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‘Will give pleasure to anyone interested in original thinking about the brain…Breathtakingly original’ Financial Times
The trailblazing investigation of a question that has confounded us for centuries: how is consciousness created?
In Self Comes to Mind, world-renowned neuroscientist Antonio Damasio goes against the long-standing idea that consciousness is separate from the body, presenting compelling new scientific evidence that consciousness - what we think of as a mind with a self - is in fact a biological process created by a living organism. His view entails a radical change in the way the history of the conscious mind is viewed and told, suggesting that the brain’s development of a human self is a challenge to nature’s indifference.
Groundbreaking ideas and beautifully written, this is essential reading for anyone curious about the foundations of mind and self.
As he has done previously, USC neuroscientist Damasio (Descartes' Error) explores the process that leads to consciousness. And as he has also done previously, he alternates between some exquisite passages that represent the best popular science has to offer and some technical verbiage that few will be able to follow. He draws meaningful distinctions among points on the continuum from brain to mind, consciousness to self, constantly attempting to understand the evolutionary reasons why each arose and attempting to tie each to an underlying physical reality. Damasio goes to great lengths to explain that many species, such as social insects, have minds, but humans are distinguished by the "autobiographical self," which adds flexibility and creativity, and has led to the development of culture, a "radical novelty" in natural history. Damasio ends with a speculative chapter on the evolutionary process by which mind developed and then gave rise to self. In the Pleistocene, he suggests, humans developed emotive responses to shapes and sounds that helped lead to the development of the arts. Readers fascinated from both a philosophical and scientific perspective with the question of the relationships among brain, mind, and self will be rewarded for making the effort to follow Damasio's arguments.