatsoever.  Too much to explain here, but consider that quantum mechanics requires that the “facts” of “proven” physics break down.  Quantum mechanics disproves the supposed facts we are all supposedly living by.And so the fascinating debate rolls on.  Even so, I’ll take a leap of probabilistic faith and choose to refuse to live under the nihilistic pessimism of the materialists.  I’ve actually never met a happy materialist–there’s always a bit of anger at life operating under the arguments.    

  • Gaius_Casius

    Why wouldn’t On Point get a second guest who was more in disagreement on what Prof. Churchland was advocating? I think we lost out on a great debate because one of the points of argument of the 21st century will be related to consciousness and the brain. 

    • Sy2502

      I don’t think you’ll find reputable neuroscientists who believe in the soul and will debate in its favor.

      • Gaius_Casius

        I don’t think I said anything about the second guest having to be a neuroscientist (I should also point out the Churchland isn’t a neuroscientist.) The discussion was on the philosophy of neuroscience. Perhaps someone like Andrew Newburg or Ken Wilbur would have been a interesting counterpoint to Churchland.

      • WRestwood

        Many you won’t find since the smarter ones believe in the soul but know to keep it separate from their work as scientists.  The naive, superficial thinkers in philosophy are the only neuroscientists who flaunt the title and talk about soul’s non existence (as though they had a clue)

        • Sy2502

          Please provide evidence for your assertions.

    • Expanded_Consciousness

      They rather pit it science against the religious public, with Tom going, “A lot of people believe in the soul. Wow! You don’t?” If they invited more scientists and philosophers on there, the debate would have been interesting to me, but it would have gotten too technical and involved for achieving ratings.

      • WRestwood

        The “pit” is the funny thing.  Science enhances our understanding of the world, including understanding the material working of our brains. Science cares diddly squat, and has no tools to talk about meaning, “why” and purpose, and especially anything which, by supposition, isn’t part of the scope of natural science.  If there is a soul, science has zero competence in talking about it.  By definition of science.

        • Jeff Weiss

          No, by definition of a soul. It is constantly redefined to stay outside the realm of science, or else it would vanish in a puff of logic.

  • Bcau24

    “ghostie-spooky soul thing”?  What kind of science is that?   

    • Expanded_Consciousness

      It is a mocking description of the religious concept of the immaterial soul. You want more academic descriptions, like delusion, hallucination, superstition, wish-fulfillment? Primitive, lower-level, infantile thinking?

    • WRestwood

      yes, Bcau24, very good comment.  She undermines her position by using material observations to try to show that “you don’t need a soul”.  Well, that assumes a model for what the soul is, a model that says the soul only does only what you don’t see evidence for in the material.  Oh yea? how do you jump to that?  Given a profound integration of soul and body it may not be easy to state that.

  • Ed75

    Her thought would be revolutionary if it were true.

    • Expanded_Consciousness

      It is self-evident and true. It is old news to many of us. 

    • WRestwood

      not revolutionary.  Simplistic.  ”God strike me dead if you exist!”.  See, I’m still here, so he doesn’t exist.
      People like Churchland are the shadow watchers in Plato’s allegory of the cave.  A perfect answer for everything, but an answer to nothing… they don’t have a clue of the real reality.  She uses simplistic models (akin to the old “ghost in the box” for the soul in the body) and never looks at the implications of what she is saying.  If man is just neuron firings, than there is no meaning to objective order… a thought process that, if using proper logic, brings one to the despair of nothingness and mechanical emptiness that they define as ‘reality’.  Sad.  Very Sad.

      • Terris Linenbach

        Your words are a perfect answer to everything but prove nothing.

      • Greg Janzen

        ‘If man [sic] is just neuron firings, than there is no meaning to objective order… a thought process that, if using proper logic, brings one to the despair of nothingness and mechanical emptiness that they define as ‘reality’.  Sad.  Very Sad.’

        And since Churchland’s view makes me said, I will not–simply WILL not–accept it, even if it’s true. 

