I had originally asked Gary if he would host this thread because I was worried that having this debate here might produce a 'deference effect' - but then I glanced down at my black and blue balls and realized I likely had nothing to worry about! I'm in the midst of tying off loose ends with The Thousandfold Thought and dusting off my draft manuscript Neuropath, which I like to describe as a 'near future psychothriller.' The M.O. for this book is the same as that for PoN: to explore the form of the genre by embracing it. The idea is to write a tale that's as philosophically troubling as it is psychologically terrifying. My problem (as many of you might have already guessed) is that I've been institutionalized. After years of studying philosophy I pretty much have no idea how noninstitutionalized folk will respond to the arguments and concepts I will be presenting in this book. So I was hoping I could solicit responses - of any variety - as a way of maximizing their impact. The most I can offer in return is infuriating stubborness, relentless condescension, mockery, and gushing thanks in the book's acknowledgements. We have two general ways of understanding phenomena: by reference to their causes, by learning 'what makes them tick,' or by reference to their reasons, by learning their point or purpose. Nowadays we generally draw a divide between these two explanatory modes: thanks to science, we understand the world in terms of causes, whereas we typically understand one another by reference to reasons. But it wasn't always such. Not so long ago, we understood the world in terms of reasons and purposes as well. For centuries science has been substituting our traditional intentional (reason-based) understanding of the world for it's functional (cause-based) understanding, and to good effect, as this computer mediated message attests. The problem with functional understandings is that they seem out and out antagonistic to intentional understandings. There's no purpose to evolution or plate tectonics or the hydrological cycle or combustion. These are simply causal processes. Things happen in the natural world not because they conform to the desires or wishes of any unseen agency, but because of what caused them to happen. (This is why science is central to the possibility of fantasy: what makes magic 'fantastic' is its impossibility given science's fucntional worldview). As a result of science's successes, intentionality became subjectified: meaning, purpose, and morality, it was thought, where phenomena belonging to that special corner of the natural world we call humanity. We became the meaning makers, and so long as we remained too complex for science to functionally unravel, there existed a truce of sorts. The world may be bereft of purpose, but we humans were not. All of us have seen this truce played out in innumerable ways in innumerable narratives: the protagonist struggling to find meaning in an apparently meaningless world (and typically finding that meaning in some sentimentalized notion of romantic love). That truce has been broken. With modern neuroscience we are finally unravelling the human functional puzzle, and surprise-surprise, intentional phenomena like meaning, purpose, and morality are starting to seem as ephemeral in us as they were in the rest of the natural world. We are in the process of being 'disenchanted.' It seems that we don't exist.