Is the human soul actually a chemical chain reaction?

Psychologist Maslow alleged that only 1% of the population reach self-fulfillment. Why do the majority fail along the road?


Needs can be classified into five hierarchical stages. Once the first four levels are met, we can focus on self-actualisation. Our mind can not be deceived with excessive lower level satifaction.

  1. Biological needs – air, food, drink, shelter, warmth, sex, sleep.
  2. Safety needs – security, law, stability.
  3. Belongingness needs – friendship, trust, acceptance, receiving and giving love, affiliating.
  4. Esteem needs – achievement, independence, status, self-respect, respect from others.
  5. Self-Actualization needs – realizing personal potential. It requires honesty, independence, awareness, objectivity and creativity.

Why are our states of mind always faltering?  This progress is often broken by failures to meet lower necessities. Private and professional life events can make us swing between the stages. Different levels can appear any time and complex needs can require actions at more levels at a time.

Why do we start worrying about the meaning of life once our goals get achieved? Reaching the top level, we start musing life itself. “We may come to fear that death in inevitable and that life is meaningless, but at the same time cling on to the cherished belief that life is eternal or at least important.” This ‘existential anxiety’ can be treated with  moral codes or even religion.

As I am finalising my post, very annoying questions invade my mind. Am I the captive of my biologic needs? Instead of seeking romance, delicious meals or soul mates, do I actually obey my biological calls? Am I a soulless group of neutrons claiming their protons?

Before the age of science, humans used to distinguish themselves as beings of conscience and spirit. By mapping the exact functioning of our organism, have we actually reduced our existence into a well-designed chain reaction of chemical molecules? 

How should I define myself when my behaviour and preferences are said to be determined by nerve-tracts and chemical bonds? I am afraid that although science contributes to the development of our civilisation, it has some utterly soul-destroying side-affects. The old-world noble notions of humanity, such as benevolence, conscience, patriotism or love, have been labelled by the cheapness of their evolutionary benefits.





  1. “have we actually reduced our existence into a well-designed chain reaction of chemical molecules? ”
    I am afraid that has always been the case. A self sustaining chain of chemical reaction is basically life in the first place. It is the reaction in a human’s mind that gives these “needs” a requirement. As we keep fulfilling our needs, a different set of reaction always starts out signifying another need. That being said, even when one actually reaches the stage of self actualization, even then other needs’ reactions still go on in the mind, raising the fact that one can never be fully content, hence, one can never be perfect. Here’s an example, let’s say you have fulfilled the first four stages of “needs” and now are at the stage of self actualization, you’re being extremely objective and creative, then suddenly a random disaster destroys the town you live in, in that case, wouldn’t you forget about self actualization and revert back to the primal instincts and try to find food, shelter, people who survived the disaster and rebuild the town? In other words, it is just a cycle.

    I’m sure you have read my piece on reincarnation, if you haven’t, I’d really recommend you to come and read it, it is something similar to your posts, your comment would be very insightful there.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Children used to be socialised that humans had soul, animals were not intelligent and plants were only useful settings on the planet. Humans looking into the mirror used to see a conscious being of spirit and of unique moral codes. The majority used to see even the intervention and creation of God.
      Nowadays, we are studying chemical reactions, reproduction and evolution. I do not really know what I see exactly in the mirror.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I find this very interesting and it would really make a good addition to my own short blog. Would you allow me to press it (reblog it) on my own blog?

