The Consciousness Instinct: Unraveling the Mystery of How the Brain Makes the Mind

Michael S. Gazzaniga. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $28 (304p) ISBN 978-0-374-71550-2
Bolstered by a background in neurobiology and human psychology, Gazzaniga (Tales from Both Sides of the Brain), director of the SAGE Center for the Study of the Mind at UC Santa Barbara, adopts a philosophical approach in this insightful book—a “fresh attempt to wrestle with” the question of consciousness and the relationship between brain and mind. Gazzaniga posits that “consciousness is an instinct” and that the brain is a relatively independent, adaptable, and flexible system of local modules organized in a layered architecture, cohering through more integrative modules at a higher level. By discussing an array of substantial brain injuries throughout the book, he demonstrates that modules have the ability to mediate their specific functions as well as participate in the emergent property of subjective experience. Gazzaniga details how the understanding of human consciousness progressed; he examines the ideas of such philosophers as Aristotle, Descartes, David Hume, and William James, and shows where the centuries-long struggle to find the seat of consciousness has floundered. He also refreshingly grounds the work in real experimental data, revealing himself to be an intelligent mental explorer and master syncretist. Gazzaniga’s accessible, well-organized arguments are bound to provoke deep metathoughts, and readers should find his treatise delightful. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 01/15/2018
Release date: 04/03/2018
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-0-374-53815-6
MP3 CD - 978-1-978643-41-3
Compact Disc - 978-1-978643-40-6
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