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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 mel 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. Download http://depositfiles.com/files/xlt08paxh Or http://www.filesonic.com/file/3554828...


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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 mel 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. Download http://depositfiles.com/files/xlt08paxh Or http://www.filesonic.com/file/3554828...

30 review for Self Comes to Mind: Constructing the Conscious Brain

  1. 4 out of 5

    Manuel Antão

    If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review. SallyAnne Test: "Self Comes to Mind - Constructing the Conscious Brain" by António R. Damásio (Original Review, 2010-11-15) I think that if you look at the internet and the World Wide Web it gives some insight on what Damásio’s book is all about. On the one hand you have the network of servers and cabling and input and output devices and on the other you have the network of websites. We know that the latter sits on the former but you can If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review. SallyAnne Test: "Self Comes to Mind - Constructing the Conscious Brain" by António R. Damásio (Original Review, 2010-11-15) I think that if you look at the internet and the World Wide Web it gives some insight on what Damásio’s book is all about. On the one hand you have the network of servers and cabling and input and output devices and on the other you have the network of websites. We know that the latter sits on the former but you can tell very little about one network from the other. When you look at this webpage, for example, it looks like a single, though quite complex, entity but the annoying advert down the right hand side, for example, may sit on a server on a different continent from the text that you are reading and the photograph on yet another.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Marley

    This is a brilliant, high-level look at the state of the science of consciousness that actually has the guts and the gravitas to hypothesize a model that doesn't smack into the mind-body problem. This is not for the first-time layperson, but if you know your Sacks and Ramachandran, this is the no-punches-pulled seminar I was always looking for. There are so many little mindblowing tidbits in here I could talk for days, but the idea of sensory consciousness as an interlocking network of maps whos This is a brilliant, high-level look at the state of the science of consciousness that actually has the guts and the gravitas to hypothesize a model that doesn't smack into the mind-body problem. This is not for the first-time layperson, but if you know your Sacks and Ramachandran, this is the no-punches-pulled seminar I was always looking for. There are so many little mindblowing tidbits in here I could talk for days, but the idea of sensory consciousness as an interlocking network of maps whose outlines actually do have a physical correlation to sense data is pretty sweet. EG: Your cochlea are the little spiral cone of hairs in your inner ear that picks up sound like a reverse speaker. There are about 6 spots in the brain fingered through lesion studies and FMRI to have an association with sound processing on various levels--all of which ALSO light up in little spiral cones, each one. His look into memory and habit formation is also an absolute gold mine. For serious enthusiasts, this is a brilliant mind at the top of its form. It will not all come out correct, but he knows that. In the meantime, this is like Hawking for brains--a synthesis that makes informed conversation possible without years of grad school.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Bob Nichols

