As he has done in previous books, Gazzaniga easily draws readers into one of the most fascinating conversations taking place...

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THE CONSCIOUSNESS INSTINCT

UNRAVELING THE MYSTERY OF HOW THE BRAIN MAKES THE MIND

One of the world's leading cognitive neuroscientists upends binary theories of consciousness and argues that it is manifested throughout the brain by localized circuits, an idea backed by emerging scientific data and resonant with philosophical ideas that have been around for centuries.

Director of the SAGE Center for the Study of the Mind at the University of California, Santa Barbara, president of the Cognitive Neuroscience Institute, and founding director of the MacArthur Foundation’s Law and Neuroscience Project, Gazzaniga (Tales from Both Sides of the Brain: A Life in Neuroscience, 2015, etc.) is unquestionably one of the top experts in his field. In his latest book, the author surveys the history of the mind/body problem and explains how 50 years of research led him to develop a transformative new theory of consciousness. He argues convincingly that “consciousness is not a ‘thing.’ It is the result of a process embedded in an architecture, just as a democracy is not a thing but the result of a process.” Noting that consciousness persists despite all types of brain injuries and diseases, implying that it does not emerge from one area of the brain, the author makes the novel argument that consciousness is instead borne from a network of “modules” located throughout the brain, each with a hyperspecific function and each contributing to the “flow of consciousness.” Referencing scientists and thinkers from William James to Niels Bohr to Steven Pinker, Gazzaniga explains how his theory works with the laws of physics and the latest neuroscience and also resonates with ideas put forth by pioneering philosophers. Because he uses straightforward language and contextualizes his research in familiar ideas, this is a book for readers of all ages who are intrigued by consciousness and how it works.

As he has done in previous books, Gazzaniga easily draws readers into one of the most fascinating conversations taking place in modern science.

Pub Date: April 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-374-71550-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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