Book presentation by Terrence Deacon, Prof. of Biological Anthropology & Neuroscience, UC Berkeley.
"Prof. Deacon’s presentation will focus on the central idea of his new book, “Incomplete Nature,” namely that key elements of consciousness (values, feelings, meanings, etc.) emerge from specific CONSTRAINTS on the physical processes of a nervous system....
Incomplete Nature begins by accepting what other theories try to deny: that, although mental contents do indeed lack these material-energetic properties, they are still entirely products of physical processes and have an unprecedented kind of causal power that is unlike anything that physics and chemistry alone have so far explained. Paradoxically, it is the intrinsic incompleteness of these semiotic and teleological phenomena that is the source of their unique form of physical influence in the world. Incomplete Nature meticulously traces the emergence of this special causal capacity from simple thermodynamics to self-organizing dynamics to living and mental dynamics, and it demonstrates how specific absences (or constraints) play the critical causal role in the organization of physical processes that generate these properties.
The book’s radically challenging conclusion is that we are made of these specific absences—such stuff as dreams are made on—and that what is not immediately present can be as physically potent as that which is...."