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Krebs, V.J. (2018). Makari, George. Soul Machine: The Invention of the Modern Mind. New York: W.W. Norton. 2015. Pp. xvi + 656. Hbk. $39.95. Pbk. $19.95.. J. Anal. Psychol., 63(4):538-542.

(2018). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 63(4):538-542

Makari, George. Soul Machine: The Invention of the Modern Mind. New York: W.W. Norton. 2015. Pp. xvi + 656. Hbk. $39.95. Pbk. $19.95.

Review by:
Victor J. Krebs

This book is a tour de force that traces the history of ‘the invention of the modern mind’ through an intellectual journey that illuminates our contemporary understanding of what it means to have a mind and what it means to lose it. By exploring the historical antecedents to current neuroscientific investigations into consciousness, Makari unravels many of the complexities behind our contemporary notions of personhood, of mental and physical health, of being human itself. While it will be enlightening both for medical doctors who approach pathology in the body and psychotherapists who focus on the mind, this book will also prove valuable for philosophers who consider the political, social and psychological dimensions of the perennial philosophical debates about mind and body. More generally, this book is indispensable for any contemporary person sensitive to the relevance of philosophical problems for understanding the mind as we approach a new era of artificial intelligence and digital interconnectivity. The timeliness of this thoughtful and thought-provoking account makes it essential reading for our time.

From Soul Machine to Cyborg

Makari’s title, Soul Machine, encapsulates in two words the double take of the book. With the word ‘Soul’ he transports us back three hundred years, to pre-modernity and the birth of the modern scientific worldview. The concept of soul gave word to the divine, the eternal aspect of humanity, articulating our projective identification with the gods and naming the most distinctive aspect of human life, that which linked us to a higher destiny. The soul was, in that age, property of the religious status quo, and the power of the Roman Catholic Church reigned unchallenged. Riding on the back of a blind, irrational faith in spiritual life over physical death, it steered human mortal life towards eternal damnation or eternal beatitude as it ruled over each individual’s destiny.

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