- Paperback: 416 pages
- Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (March 6, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 030747495X
- ISBN-13: 978-0307474957
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 93 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #300,405 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Self Comes to Mind: Constructing the Conscious Brain Paperback – March 6, 2012
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“Self Comes to Mind is a Big Idea book penned by a luminous thinker. . . . [A] beautifully sprawling and marvelous work.” —The Dallas Morning News
“Will give pleasure to anyone interested in original thinking about the brain. . . . Breathtakingly original.” —Financial Times
“Damasio introduces some novel ideas. . . . Intriguing.” —New Scientist
“Adventurous, courageous, and intelligent. Antonio Damasio is one of the leading workers in the ﬁeld of consciousness research. . . . I have great admiration for this book and its author.” —John Searle, The New York Review of Books
“Damasio’s most ambitious work yet. . . . A lucid and important work.” —Wired.com
“A very interesting book . . . cogent, painstaking, imaginative, knowledgeable, honest, and persuasive . . . Damasio’s quest is both thorough and comprehensive.” —New York Journal of Books
“Damasio’s continental European training sensitizes him to the reductionist traps that ensnare so many of his colleagues. His is the only one of the many consciousness books weighing down my shelves that feels it necessary to mention Freud’s . . . use of the term unconscious.” —The Guardian (Book of the Week)
“A delight. You will embark on an intellectual journey well worth the effort.” —The Wilson Quarterly
“Readers of [Damasio’s] earlier books will encounter again the clarity and the richness of a scientiﬁc theory nourished by the practice of the neurologist.” —L’Humanité (France)
“Some scientiﬁc heavyweights have dared approach consciousness. Among them, Antonio Damasio has the immense advantage of a dual knowledge of the human brain, as scientist and clinician. In Self Comes to Mind he gives us a fascinating window of this interface between the brain and the world, which is grounded in our own body.” —Le Figaro (France)
“The marvel of reading Damasio’s book is to be convinced one can follow the brain at work as it makes the private reality that is the deepest self.” —V. S. Naipaul, Nobel laureate and author of A Bend in the River
“Damasio makes a grand transition from higher- brain views of emotions to deeply evolutionary, lower- brain contributions to emotional, sensory, and homeostatic experiences. He afﬁ rms that the roots of consciousness are affective and shared by our fellow animals. Damasio’s creative vision leads relentlessly toward a natural understanding of the very font of being.” —Jaak Panksepp, author of Affective Neuroscience and Baily Endowed Chair for Animal Well- Being Science, Washington State University
“I was totally captivated by Self Comes to Mind. Damasio presents his seminal discoveries in the ﬁ eld of neuroscience in the broader contexts of evolutionary biology and cultural development. This trailblazing book gives us a new way of thinking about ourselves, our history, and the importance of culture in shaping our common future.” —Yo-Yo Ma
About the Author
Antonio Damasio is University Professor, David Dornsife Professor of Neuroscience, Psychology, and Neurology, and director of the Brain and Creativity Institute at the University of Southern California. Damasio’s other books include Descartes’ Error; The Feeling of What Happens; and Looking for Spinoza. He has received the Honda Prize, the Prince of Asturias Award for Technical and Scientific Research, and, shared with his wife Hanna, the Pessoa, Signoret, and Cozzarelli prizes. Damasio is a fellow of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Bavarian Academy of Sciences, and the European Academy of Sciences and Arts. He lives in Los Angeles.
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Marshall Shumsky, PhD
The book is filled anatomical terms that mean nothing to the lay reader.
I'm sure neuroscientist will find it engaging but, again, any lay reader will be at a loss way before the middle of the book.
The self experience as--(1) primordial, (2) core and (3) autobiographical--is pure explanatory power, since it allows for the embodied self experience, the customary self experience, and the self experience we become to ourselves and others (autobiographical/narrative)--all foundational to reality--with implicated underlying neuroanatomical processes: brain stem, thalamus, cerebral cortex, respectively.
I loved hearing this neuroscientist give his account of witnessing a Pelican diving into the water: all explained by underlying neuroanatomical processes. Damasio, as a neuroscientist, has neuroanatomical maps that the rest of us do not see. That makes it very tempting for him to believe that what he "sees" automatically is truth.
Damasio has a long history of fighting against the cognitive bent of both neuroscience and philosophy. He has provided cogent research on the foundation of emotions in neuroscience, which is still an uphill battle. He fought against philosophers who would reduce the human to Cartesian dualism. Congratulations to him for fighting the good fight, against the grain.
And yet he finds himself ironically being critiqued for making the cognitive error of mistaking his scientific observations for philosophical truth, the circular reasoning of assuming consciousness to explain consciousness, call it what you will: [...] (See John Searle, New York Review of Books, 2011)
To clear it up, I have an idea of how to approach eliminating the problem for the reader:
(1) If you think of having a text replace function, and go through his book and do the following: replace "image" with map (or schema), replace "self" with "self experience," and replace "consciousness" with "experience of consciousness," you will eliminate the problem of word choice. However, you can take the words out of the argument, but you can't take the argument out of the words.
(2) Watch out for the ideological/metaphysical argument. He is arguing for "consciousness" as a construct (as a "thing-in-itself"), and for "self" as an agent of consciousness, and as "consciousness" as an increased level of species development. That is when the philosophers and all of us general readers start reacting/disorienting, and feel confused because he has gone off the road. You can tell when he is in the ditch: when he starts claiming that he is not Cartesian, because he is arguing for the existence of consciousness, that "image" is not about a false Cartesian correspondence theory between what we see and what is there, etc.. This false idealism is not only disorienting to critics and us, but also to his ability to simply put his brilliant science out there and let it speak for itself: Just let our sense of self be the product of the consciousness processes outlined.
(3) Enjoy this otherwise brilliant life-work.
(4) Networks of the Brain by Olaf Sporns helps to found brain mapping in a more coherent and emergent context so that the philosophical pitfalls of Damasio's approach are avoided.
PS: You can skip the last chapter. His attempts to apply his theory to real life problems seem painfully naive: "cognitive unconscious" regarding ethics (yikes)? A neurobiological basis for writing just laws for society? etc.