Physical v. metaphysical: where does consciousness (soul) lie?

Where is human consciousness situated? Is there an incorporeal soul? Or is what we think as individual self-hood just synapses firing? These are questions John Morehead raises in a guest column for Religion Dispatches in which he uses AMC’s zombie TV show The Walking Dead as a starting point for a discussion.

For more than a century, and certainly in the past few decades, theologians and philosophers have debated how to integrate new neurological discoveries into theories of consciousness and the various theological attempts to refine the dualistic vision bequeathed to us by the ancients. The fight over where consciousness lies — in the physical or the metaphysical — is centuries old. (See Carl Zimmer’s wonderful book Soul Made Flesh.) Such questions are intriguing, which is one reason I enjoyed this column. Another reason: Morehead uses pop culture as an entre into a serious discussion.


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