Self Comes to Mind by Antonio Damasio
Constructing the Conscious Brain

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Synopsis

From one of the most significant neuroscientists at work today, a pathbreaking investigation of a question that has confounded philosophers, psychologists, and neuroscientists for centuries: how is consciousness created?
 
Antonio Damasio has spent the past thirty years studying and writing about how the brain operates, and his work has garnered acclaim for its singular melding of the scientific and the humanistic. In Self Comes to Mind, he goes against the long-standing idea that consciousness is somehow separate from the body, presenting compelling new scientific evidence that consciousness—what we think of as a mind with a self—is to begin with a biological process created by a living organism. Besides the three traditional perspectives used to study the mind (the introspective, the behavioral, and the neurological), Damasio introduces an evolutionary perspective that entails a radical change in the way the history of conscious minds is viewed and told. He also advances a radical hypothesis regarding the origins and varieties of feelings, which is central to his framework for the biological construction of consciousness: feelings are grounded in a near fusion of body and brain networks, and first emerge from the historically old and humble brain stem rather than from the modern cerebral cortex.
 
Damasio suggests that the brain’s development of a human self becomes a challenge to nature’s indifference and opens the way for the appearance of culture, a radical break in the course of evolution and the source of a new level of life regulation—sociocultural homeostasis. He leaves no doubt that the blueprint for the work-in-progress he calls sociocultural homeostasis is the genetically well-established basic homeostasis, the curator of value that has been present in simple life-forms for billions of years. Self Comes to Mind is a groundbreaking journey into the neurobiological foundations of mind and self.




From the Hardcover edition.
 

About Antonio Damasio

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Antonio Damasio is University Professor; David Dornsife Professor of Neuroscience, Neurology and Psychology; and director of the Brain and Creativity Institute at the University of Southern California [www.usc.edu/bci]. He is the author of numerous scientific articles and the recipient of many awards, including the Asturias Prize in Science and Technology; the Honda Prize; and the Pessoa and Signoret prizes. Damasio is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Bavarian Academy of Sciences, and the European Academy of Sciences and Arts. He holds honorary doctorates from several universities and is the author of Descartes' Error, The Feeling of What Happens, Looking for Spinoza, and Self Comes to Mind, which have been translated and taught in universities throughout the world. (For more information go to the Brain and Creativity Institute website at http://www.usc.edu/bci/)
 
Published November 9, 2010 by Vintage. 384 pages
Genres: Health, Fitness & Dieting, Nature & Wildlife, Professional & Technical, Science & Math, Self Help, Law & Philosophy. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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“Ultimately consciousness allows us to perceive maps as images,” writes Damasio, “to manipulate those images, and to apply reasoning to them.” The author entertains the unconventional idea that mind processing begins at the brain-stem level, not in the cerebral cortex alone, and charts the intera...

Nov 09 2010 | Read Full Review of Self Comes to Mind : Construc...

The New York Times

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Inspired by the research and writings of the neuroscientist Antonio Damasio, who directs the Brain and Creativity Institute at the University of Southern California, Mr. Adolphe asked Mr. Damasio to collaborate on a work that would combine text, music and imagery of brain activity to evoke the e...

May 04 2009 | Read Full Review of Self Comes to Mind : Construc...

The New York Times

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Damasio describes dreams as “mind processes unassisted by consciousness.” Recognizing that the reader will be puzzled by this claim, he describes dreaming as “paradoxical” since the mental processes in dreaming are “not guided by a regular, properly functioning self of the kind we deploy when we ...

Nov 26 2010 | Read Full Review of Self Comes to Mind : Construc...

The Guardian

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In animals with big brains, emotions – mere bodily responses – become translated into feelings, and with feelings, a mind – "a subtle flowing combination of actual images and recalled images in ever-changing proportions" – emerges from the brain.

Feb 12 2011 | Read Full Review of Self Comes to Mind : Construc...

New York Journal of Books

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Each system is composed of an elaborate interconnection of small but macroscopic cortical regions and subcortical nuclei, which are made of neurons, all of which are connected by synapses.”Elsewhere, more colorfully, he writes, “The ultimate consciousness product,” by which he means the self, “oc...

Nov 09 2010 | Read Full Review of Self Comes to Mind : Construc...

The Bookbag

Summary: A demanding but fascinating look at the problem of consciousness which attempts to present an evolutionary and neurobiological framework for the emergence of conscious mind focused on self.

Mar 07 2012 | Read Full Review of Self Comes to Mind : Construc...

Review (Barnes & Noble)

It is a feeling that should quickly transform into recognition, though, that Damasio is deliberately in the business of imagining an entire psychoneurology, a total explanatory picture of the way consciousness arises as the gift of a knowing, reflexive self.

Nov 29 2010 | Read Full Review of Self Comes to Mind : Construc...

Bookmarks Magazine

Besides the three traditional perspectives used to study the mind (the introspective, the behavioral, and the neurological), Damasio introduces an evolutionary perspective that entails a radical change in the way the history of conscious minds is viewed and told.

Nov 14 2010 | Read Full Review of Self Comes to Mind : Construc...

The Humanist

Rationalism is the expression of what it means to be most human - to seek to understand the world and the universe beyond one's immediate concerns in the name of the human race as a whole.

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http://www.lareviewofbooks.org

The entire orchestration of the symphony of mind unfolds like changes in a music score, and while there is no single, master conductor, Damasio posits that the decentralized process does have hot spots of top-down modulation linked by connections built over evolutionary time.

Feb 07 2012 | Read Full Review of Self Comes to Mind : Construc...

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