“In the course of biological evolution the brain’s innate capacities for representing the world came to be considerably enlarged, from the immediate physical and biological environment to an almost unlimited domain of social and cultural interactions.”
The Physiology of Truth: Neuroscience and Human Knowledge
We scientists are an optimistic bunch. We actually believe the reality out there beyond our perception is an orderly, understandable place. We learn by systematically manipulating the world.
Science is limited to that which is observed. We only talk about truth that can be measured, summarized and reported. I still feel the spiritual and the sublime. Maybe those emotions are deepened by an ever greater appreciation for just how remarkable this world is and how marvelous the people in it. We can all stand in awe in a huge underground cavern, carved from the seemingly impenetrable rock. Understanding the process, geology and patterns makes it all the more amazing and more worthy of my gratitude.
In writing about brain and mind, the amazing facilities of awareness, agency, will and aspiration are never far away as inspiration for the endeavor. But as manifestations of brain, I appreciate them in their own right, much as I appreciate the cavern’s majesty in its own right, informed by some limited, incomplete knowledge of how it got there. But make no mistake about it: Life is a miraculous physical event and needs no extra “vital force”.