Incomplete Nature: Consciousness, and Purpose?
Prof. Deacon's presentation will focus on the central idea of his new book, "Incomplete Nature," namely that key elements of consciousness (values, feelings, meanings, etc.) emerge from specific CONSTRAINTS on the physical processes of a nervous system. "Incomplete Nature" is the inaugural selection of the brand new Wonderfest Book Club. As physicists work toward completing a theory of the universe and biologists unravel the molecular complexity of life, a glaring incompleteness in this scientific vision becomes apparent. The "Theory of Everything" that appears to be emerging includes everything but us: the feelings, meanings, consciousness, and purposes that make us (and many of our animal cousins) what we are. These most immediate and incontrovertible phenomena are left unexplained by the natural sciences because they lack the physical properties—such as mass, momentum, charge, and location—that are assumed to be necessary for something to have physical consequences in the world. This is an unacceptable omission. We need a "theory of everything" that does not leave it absurd that we exist.