The Cartesian theater


Article reads: Mr. Humphrey made his name many years ago with a famous essay on the evolutionary function of intelligence, arguing that it emerged through natural selection not to solve physical puzzles, as many assume, but to solve social ones—to read minds. Here he attempts a similar explanation for why the impartial spectator of consciousness is watching a magical mystery show. His answer sounds startlingly unscientific, even spiritual: to impress the soul. What he means is that being enchanted by the magic of experience provides a reason to live. Rather than being an aid to survival, consciousness provides an essential incentive to survive. Enchantment is itself “the biological advantage of being awestruck.” Or, as the poet and Pooh creator A.A. Milne put it, “It’s awful fun to be born at all.”

Sounds like vitalism to me!

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