    Very interesting points made, and would make a good lead-in to what kind of future we might see humans pursue. 😐

    Liked by 2 people

      • True. Small steps. Realistic goals. Measurable progress to continue to help yourself feel more positive about it. I’ve tried all those things. Some work. Some just feel like work with no payoff. I think it’s one of those things were each day, it’s building under the surface, but you don’t know it. And if you stop too soon because you don’t see it, it may hold back the actualization part. Just my two very weak cents.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Indeed, it is important to be able to recognise what is actually needed and what does not work. It seems hard based on the large extent of compensation activity. However, an abundant larder is scientifically required. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • This is actually not true, we use all of our brain and it is highly interconnected, it is also very pliable and will use parts that have been made redundant, say from amputation of a limb. What is fascinating, the pre frontal cerebral cortex is the only part that does not have a connection to the external environment, it receives it’s signals from the other modules of the brain. It is also usual to have more than one pathway in this interconnectedness, this is why if you lose short term memory permanently from a head injury you can retain long term memory, as they use different parts for storage after encoding. I’m taking this from long term memory (dodgy) so please don’t trust what i say but the is evidence out there.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. It is interpretations of scientific results not the science itself that leads to these concerns. These interpretations can be rejected if one wants. They are just beliefs about who we are anyway. The science itself is still sound.

    My answer to your question: “How should I define myself when my behaviour and preferences are said to be determined by nerve-tracts and chemical bonds?” Just don’t accept that our behaviors and preferences are determined. They aren’t. We can just as easily define ourselves as minds that control our nerve-tracts and chemical bonds within certain limits. This allows for freedom and spirituality as well as allowing us to take advantage of science where appropriate. Science is a simplification allowing measurements to be made. Those measurements may lead to technologies that are useful. The success of that simplification process does not mean we are that simplification.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Looking back to our origin helps us to see ourselves more clearly and science has made this possible. There was a time many thousands of years ago when we behaved like the animal s among whom we lived. Then by some unknown process probably over a long period we became self -conscious and at the same time self – judgemental. We developed a conscience and became moral beings and good and evil was born in us. Religion also was formed in our new conscious minds at that time. Free will was also born and we began to make choices as Freud pointed out we are at war with ourselves. The two conflicting selves the sense of duty and selfish ambition has been with us ever since, and we see it outplayed on the world stage.
    There are neuroscientists today who believe free will and the self are illusions and all actions are predetermined by our past. We can be certain that Steven Pinker is correct in saying we are not blank slates but carry a huge evolutionary baggage . Professor Penrose believes consciousness is connected to quantum mechanics and he does not believe modern computers will ever be conscious no matter how fast they become.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I think that we overvalue our conscious culture. We pay attention to the surface that we are not savages. Meanwhile very similar processes are going on in our society than in other packs or herds. It is undeniable that we can cooperate effectively but a few decades ago we used to massacre each other. Labor market is quite cruel. If you do not serve other people, you can find yourself in a very critical situation.
      Other species have very specific features as well, which we tend to ignore.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Lovely way to access why we do the things we do.
    It seems like some values from old times have lost their efficacy in our own era.
    It is good to know that we still have people like you who are thinking and sharing.
    I’m glad you shared this.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I have heard before of Maslow’s heirarchy and it always sounded plausible. I have just followed one of your links and found the following: “It is quite true that man lives by bread alone — when there is no bread. But what happens to man’s desires when there is plenty of bread and when his belly is chronically filled? (Maslow, 1943, p. 375).

    If Maslow cannot even get the quote right and makes a logically impossible argument out of it at the same time i now have serious doubts about this man’s ability to produce anything of value. In the last 24 hours i have had good reason to doubt the intelligence behind two commonly accepted principles being used today to help ‘explain’ two different scientific principles. The other has to do with a diagram ‘explaining’ the curvature of space time which has fundamental flaws.

    As for the Human Soul being a chemical reaction?

    My personal belief is more that the Human Soul has as it’s base a non-physical domain which then interacts with and causes the various chemical reactions and molecular structures which science believes are the ’causes’ of the soul and also explains how the soul functions in our human physical body.

    Basically, I think science is putting the horse before the cart here.

    Also the brain uses 100% of the neurons and connections – it just does not use them all at the same instant.

    Various regions of the brain do jobs which require different regions or different processing speeds (we take longer to process vision than sound for example) It is because of this that we cannot use 100% of our brain all the time – we need to give some things time to ‘catch up’ to others. We could if we made the effort choose to learn how to use our brains more effectively for some of the things we do with our brain but it is unlikely we could ever use it to it’s full potential.

