Touching a Nerve

touching a nerve cover image Touching a Nerve

by Patricia S. Churchland
WW Norton & Co.
Hardcover, 304 pages

The nerve that’s touched here is the author’s assertion that everything we feel and think stems not from an immaterial spirit but from electrical and chemical activity in our brains. In other words: No soul! Only Brain! So, can humans still live a moral and spiritual life without a soul? You bet they can, according to Churchland, and off she goes into the current state of neuroscience with surpassing clarity, elegance and humor. Values? Free will? The self? Criminal intent? She is careful to avoid polemics and sticks to the power of the data. The scientific content is not a walk in the park, but is made reasonably understandable to the lay reader. A thoroughly thought-provoking book.