        Your motives for rejecting a view are irrelevant. If you want to be an adult and give reasons, we’ll listen

      • Ed75

        Bravo. The implications contradict common sense, but even in itself the argument doesn’t hold – if all could be explained by the brain, that doesn’t imply that the soul doesn’t exist.

  • http://www.facebook.com/luckyhubbie Jeff Harris

    “I yam what I yam and that’s all that I yam!  I like it!!!”  Popeye

    • Wm_James_from_Missouri

      Your “spin” , “itches” me and makes you the wisest in the room today !   : )   ……..

  • http://www.facebook.com/kris.li.3348 Kris Li

    Having studied arguments of Churchland, Dennett, Minsky and a host of others like them as part of a course in Cognitive Science, I can simply say these “scholars” are just ‘arm-chair’ philosophers, who neither have the capacity nor the knowledge to undertake an ‘in-depth study’ of human existence. Ofcourse, we welcome their analysis of ‘what’s human’ or for that matter, existence or life and appreciate their efforts in trying to unravel the human mysterey– but that’s only scratching the surface. We need a new science– a persistent and methodical endeavour, adhering to ‘scientific principles and methods’, for, just as we cannot employ the methods of enquiry to understand the chemical composition of things to the study of astronomical bodies. Each department of ‘Nature’ has to be studied — can be studied — only by using the appropriate “tools” that such an investigation might call for.

    • Wm_James_from_Missouri

      Well said! My streetwise brother has a saying that sobers me up, when I, “think I’m all that”; — “ If your not talking, “Budweiser”, they don’t know what you are talking about “

      • http://www.facebook.com/kris.li.3348 Kris Li

        Yeah, that’s right. But the biggest problem is they don’t want to know… a very closed mind…!

    • Chris Corbett

       Armchairs are the most comfortable for the practice of philosophy.  No doubt you have found the same to be true for critics.  I look forward to your thesis on consciousness.  It’s bound to be as rivetting as your in-depth analysis of Churchland, Dennett et al.

  • brettearle

    Millions of people and thousands of books have, by now, expounded on the relationship of the Mind and the Brain to the Soul.

    Are we to assume that all these people are misdirected and Dr. Churchland is not?

    Dr. Francis Collins, director of the NIH, is an avowed Christian.  I seriously doubt that he would agree with such narrowed precepts about the nature of Man’s Existence.

    • Risto Ilmoniemi

      It does not matter who gives the arguments, be it priest, pope, Obama, doyenne of neurophilosophers, or director of NIH. ItIt does not matter who gives the arguments, be it priest, pope, Obama, doyenne of neurophilosophers, or director of NIH. It does not matter what Descartes’s conclusion was or how many books were written. What counts is logically conducted scientific argumentation based on measurements (i.e., observations of nature). does not matter what Descartes’s conclusion was or how many books were written. What counts is logically conducted scientific argumentation based on measurements (i.e., observations of nature)

      • brettearle

        It does matter.

        Where is it written that it doesn’t matter that millions of people and billions of words and ideas suggest that there is a God and that there is a Soul–and that it may be connected to the Mind and the Brain?

        Because you’ve written it somewhere?

        Where is it written that the Reality of Life and the Reality of our Lives are based on Empirical data?

        Because you’ve written it somewhere?

    • ExcellentNews

      George W. Bush the Third was a fundamentalist Christian, who got his policy beamed from God. The Sultan of Saudi Arabia is a fundamentalist Muslim and self-proclaimed descendent of the Prophet. The True Messiah ran an electronics store in Brooklyn. The Emperor of Ethiopia was Jah. And so on…

      What millions of people believe, what billions of words say, what some executive thinks – all that does not matter in the face of a single piece of empirical data. These are the same people and words who asserted the world was flat. Ms. Churchland simply summarizes what the data says. If one day the data reveals evidence for the soul, she, like all rational, intellectually honest people – will be the first to recognize it and factor it in the worldview.

      • brettearle

        When people assume that Life is defined only by science, they narrow the field of awareness, understanding, and even reason–almost to a tragic degree, if not an actually tragic degree.

