- Paperback: 616 pages
- Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (March 29, 1984)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0415058988
- ISBN-13: 978-0415058988
- Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 1.4 x 11 inches
- Shipping Weight: 3.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Customer Reviews: 14 customer ratings
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,686,183 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Self and Its Brain: An Argument for Interactionism 1st Edition
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'A massive achievement ... a theory of beautiful simplicity, with all the relevant data clearly set out down to recent research findings.' - The Jerusalem Post
From the Back Cover
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I asked to my professor of mind-body philosophy if I could study Popper, and he told me "no, no, he is too complicated with his 3 worlds theory". Instead, he wanted me to study Kim Jaegwon, the hey day mind-body philosopher. I did it, but Kim represents a very narrow philosophy, in my opinion. Finally, I went to Popper, and I feel like home. I tell you why. Excellent and plain prose, focusing on the central problems from the very beginning, and impressive understanding of vast regions of knowledge, Popper does not hesitate in emitting a judgment about a certain theory, a humanistic thought.
His opponents will say that is a personal book, somehow oldie, overcome by recent books. But I don't agree. You will find in Popper a sound critic of: materialism as the deafault position in mind-body philosophy; a very interesting critic to the identity theory; interesting thought and critics about philosophical reduction; why does not help to equate minds to computers; how we are to understand correctly perception; etc. All this critics are still very pertinent to current mind-body philosophy. Popper is all the time offering arguments: I don't like that argument because of that; I like it because of that; that's my argument in defence of my position, etc. (Compare it with the ugly and difficult prose of Kim, for instance, where you are to find arguments camouflaged in a vegetation of long dissertations on history and ontology, whatever this words my be.)
On the other hand, Popper offers also his positive solution, a very interesting one which, I believed, needs to be considered carefully and with sympathy.
(1) Daniel Dennett in his book "Consciousness Explained (1991)" rejected the idea of Dualism from the start of his book based on the first law of thermodynamics: the law of conservation of energy.
(2) In his book "The Astonishing Hypothesis: The Scientific Search for the Soul (1994)," Francis Crick cited this classical book only in the further reading list, saying: "I myself have little sympathy with either of their points of view. They would probably say the same of mine."
(3) No reference to this classical book in Antonio Damasio's recent two books of (1) Descartes' Error (1994), and (2) Self Comes to Mind: Constructing the Conscious Brain (2010).
I would like to mention only one point which was discussed in the dialogs of the two authors (in Dialog X) in the last part of the book: Would the dualistic idea of theirs violate the first law of thermodynamics: the law of conservation of energy?
In the history of physics there were times when the violation of the law was suspected by physicists. The examples cited by the authors are: (1) on the occasion of the discovery of electro-magnetism after the establishment of Newtonian mechanics, (2) in the process of radioactive beta-decay of nucleus before the discovery of neutron and the theoretical hypothesis of neutrino in the 1930s. These suspicions were eventually removed based on the development of novel physical theories.
Based on these historical facts and also referring to the physicist E.P. Wigner's idea, the philosopher Popper says "I think that this is only to say, in a different way, that physics is open to something as yet unknown." Popper's idea is that the physical dimension (World 1 in their terms) would be open to World 2 (the world of subjective experiences), though he never says that World 2 belongs to some non-physical dimensions. The two authors discussed further the interaction between Worlds 1 & 2, which might violate the law of conservation of energy, possibly in such a very minuscule amount as being difficult to detect.
Now, what I, just a curious reader of this book, wonder is that why all these scientists and philosophers do not mention the problem of "soul": does it have a physical weight, something like the amount 21 g? Or I should scientifically put it as follows: Is there really an unaccountable energy balance in the life-to-death transitions of human? If the 21 g (one of the reported four missing weights) is confirmed authentic, this means that the cherished law of conservation of energy is violated in the transition! I repeat the simple question: why don't they mention this problem? One may say that the experiment conducted by Dr. Duncan MacDougall published in 1907 is not any scientific experiment at all, but it was a scientifically uncontrolled sloppy one. Was it really so? Although physics Prof. Robert L. Park states in his book (Superstition: Belief in the Age of Science (2008)) to the effect that the missing weights are the result of MacDougall's wishful thinking and superstitious nonsense, no scientist has ever "scientifically" either refuted or confirmed the missing weights. Rather, recently a paper was published in the Journal of Scientific Exploration, 2010 Spring Issue (Vol. 24, No.1, pp. 5-39: Rebuttal to Claimed Refutations of Duncan MacDougall's Experiment on Human Weight Change at the Moment of Death. [This Vol.24/No.1 is on sale at amazon.com.]), which supports MacDougall's experiment being scientifically sound on a basis of theoretical simulations of the weighing experiment.