Few philosophers today attempt a nonmaterialist explanation of consciousness, but even materialist explanations get stuck at the mysterious boundary where thoughts arise from synapses. The Cerebral Code
offers a physiological model of the brain's thought processes, albeit in a highly technical presentation. William Calvin, overly glib at times, tries hard to present his new hypothesis for the workings of higher intellectual functions in easy-to-understand metaphors and plain language. And while the technical difficulty of the topic makes this a daunting read, the cogent neurological model of human cognition--dreaming, problem solving, and creative thinking--is rewarding. Anyone who wishes to thoroughly understand consciousness should not ignore this book.
"Bill Calvin writes with elegance, economy, and authority. In The Cerebral Code
, he has solidly embedded his ideas in experimental neurophysiology and neuropharmacology, deriving from his decades in the laboratory. He explores the ramifications of his insights into a wide range of cerebral functions, such as sleep, dreaming, awareness, problems solving, creative thinking, and the dynamics of nerve cell assemblies that make consciousness possible. Calvin has written primarily for his colleagues in neuroscience, as well as for lay readers. I believe he will achieve his aim, by recounting in adequate detail the basic concepts from which he is reasoning, and thereafter exploring ideas and issues that his reductionstically minded colleagues have largely ignored."
—Walter J. Freeman
, Professor of the Graduate School, University of California at Berkeley