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Science and the soul
Francis Crick Scientist
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[Q] The something extra, this is… I mean, this is…

Well, that’s what the ordinary person believes.

[Q] What?

Well, he believes that there’s some soul or other which, when he dies, as it were, goes off somewhere else, and while he’s alive does the actual seeing and feeling and all the rest of it. That’s the common view of mankind, in one sort or another, and… and there are many people who think that science will never be able to explain that. Now there may be aspects of it which science can’t be… explain because it’s a very private thing. But that doesn’t mean to say that you couldn’t… explain the principles on which it’s happening and explain why it’s private, for example. But… but that we can’t do as yet. A lot… most people working on the brain believe, indeed, in what I’ve been saying, that there is probably no necessity. Not everybody. Sir John Eccles is an exception; he’s what is called a dualist. He believes that the soul interacts with the brain in some way, and without that you couldn’t see or feel or do anything else. Or move, for that matter. You wouldn’t have free will, for example, whatever that means.

The late Francis Crick, one of Britain's most famous scientists, won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1962. He is best known for his discovery, jointly with James Watson and Maurice Wilkins, of the double helix structure of DNA, though he also made important contributions in understanding the genetic code and was exploring the basis of consciousness in the years leading up to his death in 2004.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is an independent documentary producer who has made a number of films about science and scientists for BBC TV, Channel Four, and PBS.

Tags: John Eccles

Duration: 1 minute, 9 seconds

Date story recorded: 1993

Date story went live: 08 January 2010