To reject gods and spirits is easy: just bully them away in the name of science.
But to accept them, or at least our experiences of them, and yet give them a scientific explanation: there’s a task worthy of our art. It demands that we look them in the eye and take them seriously, while standing absolutely firm in our materialist convictions.
I don’t know how much of what I’m about to say is true. All I know is that it’s damn interesting.
Today we court madness from the bedrock of science. Today we will face addictions and compulsions, alter-egos and imaginary friends, angelic voices and demonic possessions, even exorcisms. And we will attempt to ground these madnesses, one and all, in a unified, sane, materialist framework.
We will begin, naturally, with the neuron.
Neurons, selfish and feral
In a recent Edge interview, Dan Dennett pitches the most fascinating new idea I’ve read in a long, long time: That our neurons are powerful computational building blocks in part because they’ve reverted to an older and slightly feral state.