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If your mind is nothing more than brain chemistry, do you have free will? In this EXTENDED interview, cognitive neuroscientist Michael Gazzaniga says new brain science should change our thinking about this old philosophical question.
Steve Paulson continues to demand religious answers from scientific minds. One after another, they evade his simplistic questions, many delivering gentle (remember, they're promoting books) rebukes that fall on Steve's science-deaf ears. He wants meaning, explanations! We are at an exciting juncture of science and philosophy, of subjective inquiry (meditation) and inductive inference through experimentation. Without illusion, no meaning, the lamas tell us. The self is illusion, they claim, and science agrees. What could be more marvelous? The paradox here is that in his insistence on a straight answer, Steve's thinking has become more linear and deterministic than the scientists he seems to be trying to ensnare with his clever Socratic queries. The scientists are fine with The Mystery, it does not bother them; it's reassuring in a way to know they will always have job security. Don't bother the bricklayer about the soul of the city, he has a job to do. On This American Life, there was an anecdote about a mathematician who spent 20 years' worth of Sundays, performing millions of calculations, each one a failure, until he performed the one that disproved the theorem. It's not all fireworks; The Mystery abides, poking and prodding it avail nothing, yet the soul of the city grows.
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