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What is Life?: With Mind and Matter and Autobiographical Sketches (Canto Classics) Paperback – March 29, 2012
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- ASIN : 1107604664
- Publisher : Cambridge University Press; Reprint edition (March 29, 2012)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 196 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1107683653
- ISBN-13 : 978-1107604667
- Item Weight : 10.6 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.5 x 0.45 x 8.5 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #48,615 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Yes, this is Erwin Schrodinger, 1933 winner of the Nobel prize in Physics, for quantum mechanics. I didn't expect his discussions of the Upanishads, among others.
Schrodinger is a physicist when discussing the meaning of life - but becomes a philosopher to explore the meaning of consciousness.
This book changed my life, and the way that I look at it. I can't recommend it too strongly.
but it's hard for a lay person to understand. It seems like they violate the rules of chance but I'm not sure. It almost seems like he isn't sure either. I will have to go back and read it again because often my mind and eyes just glaze over.
It's a hard read but worth it to get a physicists perspective on a deeply philosophical subject.
Schrodinger's cat in Wikipedia is a good read about his mind.
The Mind and Matter portion I didn't find quite as insightful, as it depends somewhat on the idea that our minds are one (this ambiguity of all minds being one or each single mind being indivisible is left open, in my opinion), and I think discoveries (like split-brain patients) strongly challenge Schrödinger's assumptions about consciousness. There's nothing wrong with it, but I wasn't as interested in this argument, and while Schrödinger avoids going into mysticism, there just wasn't a lot of experiments or great observational data that could be used to test mind ideas at the time.
The final autobiographical sketches are a fun read for anyone who enjoys physicist history.
Overall, I felt the mind and matter part were ok, while the other parts were excellent and worth reading if you have an interest in history or physics/biology crossover.
Published in 1944, nine years before the discovery of the structure of DNA, this book was written after a series of lectures given by Erwin Schrödinger. It is intended to the general reader, as it offers detailed explanation of the topics, however, it must be read carefully because of the complexity of the issues. Schrödinger answers the question of how can physics and chemistry explain the events that take place in living organisms. As a physicist's he is very humble, given that he is approaching a topic outside of his expertise area, however his insight is brilliant. He makes a theoretical prediction and based on sound arguments he proposes an "aperiodic crystal" that contains genetic information.
This reprint edition is completed with a nice preface by physicist Roger Penrose, but the highlight is the accompanying text Mind and Matter, also by Schrödinger. This offers a great finale, with a philosophical discourse dealing with consciousness, free will and determinism.
Top reviews from other countries
I love it in that it shows the power of reason and logic, unlike what I think of modern 'science' which relies too much on bulk studies without much thought, and doesn't seem to accomplish too much except the publication of semi-conclusive journal papers that no one actually reads.