Teleology: Making Sense of Self and the World
Wonderfest - Namaste Hall, California Institute of Integral Studies
Terrence Deacon, neuroscientist and chair of UC Berkeley's Anthropology Department, will focus on the central idea of his new book, "Incomplete Nature: How Mind Emerged From Matter" namely that key elements of consciousness (feelings, meaning, and purpose, among others) emerge from specific CONSTRAINTS on the physical processes of a nervous system. As physicists work toward completing a theory of the universe and biologists unravel the molecular complexity of life, a glaring incompleteness in this scientific vision becomes apparent. The "Theory of Everything" that appears to be emerging includes everything but us: the feelings, meanings, consciousness, and purposes that make us (and many of our animal cousins) what we are. These most immediate and incontrovertible phenomena are left unexplained by the natural sciences because they lack the physical properties-such as mass, momentum, charge, and location-that are assumed to be necessary for something to have physical consequences in the world. This is an unacceptable omission. We need a "theory of everything" that does not leave it absurd that we exist."