Imagine that, in the near future, a global movement of extensive brain research has led to the identification of every brain function. Roughly 98% of human consciousness, cognition, perception, and emotion has been reduced to neural impulses. However let’s say that biologists failed to account for the other 2% of the mind, as though there were just one brain region they couldn't interpret. (It’s inevitable that the religious and even relenting scientists will call this the “soul factor”, because that 2% is the only thing separating the human experience from a hunk of meat.) Most neuroscientists have moved on.
Imagine that late one night, however, after compiling decades’ worth of data, one man has accounted for the 2%. It is one extremely sophisticated set of synapses (it doesn’t matter their function - let’s say it ironically processes the concept of a soul). Nevertheless, this one man has officially determined that 100% of everything psychological is identifiably physiological.
This one person has made one of the most profound scientific discoveries in human history. He is ecstatic, so he does some searching through a database and discovers the precise impulses, chemicals, and neurons that create his exact excitement. He does this a couple more times and bores himself. However, he keeps staring at computer screens that display in detail exactly how and why he stares and exactly how and why he’s bored. He considers going home to his family, but he compulsively punches in some keywords and determines every element responsible for the urge to go home. He keeps at it, because he can already see every impulse that creates the faces of his children and his wife. He sees in front of him the formulas, and tissues responsible for everything he’s ever felt, everyone he’s loved, all of the pain, all of the sex, the food, all of the despair, the joy, the late nights, the nostalgia, the anxiety, the laughter, the confusion.
Now imagine that our future Nobel-winning scientist stands up, picks up his unwieldy computer, and throws it out the nearest window to shatter on the sidewalk. The next morning, he kisses his wife and children, and he spends an hour looking at jobs online.