    Damasio's overall theme is that the conscious self is the product of biological value (survival - technically, homeostatic balance - and well-being) that is defined by the body in terms of pleasure or pain. We do this by "mapping" our respective body states. The mapping is an awareness of body states and that awareness is embodied in our neural circuitry. It is done by the brain, but the thing mapped is the body and it's through this mapping that "the self comes to mind". That self, however, lon Damasio's overall theme is that the conscious self is the product of biological value (survival - technically, homeostatic balance - and well-being) that is defined by the body in terms of pleasure or pain. We do this by "mapping" our respective body states. The mapping is an awareness of body states and that awareness is embodied in our neural circuitry. It is done by the brain, but the thing mapped is the body and it's through this mapping that "the self comes to mind". That self, however, long-precedes consciousness and rests, ultimately, on the primordial feelings of the "protoself" ("a valence, somewhere along the pleasure-to-pain range"), and predisposes our conscious decision-making in fundamental ways. In making this argument, Damasio is clear that this tie of consciousness to our deepest body core is continually operative in our daily life (i.e., we moderns have not left our body behind in our evolutionary past). Damasio argues that, while conscious will might think it is in charge, the body has a mind of its own in the sense that it informs the mind what the body wants and needs. He makes a powerful reference to the "genomic unconscious" that "promotes a number of behaviors that may appear to be decided by conscious cognition but are in fact driven by non-conscious dispositions" (elsewhere, he refers to an "unbrained disposition" that clearly reveals his view that biological value or valence is at work at the lowest life levels). In articulating this point, however, Damasio does not relegate the mind of humans to a secondary role. The mind draws lessons from its experience and draws out logical connections that inform the nonconcious neuro networks that, in turn, help the body maintain its homeostatic balance vis-a-vis the environment. This is the mind in it's regulatory role because it can delay or inhibit automatic or near automatic interactions with the enviroment. In this way, this regulation gets incorporated into the nonconscious so that there's a "gradual imposition of consciously willed decisions on nonconscious action processes." The long and short: the body informs the mind, and the mind in turn informs the body. The neuro mapping concept is interesting. Demasio describes how events in the world are pulled into the body and transformed into chemical changes related to homeostatic balance. He says that an object we interact with is literally incoporated into our body. Demasio's description about how this process occurs is not easy to follow. While we have a sense about how grief impacts the full body, it's still not clear, for example,what's involved. Demasio's three concepts of self (proto, core, autobiographical) are known by those who have read his other books, but questions can be raised about whether there is a fundamental distinction between protoself and core self. Demasio has the core self involving the object (reacting to) whereas the proto self does not. The protoself is involved in the elementary maintenance functions of the organism (and the protofeelings that eminate from these functions). This seems to separate the organism too much from its environment. As organisms must draw energy from that environment to live and to react to adverse influences from the environment, the protoself would seem to double as the core self. Even Demasio sees the seeking of pleasure and the reaction to pain (and thus, active interaction) occuring at the lowest life levels. If the lines between proto- and core self are less than distinct, the self might preferably be seen in humans as a core, or biological self, on the one hand and as an autobiographical self on the other. It's that latter self that we think of in terms of the conscious self. It extends the biological self but it also informs, supplements and molds the core, biological self, through learning and experience (see comments in paragraph above). This protoself discussion (the self's isolation from the environment) raises a broader issue. "Attempts to describe the full range of human emotions or to classify them are not especially interesting," Demasio writes. Appropriately, he notes that "The criteria used for the traditional classifications are flawed...." Damasio's treatment of emotion, however, seems inadequate. He sees emotions as reactions of the individual to "an emotionally competent stimulus" and refers as examples to the "so-called universal emotions (fear, anger, sadness, happiness, disgust, and surprise)...." But this view begs a larger question. Why is an object "emotionally competent"? In the way that Demasio discusses this question, it's almost as though the self is a passive responder to outside objects that come within its view. That perspective neglects to describe why the self should care enough in the first place to be afraid, to be angry, to be sad, etc. This problem can be addressed when the self (and the organism) is seen as interactive with the environment, from the beginning. That relationship is dialectical and involves a constant circuit of energy between the self and the environment. As "thesis," the self is an actor in the environment (and not merely a reactor, as Demasio's discussion of emotions suggest). Here and there throughout this book, Demasio uses language that more or less acknowledges that the self (and organism) is filled with primordial biological needs that push the self into the world as seekers and as defenders against threats from that world. In seeking, we obtain pleasure; in defending, we avert or minimize pain. In looking at the self in this way, can our understanding of emotions be recalibrated in terms of internal needs that involve active seeking of an object as well as reacting to an object? Just as we seek food and sex, do we also not seek out "objects" to love? Don't we desire objects that produce well-being, or seek objects that we are curious about? Don't we seek objects that protect us (authority figures, the group)? Don't all of these involve "emotion," in the sense of movement toward or away from an object? Even with the reactive emotions, we react because we first "want." We react because we in some form or another care, which is to say we need. Seeking and defending involve activation of energy. Might such activation involve "emotion" (moving) of some sort that generates the feelings that the self experiences and that Demasio notes? As in his other books, Damasio's writing style is mixed. Much of it is clear for the general reader; other parts are more technical and less accessible. Damasio is good because he so clearly ties the mind to the body. Overall, his books are excellent and thought provoking.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Donald Plugge

