Entering the Soul Niche

Darwin College Humanities and Social Sciences Group
Nicholas Humphrey
The Richard King Room, Darwin College
Tuesday, February 26, 2013 - 13:10 to 14:00

Human beings are animal-machines with added souls. This was famously Descartes’ view, and it’s the view of a good many people today. I think it’s essentially right. Humans have evolved a kind of consciousness that, when egged on by culture, leads them to have an extraordinary view of their own metaphysical importance. The idea of the soul, considered objectively is absurd. Yet it’s an idea that is nonetheless irresistible to humans. Why should consciousness have evolved to promote it? The clear answer is that humans who believe in the idea of the soul live more productive and creative lives. Indeed arguably it has been the main driver of human evolution in the last hundred thousand years.

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