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The Self and Its Brain: An Argument for Interactionism Reprint Edition

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ISBN-13: 978-0415058988
ISBN-10: 0415058988
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Editorial Reviews


. . . anyone with an interest in philosophy, science, and the future of the world should read it.
British Journal of Psychiatry

. . . a massive achievement . . . a theory of beautiful simplicity, with all the relevant data clearly set out down to recent research findings.
The Jerusalem Post

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 616 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; Reprint edition (March 29, 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415058988
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415058988
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,065,587 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Born to Lose on September 4, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Popper does not need any presentation, nor any apologetics. I just pretend to say a few words about this impressive book under the prism of the current mind-body philosophy.

I asked to my professor of mind-body philosophy if I could study Popper, and he told me "no, no, he is too complicated with his 3 worlds theory". Instead, he wanted me to study Kim Jaegwon, the hey day mind-body philosopher. I did it, but Kim represents a very narrow philosophy, in my opinion. Finally, I went to Popper, and I feel like home. I tell you why. Excellent and plain prose, focusing on the central problems from the very beginning, and impressive understanding of vast regions of knowledge, Popper does not hesitate in emitting a judgment about a certain theory, a humanistic thought.

His opponents will say that is a personal book, somehow oldie, overcome by recent books. But I don't agree. You will find in Popper a sound critic of: materialism as the deafault position in mind-body philosophy; a very interesting critic to the identity theory; interesting thought and critics about philosophical reduction; why does not help to equate minds to computers; how we are to understand correctly perception; etc. All this critics are still very pertinent to current mind-body philosophy. Popper is all the time offering arguments: I don't like that argument because of that; I like it because of that; that's my argument in defence of my position, etc. (Compare it with the ugly and difficult prose of Kim, for instance, where you are to find arguments camouflaged in a vegetation of long dissertations on history and ontology, whatever this words my be.)

On the other hand, Popper offers also his positive solution, a very interesting one which, I believed, needs to be considered carefully and with sympathy.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Steven H Propp TOP 100 REVIEWER on September 15, 2010
Format: Paperback
John Eccles (1903-1997) was an Australian neurophysiologist who shared the 1963 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his work on the synapse. Karl Popper (1902-1994) was an Austro-British philosopher and a professor at the London School of Economics, and one of the greatest philosophers of science of the 20th century.

They state in the Preface to this 1977 book, "The problem of the relation between our bodies and our minds, and especially of the link between brain structures and processes on the one hand and mental dispositions and events on the other is an exceedingly difficult one. Without pretending to be able to foresee future developments, both authors of this book think it improbable that the problem will ever be solved, in the sense that we shall really understand this relation. We think that no more can be expected than to hope to make a little progress here or there. We have written this book in the hope that we have been able to do so." They go on to state, "it may be well to mention at once one important difference between the authors: a difference in religious belief. One of us (Eccles) is a believer in God [he was Catholic] and the supernatural, while the other (Popper) may be described as an agnostic."

Here are some representative quotations from the book:

KP: "The most reasonable view seems to be that consciousness is an emergent property of animals arising under the pressure of natural selection (and therefore only after the evolution of a mechanism of reproduction)."
KP: "We know that, but we do not know HOW, mind and body interact; ... Nor do we know how mental events interact, unless we believe in a theory of mental events and their interaction which is almost certainly false: in associationism.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Les Brighton on April 2, 2012
Format: Paperback
Some books are argument-driven: the writer has a strong point and the book develops the argument in a linear way, step by step. Others offer an unfolding framework of ideas, facts and reflections that give the reader the material and the tools to do their own thinking alongside the author or authors. This book is of the second kind. The threefold structure is explained in other reviews: Popper's philosophical discussion of the brain/mind (or, as I think he would put it brain/self) problem; Eccles's unpacking of the neurophysiology of the brain, which provides the physical structures out of which and upon which the phenomenon of perception, thought and self-awareness operate; and the final series of dialogues between the two, which bring together and clarify the first two sections, and seek to go further in thinking about what this all means. This is not a hard-driven thesis (though a thesis is certainly offered); rather it is an extended reflection and exploration of both idea and experiment that is in its way even more engaging.

The book is over 30 years old now, but this should not put potential readers off. Popper is as amiable and encyclopedic as ever. One of the things I appreciate about him is that he dialogues with thinkers through the whole of the tradition: Pythagoras or Hippocrates may be invoked with as much interest and respect as Hume or Kant or more recent thinkers and experimenters. When reading Eccles one has to be aware of the passing of time since his section was written - the comparatively few references to genetics, for example, are an indication of that. However, while this section would not be written in precisely the same way today, it is still an admirable explanation of the basic geography and function of the structures of the brain.
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