    Antonio Damasio is one of my favorite neurologist. Do many people have a favorite neurologist, perhaps that is weird in itself? Indeed, Damasio may even be considered a philosopher, of course, aren't we all. He frequently references the his favorite philosopher, Williams James and Baruch Spinoza. Damasio explores his personal thoughts on how we have become conscious creatures in this living world of ours. He starts us out on a journey into the simple cell and relates each stage of development to Antonio Damasio is one of my favorite neurologist. Do many people have a favorite neurologist, perhaps that is weird in itself? Indeed, Damasio may even be considered a philosopher, of course, aren't we all. He frequently references the his favorite philosopher, Williams James and Baruch Spinoza. Damasio explores his personal thoughts on how we have become conscious creatures in this living world of ours. He starts us out on a journey into the simple cell and relates each stage of development to its importance in the humans we have become. At times he uses fables to help explain his ideas. To survive a cell needs to sense, respond and move. The brain allows the organism to enhance and optimize these functions and maintain homeostasis. An important step in becoming conscious is the idea of becoming a "Witness". The human is a "Witness" to his own body and mind by mapping the body and surroundings. We become conscious by experiencing these mappings as imagines. How did the brain come about? How did consciousness come about? I can think of no better book to start you out on this path of discovery.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jef Sneider

    After reading this book for the second time, I am more impressed than ever that the author has described the working of the human brain better than anything I have ever read. As a neurologist familiar with what is known today about the anatomy and myriad connections of the brain, the author adds a theoretical framework, based on evolution and biology, that ties it all together. While I am sure that further refinement is to be made, this book and its theory of brain, mind and self is destined to After reading this book for the second time, I am more impressed than ever that the author has described the working of the human brain better than anything I have ever read. As a neurologist familiar with what is known today about the anatomy and myriad connections of the brain, the author adds a theoretical framework, based on evolution and biology, that ties it all together. While I am sure that further refinement is to be made, this book and its theory of brain, mind and self is destined to be a classic, along with Plum and Posner and Julian Jaynes (to whom he gives a nod). As a physician I study the body and the mind and the connection between the two in every patient I talk to about their perceptions of their own condition. As a person who meditates in the Buddhist tradition, I try to apply the same study to the self, as it has been said: To study the Buddha Dharma is to study the self. Damasio has given me an ability to understand brain, mind and self in a very new way. I don't think I can hope to explain it to the readers of this blog in a few paragraphs, and the neuroanatomy underpinning of the author's theories is significant and detailed. It is a daunting thing to consider. I do think, however, that even without understanding the neuroanatomy, a reader can grasp the theory. It starts with the observation that even a paramecium, when observed in a drop of water, seems to possess a purpose. It moves away from that which would hurt it and towards sources of sustenance and comfort. The apparent "desire" to achieve a comfortable environment for life exists in that one celled animal and in every living thing and in every living cell in our bodies. As animals become more complex, the ability to detect and move from danger to rewards becomes more complex, but the goal is the same. Mammals' bodies are designed to function without any conscious being in charge. They are able, for instance to maintain a complex internal environment of fluids and electrolytes, hormones, organs and nervous system without any conscious management. The body works, using parts of the brain for measurement of the internal milieu and instructions for maintenance below the level of consciousness. In fact, for some of us, the more we try to help and manage the internal environment without "listening" to the subconscious signals, the worse it gets. Think of eating too much, not drinking enough fluids or not emptying bowel or bladder when it should be done. So, a large part of the brain, mainly in the brainstem, the part below the cerebrum, works to communicate with the body and do what is necessary to keep it going. That includes directions to seek the right temperature in the environment, find sustenance, avoid danger, find a mate and reproduce. And we think we are so smart. Mostly all we do consciously is to mess up the biological plan. As the human brain developed with its huge cerebrum and trillions of neurons and connections additional capabilities developed including language and the ability to map the environment internally and save those maps for later retrieval and review. Maps of the world can be used to understand the environment in more detail and to predict the future and plan ahead. Part of the mapping process includes maps of the internal environment, the maintenance of which is one of the most important functions of the organism. This self reflective aspect of internal mapping begins to create a perciever, a participant, a consciousness which can be aware of the existence of the organism in the environment. The awareness of self and the recognition that other selves exist with similar internal and external maps in the same world leads to the ability to work together, to create a higher level of organization and culture. I shouldn't even try to explain this, but you should try to read the book if you are interested in a better understanding of how the brain works to create a mind aware of its self.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Nick