        Human knowledge has come a long way from Copernicus and Hippocrates.

        Back then a great deal was unknown.

        There still is a great deal that is unknown. And that includes whether we are discussing Galileo or Heraclitus.

        To relegate the Human experience of Faith, to a neurally wired-in capacity, for the Mind to be used this way, is at once cynical and naive.

        What millions and millions of people believe and think DO matter.

        Even if deplorably misguided leaders, such as Shrub and W misuse their universal awareness.

        It is one thing to recognize the spiritual truths in life. It is another thing, altogether, to abuse that understanding.

  • Jeff Weiss

    There’s no “soul”, and no “God”. 

    These are just fairy tales for adults.  Stories that help people feel like they understand the world and control it.  Of course that is all an illusion. 

    There’s a very good reason why people think they exist as something more than a machine.  A soulless machine that knew it was a soulless machine, would not fear death.  Fear of death helps us survive and reproduce – creatures without this fear would die off.  The belief doesn’t have to be TRUE to offer survival value.

    In fact, it’s NOT true.  It’s just a very powerful illusion that evolution has made difficult to shake.  But it can be shaken, you can see reality for what it is, and personally I think it’s beautiful.

    • Lotus_07

      Why do you posit these absolute negations? Do you possess infinite knowledge? Your arrogance is nauseating.
       

      • Jeff Weiss

        The same way you negate the existence of a creature with a lion head, elephant trunk, shark fins, and monkey butt. You just dismiss it outright, but have you searched the entire planet to be sure it doesn’t exist? Do you really have to?

        • http://www.facebook.com/luckyhubbie Jeff Harris

          Yes.  If you are a scientist You search high and low.  For Christ’s sake we went to space…There’s nothing out there.  I am sure its an easy thing to dismiss.  Why bother looking.  

          You’re funny mate.

      • brettearle

        It is not nauseating.  It’s sad.

        Think of all the billions of words, thoughts, ideas, books, discussions, films, manuscripts, theses, notes, documents and scripture…which discuss God and the soul, throughout history….

        ….while, at the same time, without worrying, a lick, I might add about death, the fear of death, the avoidance of death, the welcoming of death, the search beyond death; nor without worrying about survival as the result of the fear of death;

        …..nor without worrying about the fear of death, when one wishes to reproduce for the sake of,  “see(ing) reality for what it is, and personally I think it’s beautiful”……..so long as Humanity realizes that we can often respire without any sort of souless machine that would only drive us forward to the next radical extermination camp of the Mind.

        • Jeff Weiss

          “so long as Humanity realizes that we can often respire without any sort
          of souless machine that would only drive us forward to the next radical
          extermination camp of the Mind.”

          I have no idea what that means.

    • http://www.facebook.com/luckyhubbie Jeff Harris

      Just because you say “Of course” doesn’t make it so.  You’re not on the enterprise.  

      I don’t claim to know without a doubt.  But if there is a higher being God or alien then I’m certain Science won’t ever seek to discover it.  Every “fairy tale” says God requires faith.  Thus the supreme being is also the supreme hid and seek player.And the very definition of science demands God cannot be an acceptable answer.  So this question if nothing else is eternal.  

  • Lotus_07

    This whole discussion reminds me of what Victor Frankl wrote many years ago:

    “If we present man with a concept of man which is not true, we may well
    corrupt him. When we present him as an automaton of reflexes, as a mind
    machine, as a bundle of instincts, as a pawn of drives and reactions, as
    a mere product of heredity and environment. If we do that we will feed
    the nihilism which modern man is in any case prone. I became acquainted
    with the last stage of corruption at my second concentration camp,
    Auschwitz. The gas chambers of Auschwitz were the ultimate consequence
    of the theory that man is nothing but the product of heredity and
    environment, or as the Nazis liked to say ‘of blood and soil.’ I am
    absolutely convinced that the gas chambers of Auschwitz, Treblinka and
    Maidanek were ultimately prepared not in some ministry of defense or
    other in Berlin but rather at the desks and in the lecture halls of
    nihilistic scientists and philosophers.”

