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God Soul Mind Brain: A Neuroscientist's Reflections on the Spirit World (LeapSci) Paperback – August 31, 2010
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The book is an easy and interesting read, intended for those with no specialized knowledge. It has no references at all, but a short list of suggested further reading. As a neuroscientist myself, and therefore not a member of the target readership, I may be too critical, but I feel that new and controversial theses should first be debated before a specialist audience before being presented in a book with no references.
Not that all in the book is new or controversial. Indeed, the first of Graziano's claims is certainly not. He describes with admirable clarity some of the more interesting results of systems neurophysiology over the last fifteen years, including mirror neurons, and gives standard interpretations.
His second claim that "presences, spirits, ghosts and gods" result from the illusory attribution of mind to inanimate objects is also not new, because several anthropologists have made similar proposals since the 19th C to explain the origins of animism. But in claiming that all religious experience is illusory Graziano does brook controversy. He also states with almost no argument that "There are no fundamental moral truths of the universe.Read more ›
The pleasure (or one of the many pleasures) of the book subtitled 'A Neuroscientist's Reflection on the Spirit World' is the non-confrontational manner in which Graziano approaches the concept that soul and spirit and God may be better understood by exploring the working of the human brain. He simply does not go where readers who are embedded in religion/spirituality/soul versus the devil of science stand guard of their beliefs. This small, immensely readable book is not a scientific treatise but instead is a book for the masses, a gently kind introduction to the concepts of Neuroscientific explorations that explore the neural mechanisms of the 'social brain' - the concept of perception that allows us to react to the world in an understandable way - that allow us to construct a reasonable explanation for where spiritual thoughts, the concept of soul, and indeed where the major impact that religion began and continues.Read more ›
Graziano brings to the table a professorship in social neuroscience, and builds atop the work of Dawkins and others in social memes, to explain what makes us human. He explains the workings of the brain to model the world around us, helping us interact socially and "feel" our way through life. Consciousness, the great mystery of our age, is merely "social perception applied inwardly." It's a process, not a thing. The book is short and very readable, but if you do find yourself struggling to grasp or appreciate the material, then skip over parts, but don't put the book down before the final chapter.
Graziano is an atheist who thinks religion is complex and marvelous. That's a good thing, because he also feels religion cannot be outgrown. He wants nothing to do with the aggressive new atheism which seeks to ridicule the religious into discarding dangerous beliefs for rational thinking. "I simply think that eradicating religion is not possible. It is a fallacy that ignores the specs of the human machine. We are not rational entities. Religion, like all culture, grows on the social machinery in our brains."
God, it turns out, is the amygdala, though Graziano would never say this outright, and he'll probably hunt me down for misrepresenting him. His own definition of God is "the perception of intentionality on a global scale. It is the perception of a single, unified mind behind every otherwise inexplicable event." Don't worry if this sounds like geek-speak, because the discussion of intentionality will make the definition clear and simple. In fact, everything in the book is clear and simple, enjoyable and unforgettable. Read it!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book is very well written for a lay audience; inviting, instructive, informative and endlessly thought-provoking. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Patricia Sterling
I really enjoyed this book, it touched on many parts of the human psyche. Both thought provoking and informative. I recommend the book.Published 13 months ago by J.W. Cooper
I really enjoyed this book. It introduced me to the basics of the current thoughts on the evolution of consciousness. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Clabscom
This book brings together some complex ideas like consciousness, awareness, attention, behaviour, perception and belief. Read morePublished 21 months ago by June
Michael Graziano wrote a very interesting book about mind and brain. The "God" and "soul" part of the title is not directly addressed but implied: because a naturalistic... Read morePublished on February 15, 2013 by A Scholar
As a lay person with interest in both neuroscience and philosophy, I found that this book should be a required reading at both high school and college level. Read morePublished on February 18, 2012 by Amazon Customer
Being both a Neuroscientist and a novelist, Michael S.A. Graziano delves into the subject of our perception of the world in his latest book God Soul Mind Brain: A Neuroscientist's... Read morePublished on March 15, 2011 by BLehner
Consciousness is the perhaps the most important common ground for psychology and philosophy, explored best through writing, to say. Read morePublished on February 26, 2011 by Ernest Dempsey