The Age of Insight by Eric Kandel

66%

7 Critic Reviews

"The Age of Insight" starts well, with a lively account of intellectual circles in Vienna at the turn of the last century. When he leaves this milieu, however, his attempts to connect aesthetics with neuroscience are disappointing.
-Wall Street Journal

Synopsis

A brilliant book by Nobel Prize winner Eric R. Kandel, The Age of Insight takes us to Vienna 1900, where leaders in science, medicine, and art began a revolution that changed forever how we think about the human mind—our conscious and unconscious thoughts and emotions—and how mind and brain relate to art.
 
At the turn of the century, Vienna was the cultural capital of Europe. Artists and scientists met in glittering salons, where they freely exchanged ideas that led to revolutionary breakthroughs in psychology, brain science, literature, and art. Kandel takes us into the world of Vienna to trace, in rich and rewarding detail, the ideas and advances made then, and their enduring influence today.
 
The Vienna School of Medicine led the way with its realization that truth lies hidden beneath the surface. That principle infused Viennese culture and strongly influenced the other pioneers of Vienna 1900. Sigmund Freud shocked the world with his insights into how our everyday unconscious aggressive and erotic desires are repressed and disguised in symbols, dreams, and behavior. Arthur Schnitzler revealed women’s unconscious sexuality in his novels through his innovative use of the interior monologue. Gustav Klimt, Oscar Kokoschka, and Egon Schiele created startlingly evocative and honest portraits that expressed unconscious lust, desire, anxiety, and the fear of death.
 
Kandel tells the story of how these pioneers—Freud, Schnitzler, Klimt, Kokoschka, and Schiele—inspired by the Vienna School of Medicine, in turn influenced the founders of the Vienna School of Art History to ask pivotal questions such as What does the viewer bring to a work of art? How does the beholder respond to it? These questions prompted new and ongoing discoveries in psychology and brain biology, leading to revelations about how we see and perceive, how we think and feel, and how we respond to and create works of art. Kandel, one of the leading scientific thinkers of our time, places these five innovators in the context of today’s cutting-edge science and gives us a new understanding of the modernist art of Klimt, Kokoschka, and Schiele, as well as the school of thought of Freud and Schnitzler. Reinvigorating the intellectual enquiry that began in Vienna 1900, The Age of Insight is a wonderfully written, superbly researched, and beautifully illustrated book that also provides a foundation for future work in neuroscience and the humanities. It is an extraordinary book from an international leader in neuroscience and intellectual history.
 

About Eric Kandel

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McGraw-Hill authors represent the leading experts in their fields and are dedicated to improving the lives, careers, and interests of readers worldwide McGraw-Hill authors represent the leading experts in their fields and are dedicated to improving the lives, careers, and interests of readers worldwide McGraw-Hill authors represent the leading experts in their fields and are dedicated to improving the lives, careers, and interests of readers worldwide McGraw-Hill authors represent the leading experts in their fields and are dedicated to improving the lives, careers, and interests of readers worldwide McGraw-Hill authors represent the leading experts in their fields and are dedicated to improving the lives, careers, and interests of readers worldwide
 
Published March 27, 2012 by Random House. 636 pages
Genres: Arts & Photography, Health, Fitness & Dieting, History, Literature & Fiction, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for The Age of Insight
All: 7 | Positive: 4 | Negative: 3

Kirkus

Excellent
Jan 01 2012

A transformative work that joins the hands of Art and Science and makes them acknowledge their close kinship.

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Publishers Weekly

Below average
Feb 20 2012

Inevitably, his brush-strokes-to-brain waves ambition to integrate so many subjects feels a ill-chewed; it’s either too dense or too sketchy, and too quick to assimilate Freudian-modernist notions of the unconscious to scientific concepts.

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Wall Street Journal

Below average
Reviewed by Raymond Tallis on Apr 04 2012

"The Age of Insight" starts well, with a lively account of intellectual circles in Vienna at the turn of the last century. When he leaves this milieu, however, his attempts to connect aesthetics with neuroscience are disappointing.

Read Full Review of The Age of Insight | See more reviews from Wall Street Journal

Dallas News

Excellent
Reviewed by Steve Weinberg on May 18 2012

Still, every careful reader will come away from the encyclopedic tome with some new knowledge, maybe some of it altering lifelong thought patterns.

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Wired

Excellent
Reviewed by Jonah Lehrer on Apr 07 2012

In his marvelous new book, The Age of Insight, Kandel puts this learning on display.... If you’re interested in the intersection of art and science, the book is a must-read.

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Scientific American

Below average
Reviewed by Robert Epstein on Apr 13 2012

Though astonishing in both depth and breadth, The Age of Insight is lacking in one respect: Kandel’s unwillingness to criticize the ideas he is presenting or at least to wonder about their validity.

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Carlin Romano

Excellent
Reviewed by Alexander Kafka on Mar 11 2012

All that is to say that while Kandel's treatise is focused, it is also thorough. The author of a classic textbook on neuroscience, he seems here to have written a layman's cognition textbook wrapped within a work of art history.

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Judith Spadoni 5 Sep 2013

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