The curse or blessing of the conscious brain

We simply cannot live as Meursault in Albert Camus’ The Stranger (in the former part of the novel).

In The Stranger, Meursault lives solely through sensory experience. He has no plans, no ambitions, he doesn’t follow the dictates of reason, he lacks emotion, he always takes the path of least resistance.

The reality is that we cannot live like that, at least not all the time. We are limited to the extent that we can experience ‘flow’ (Csíkszentmihályi) or ‘self-realisation’ (Maslow) in our activities.

The curse or blessing of the conscious brain is the we humans, unlike simpler animals who only have a subconscious brain, have by nature the necessity to introspect, keep track of experiences, and plan. These faculties can be a source of despair and worry, or joy and excitement. Should we envy the cockroach that does not have these concerns?

See also: In Our Time: Neuroscience


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