Once I’ve got the Love Wins event behind me one of the books I want to dig into is The Mind and the Machine by Matthew Dickerson. Recently the dualist theory of persons has fallen under some heavy criticism so I was pleased to see this new book which advocates a dualist theory. Here’s a few of the endorsements that caught my eye.

“Dickerson deftly evaluates cutting-edge cultural implications of physicalist treatments of human persons. Refreshingly, he presents a specific dualist alternative and underscores the important entailments of that alternative. A wonderful book.”–J. P. Moreland, Biola University

“Dickerson is one of the most gifted, clear-headed contemporary writers working on consciousness today. He has a command of the philosophical literature, a love for well-crafted, compelling arguments, and a matchless grasp of the deep wisdom that can be found in the work of C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien. His latest book is both an accessible introduction to central questions about human nature and a sustained, rigorous argument for recognizing the distinctive, overwhelming value of human persons.”–Charles Taliaferro, professor of philosophy, St. Olaf College

“Whether human minds are machines is a central question not only for philosophers and scientists but also for the future of our culture and of the human race itself. This book is clearer, fairer, more helpful, and more reliable than 99 out of 100 others on the subject. Its author knows both halves of his book’s title very well.”–Peter Kreeft, professor of philosophy, Boston College

Here’s the catalog description:

What does it mean to be human? Some naturalists believe that the human mind can be reduced to brain biology, suggesting that we are no more than complex biochemical machines. Computer scientist Matthew Dickerson critiques a physicalist/naturalist view of human persons and defends theistic accounts of human nature. He responds to the widespread assertion that human consciousness is nothing more than “software” that can one day be downloaded into supercomputers. Drawing on C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien, Dickerson gets at the heart of human nature itself, highlighting a far richer vision of personhood, creativity, and love. This thought-provoking book on a timely topic will appeal to those interested in science and religion, philosophy, and technology; readers of the materialist New Atheists; and anyone who simply cares what it means to be human.
The recent Jeopardy tournament where a computer, affectionately named Watson, beat two of Jeopardy’s best players has fed the mentality that it’s only a matter of time before we can prove that the mind is simply a very complex machine and nothing more is required especially some ethereal notion of an immaterial soul. This book promises to give that notion serious pause. I look forward to reading it.
Matthew Dickerson (PhD, Cornell University) is professor of computer science and environmental studies at Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vermont, and the author of From Homer to Harry Potter; Narnia and the Fields of Arbol; and Ents, Elves, and Eriador.