    Damasio addresses the age-old philosophical question of where the self resides, and where it comes from. Do we have something called a "soul" that is immaterial, and different from our physical beings? If not, where does the sense of self come from, and how does it differ from that of a sea slug, or a squirrel? Damasio spends a good deal of time very carefully building his "brief," like a lawyer, that if you put enough mental functions together, the vast majority of which we share with the rest Damasio addresses the age-old philosophical question of where the self resides, and where it comes from. Do we have something called a "soul" that is immaterial, and different from our physical beings? If not, where does the sense of self come from, and how does it differ from that of a sea slug, or a squirrel? Damasio spends a good deal of time very carefully building his "brief," like a lawyer, that if you put enough mental functions together, the vast majority of which we share with the rest of the animals, you get a sense of self -- self coming to mind, in fact. If in the end you're not entirely persuaded, it's because you're remembering other evidence from other books, or experiences. Damasio's case is compelling, lucid, and shrewd, but it won't satisfy anyone who thinks he has a soul.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Willem van der Scheun

    Mostly a repetition of his previous books, Descartes Error and The Feeling of What Happens, without the anecdotes and with too much neuro-technical details. Damasio's basic claims from his first two books as I understood them (there is no rationality without emotions and there is no consciousness without a body to be conscious of) are repeated without any real additions. Damasio claims he has shifted the proto-self to a primordial self by adding feelings into the process of becoming a self in an Mostly a repetition of his previous books, Descartes Error and The Feeling of What Happens, without the anecdotes and with too much neuro-technical details. Damasio's basic claims from his first two books as I understood them (there is no rationality without emotions and there is no consciousness without a body to be conscious of) are repeated without any real additions. Damasio claims he has shifted the proto-self to a primordial self by adding feelings into the process of becoming a self in an earlier stage, but this does not merit a whole new book I think. If you want to learn about Damasio's ideas I suggest you read the first two books I mentioned. They are more factual, more explanatory and less philosophically, and thus I think better suited to the author's strengths.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Nazbanou Nozari

    Three stars only, not for the lack of ideas or content. On the contrary, the book is beaming with information, but that's probably the downfall of it too. (1) It's unclear who the target audience is supposed to be. It's way too detailed for a non-cog-neuroscientist, and in parts, way too obvious for a professional in the field. (2) It's not at all well organized. It feels like the book needs an editor. In its current form, it's a mash up of a whole bunch of ideas/findings/reports that Damasio ha Three stars only, not for the lack of ideas or content. On the contrary, the book is beaming with information, but that's probably the downfall of it too. (1) It's unclear who the target audience is supposed to be. It's way too detailed for a non-cog-neuroscientist, and in parts, way too obvious for a professional in the field. (2) It's not at all well organized. It feels like the book needs an editor. In its current form, it's a mash up of a whole bunch of ideas/findings/reports that Damasio has accumulated in a lifetime, and it's just being dumped on you. One may argue that the concepts of self and consciousness are complicated concepts, and I would agree, but reading this book does not make it any easier to understand either.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jrobertus

    I was disappointed in this book. Damasio is a brilliant cognitive scientist, and I think his other books have been wonderful. This one is repetitive and lacked scientific depth. Damasio has championed the role of emotion in cognition and consciousness. He has feelings as a perception of neuronal monitoring of body states and developed its vital role as an evolutionary advance. Feelings therefore are analogous to vision as a perception of light and hearing as a perception of vibration. In this bo I was disappointed in this book. Damasio is a brilliant cognitive scientist, and I think his other books have been wonderful. This one is repetitive and lacked scientific depth. Damasio has championed the role of emotion in cognition and consciousness. He has feelings as a perception of neuronal monitoring of body states and developed its vital role as an evolutionary advance. Feelings therefore are analogous to vision as a perception of light and hearing as a perception of vibration. In this book he promised to take an evolutionary stance to map the development of levels of consciousness, but none was forthcoming. I expected to see a clear picture of brain development across species and how this correlated with the behavior of mind and consciousness. Nada. He is brilliant, but if you are unfamiliar with his work, I suggest either The Feeling of What Happens, or Looking for Spinoza.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Stephie Iris Williams

