Adam Gopnik, in the current edition of The New Yorker magazine, offers a review of a spate of recent books on neuroscience many of which appear to be having second thoughts on the notion of “matter over mind”, i.e. the idea that neurochemistry is the source of all thought and that any ideas such as a “god” might need some attention after all.
I am glad to see the discussion of the subject thought my strong impression is that “science” still holds sway as being the prevailing myth of the day. Of course, given my stubborn and unenlightened habitual way of thinking, I still childishly hold onto the notion of God. I can’t help it! “My neurochemistry makes me do it!” which is some version of “the devil made me do it” as I could never in a million years just declare that I choose to.
But facetiousness aside, I am certain that we are here and that we have carved out a “reality” fictitious thought it might be. And, sociologically and anthropologically, it is fictitious. Just ask Peter Berger. But we are here! It is easy for some people to get consumed with their explanation of how we got here and get so carried away with their pet theories that they actually have ill-will at those who feel differently. When I meet someone like this, I admit I toss them into the “ideologue” category and try to give them a wide berth, regardless of how noble and well-reasoned their argument is.
And, given the fact that we are here….or the “fantasy” that we are here if you want to get really far out…I feel it is very important what we do with our brief time “strutting and fretting” on this beautiful stage. Personally, I deem it important to speculate about questions such as the above but it is also important to live my life responsibly and meaningfully in my social context. And, how I go about this does have an impact on the world though, admittedly in my case, the extent is infinitesimal and what it is I will never really know.
For example, this verbal “stuff” that I’m going to toss out into the void in a moment with the punch of a button is important. The importance might be that I feel it was important. It might be that someone will appreciate it. It might be that second later I will read over it and suddenly in horror, tell myself, “Lewis, get a life!” and quit wasting my time. It might be that suddenly the whole world will happen to check in to “Literarylew” and as a result the Millenium will come tomorrow and suddenly I’ll be rich and famous, no longer merely a small clod of cholesterol in the mainstream of life! My point is that life is made up of little insignificant events and gestures and we have no idea what their result will be. Memories of my life are replete with nameless individuals whose small and insignificant gestures has made my life much more rewarding.
But it is important that each day we show up and report for duty. Or, given the approach of fall and the baseball playoffs, let me put it this way, “It is important that we step to the plate each day, bat in hand, look for a good pitch to hit, and then hammer it into the outfield hole. Oh, heck, let me get grandiose and conjecture, “It’s out of here. A homerun…”
Who knows? You never know.