“I will show you fear in a handful of dust” (T. S. Eliot: The Wasteland) How can dust and water become a conscious living person capable of fear? The way these elements are transformed into life is sketched out, but it's our conscious minds, our intensity of being in a flood of emotions; this is the big problem that science has so far failed to explain. Freya, a biologist, is dissatisfied with the way evolution has no explanation for her own self. Instead, science treats people as robots with any self-awareness considered an illusion. In this way, it destroys our humanity. Max explains that given the chemical basis of life, this is the only possible conclusion. On the brink of accepting this unpalatable fact, she meets with Orin. Together they explore the unthinkable, that the basis of consciousness and self is present in the underlying operations of the universe. These skilfully constructed dialogues explain how the process philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead and panpsychism (primordial universal consciousness) can explain the evolution of not only bodies but also of life, self and consciousness.
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