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Brain-Wise: Studies in Neurophilosophy Paperback – December 2, 2002

ISBN-13: 978-0262532006 ISBN-10: 026253200X

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Product Details

  • Series: Bradford Books
  • Paperback: 438 pages
  • Publisher: A Bradford Book (December 2, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 026253200X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262532006
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #713,884 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Joyce's book is brilliant. There is nothing more important than knowing what we are doing when we speak in the language of value. We are animals that judge with cognitve and affective equipment. Joyce explains who we are. Nothing matters more."--Owen Flanagan, James B. Duke Professor of Philosophy, Duke University

"Churchland explores the organic concept of self and nonself and what they mean both biologically and philosophically." Terrence Riley, MD JAMA

"It is both lucid and profound, cutting through issues where others only obfuscate. The one to read." Maggie McDonald New Scientist

"There is a new wave in philosophy. The Queen of the Sciences is visiting the kitchen. Patricia Churchland is one of the creators of Neurophilosophy, the movement that thinks philosophers should know something about the brain. In this very sensible and readable book she is riding on the crest of the wave.If you are seriously interested in who you are, your thoughts, your emotions and in deep questions such as consciousness, free will and religion, this book is for you. Against a brief historical background it outlines all these issues and shows how modern neuroscience is helping to shed some light on them. It takes you from molecules to memory, from temporal lobe epilepsy to religiosity, and much more besides. There is no other book quite like it. A must for every intelligent reader."--Francis Crick, Salk Institute for Biological Studies

"A brillant tour of what neuroscience teaches about perennial philosophical problems of self, knowledge, identity, and the nature of things. It's also a thrilling primer on how philosophy itself will change as it takes knowledge of brain science to heart. A wonderful treat for the novice and the expert!"--Owen Flanagan, James B. Duke Professor of Philosophy, Duke University

"This is a unique and effective introduction to brain science from the perspective of the basic issues that frame the discipline. This should be a terrific source for the student of philosophy because it explores to what extent fundamental philosophical questions can be illuminated by empirical inquiry."--Larry Squire, School of Medicine, University of California, San Diego, and VA Medical Center, San DiegoPlease note: Arrived too late to appear on book jacket.

About the Author

Patricia Smith Churchland is UC President's Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, San Diego, and Adjunct Professor at the Salk Institute.

Customer Reviews

Churchland offers the most comprehensive and understandable overview of these challenges currently in print.
Stephen A. Haines
Neurophilosophy is the branch that aims to ground philosophy of mind in neuroscience research, and this books is the best introduction to it out there.
Carlos Camara
She says that present scientific knowledge about the brain makes it implausible that there is any such thing as an immaterial mind or soul.
Rolf Dobelli

