Monday, April 07, 2014

Soul dust: the magic of consciousness - book overview

Soul dust: the magic of consciousness by Nicholas Humphrey (2012)

This book is an interesting read. It provides a counter argument to the scientific neurobiological stance of the non-existence of a soul. In this book, the presence of the soul in the form of human consciousness is presented. Humphrey puts forward the view that our consciousness puts on a show for us inside our heads to make our lives worth living. Consciousness evolved to provide us with the means to sustain a spiritual side to ourselves, so that we sense wonder and experience quality graduations.

The book is sprinkled with beautiful poetry to illustrate the ways humans try to articulate their ‘soul niche’. The argument is carefully constructed with philosophical discussions, examples and the aforementioned poetry. The writing style is conversational and accessible although some of the first few chapters (part one) introducing the philosophical background underpinning the book requires the reader to concentrate on following the main threads.

Part two is the most enjoyable part of the book. There are 5 chapters discussing the concepts of ‘soul dust’ and ‘soul niche’. The presence of consciousness is reiterated and levels of consciousness are explored in some detail. The poems of Rupert Brooke are used to provide examples of the philosophical concept of qualia.

Part three closes the book with the call to live one’s life well, to find, enjoy and extend one’s ‘soul niche’ and to be enveloped and nurtured by one’s ‘soul dust’. 

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