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The high priests of neuroscience

For every mystery they solve, these new books pose another—from how we cope to death to whether we can truly know the mind at all

By Julian Baggini   July 2018

Every culture has its shamans, oracles and priests who act as intermediaries between the known and the unknown, the seen and the unseen. In secular societies that role is increasingly being filled by scientists working at the frontiers of human understanding. Thanks to the mind-boggling obscurity of quantum theory many of these are physicists—Carlo Rovelli is only the latest to have achieved almost prophetic status.

However, even physicists are denied access to the holiest of holies: human consciousness. The anointed guardians of this sacred space are neuroscientists. Almost everyone now knows…

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