    This especially rings true in our times.

  • Jacob Arnon

    I am a Thinking Chemical Therefore I Am an unthinking chemical.

    • daiginjo

      Nice, Jacob!

  • Doc c

    This is a bait and switch scheme.  Copernicus and Galileo, when they set out to change the way their fellow humans saw the world, had extensive evidence and mathematical formulas that they could point to as support for their ideas.  Their belief made perfect sense.  Patricia Churchland said, “There are many of us today who believe that the brain, in ways that we do not yet understand…is what creates our sense of self.”  That sounds like a lot more faith than Galileo needed to support his new paradigm.  

    • ExcellentNews

      Actually, they did NOT. That came afterwards, as a RESULT of their speculations and initial observations. But please do not let the facts of history change your mind…

      • Doc c

        @ Excellent, Galileo’s own observations of Tidal periodicity, Jupiter’s moons, Kepler’s supernova, and pendulum periods, as well as the astronomical data Copernicus used to create his theory of the heavens all count.  What observations validate so well that our brains create our sense of self?  They can’t even get the homonculus out of there.

  • bobvedari

    My knowledge is insufficient to say that there is or isn’t a soul. My knowledge is insufficient to say that my brain is 100% all there is of me. Maybe yes; maybe no. Does the answer sway me about anything? Am I going to out and start killing people tomorrow based on the *real* answer? No – it’s a curiosity for me; nothing more. Will I take up the violin (music of the soul) if I find out that I am more than my brain? Not likely. Will I become a soulless (homonym?) liberal if I find out that there is no soul? Not likely. English is fraught with homonyms, fuzzy language, metaphors that work up to a point where they come crashing into shards of misery. I’m supposed to get worked up at someone “shaking the world like Galileo” (another metaphor) when the consequences in my life will be at the margins? I think not – whether I’m just a brain or more than that.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kris.li.3348 Kris Li

    In the first place, people who profess the ‘materialistic’ outlook – that matter and hence the physical brain, which is nothing but “‘atoms and molecules’ secreting chemical soup” – is the only reality, need to understand that there’s nothing called matter…! This you can ask any physicist – those who really know what they are talking about. What we understand as ‘matter’ is energy at a particular state of vibration. One of the most current theories going around is that ‘consciousness’ and ‘intelligence’ are the ‘emergent properties’ of the interactions of the chemicals within the neural networks in the brain…! A very ‘attractive and interesting’ postulate – but just rediculously untenable, for the simple reason that matter does not and cannot have any ‘intelligence’ on it’s own; nor can interaction of such inert matter ‘produce’ any intelligence. Thus, mind being extremely subtle matter. cannot have any intelligence on it’s own…! I certainly agree with Patricia with her view that only non-dualism is tenable – and not dualism. But, the problem of these Cognitive scientists and philosophers is that they always start from the wrong end – the material or matter ‘end’ – and end there as well - reducing everything to ‘matter’ - unable and unwilling to wander and explore alternatives.

    • http://www.facebook.com/kris.li.3348 Kris Li

      The problem is the “self” of man cannot be studied as we study an external object, as for example in Physics or Chemistry. Why? Because both the object studied as well as the “person” studying are the same — i.e. the “Self” is the ‘Subject’, as opposed to everything else, which fall under the category ‘object’. In fact, “Self” is the only “Subject”. “Subject” cannot be studied as an “Object”… not by any of the means that we adopt to study an “object”. That’s why I said in the other post that we need a “different mechanism” to handle the subject of the “Self”. It’s no exageration to state that some of the ancient cultures have come out with answers to this perennial and persistent problem of the western mind. If only one can keep prejudice and pre-conceived notions away and have an unobstructed open mind to understand and know, the east has much to offer — in fact, they solved this “body-mind” problem ages ago….!

