The Brain and the Meaning of Life and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
Buy New
$40.45
Qty:1
  • List Price: $46.95
  • Save: $6.50 (14%)
Only 2 left in stock (more on the way).
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com.
Gift-wrap available.
Add to Cart
Want it Monday, April 21? Order within and choose One-Day Shipping at checkout. Details
Have one to sell?
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more

The Brain and the Meaning of Life Hardcover

ISBN-13: 978-0691142722 ISBN-10: 0691142726 Edition: 0th

See all 4 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from Collectible from
Kindle
"Please retry"
Hardcover
"Please retry"
$40.45
$32.29 $6.85

Free%20Two-Day%20Shipping%20for%20College%20Students%20with%20Amazon%20Student



NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

Sell Your Books
Get up to 75% back when you sell your books on Amazon. Ship your books for free and get Amazon.com Gift Cards. Learn more.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (February 14, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691142726
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691142722
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.2 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,219,958 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"[Thagard] offers a tightly reasoned, often humorous, and original contribution to the emerging practice of applying science to areas heretofore the province of philosophers, theologians, ethicists, and politicians: What is reality and how can we know it? Are mind and brain one or two? What is the source of the sense of self? What is love? What is the difference between right and wrong, and how can we know it? What is the most legitimate form of government? What is the meaning of life, and how can we find happiness in it? Thagard employs the latest tools and findings of science in his attempts to answer these (and additional) questions." --Michael Shermer, Science magazine

"A thoughtful and well-researched attempt to answer that most fundamental existential question: why not kill yourself? Or, to give it a positive spin, what gives life meaning? Thagard lays out detailed arguments that reality is knowable through science, that minds are nothing other than material brains and that there are no ultimate rights and wrongs handed down by a supernatural being." --New Scientist

"The Brain and the Meaning of Life provides a highly informed account of the relevance of recent neuroscience to human life. It compellingly tells how humans, as biological creatures in a physical world, can find meaning and value." --William Bechtel, University of California, San Diego

From the Inside Flap

"The Brain and the Meaning of Life provides a highly informed account of the relevance of recent neuroscience to human life. It compellingly tells how humans, as biological creatures in a physical world, can find meaning and value."--William Bechtel, University of California, San Diego

"Engagingly written for general readers, Thagard's book provides a nice description of current knowledge about the brain and explains how brain research bears on philosophical issues."--Gilbert Harman, Princeton University


More About the Author

Adapted from the Canadian Encyclopedia:

Paul R. Thagard, philosopher (b at Yorkton, Sask, 1950). Paul Thagard received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Saskatchewan (1971), and completed degrees in philosophy at Cambridge University (1977) and the University of Toronto (1977). In 1985 he studied computer science at the University of Michigan (receiving an MSc), where he spent 8 years teaching philosophy at the Dearborn campus before accepting a position as a research psychologist at the University of Princeton (1986). Thagard later joined the University of Waterloo as a professor of philosophy, with a cross appointment to psychology and computer science, and director of the Cognitive Science Program. His considerable body of work (including many books and some 200 articles) has been profoundly influential to the study of human cognition in a wide range of practical and theoretical contexts.

Full article:
http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=A1ARTA0010477

Web site:
http://watarts.uwaterloo.ca/~pthagard/Biographies/pault.html

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
Share your thoughts with other customers

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

67 of 79 people found the following review helpful By Mark G. Roberts on May 12, 2010
Format: Hardcover
a book review by Dr. Michael Shermer

TWICE I HAVE SPOKEN at the TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conference. Twice I have begrudgingly agreed to the strictly enforced 18-minute talk format -- grumbling that "ideas worth spreading" (the TED motto) could not possibly be conveyed in such a constrained format. And twice have I been proven wrong. With discipline and diligence you really can say something of substance in a tight space, and more than 200 million downloads of endlessly entertaining and educational videos prove the principle of pithiness.

In The Brain and the Meaning of Life, philosopher, psychologist, and computer scientist Paul Thagard (University of Waterloo) has elegantly employed the pithiness principle. He offers a tightly reasoned, often humorous, and original contribution to the emerging practice of applying science to areas heretofore the province of philosophers, theologians, ethicists, and politicians: What is reality and how can we know it? Are mind and brain one or two? What is the source of the sense of self? What is love? What is the difference between right and wrong, and how can we know it? What is the most legitimate form of government? What is the meaning of life, and how can we find happiness in it? Thagard employs the latest tools and findings of science in his attempts to answer these (and additional) questions. He briefly reviews how others have addressed them in the past. And he discusses how a scientific worldview can inform one's analysis and in some cases fully answer the questions -- at least to the satisfaction of those of us who take a strictly materialist and naturalist perspective.

Yes, there is a point of view here, and well there should be.
Read more ›
3 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Jeroen Versteeg on December 14, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I couldn't wait to finish this excellent book so I could finally write a review and recommend it to anyone looking for a rational, evidence-based justification for meaning of life and ways to determine it.

Thagard first explains how minds (appear to) work, and why there is no need to appeal to any supernatural explanation to explain them. I had heard about neural networks, of course, (who hasn't? - I also took some college psychology classes and have read several books about psychology) but never really understood how this model actually explains our minds. This book explained the idea so well that this revelation alone would have been worth the read.

The second part of the book takes the concepts of the first part (minds are brains, free will is an illusion) and builds upon them to discuss the big questions of morality and the meaning of life. How can we be moral if there's no free will? How can there be any meaning in life if we haven't been created for a particular purpose?

To answer these questions, the author not only describes the scientific point of view (often describing competing theories), but regularly switches to normative philosophic arguments to show what we "ought" to value (e.g. why we should trust the scientific method, or why we should reject moral relativism). This combination of science and philosophy creates real synergy and succeeds in offering a very intellectually and emotionally satisfying account of the mind and meaning of life.

I read Sam Harris's The Moral Landscape just before this book and found its argument for a scientific basis for objective morality lacking. This book succeeded in showing - with lucid style and dispassionate (in a good sense!
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By James Preston on December 20, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Professor Thagard has done a fine job of bringing together various research to support a hypothesis that love, work, and play are the basic elements of meaning in life.

Of course you still know little about meaning if you don't study and understand how he supports his conclusion. This is where Mr. Thagard messes things up a little. Much of the book is a repudiation of philosophical theories. This content would be fine of course in an academic paper but I found it is distracting in this book. I have nothing against picking on philosophers who base their work on speculation but I would have preferred this effort to be in later chapters instead of sprinkled throughout the book. They keep diverting a reader's attention from the well constructed flow.

I have studied the human relationship to meaning for decades but especially in the past dozen years. Thagard's hypothesis fits in nicely with what I've found if you take the definitions of love, play, and work liberally as he does. People can attach meaning to pretty much anything physical or non-physical. That they do that through love, work, and/or play is new to me but so far I've found the hypothesis works to explain what is happening in the real world - including religion.

For an explanation of love, work, and play in a religious context think of "Protestant work ethic", "Love one another", and the numerous fun activities and songs hosted by most religious groups.

Mr. Thagard is very clear about what issues are not yet supported by enough research. He doesn't have all the answers. However, as many of us know, the gaps in knowledge are closing fast. It is difficult to see at this time that closing those gaps will make a material difference in Thagard's conclusions.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Product Images from Customers

Search
ARRAY(0xaefe1720)

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?