The Problem of the Soul: Two Visions of Mind and How to Reconcile Them

Owen Flanagan

Science has always created problems for traditional ways of seeing things, but now the very attributes that make us human – free will, the permanence of personal identity, the existence of the soul – are threatened by the science of the mind. If the mind is the brain, and therefore a physical object subject to deterministic laws, how can we have free will? If most of our thoughts and impulses are unconscious, how can we be morally responsible for what we do? If brains and bodies undergo relentless change, how can our identities be constant? Flanagan’s book shows the way out of these paradoxes.

Framing the conflict in terms of two dominant visions of the mind – the "manifest image" of humanistic philosophy and theology, and the scientific image – the author demonstrates that there is common ground, and that we need not give up our ideas of moral responsibility and personal freedom in order to have an empirically sound view of the human mind. This is a profoundly relevant work of philosophy for the common reader.