      • daiginjo

        Yes Kris, buddhism in a sense has it the other way round, as you might well know: they suggest that through actually studying the mind itself through various actual, empirical practices, we can see through the delusion of subject/object.  For them, the material is ultimately the product of mind.  (Or sometimes they will speak of fundamental intelligence or energy, or “emptiness” / accommodation.)

        Scientific materialism is tremendously seductive but an enormous blindspot, for the reasons you point to.  Whenever I hear these certainties expressed it always just sounds like religious dogmatism to me.  As you say, something quite fundamental closes down.  ”Self” splits itself into two and calls one half “object,” and we are locked in a kind of infinite feedback loop.  There’s really no way out of it from that standpoint.  Duality itself is the trap.

    • ExcellentNews

      You need to read some physics yourself … “energy in a particular state of vibration” … LOL !!!

      Whatever gives rise to the elementary particles that make matter – our brain IS made out of matter. The electrochemical activity of that lump of matter is most likely what we perceive as “the self”, the “soul” etc.

      • daiginjo

        Well, I think that one day our culture will grow up and recognize the ways and areas in which the scientific method has hugely overreached what it is capable of addressing.  At that time we will see how it too became a religion with a dogmatic belief system.  We will recognize that a great deal of the “neurobabble” we are hearing today itself needs some major cleaning of “the cobwebs of superstition and illusion.”

        No, I’m not promoting UNreason or religion.  If anything I’m trying to suggest there is a much larger “reason” than that which can be accessed via the scientific method.  It requires no beliefs, only a mind capable of a greater openness than is now practiced by proponents of “nothing-but” reductionism.

  • Carla

    My sister has bipolar disorder. That is a malfunction of the brain. But it is NOT who she is. The brain is not the self. 

    Ms. Churchland needs to read the Bible again if she wants to give her opinion of Christianity on air. She speaks of slavery and treatment of women when she speaks of Christian teaching. She is picking and choosing what serves her argument, ignoring the teachings of Jesus to love one another. 
    What a bleak outlook on life. Where is the mystery, the leap of faith, the worship and joy? Scientifically correct or not, faith changes lives and therefore it is a real thing.

    I’m also turned off by the way she not-so-subtly likens herself to Copernicus and Galileo.

    • ExcellentNews

      I am sorry about your sister, but personal tragedy should not color our evaluation of factual data. So far, all evidence points to the “self”/”mind” being the result of electrochemical messaging between brain components.

      As to Christianity, the historic record speaks for itself. Not many people have been killed or oppressed in the name of quantum chromodynamics or organic chemistry.

      And Ms. Churchland IS akin to Copernicus and Galileo. A small minority of scientists are cleaning the cobwebs of superstition and illusion – and face a lot of hostility in their pursuit of the truth. The only reason why she has not been burned at the stake is not because there is more fundamentalist religion today, but because there is LESS.

      • allen 2saint

        Such bullcrap. Drop your self righteousness and your pseudo intellectualisms. You know what I find funny? Why all these 21st century scientists and their adherents use 9th century theology when they criticize us. You guys act like a Christian has never passed a philospphy class, gotten their PHD, invented something. This teacher’s work is fine and it has nothing whatsoever to do with modern theology. It is sad, extremely sad, that smug people like you feel justified in putting down a fellow human being’s beliefs rather than looking at your own. 

      • daiginjo

        “Not many people have been killed or oppressed in the name of quantum chromodynamics or organic chemistry.”

        Faultily specific analogy.  Millions upon millions of people have been killed and oppressed in the name of Reason, that is to say the ideology of rationalism.  Which is the dogma – and it is, actually, dogma – that simply proclaims *everything* real to be measurable, objectively observable, and reducible to concept.

        This is not a “religion vs. science” problem.  Unfortunately, far too many people are still fighting that rather crude war. (I’m not a religious believer by the way.)

        People like Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and on and on don’t murder in the name of religion.  They do so in the absolute confidence of their own “rationality.”  Which, unfortunately, is in fact endlessly manipulable.