    I do however believe that many humans do not use it to anywhere near an acceptable level and waste it on almost totally trivial matters.

    Finally, when you look in the mirror you are seeing only a greatly reduced illusion created in your own brain that it tries to relate to as the object that carries the thing it determines as ‘itself’ within. Your eyes are unable to see all of that which you truly are. Thinking you are what you see in the mirror is a gross understatement of the actual reality. You are far superior to that. 🙂


    Liked by 2 people

    • I agree with you that seeing is only a part of our overall perception of the world, so my reflection in the mirror must be that as well. Furthermore, I am sure that we perceive more than we are even aware of, and there are much that we can not even perceive.

      I think that if gravitation changes time, our brain and life must be affected by an array of non-chemical factors. However, we try to describe nature mostly by using separate formulas for the different forces. I think that the same is happening in case of this Maslow’s hierarchie. Or at least I hope so.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I could start by telling you that while soul does not exist, spirit does. But that would take a lot of other words to explain what I understand as soul, and what I know to be spirit. And then I would have to explain why I state there is no soul, yet I know there is spirit. More words would then be needed while I assure myself you understand what it is I am telling you, knowing that you will not understand unless you have seen life through my eyes, which you cannot do, unless you know telepathy. Oops, I added a new word into the discussion, and we have to go back to the first level to explain what I understand as telepathy, and the circle starts again…
      So let me tell you instead Maslow’s needs do not have to be completely or even half-fulfilled to be able to reach self-actualization. As long as you can keep yourself alive, it is possible to bypass safety, biological needs, and most self-esteem needs and jump straight to self-actualization. What makes that possible is living on the outside of North American society, and not being concerned about those other needs. Maslow could not see outside the social box. And, as he discovered later, there are a lot of levels beyond self-actualization. Life sort of starts over once you become self-responsible, and you have to climb a second peak, maybe even a third–I cannot say yet…
      I will finish this with the statement that Maslow was a brilliant idiot, trapped within his understanding of society. But then, 99% of people are trapped there with him, for now…

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Such interesting musing and questions. I think that one thing science has proven is how little we actually know about the workings of the universe. Many of the physical things and conceptual understandings we have today were unimaginable several centuries ago. In another century, new discoveries, theories, and technologies will look like today’s science fiction and fantasy.

    As a result, I don’t think that answers to questions of spirit, soul, and self-actualization are answerable now or whether they ever will be. The world is far more intricate, complex, and fantastical than our puny brains and limited perceptions can fathom. Science proves it over and over again. For me, the key to these musings has been a growing comfort with a position of “not-knowing.” And by accepting that I don’t know much about this amazing universe, I open to the belief that anything is possible.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I agree with you. However, science is based on experimental verifications and on the liberty of thoughts instead of fixed dogmas. Actually if most of the people doubt them but we are expected to acknowledge them, they are similar to fixed dogmas.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I don’t doubt science even though on occasion we make incorrect interpretations/assumptions. For example, that water exists only on Earth or animals don’t have emotions (since proved untrue). But I also think that we’ve only see a small sliver of the big picture – especially when it comes to the “invisible” realm of spirit, soul, emotions, a sentient planet, alternate dimensions, prayer, auras, time travel, etc. We can wonder, and have faith, but science has barely touched on these subjects.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Maslow, now? 🙂 Did I mention him with you in one or the other comment?
    Maslow is interesting because he proposes a – relatively – simple pyramid (structure) of needs.
    I’ve also found interesting parallels between his pyramid and the socio-economic pyramid in Mexico.
    (Where did I put that paper?… hmmm)
    Take care.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Your blog post is very interesting and thought provoking!
    My take on this post is that concepts like soul, enlightenment, consciousness etc are all difficult to define and understand intellectually. They also mean different things to different people.

    I like how you relate human behaviour to different perspectives: chemistry, biology, psychology and spirituality.

