Why consciousness exists, how it works and what its range is has been one of humanity’s major questions since we first emerged from lesser apes hundreds of thousands of years ago. It’s been the realm of philosophers and poets mainly, but now neuroscience may actually be able to tackle the question.
For nearly all of human existence, people have debated whether we’re inherently good, corrupted by society and peers or whether we’re inherently bad, with society and law keeping our evil urges in check. With the help of babies, science might have discovered the answer to this age old question.
You may think at first that My Little Pony has very little in common with the ancient Greek philosopher Plato, but apparently you’d be wrong. It’s actually a brightly colored allegory that well represents the ideals put forth in Plato’s ‘Republic’.
It’s a question that’s been posed by thinkers and armchair philosophers for decades: “How do we know that our universe isn’t just a massive simulation of an incomprehensibly massive computer system?” Well, researchers from the University of Bonn in Germany have attempted to tackle the problem and it appears that they can’t entirely rule out the possibility.
Even though some, including Stephen Hawking, have announced the death of philosophy, science is about asking question, sometimes even questions that we will most likely never have an answer to. One such question is “What was before the Big Bang?”.
Not from a religious perspective— people have been debating free will from a religious and spiritual perspective since the earliest days of humankind. But from a scientific perspective, what if everything we think of as free will is determined solely by chemistry, genetics and environment. Go to bed, stay up late, turn left or turn right, eat this or eat that, take this job or that one— what if we actually have no say in the matter like we think we do? What if we’re nothing more than mindless chemical automatons with the illusion of free will?
For thousands of years, even when mankind honestly was trying to make sense of the world in the most scientific ways it knew how, even in modern times as hard science dominates our age, philosophers and religious and spiritual thinkers have hung onto free will as the ultimate proof of a meaning beyond our component parts. And now science is taking aim at that as well.