    • allen 2saint

      Her religious understanding is about the time of Galileo as well. She’s been prepped and PR’ed up by her publisher, for sure.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mark-Beronte/100000809201856 Mark Beronte

    We need more Patricia Churchlands, willing to speak the truth, even when it goes against the desperate hopes and desires of so many. We need people involved in reality, not in delusion and wishful thinking, if we are ever to solve the problems we have as a species. Too many just pick and choose what they will believe based on how it makes them feel, and this is indeed a very dangerous road to go down. If anyone chose to look at the evidence, it overwhelmingly indicates that the mind is the brain. If it shatters your wishes, I’m sorry, but perhaps next time you might wish to simply know the truth whatever it happens to be, rather than desiring the truth confirm your wishes. It doesn’t work that way.

    • ExcellentNews

      Great comment. It may be that only a small fraction of the population carries the combination of genes that enable a rational outlook… If that’s so, welcome to the club…

  • Regular_Listener

    Still no downloads available?  I called about this 2-3 weeks ago and was assured that the problem was being given a top priority and that the staff was hard at work on it as we spoke.

  • Regular_Listener

    This is the same old rationalist view, the same mechanical, scientific materialist outlook that has been around probably since day one.  We are just machines made out of meat, the glimpses that we have of spiritual truth or a higher reality cannot be supported by scientifically observed fact, and are therefore the delusional firings of our neurons, hoping against hope that we are more than just temporarily animated dust particles.  

    Hogwash, I say.  Rationality itself is a tool of the deeper mind, the subconscious and – dare I say it – the spirit.  The views of Dr. Churchland are simply the thoughts of someone so closely wedded to rational thinking that she cannot imagine that anything exists outside of it.  I say it does.  Go look out your window, Doctor.  

  • ExcellentNews

    Awesome program, there should be more intelligent content like this on NPR and talk radio in general. Imagine we did not have the few media outlets that carry such programming in our country. What would be the information landscape for 99.99% of our fellow citizens? A dark echo chamber of bigoted chatter, corporate propaganda, and megachurch infomercials – that’s what would it be.

    Another great aspect of that program is that it shows the sorry state of knowledge in our country. Just listen to the callers. All Ms. Churchland is doing is to discuss the factual evidence that has come from many branches of biology. Many little pieces of data are coming together to paint a picture of the “soul”, “mind”, “morality”…etc that are not compatible with the fundamentalist, ”magical” worldview that has held sway for most of human history (and still hold sway with 90% of people). So? AFAIK, the fundamentalist view has led to misery, stagnation, murder, and more of the same. Anything good that mankind has achieved has come from the rational humanist outlook that underpins what Ms. Churchland does.

  • Linds

    You don’t need to appeal to God to argue that there’s something fishy here, as there is in all attempts to reduce human action to the movements of matter. “Mind” belongs to a different grammar than “brain”–the realm of social/cultural/human rather than physical reality. Just as you can’t sensibly explain the properties of water just by referring to its components (hydrogen and oxygen), you can’t explain human action just by reference to neurons. (Try explaining a baseball game in terms of motion, without referring to its rules–one is obviously missing something important!) (see Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations; Donald Polkinghorne, Narrative Knowing and the Human Sciences; or Charles Taylor, Philosophy and the Human Sciences…this is not a new issue and some philosophers have thought very well about it).

    • Linds

      Re: working from brain chemicals to ethical norms, imagine someone tells you that because of the way our brains work, it’s actually okay to abuse children. Walker Percy’s Thanatos Syndrome and Huxley’s Brave New World are great fictional representations of what happens when societies are governed according to brain science.

    • Expanded_Consciousness

      Reality is matter. Just because we love descriptive language, doesn’t mean the world isn’t matter and our intellect and emotions aren’t complex patters of neuronal firing.The world is matter. Our neurons give us all our intellectual and emotional states.

