Author Graham Collier is a retired professor, a WWII veteran, and a well-traveled man. His book confronts an enduring question of philosophy: the mind-body problem.
Collier explores the neuroscience on this topic while also finding room for a spiritual principle, a soul that exists in some mysterious relationship to the machine in our skulls. While accepting that humans evolved from simpler forms of life, Collier assents to what might be called “soft creationism,” i.e. the view that the universe conspired to create the human brain. Collier’s work attempts a synthesis between a modern, scientific perspective on the nature of the mind and a more reflective, humanistic one.
This book does not argue – it ruminates. Through discussions of his travels in Antarctica and the conduct of war, to the writings of Aristotle, Jung and Wordsworth, Collier models the art of self-reflection. Each chapter is an essay that not only discusses the vast capabilities of the human mind but also demonstrates them. In the hands of an author of lesser skill and erudition, such scope might prove unwieldy. Collier tests these limits, without toppling over them.
Collier also touches on social issues such as the role of education and the perils of technology, but without sliding into unbecoming stridency. In a world of polarizing opinions in every sphere of public discourse, he steers clear of polemics, inviting readers into the eminent reasonableness of his views.
The reader who expects an author to get to the point quickly might be disappointed with the length of Collier’s tome with its anachronistic, drawing-room style. But his book is a singular achievement. A culmination of a life of reflection on the arts and sciences, this title is an edifying tribute to what is most human in human beings.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.