Stover and Erdmann deal with the crises confronting today’s world and argue that solutions will come not from new technology nor in retreating to an idealized agrarian past, but by overhauling the beliefs that structure society. They link the dilemmas facing civilization to a fundamental rift running through society—one between religion and the humanities, rooted in subjective experience, and science, which emphasizes objective knowledge. They suggest a promising way of closing this rift found in the work of Nobel Laureate and neuroscientist Roger W. Sperry.
They examine Sperry’s lifework, including his famous split- brain research and show how it led him to propose a theory of consciousness that challenged science’s dismissal of subjective experience as irrelevant. By seeing consciousness as an emergent, causal property of brain function, Sperry reinstated subjective experience into the scientific worldview, laid the foundation for the cognitive revolution that has since swept through psychology, and created a means by which science can help create ethical systems better able to deal with today’s challenges. Stover and Erdmann conclude by looking at ways in which others have built upon Sperry’s ideas, and they hold out the hope that, with the creation of belief systems more compatible with science, a way out of humanity’s current troubles may indeed be found. The result is an excursion through a world of exciting ideas, and a book sure to absorb anyone interested in the fate of our species—and how that fate might be influenced for the better. Students, researchers, scholars, and concerned citizens particularly interested in cognitive psychology, science and society, and futures studies will find the book intriguing.