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Is there a ghost in the machine?


Is there a ghost in the machine?

The spirit or personality – the concept of a soul, self or mind distinct from our physical shell – has long been a cornerstone of our understanding of what it means to be human.  Increasingly, however, scientific fields like neuroscience, genetics and psychology provide intricate explanations for human functioning, rooted in the tangible and the biological.  Can we establish an empirically sound view of ourselves, without detracting from the importance of morality, responsibility, solidarity and freedom?  Filmed at the Battle of Ideas, the speakers in this contentious debate are Dr Stuart Derbyshire, reader in psychology, University of Birmingham; Martha Robinson, neuroscience PhD student; Richard Swinburne, emeritus professor, philosophy of religion, University of Oxford; Professor Raymond Tallis, fellow, Academy of Medical Sciences.

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Related topics: Debates, Science Progress

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Yisum said:

I was the girl filming in the background, and I felt very strongly the intellectual buzz of the audience during this debate. As much as I instinctively disagree with Martha, I find it very hard to challenge her argument. Maybe it’s part of human pride to believe we are more than just meat!

S.Tuckeridge said:

A rare example of accessible yet challenging debate- well made- religiousity would seem to be beside the point here as our very humanity is at stake.

Cuteish said:

Excellent debate and rare to find anything that made me almost want to defend the idea of a soul.

Jane Ash said:

I found this debate truely illuminating, it really drew out the true meaning of conciousness as something created socially beyond ourselves.The nuroscientists really are beyond getting that it seems. We are not just meat by any means.