Do you have free will?
Or are all your actions purely a consequence of the instinctual neural responses to your environment that you have no control over?
If we do not possess free will and all actions can be reduced to subconscious, automatic responses, what does that mean for the legal system which is based on the foundation that an individual can only be held accountable for their actions if they have the cognitive capacity to choose how they react?
And finally if the brain really does just work like a big computer, why are our attempts at Artificial Intelligence barely more advanced than they were 20 years ago when our computing power is growing exponentially year on year to the extent that it is highly likely your are reading this on most a device that can almost match the world’s top supercomputers from 20 years ago?
If you have a scientific mindset and are interested in exploring these kind of questions then I can highly recommend Incognito by David Eagleman. He is a neuroscientist who I had heard mentioned in other books and I stumbled across a Ted talk by him about gaining “extra senses” that was fascinating. I listened to “The runaway species” earlier this year in which Eagleman along with Anthony Brandt discuss the theory that the reason humans have dominated the world in just a few thousand years is because of creativity rather than any other trait (http://www.drchrisharper.co.uk/blog/book-review-the-runaway-species).
Incognito is his attempt at bringing together the best current theories about how the brain functions and what that means for all the questions posed above.
I must admit this book is not easy going all the way through. I tend to read most mornings while eating breakfast and there were mornings when I would only manage a single page and have to put the book down and just ponder the ideas for a couple of minutes. Because of this it felt comparable to A brief history of time by Stephen Hawking. But like that other great book, it was worth the mental effort to push myself to get to grips with the ideas presented as the end result was fascinating.
If you wish to purchase incognito for yourself it is available here: https://amzn.to/2sucuVQ
Dr Chris Harper