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In one particularly audacious experiment, the neuroscientist Mriganka Sur literally re-wired the mind of a ferret, so that the information from its retina was plugged into its auditory cortex.

To Sur’s astonishment, the ferrets could still see.

He imagined light as “corpuscular,” composed, like glowing dust, of invisibly small particles “emitted from shining substances.” By making light a material thing, Newton was able to subsume even the photon – the most ethereal of God’s elements – into the laws of his physics.

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There are two main reasons why I’m not ready to give up on free will. One of the great themes of modern neuroscience is the malleability of the mind.

While a genetic program specifies the gross anatomy of our brain, the all important details are determined by experience.

I’ve spilled a lot of ink elsewhere on this phenomenon, but it’s important to remember that your brain is constantly generating new neurons.

The brain, far from being fixed, is actually in a constant state of cellular upheaval.

While we’re on the topic of Goethe’s prescience, I’d thought I’d mention one of Goethe’s most important scientific contributions: his analysis of color.

Simply put, Goethe argued that our perception of color is a phenomenon of the brain rather than of physics.This is why I’m not sorry worried about free will being erased by the facts of biology.Neuroscience hasn’t discovered that our mind is nothing but a genetic machine. In fact, the most profound discoveries of modern neuroscience have focused on all the ways our mind is .Gage’s new hypothesis is that all this mental anarchy is adaptive, as it allows our genes to generate minds of almost infinite diversity.Like the discovery of neurogenesis and neural plasticity, the discovery that biology thrives on disorder is paradigm shifting.In fact, the best metaphor for the mind might be our immune system.

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