Jonah Lehrer, Seed Magazine, posts a cogent reminder on the limits of reductionism in answering many fundamental questions about who we are and how we live. And it is worth reiterating here that understanding the physical workings of the brain only gives us certain types of information.
To quote him – “We are such stuff as dreams are made on, but we are also just stuff. What we need is a science that can encompass both sides of our being.” Indeed. And somehow through the messiness of sociology, philosophy, religion and other softer sciences we do indeed try to grapple with this messiness of subjective experience. And there, of course, is the rub. We are the ghost in the machine. Understanding the machine is becoming easier. Understanding ourselves remains, so far, as complex as it ever was. But we increasingly have tools that make it at least a little easier. What we do with them has been an evolving process. Where we go with them remains yet to be seen.