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Consciousness: Confessions of a Romantic Reductionist (MIT Press) Paperback – March 3, 2017
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With this masterful narrative of his life and science, Christof Koch has done for neuroscience what James D. Watson did for biology in his classic work The Double Helix. At once engaging, informing, and enlightening, Consciousness should be read by every student and scientist of the mind, along with general readers who would like to know how science really works and how scientists really think -- and feel -- when they engage the world with their experimental tools. Destined to takes its place as a timeless masterpiece in the history of science.(Michael Shermer, Publisher of Skeptic magazine; author of The Believing Brain)
This is a strikingly charming and enlightening -- and even moving -- report from the front lines of the neurobiology of consciousness from one of our foremost authorities. It is a lucid account of the latest ideas about consciousness science together with their philosophical underpinnings, all in the context of a highly personal, emotional and intellectual autobiography that features to an extent that surprised me, Christof Koch's journey of rejection of religion and discovery of meaning in the universe.(Ned Block, Professor of Philosophy and Psychology, New York University)
This is the book Christof Koch was born to write. An exuberant blend of science, wit, wisdom and autobiography, it brings the subject to life and shows why Koch has had such a profound influence on this exciting area of neuroscience.(Geraint Rees, Director, UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, London)
Koch weaves a vivid and poignant story, punctuated by fascinating characters and compelling science. The book will leave you with a small piece of Koch's own consciousness, plucked from his head and delivered into yours.(Science News)
... [D]efinitely worth reading.... I argued with Koch all the way through this book. And I loved every minute of it.(Robert Stickgold Nature)
Pioneering consciousness studies requires a nimbly multiprocessing mind. That Koch possesses one is apparent.(Chronicle of Higher Education)
Among the plethora of books on consciousness, this engaging blend of science, autobiography and honest self-reflection stands out. It combines a lucid description of the leading edge of consciousness science with a surprisingly personal and philosophical reflection of the author's life as one of its foremost authorities, shedding light on how scientists really think. Science writing at its best.(Anil Seth Times Higher Education)
... [T]he book offers good rides through the wild forest of the neuroscience of consciousness. Koch is fearless, and does not shrink from talking about phenomenology and qualia; he includes them and tries to formalise consciousness by linking it to direct brain signals or well-defined psychological constructs.(Tristan Bekinschtein Times Higher Education)
This new volume is attractive not only for the breadth and depth that is typical of Koch's writing, but also for its highly accessible nature.... This important book serves as a subtle introduction to many of the driving questions of the discipline that may well significantly change people's understanding of human nature.(Choice)
About the Author
Christof Koch is Professor of Biology and of Engineering at the California Institute of Technology and Chief Scientific Officer of the Allen Institute for Brain Science in Seattle. He is the author of The Quest for Consciousness and other books.
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I know that some reviewers did not particular care for this mix of scientifically light introduction to consciousness interlaced with personal anecdotes and even insights into personal passions and marital breakdown but for me the book worked.
Christof Koch is the rare scientist capable of pulling science - philosophy and even the occasional religious thought together.
Throughout the book it is so evident that Prof. Koch is a very fine and passionate Mensch.
This is a great introduction into one of the fundamental mysteries of our existence - read it you will not regret.
His recollections and confessions are illuminating and inspiring, especially for younger students seeking to follow in his path, and the older student who is just looking for something to keep them moving... And and-students (i.e. the rest of the population) will love it as the story of a man is search of answers to the meaning of it all, and how this led him closer and closer to the truth of our existence.