I was fairly close to both Angela and Jacob throughout our teens; at least, we were all part of the same circle. I briefly entertained the hope of something closer between Angela and myself, and for a few weeks she was more or less my girlfriend; but Jacob “swept her off her feet,” and they were at one school and I at another, so I had no chance. It made no difference to our friendship, though.Be sure to read the rest of his essay at First Things. His review of Marilynne Robinson's new book, Absence of Mind, is also worth checking out if one is interested in the question of consciousness and the implications it holds for the materialist's belief that all we are is a lump of atoms arranged in a particular pattern.
Unfortunately, I largely lost touch with Angela when I started attending university. Over the course of the next six months, we crossed one another’s paths only three times or so. On the last occasion, she had just returned from a visit to Paris, from which she had brought home, among other things, the Pléiade edition of Montaigne she proudly showed me.
And that was that. Two and a half years later she was killed when a drunk driver struck her car in an intersection; she was alive for several hours after the collision, but never regained consciousness. That was twenty-five years ago tomorrow.
There are at least five facts about human beings that militate against this view. Philosophers refer to them as intentionality, qualia, incorrigibility, exclusive access, and freedom of the will. A brief paper by Michael Egnor will be helpful to those who wish to explore exactly what philosophers mean by these terms.