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Mental Health

Consciousness and the Soul

Karen Neoh
Creative Commons

It has been nearly 400 years since Descartes wrote his famous declaration “Cogito ergo sum”, or, more commonly “I am thinking, therefore I exist”. But, in all that time, we still haven't answered the basic question: who are we?

In this hour, we explore the concepts of consciousness, the self, and the soul. What do today's top scientists, philosophers and spiritual leaders say about these topics and how have they arrived at their conclusions? Are we ready to accept the brain as the be-all and end-all of who we are or is there more to us than that?

For millennia, philosophers, religious leaders, and ordinary folk alike have pondered the nature of self but to date, no single understanding has gained a consensus. Now science, with all its methods and instruments has determined to tell us exactly who we are: our brains and nothing more. According to author Patricia Churchland, everything we think to be true, all our beliefs and deeply held convictions on what it means to be human are merely the result of the neurochemical reactions in our brains. Concepts like the soul, consciousness, spirit, morality, free will, love, faith, good and evil are all scientifically explained in her new book, “Touching A Nerve: The Self as Brain”. Though her conclusions are arrived at methodically, they are by no means incontestable.

Both traditional and nontraditional religious leaders of nearly all faiths still hold fast to the view that there is more to being human than science can measure. Neale Donald Walsch, one such leader, along with Trinity College Professor of Philosophy, Dan Lloyd and Patricia Churchland herself will spend this hour exploring these issues and more.

What do you think? Comment below, email Colin@wnpr.org, or tweet @wnprcolin.


  • Patricia Churchland is the author of Touching a Nerve, The Self as Brain. She’s a philosopher and neuroscientist noted for her contributions to neurophilosophy and the philosophy of mind. She’s also UC President's Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at the University of California, San Diego.
  • Dan Lloyd is a Professor of Philosophy at Trinity College in Hartford CT focusing on using neuroscience to understand human consciousness. His most recent publication is entitled Subjective Time, the Philosophy, Psychology and Neuroscience of Temporality
  • Neale Donald Walsch is a modern day spiritual leader, who is best known for writing the New York Times best-selling Conversations with God series. He is also the founder of Re-creation,a non profit which sponsors programs for personal and spiritual growth
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