      • Linds

        Yeah, I’m not denying there’s a neurological basis for everything that we think, perceive, do. No, there is no “ghost in the machine.” But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a mind or a soul, which are not empirical objects like chairs and tables (or brains) but social realities. Take a dollar to Saturn and it’s worthless, but that doesn’t mean that the value of money here on earth isn’t real (try to behave as if it’s not!). It’s just not intrinsic to the physical green piece of paper; it’s sustained by human interaction, language, institutions and so forth. It just is literally impossible to make sense of human action (in a humanly meaningful way, which is what we mean by “making sense”) by reducing it to some other level of description. The existence of the soul isn’t an empirical question as Churchland would make it–it’s a matter of grammar (what we mean by “action,” “soul,” “human,” etc.).

        • brettearle

          I think that there is a “ghost in the machine”–and it’s by no Accident.

          I don’t follow a religion, per se, but I believe that God exists and I believe that the Soul exists.

          Whether the Soul can be reduced to specific neural correlates seems to me, to be implausible.

          I would argue that our Hard Wire helps to determine the fate of our Soul’s direction.

          I also think that the issue of Faith–as has been examined by a number of authors now, from the standpoint of Evolutionary Psychology–is an instinctive capacity, within the Mind, that might, someday have a greater chance to be delineated within the limbic system, amygdala, hippocampus, etc. than the Soul, itself.

          The Soul, to me, is to sublime to find such an empirical locus.

          I believe that Crick–of Watson-Crick–has considered the biochemical search for the Soul, in a book that he authored.

          • Expanded_Consciousness

            Drugs working on neurons can induce sublime states. Therefore, within neurons lies the sublime “soul.”

          • brettearle

            You need numbers.

            Numbers don’t necessarily drive the way that some of the laws of Life are governed.

            None of us can prove either position.

            I do not believe, whatsoever, that the existence of the Soul has anything to do with drug-induced states.

          • Expanded_Consciousness

            I don’t need numbers. I’m saying that what is on the neuronal level is then experienced by us on the experiential level as love, the sublime, oceanic, euphoric, soulful, or any poetic phrase that describes states that are within the normal human experience. Billions of people have feelings and thoughts. There is no need to make the mundane mystical.

          • brettearle

            I don’t agree.

            I can’t prove the existence of the soul–at least to you.

            And you can’t disprove the existence of the soul–at least to me.

            I am saying that emotional bliss and emotional despair and any other emotional or sublime experience, you wish to describe,
            can reflect a deeper experience emanating from an ineffable Entity.

            Networks in the brain can ALSO ignite these experiences.

            And, in some case, they CAN be induced by drugs, neuronal accidents (strokes for example), exercise, emotional trauma, meditation, or environmental conditions that affect the body.

            But, ultimately the overall arc of our inner lives and our consciousness–and, perhaps, therefore, to some degree, our destiny– spring from a basic ingredient(s) that is metaphysical in nature and that is, indeed, a “living ghost”, so to speak.

            But I don’t see the soul as a Christian soul or a Buddhist soul, etc.

          • Expanded_Consciousness

            OK. I just don’t see the need to have two causes of human experience: the brain and the soul. You don’t say that digestion is caused by the internal organs and a digestion-soul. That the weather is caused by events in the atmosphere and by a weather-soul. That computers do amazing things through bits and a computer-soul. Attaching the soul exclusively to humans, and only to the part of humans that experiences emotions, isn’t necessary. The brain is what is amazing. It is just a 3 lb lump of gray tissue, but everything you find amazing about humans emanates from it. Revere and worship the brain! It is amazing.

          • brettearle

            To separate the brain from the soul or to separate the soul from the entire organism is to do so, from my point of view, only for the sake of discussion.

            I cannot say that the Soul has a specific locus.

            What I can say is that the Brain is that locus which is generally regarded as providing Awareness.

            I haven’t read Crick’s [of Watson-Crick] book on the search for the human soul.

            But I’d be surprised, if Crick didn’t concentrate on the brain for his discussions.

            Therefore, it is easier to designate the brain as the Home of the Soul.

            But that may simply be for the sake of discussion.

            What’s more, I cannot say that the soul is only limited to humans.

            If I have implied that, it was not my intention.

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