Are we more than molecules?
Tuesday, January 19, 2016
We think. We feel. We are aware of ourselves and the world around
us. We have consciousness. We are made of the same raw materials as
bacteria, as earth, as rock, as the great dark nebulae of dust that
swim between the stars, as the stars themselves. But somehow, a
vanishingly small fraction of that brute stuff (you, me, chimpanzees
maybe, chickens possibly, worms probably not) has been cunningly
arranged into objects which experience what the American philosopher
William James calls “subjective life”. How is that possible? Why do
most of us feel that we are something more than molecules? Why are
even ardent materialists haunted by the sense of being something
insubstantial inhabiting a physical vessel?