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Proust Was a Neuroscientist Reprint Edition
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From Publishers Weekly
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Top Customer Reviews
The different chapters look at a poet, four novelists, a chef, a painter, and a composer. The chapters each follow similar patterns. Lehrer initially prepares us for each artist with a brief biography at the beginning. He then delves into certain works and exposes the neurological insights of the artists. Once we understand the artist's view on the mind, Lehrer shifts from art to science to show discoveries in neuroscience that pertain to the artist's ideas. Finally, Lehrer attempts to draw similarities between what the artist believed and what neuroscience has discovered.
The book first examines the poet Walt Whitman, who saw the mind and body as inseparable. George Eliot, the novelist who believed human freedom arose from our mind's malleability, comes next. The French chef Auguste Escoffier did wonders for the culinary arts with his ideas on the plasticity of taste, the power of suggestion, and the importance of our sense of smell in tasting food. Marcel Proust uncovered the role of smell and taste in our memories as well as the memory's fallibility. Paul Cezanne used his paintings to show that our perception plays a huge role in what and how we see the world around us. The composer Igor Stravinsky revealed that we can only begin to feel music when "the pattern we imagine starts to break down" (Lehrer 132).Read more ›
There are several things that bother me about this book. The author necessarily simplifies the science he discusses, primarily neuroscience, frequently to the point of being inaccurate and several times incorrect. Given that, it made me wonder how often the ideas of the artists were portrayed inaccurately, or incorrectly. I found it difficult to trust in what was written about the arts and artists.
The author tends to make the scientific culture monolithic and unyielding. There are certainly scientists who are rigid and arrogant in their thinking, but many (most) who understand that what is known today will be modified extensively tomorrow. Even though he worked for a time in an outstanding neuroscience lab, the author does not seem to have a good grasp of the scientific method. While he clearly trumpets its limitations, it is not in the context of understanding the method itself.
The adjective and verbs applied to science are frequently negative, signaling who is wrong and who is right before the discussion begins. Terms such as inane, fashionable obsession, ransacked, derision, typically stubborn are applied to science or scientists and not to artists.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Keen idea, well executed. This is an excellent example of open-mindedness, Lehrer demonstrates the value of genuine interdisciplinary thinking.Published 2 months ago by Karl Scheibe
I put Jonah in the same category as Malcolm Gladwell and Simon Speck: great points derived from insightful thinking surrounded by science and solid storytelling. Read morePublished 3 months ago by AntDina
Loved this!!! Very interesting and helpful in understand the interface between art and science.Published 3 months ago by Suzanne
Not sure I fuly agree with the author's viewpoint but fun and entertaining to readPublished 8 months ago by Jacques
Got this book because I wanted to try Jonah Lehrer's writing. I'll give it the benefit of the doubt with 3 stars because I don't know a lot about literature/authors, but honestly... Read morePublished 11 months ago by Jake W.
The book is stylish, original and full of curious and interesting anecdotes. However, it contains two serious mistakes. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Andrea N.
You think you are reading interesting theroy. The author mixes facts with interesting fiction. By the praise on the cover, the notes about the writer; I was lead to believe his... Read morePublished 13 months ago by Kenneth M. Young