20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
I give it three stars, but could have made it five stars if it were not for...,
This review is from: Consciousness: Confessions of a Romantic Reductionist (Hardcover)Dr. Koch is a biophysicist by training who works primarily in computational neuroscience, with special interest in consciousness; he is also well-published, papers- and book-wise. Not surprisingly, he is one of the more recognizable names in consciousness research. For that reason, I had really high hopes for this book.
In all honesty, I really liked the book, even though I was often frustrated while reading it. At times, I felt like going "Right on!!!!!" and yet at some other times, I was wondering "What the **** is he talking about?"
Briefly, this book is essentially three books in one: (1) An overview of the actual scientific quest to understand consciousness through his own research and the research of others, (2) A series of candid personal memories and (3) A series of "educated speculations" on the nature of things and how it all began. When reading the book, it became very distracting to go from one frame of mind to the other. I often asked myself, "Ok, which book am I reading now?"
Nonetheless, his style is fluid and witty; he was also able to explain complex ideas in simple terms, which is the mark of someone who actually knows what he is talking about. That is why it was so puzzling to me when I read things like the following (his words are between brackets, followed by my comments; these are only representative examples):
*Page 19: "...evolutionary theory is open-ended and not predictive." What? No!
*Page 43 (referring to cerebellar damage): "...your perceptions and memories are not affected much, if at all." Nope! It is well-established that the cerebellum possesses cognitive and perceptual roles.
*Page 120: "You and I find ourselves in a cosmos in which any and all systems of interacting parts possess some measure of sentience". I believe that this sentence would have made more sense if it would have said "...systems of interacting parts of a certain minimal complexity..." A bicycle is a system of interacting parts, but is no sentient in any sense of the word.
*Page 120: "Human consciousness is much more rarified than canine consciousness because the human brain has more than twenty times more neurons than the brain of a dog and is more heavily networked." This implies (unless rarified is not the word he is looking for) that the consciousness of a dog is more "concentrated" than a human's. Enough said.
I have to say that other reviewers have commented on his tendency of referring to Francis Crick (of DNA fame) as "Francis" throughout the book. I, for one, can't blame him. If I were a personal friend and collaborator of such a great scientist I would do that too.
In summary, with a little bit of more work, he would have been able to get three individual books, each one with a coherent theme & topic, and I would have bought each one.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 2, 2013 10:56:58 AM PDT
Oblong Cheese says:
gotta keep in mind that rarefied can also mean < of high moral or intellectual value; elevated in nature or style; "an exalted ideal" > So that part makes perfect sense
In reply to an earlier post on May 14, 2013 8:45:49 PM PDT
O. R. Pagan says:
Oh I did not know that! Thanks so much! (:-)
In reply to an earlier post on Jun 21, 2013 9:27:19 AM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Jun 21, 2013 9:53:51 AM PDT]
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