Dr. Ginger Campbell hosts the Brain Science Podcast, which is where most readers of this blog will be familiar with her, but she also hosts the Books and Ideas podcast. In the latest interview for that site, she spoke with Terrence Deacon, author of Incomplete Nature: How Mind Emerged from Matter. She has cross-posted the interview at the Brain Science Podcast site, just follow the link to hear the show at Books and Ideas.
Some of you, like me, will be familiar with Deacon from his 1998 book, The Symbolic Species: The Co-evolution of Language and the Brain. Good stuff - I have his new book, and I look forward to reading it soon (ish).
In his new book, Incomplete Nature: How Mind Emerged from Matter, Terrence Deacon writes that his goal is to “demonstrate how a form of causality depending specifically on absent features and unrealized potential can be compatible with our best science” (page 16). But in a recent interview (Books and Ideas #47) he also contends that his book "grew out of a dissatisfaction with the systems theory approach." He feels strongly that "to understand the origin of end-directed phenomena, representational phenomena, or mental phenomena, you need to take one further step; you need to figure out what’s beyond self-organization that needs to be explained to account for these things." Thus, his ambitious goal is to find a place for meaning within science.
Incomplete Nature is a dense but compelling book, and the goal of this interview is to introduce listeners to the idea that life and meaning are compatible with a scientific world view.
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Note: This episode is also being released in the Brain Science Podcast feed.