Friday Flashback: Figments of Reality

Sophie Sheppard
Two years ago, I wrote a two part review of Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen’s 1997 book Figments of Reality:

The compelling thesis of the book:

Living species, including humans, are emergent properties of (what Daniel Dennett has labeled) the ‘pandemonium’ of the body’s semi-autonomous processes — ‘We’ are a complicity of the separately-evolved creatures in our bodies organized for their mutual benefit i.e. we are an organism. And our brains, our intelligence, awareness, consciousness and free-will, are nothing more than an evolved, shared, feature-detection system jointly developed to advise these creatures’ actions for their mutual benefit. Our brains, and our minds (the processes that our neurons, senses and motility organs carry out collectively) are their information-processing system, not ‘ours’.

For those looking to understand why they’re not entirely in control of their own behaviour, and enthusiasts of the issue of ‘free will’, read my review and then pick up a copy of the book. When you see yourself as a complicity and not as an entity, it changes your whole worldview, andgives you a new appreciation of Gaia — how the world really works.

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