    Dave 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

      • That is true!, if I was to talk about soul in real life, people would think I was talking about music. I am glad that you are sharing these interesting insights.
        Dave 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  10. As a psychology graduate I prefer the positivism in humanistic psychology. Maslow’s theory is one of few that highlights that humanity has the desire and potential to grow. Psychological theories are based on varied ontological and epistemological views. Research that utilises those favoured by publishers and institutes are more likely to to get published. This contributes to the incomplete understanding we have. It also means that to be scientifically valid researchers will always have to pin things down. No theory will have the complete answer to any area of research. As you suggest, it is useless trying to understand the idiosyncracies of the human condition from the incomplete information we have.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. What I also find interesting is that Maslow amended his hierarchy and added a 6th before he died. It is the level of transcendence. This is where we evolve beyond the individual self and connect with nature, the cosmos and humanity. One consciousness and infinite connection. Science i trying to get to grips with this through quantum physics.
    At the end of the day, we will find that we are part of the universe and the universe is in us.
    There is wonder at what is not know, rather than evaluations and justification of what is currently known.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I thought he added at least 3 by the end. I myself added about five in the 70s, long before he did. Since I am not sure what he meant by transcendence, I wonder if he did not break that down into other sequential steps that “could” follow from self-actualization. I do know #6 is self_responsibility, followed by #7, life responsibilty. #8 might be life-connections and #9 spiritual connections. #10 might then be transcendence, if only I knew how he meant that. My own name for it was “being.”

      Liked by 1 person

    • How about “we are the universe”? Definitely our minds are a universe within us. But that does not put us in control of those universes. Rather it is the universes that are in control of us.
      Imagine this: Every cell in our bㅐodies is a separate individual, and our minds are the products of all the minds in those individual cells trying to work togegher, because if they let us demise, they are allowing their own demise. (As crazy as this sounds, this is actually part of my philosophy. And the more I consider it, the more logic it makes.)
      Last I heard Maslow was up to 8 before he died. I once had it up to 12, but I forget what they are. Old age setting in, lol.

      Liked by 2 people

  12. Our mentality matters! We should be ready to imbibe change when we learning any new beneficial concept. If we are adamant, it is dangerous. I think everyone knows what always happens to a rigid material? Broken right? WE should think of eternity always, this will make us put everything in life in their proper perspective. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I don’t think science, by explaining what contributes to certain emotions and actions, takes away from the very personal and enriching events that humans experience. It is all very individualized. What starts these chemical reactions leading to emotions such as love, empathy, frustration, is all unknown. We know the downstream components that carry these reactions out and maybe we can say such things as- from a general evolutionary standpoint- why some people may choose to pick a certain partner. But biology is messy and often goes against the most basic of rules. All biologists know this. We seek to understand these complexities but we know it just isn’t possible. There will always be exceptions to the rules for reasons we don’t know. Why one person loves someone and another can look at the same person and feel nothing, why some people have strong emotions about certain topics and not for others, why some people are interested in running and some people hate it. If science were able to explain everything , we would all be the same. If everything was just merely the result chemical reactions and the work of our synaptic connections, there would be no diversity. And yet- diversity is everywhere and in everything. We are all different and unpredictable. And that is what makes biology so great.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Self-actualization, if that is what you want to call it, changes you. Were you then to have a disaster befall you, your reaction would be totally different than returning to your basic needs. Food and shelter would be secondary to stopping suffering in the community where the disaster happened, to continue your scenario. You are no longer your first concern. You now have a responsibility to other living beings. This is one of the first impacts of self-actualization.
    As for the chemical reactions, they happen, but so do we happen. There is no proof yet that the same chemical reaction will produce the same change in different bodies. And maybe what look like the same reactions are really just similar. There is more we don’t know that what we do know.
    And one final thing (for now.) Later in his life Abraham Maslow starting adding on more levels to his little diagram. Self-actualization is not an end, but just a doorway into a whole new pyramid.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s