Princeton University Press, U.S; Quercus, U.K. 2012
How is consciousness possible? What biological purpose does it serve? Why do we value it so highly? In Soul Dust, the psychologist Nicholas Humphrey, already a leading figure in consciousness research, returns to the front-line with a startling new theory. Consciousness, he argues, is nothing less than a magical-mystery show that we stage for ourselves inside our own heads. This self-made show lights up the world for us and makes us feel special and transcendent. Thus consciousness paves the way for spirituality, and allows us, as human beings, to reap the rewards, and anxieties, of living in what Humphrey calls the “soul niche.”
Tightly argued, intellectually gripping, and a joy to read, Soul Dust is a keenly anticipated book that provides answers to the deepest questions. It dovetails the “hard problem of consciousness” with the matters that obsess us all – the fear of death, how life should be lived. Resting firmly on neuroscience and evolutionary theory, it is an uncompromising but life-affirming book that never loses sight of the majesty and mystery of consciousness.