It was easier, in some ways, when we were immortal souls temporally housed in material bodies, endowed with radical free will, and awaiting transmigration to some other plane of existence after death. Modern science has dramatically winnowed the possibilities for any autonomous space of the mind that could be independent of the body; indeed, we sometimes struggle in the other direction, with too many material explanations (evolutionary pressures, behaviorist impulses, physiological and psychological trauma, DNA transcription errors, gut bacterial depletion or overgrowth, and so on) to ever satisfactorily explain ourselves to ourselves. In the contemporary moment, the philosophers and the cognitive scientists aren’t entirely certain we even exist at all, having found too many neurological processes that operate too quickly to be the result of conscious choice; what we once thought was the soul seems perhaps to be the accidental byproduct of...

You do not currently have access to this content.