Friday, August 24, 2012

Which is Bigger: The Universe or the Brain?

Here is a nice essay by Robert Krulwich bridging the two cultures divide by comparing the complexity of the universe with that of the brain that beholds the universe. I only wish Marilynne Robinson had been consulted ... but I'm sure she'd say something like this (from "Reclaiming a Sense of the Sacred" in The Chronicle of Higher Education):

Having read recently that there are more neurons in the human brain than there are stars in the Milky Way, and having read any number of times that the human brain is the most complex object known to exist in the universe, and that the mind is not identical with the brain but is more mysterious still, it seems to me this astonishing nexus of the self, so uniquely elegant and capable, merits a name that would indicate a difference in kind from the ontological run of things, and for my purposes "soul" would do nicely.

The illuminating part of the question is not necessarily the answer you give it, which may be somewhat arbitrary. The illuminating part of the question is that the two things are comparable in the first place, and that one of them is yours.

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