Alignment of Mind, Body and Soul
Although I think they are all important questions, however, when it comes to the topic of mind and body being one; I somehow think it will be more effective to express my views here by citing Nagel’s new book Mind and Cosmos. Unlike his previous work, Nagel has been fiercely criticised for his concept in Mind and Cosmos. He argues that science alone will never be able to explain a reality that includes human beings. What is needed is a new way of looking at and explaining reality; one which makes mind and value as fundamental as atoms and evolution; and I think he is right to doubt science’s ability to explain everything. In a way Nagel is saying that the materialist scientific worldview cannot explain consciousness. He is not alone.
The American essayist Joan Didion had a wonderful quote. She said we tell ourselves stories in order to live and probably the biggest story we have ever told ourselves is the scientific story; and we always think of science as this ultimate truth, but science is just a story.
The Earth is flat. Is that not a scientific “fact” until 1500AD? The Earth is the centre of the universe scientific “fact” until the 4th Century … our current scientific story is more than three hundred years old, and it primarily describes a very reliable and well-behaved universe. Where separate objects operate according to fixed laws in time and space.
The other part of our scientific story has been written by Charles Darwin, who described a process of competition for survival, and those things together have fashioned our world. We are also told that we operate in a certain way. We realise that we are separate, and for me to do something to anyone else, I have to do something physical to that person. (i.e. I have to punch him, drop him, freeze him, burn him or give him a good swift kick etcetera.) So I suppose, it only makes sense that for hundreds of years, the picture that has emerged from science is that we are basically made out of material stuff and we work in mechanistic ways. If I cannot be measured, manipulated, touched, and tasted, it is not real.
Assuming that I’m a decent mechanic and I know how cars work, I can take my car, which I is running, turn it off and take it apart, spread the pieces all over the driveway, put it back together, turn the switch and it will turn back on. However, if I take my dog and cut him up into pieces and spread him all over the drive way and again, assuming I am a really competent surgeon, and I know exactly how to reattach all those pieces, and I put them all back together, my dog is not going to now, is he?