Despite having learned so much about the anatomy and physiology of the human brain in the last century, we don’t actually have a better account of how consciousness and cognition arise in the brain than it arises out of immaterial soul-stuff.
This last claim is not controversial, not really. But then why are we so certain, as a scientific and as a popular culture, that the secrets to our nature lie inside us, in the brain?
Answer: We can’t imagine an alternative to this “you are your brain” idea that does not end up giving up on science. Either you are your brain, or you are a mystery.It seems to me to be pretty common in the history of science to know that some object produces some phenomenon without knowing how that object produces that phenomenon. So, for example, humans knew for millennia that the sun produces light, but only for the last hundred years or so have humans known that the sun produces light by nuclear fusion. The organs of the body provide especially clear cases. Humans have known for millennia that the alimentary canal digests food, but only for the last hundred years or so have humans known how the alimentary canal digests food. Humans have known for millennia that the muscles produce contractile forces that move the body, but only for the last fifty years or so have humans known how the muscles produce contractile forces that move the body. So, it's roughly par for the course to be in a situation where we understand that the brain is the seat of the self, but not know how the brain produces the self.