Is there anything more to the self than brain cells and processes? Mary Midgley, one of Britain’s most respected moral philosophers, and writer and comedian Rob Newman discuss the implications of the scientific materialism that equates self with brain.
For the last 50 years, the idea of the self has dramatically fallen out of favour. The incredible discoveries of neuroscience have prompted us to largely dispense with our gut instincts about our subjective selves, and in their place many of us have adopted the materialistic ‘we are our brains’ thesis.
But is the self really an elaborate illusion created by our brain cells and processes, and what do we have to sacrifice in order to hold that view? How do our subjective experiences and thoughts contribute to our selfhood, and is there an inherent contradiction at the heart of a physical answer to a moral problem?
Britain’s leading moral philosopher Mary Midgley, visits the RSA to investigate the breach between our understanding of our sense of our ‘self’, and today's scientific orthodoxy that claims the self to be nothing more than an elaborate illusion.
In conversation with Rob Newman, writer, political activist and comedian.