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WATCH: Does This Thing Have Selfhood?

October 26, 2017
by Krissy Eliot

What is the self? The answer to the question, often explained away by religious thinkers and philosophers as “spirit” or “soul,” has long been science’s “big blind spot,” says Terrence Deacon, neuroscientist and professor at UC Berkeley.  

In his new book Neither Ghost Nor Machine: The Emergence and Nature of Selves, decision theorist and Berkeley alumnus Jeremy Sherman breaks down Deacon’s complex research, which rejects the ghost-in-the-machine notion that some enigmatic, mystical embodiment of the self animates our material beings and strives to explain, scientifically, how means-to-ends behavior emerges from cause-and-effect phenomena. In this video teaser for the book, Sherman distills Deacon’s view of how mattering emerges from matter, why we work toward self-preservation, and essentially … what the heck the self is.

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