The Rise of Neuroexistentialism

Perception-EyeLast weekend I reviewed Patricia Churchland’s Touching a Nerve: The Self as Brain, which explores the reality of the brain behind what we know as “the self.” There is a Copernican moment occurring in brain science that raises serious questions about the nature of who and what we are, creating an potential existential crisis for those who find self-meaning in religious concepts like the soul.

After that interview, I saw that Slate had cross-posted an interview with Churchland from New Scientist (“You Are Your Brain: Why is neuroexistentialism so disturbing?”), where some good questions are put forward for the author’s own personal take. Take a look.

GL: Some might say the idea that you are just your brain makes life bleak, unforgiving and ultimately futile. How do you respond to that?
PC: It’s not at all bleak. I don’t see how the existence of a god or a soul confers any meaning on my life. How does that work, exactly? Nobody has ever given an adequate answer. My life is meaningful because I have family, meaningful work, because I love to play, I have dogs, I love to dig in the garden. That’s what makes my life meaningful, and I think that’s true for most people.

Now, at the end of it, what’s going to happen? I will die and that’s it. And I like that idea, in a crazy sort of way….Read the entire interview at Slate.

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