978-0-19-515803-8 / 9780195158038

An Anatomy of Thought: The Origin and Machinery of the Mind


Publisher:Oxford University Press, USA



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About the book:

Where do our decisions come from? Are we merely reacting to some physical event, the way a lake ices over in the cold, or a tree hit by lightning bursts into flame? Or are our decisions independent of cause-and-effect--divine echoes of some First Cause?

Such questions, normally the preserve of philosophers, are illuminated at the climax of Ian Glynn's masterful and exhaustive anatomy of mind. Starting from first principles, Glynn explains how the origin of life can be explained through mathematics and chemistry, without recourse to a Creator. Logically, therefore, mind--a property of higher-order life-- should be similarly explicable. But the human brain is the known universe's most complex phenomenon, and to explain its workings without postulating any other agency is a daunting task. Glynn starts from the ground up, clearing misconceptions as he goes; he explains the evolution of nervous systems, then offers separate, illuminating accounts of the more significant functions of the human brain--seeing, speaking and remembering. When finally the brain is considered as a whole organ, Glynn cleverly and convincingly bridges the leap that currently exists between neuroanatomy and philosophy of mind.

A history, an anatomy and a bridge between disciplines, Ian Glynn's book is the best total explanation of mind since Daniel Dennett's Consciousness Explained, and a more generous and comprehensive introduction to all the issues. --Simon Ings

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