The Human World in the Physical Universe: Consciousness, Free Will, and Evolution (Philosophy and the Global Context)
- Publish Date: 2001-09-24
- Binding: Hardcover
- Author: Nicholas Maxwell
How is it possible for the world as we experience it to exist embedded in the physical universe? How can there be sensory qualities, consciousness, freedom, science and art, friendship, love, justiceall that which gives meaning and value to lifeif the world really is more or less as modern science tells us it is? This is the problem that is tackled by this book.
The solution proposed is that physics describes only a selected aspect of all that existsthat aspect which determines the way events unfold. Sensory qualities, inner experiences, consciousness, meaning and value, all these exist but lie beyond the scope of physics, and of that part of science that can be reduced to physics. Furthermore, these human features of the world are to be explained and understood, not scientifically, but personalistically, a kind of understanding distinct from, and not reducible to, science. This view that the world is riddled with what may be called double comprehensibility leads to a proposed solution to the philosophical mind/body problem, and to the problem of free will; it leads to a reinterpretation of Darwin's theory of evolution, and to an account of the evolution of consciousness and free will. After a discussion of the location of consciousness in the brain, the book concludes with a proposal as to how academic inquiry might be changed so that it becomes a kind of inquiry rationally designed to help humanity create a more civilized human world in the physical universe.