Amazon Product Description
- 'The question of what it is to be a human person is the biggest intellectual question of our day.' Keith Ward has taught philosophy and theology in British universities for the past 40 years, and he is now weighing in on a major intellectual battle: whether human persons are purely materialistic - nothing but matter - or whether there is another, deeply valuable part of us, which transcends our bodies in nature and moral worth: the soul. For centuries philosophers have debated the question, but the battle has taken the limelight through the works of the New Atheists. In this book Professor Ward guides the reader through a panoply of thinkers and traditions, arguing that there is more to humanity than bodies. In fact, he argues, there is more to the entire universe than the naked eye perceives. (And contrary to the New Atheist assertions, there are good philosophical arguments to back this up!)
- Keith Ward is Regius Professor of Divinity Emeritus at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of the British Academy. A well-known broadcaster and presenter, his work straddles the boundaries between science, religion and philosophy, while his career has addressed topics from materialism to medical ethics. His work in these fields is internationally respected, and he is today known as one of Britain's foremost philosopher-theologians.
Introduction – 7
- Dualism, minds, and bodies: the problem stated – 9
- A range of philosophical views about what is really real – 21
- The limits of knowledge – 38
- Putting minds first – 52
- Questions of personal identity – 64
- The place of human minds in the cosmos – 81
- Dual-aspect idealism – 92
- Metaphysics and common-sense philosophy – 104
- In defence of dualism – 112
- Consciousness, value, and purpose – 126
- Thoughts and perceptions – 137
- Minds and moral values – 155
- Acting for the sake of good alone – 168
- The idealist view of life – 182
- Can we still speak of the soul? – 197
Lion Hudson Plc (24 Sep 2010)
"Ward (Keith) - More Than Matter: Is Matter All We Really Are?"
Source: Ward (Keith) - More Than Matter: Is Matter All We Really Are?
Introduction (Full Text)
- ”Your joys and sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behaviour of a vast assembly of nerve-cells and their associated molecules."
- Thus book exists to put a different view. The success of the physical sciences has led to a quite widely held view among the scientifically literate that all that exists is matter or some sort of physical stuff. Human beings are often presented as the accidental results of millions of genetic copying-mistakes and freak accidents of nature. Their cherished ideas of value, freedom, and purpose are illusions, since humans are nothing but the puppets of blind and mechanical forces of nature, and their consciousness is doomed to inevitable extinction, having never been more than a by-product of cosmic processes to which they are completely unimportant.
- I believe that this picture of human life is both scientifically questionable and philosophically naive. Moreover, it undermines the belief that human beings, with their thoughts, feelings, ambitions, and moral challenges and ideals, have intrinsic worth, and that worth lies in their mental lives, not in the behaviour of their nerve-cells, however complicated. It is this view, justifying a commitment to the distinctive value of human consciousness and responsible action, to which the deepest reflection on the nature of our cosmos points. That is what I hope to show.
- The view that prioritizes human thought, feeling, and action over the behaviour of physical particles is often called humanism, embodying a commitment to human welfare, interpreted as the fulfilment of the uniquely personal experiences and creative capacities of humans. In that sense I am a humanist; but I think humanism requires ontological backing. That is, there must be good reasons for seeing human experiences and actions as important and human persons as of intrinsic value in a universe like this.
- I intend to produce philosophical reasons for such ontological backing, and I find these reasons intellectually compelling. I make little or no reference to religious considerations, based on revelation or religious authority. But I think there is little doubt that many religious believers will find that the arguments I propound have a natural affinity with some religious beliefs about the human soul, and I myself think that some convergence of humanist and religious beliefs will provide the most adequate view of human persons that is available to us.
- But I have confined myself to sustained reflection on the nature of being human, trying to point to phenomena that are available to anyone, whatever their religious beliefs or lack of them. The motto of the book is in fact the reversal of the opening quotation from Crick, and it goes like this: you, your joys and sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are much more than the behaviour of a vast assembly of nerve-cells, and that "more" gives each personal life a significance and value that expresses and points to the ultimate meaning of the universe itself. Human persons are not accidental mistakes in a pointless perambulation of fundamental particles. They are a window into the inner reality, value, and purpose of the cosmos.
Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)
- Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2019
- Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)