- Hardcover: 280 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (September 2, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0199928649
- ISBN-13: 978-0199928644
- Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 0.9 x 5.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,002,116 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Consciousness and the Social Brain 1st Edition
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"Theories of consciousness are a dime a dozen. This one is different. Here is what makes Graziano's central idea distinctive: it makes sense - good scientific and logical sense. It fits with what we know about brain anatomy and physiology. It accounts for a wide swath of psychological data and clinical data. It does not peddle the preposterous nor rely on semantic mumbo jumbo. It has no gigantic holes it has to pretend not to notice. It connects to other reasonable approaches deftly and productively. It is masterfully clear. It is surprising in places, and probably wrong in some places, as any rich and deep theory inevitably is. The central idea, however, is quite probably right, or very close to. Almost invariably I find that I hurl books on consciousness to the floor midway through. Not this one."
Patricia S. Churchland, PhD, Professor, Department of Philosophy, University of California, San Diego
"Orchestrating how our personal awareness jives with the stuff we think about has eluded us all. Graziano has a plausible and rich theory about how it all articulates without giving away the store, and he explains it vividly."
Michael S. Gazzaniga, PhD, Director, Sage Center for the Study of Mind
"Graziano proposes a new and intriguing theory of consciousness.. Graziano guides readers step-by-step through his captivating and convincing theory of consciousness, explaining how the theory accounts for many oddities in human perception. This book is an essential read for anyone interested in consciousness from either a scientific or philosophical perspective." -- Library Journal
"In most scientific theories, awareness emerges from the physical functioning of the brain, almost like heat rising from circuits. Laid out in his recent book, Consciousness and the Social Brain, Graziano's theory takes a completely different approach to explaining consciousness. 'In this theory, the brain is an information-processing device. It doesn't produce non-physical essences -- it computes information,' Graziano said. Graziano has given consciousness a more solid footing in the real, tangible world even if it remains a creation of the brain, Schurger said. 'If anything, his theory stands to demystify consciousness, in the same way that our understanding of genetics and self-organizing systems has begun to demystify 'life,' which was once thought to depend on an unseen force.'" -Morgan Kelly, Princeton University News
"The author offers an engaging and accessible explanation of his theory. Rather than merely touting its merits, he aims to show how it is compatible with other popular theories. Avoiding technical details, he uses anecdotes, drawings, and metaphors to convey an understanding of the important concepts. [Consciousness and the Social Brain] turns the field's contemporary wisdom on its head, and from its new vantage point one has the sense that an answer to the problem of consciousness might be in sight. Graziano's attention schema theory marks a milestone by offering a plausible, mechanistic answer to the hard problem." --Aaron Schurger, Science Magazine
"Well known for his work on the motor cortex, Graziano is a newcomer to the field of consciousness research. His ideas and approach here are outliers in the theoretical arena, but that makes Consciousness and the Social Brain all the more intriguing. It turns the field's contemporary wisdom on its head, and from its new vantage point one has the sense that an answer to the problem of consciousness might be in sight." --Science
About the Author
Michael S. A. Graziano, Professor of Neuroscience at Princeton University, is an internationally renowned scientist and an award-winning novelist. His books include the popular science book God, Soul, Mind, Brain and the short novels The Divine Farce, The Love Song of Monkey, and Death My Own Way.
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Top Customer Reviews
Graziano's theory on consciousness is the most sensible, reality bound and plausible explanation that takes a deep look into this subject from a scientific point of view; unlike other (more prominent) neuroscientists in this field, who are still searching to explain 'how the brain PRODUCES the squirrel (consciousness) in our heads', instead of focusing (as Graziano tries to explain), 'how the circuits in our brain lead our brains to CONCLUDE the existence of the squirrel (thus consciousness) in our brains'. If you're searching for a 'mystical' phantom like explanation for consciousness, then Tononi and Koch type of explanations that lean towards consciousness being an irreducible entity of the Universe, like mass, energy or electrical charge may suffice; or Hammeroff, Penrose and to some extent Deepak Chopra's quantum basis of consciousness may 'tickle your fancy'. But if you're interested in a reality/plausible, computational brain based, down to earth explanation for consciousness, then Graziano's Attention Schema Theory of Consiousness is the closest you'll ever get to it.
I think the material on religion, while probably broadly accurate, both scopes the phenomenon too narrowly as "god as a felt sense of presence" and doesn't go into a lot of detail. I'd be curious about connections between the attention schema theory and meditation.
I want Graziano to convince Sam Harris and then have them write a book together.
This truly is one of the best scientific theory books I've read. Graziano's style is incredibly accessible and digestible for the layman, and detailed enough for the scientist. Whether you are skeptical of the theory or not, everyone will have to contend with this theory in the further consideration of consciousness.
So in summary, the theory itself is very much worth learning about and giving serious consideration to, however, this book is rather dryly written to the point I felt burdened by trying to finish it.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
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