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

68 of 72 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Lee D. Carlson HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on May 13, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The mind/body problem, as understood by philosphers for the last few centuries, has been buried under a mountain of neuroscience. One can of course still tunnel into this mountain if desired and dig further in the mine of armchair argumentation and speculation. But more and more philosophers are abandoning this mine, and employing their unique talents and restless desire to get at the truth, to a view of the mind/brain that is more in tune with empirical research. It is perhaps difficult for the traditional philosopher to make this transition, for they feel perhaps that they are abandoning their commitment to the goals they have set. To these philosophers science is a derived field of knowledge, and has an underlying foundation given by philosophy. To turn against this view would be a sacrilege to many philosophers.
The author of this book is one of the best examples of what can happen when a philosopher has made the decision to investigate what neuroscience has to offer for the understanding of the mind/brain. It is packed full of highly interesting insights from someone who has been deeply engaged in research in neuroscience and neurophilosophy. The advances in neuroscience in just the last few years have been breathtaking, particularly in experimental methods. Some of these developments are discussed in the book, along with good arguments that cast further doubts on the ability of philosophical speculation to produce a workable theory of the mind (brain).
The need for such a theory of mind (brain) is argued especially well for in the first few chapters of the book. The author emphasizes that merely refuting various materialist views of the mind (brain) will not by itself lead to an understanding of it.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Stephen A. Haines HALL OF FAME on September 25, 2003
Format: Paperback
Traditional philosophy has had a rough time lately. The wealth of new information on the brain is forcing us to re-think what the mind is and how it works. Churchland offers the most comprehensive and understandable overview of these challenges currently in print. This outstanding panoramic view of "brain science" provides any reader with challenging questions and offers means to derive the answers. These come not from the reader's knowledge of cognitive science, but from the applicaton of logic. Churchland imposes few responses of her own. Fluent in the science and its presentation, she has varied experience in cognitive science. Her earlier book "Neurophilosophy" coined a term indicating where further work is needed and how the results might be applied. This book brings us up to date and enlarges on that earlier study.
The book is well organized with a superb Introduction surveying the history of thinking on the mind-body relationship. Brain research, hindered by physical difficulties and traditional thinking, was slower to develop than other sciences, such as astronomy or physics. The fundamental organization of brain structure and mechanics are well described and illustrated. The remaining body of the book discusses the three "big questions" philosophy has dealt with over the millenia: Metaphysics, Epistomology and Religion. Each topic is defined with an historical synopsis. Applications of the brain's reaction to phenomena as applied to the subject fill the remainder of each section. Bibliographies and Internet sites are listed at the end of each section within the topic.
The questions she poses are the "deep" ones - pondered and debated for centuries.
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40 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Carlos Camara on March 23, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Well, it took more than a decade, but finally those interested in philosophy and neuroscience get an up to date version of Churchlands's NEUROPHILOSOPHY, the groud-breaking and field- creating textbook. Churchland, witht he clarity that characterizes her writings, and the no-nosense naturalistic viewpoint she takes, explains what neuroscience has to say about philosophical problems like consiousness, freewill, the self, theory of knowledge, religion (the fact that some of these problems in fact are now considered neuroscience problems, not philosophical ones, show that neurophilosophy as a field has been succesful, as has been Churchlands approach). But philosophy is still of value, only that its value only exists when it takes science seriously. Just as ancient philosophical problems like the origin of life, the nature of matter, space and time, have become the subjects of independent scientific fields of biology and physics, the mind, and its faculties, is being reduced to the field of neuroscience. There is no reason why this fact should be seen as unexpected or strange or weird. It is as obvious as it can be, and it has brought unprecedented understanding and predictive power, facts that render dualism and its branches an unecessary burden, and a potential setback towards understanding the mind.
The chapters are well written, clear and referenced superbly, with notes and suggested readings. The choice of topics is timely, and Churchland does a good job (although understandably she presents mostly theories in accord with her views and what she thinks is really important) of presenting the main theories and keeping them clear even when omitting certain technical details. The philosophical parts are also well argued for, and her position is defended well.
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More About the Author

I am Professor of Philosophy (emerita) at the University of California, San Diego, and an adjunct professor at the Salk Institute for Biological Research. As a philosopher, I focus on the interface between traditional philosophical questions (what is knowledge, where do values come from) and new developments in neuroscience and genetics. I call this sort of interfacing "Neurophilosophy" and my 2011 book (Braintrust) links morality with the brain and its evolution. My newest book is Touching a Nerve: The Self as Brain (2013).

My husband, Paul Churchland and I work closely together, which is fortunate because at first, most philosophers dismissed our work as "not real philosophy". Mark Churchland, our son, and Anne Churchland, our daughter, are both neuroscientists (at Columbia and Cold Spring Harbor respectively). Our golden retrievers, Duff and Farley, distribute a lot of fur about and swim whenever they get the chance. It is hard to say how smart they are, but they are excellent models for attachment and bonding.

An extended interview can be found on The Science Network: and on Philosophy Bites

You can see Pat interviewed on The Colbert Report January 23 2014.

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