- Paperback: 384 pages
- Publisher: Atria Books; Reprint edition (June 6, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0743272056
- ISBN-13: 978-0743272056
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.3 x 8.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 33 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #997,907 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Soul Made Flesh: The Discovery of the Brain-and How it Changed the World Reprint Edition
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"Carl Zimmer's illuminating book charts a fascinating chapter in the soul's journey."
-- The New York Times Book Review
"Describes a kind of second Copernican revolution -- one inside the body. Thrilling."
-- Ross King, Los Angeles Times
"This page-turner is a tribute to the heretical thinkers who decoded nature by relying on direct observation rather than received opinion."
"A thumping good read."
-- Timothy Ferris, author of The Whole Shebang and Coming of Age in the Milky Way
About the Author
Carl Zimmer's work appears regularly in The New York Times, National Geographic, Newsweek, Discover, Natural History, and Science. A John S. Guggenheim Fellow, he has also received the Pan-American Health Organization Award for Excellence in International Health Reporting and the American Institute of Biological Sciences Media Award. His previous books include Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea; Parasite Rex; and At the Water's Edge. He lives in Guilford, Connecticut.
Top customer reviews
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Zimmer begins in Greece with Aristotle and continues in Rome with Galen who while they did look at the human body, were too quick to come up with pet theories about biles and humors and present them as facts. For centuries their words ruled science.
Then comes Descartes with his mechanical view of the world, presenting a soul that ruled over the body. Descartes questioned the ancients and corrected some of their grosser factual mistakes but he made a few of his own and repeated their methodological error: he did not question his own pet theories enough.
The heroes of Zimmer's book are surgeons. Then, surgeons were simple menial workers with a gift for butchery and enough skill to allow their patients to survive their operations. The surgeons eventually gathered the courage to stand up to scholarly doctors and point out that Galen's descriptions were wrong. When challenged, they opened up cadavers and counterchallenged the doctors to show them Galen's fictional body systems.
The central hero is Thomas Willis, a country squire turned renowned doctor during the turbulent times of Charles I, Oliver Cromwell, and Charles II. He had the luck to live near Oxford and displayed a keen interest in anatomy. Willis studied the brain and the nervous system with unprecedented precision. He was one of the founders of the Royal Society, meeting with the likes of Robert Hooke and Christopher Wren. Together, these men studied anatomy so that observations overruled theory whenever one did not agree with the other.
Willis's observations, descriptions, and case studies make him the first neurologist. Living in times of religious extremes, this devout man never swore off the primacy of a supernatural soul, but he saw the brain as a tool of the soul and his studies of this organ mechanized our model and led to today's materialistic explanations of consciousness.
Vincent Poirier, Tokyo
The author keeps it interesting by tracking the story to the lives Thomas Willis and his buddies at Oxford who must skillfully skate through a minefield of intellectual dogma and even civil war to lay the foundations for scientific mehtod.
The author does a fine job of turning history into a story and ends up teaching the reader quite a bit.
As a bonus the author gives us a short but thoughtful conclusion. Showing how modern researchers continue the quest for the answer to the question what is "man".
Beautifully written and thoroughly entertaining as well as enlightening.
Most recent customer reviews
i like the author's writing, i've read several of his books and keep an eye on his blog-the loom, he's an...Read more