    This is the latest book that I have read by Antonio Damasio. The previous two books that I have read focused on feelings and the body. From his research in neurology he has come to the tentative conclusion that these two things figure prominently in the phenomenon of consciousness. After giving the direction of his research into consciousness and the importance of biological regulation and value in chapters one and two in part one, he goes on to examining different components to consciousness. P This is the latest book that I have read by Antonio Damasio. The previous two books that I have read focused on feelings and the body. From his research in neurology he has come to the tentative conclusion that these two things figure prominently in the phenomenon of consciousness. After giving the direction of his research into consciousness and the importance of biological regulation and value in chapters one and two in part one, he goes on to examining different components to consciousness. Part two investigates the roles of maps and images in the brain and the contribution of the body, emotions and feelings, and memory. Part three discusses the different types of self, working up to self-consciousness and what brain components go into producing these states. Part four explores the contributions consciousness gives to the life of the mind. Damasio also includes an appendix on brain structures and functioning. One thing that surprised me was the way Damasio sees emotions as basic and feelings piggybacking on top of them. I was under the impression before reading the book that feelings were primary and emotions were secondary as in coming after feelings. I have a number of reflections on some specific pieces of text. Kindle locations are given in brackets []. [279] “. . . only after minds developed language and lived to tell did it about become widely known that minds did exist.” This lends support to my notion that we do not think in language. The reason I feel it supports this is because it indicates that minds came first and only later did language come along to translate our thoughts and communicate them to others. [287] “A mind unwitnessed by a self protagonist is still a mind. However, given that the self is our only natural means to know the mind, we are entirely dependent on the self’s presence, capabilities, and limits.” In conjunction with the previous quote is Damasio saying that it takes language to be aware of a self. [1199] “. . . images are based on changes that occur in the body and brain during the physical interaction with the body.” This is the conclusion to his description of how the brain uses images to think whether conscious or not. I take this to lend support to my above notion about language and thought, if he is saying that the brains way of thinking is through images and not language. Whether he would agree with me or not, I am not sure. [1798] “Some of those regions are involved in language, others in movement, others in manipulations that constitute reasoning.” Does this also mean that language is different than thought. [2263] “. . . the [cell] ensembles would hold know-how, that is, dispositions, for eventual reconstruction of explicit representations when they become needed.” (italics in original) This reminds me of image and text compression in computers. [2310] He continues shortly after this to say: “Dispositions are not words; they are abstract records of potentialities.” At least at the level of dispositions language is not involved, again supporting my ideas on language and thought. [2460] “Unfortunately, taking consciousness as mere mind is a common use of the term—a misuse, I think.” While I would agree more or less with him here, there maybe no sacrosanct definition of consciousness, but the user of the word should be clear on the definition he or she chooses to use for it. [2521] Summarizing about the correlations between brain and mind, he says: “These important results can be parsimoniously interpreted in the context of the abundant evidence that mind processes operate nonconsciously (as reviewed in this chapter and in chapter 11).” The key for me is “nonconsciously.” If mind processes are truly nonconscious than thought cannot be done in language, or at least this is my own conclusion. [2676] “Core consciousness does not require language and must have proceeded language, obviously in nonhuman species but also in humans. In effect, language would likely not have evolved in individuals devoid of core consciousness. Why would they need it? On the contrary, at the highest grades on the scale, autobiographical consciousness relies extensively on language.” Never mind what he counts as “core” consciousness, the “autobiographical” kind is only found in humans and language seems to be required. My point in bringing this up is two. One it fits in with my notion that language is a sense, a sense that senses self-consciousness or conscious thought. And again, I believe it lends support to my notion that we do not think in language. [2883] Summarizing, he says: “All the [conscious] knowledge is readily present. It is not arrived at by reasoned inference or interpretation. To begin with, it is not verbal either.” (my italics) More support that we do not think in language. [2919] “These sorts of [time and space] images can be converted into mathematical descriptions as well as musical compositions and executions. Mathematician and composers excel at this sort of image-making.” If so, this shows that at the very least not all thought is of a verbal nature. As an aside, it is said at least of some composers, such as Bach, that their musical compositions are mathematical. This could be part of the explanation for this. [3156] “Michael Gazzaniga has advanced the notion of ‘interpreter’ as a way of explaining the generation of consciousness. Moreover, he has related it, quite sensibly, to the machinery of the left hemisphere and to the language processes therein. I like his idea very much (in fact, there is a distinct ring of truth to it), but I believe it applies fully only to the level of the autobiographical self and not quite to that of the core self.” See above [2676] for comment. [4195] “I believe that the conclusions on the merits of un-consciousness [that they have reasoning capabilities] are correct, but our notion of what goes on beneath the glassy surface of consciousness is much enriched when we factor emotion and feeling into the unconscious processes.” This shows if reasoning goes on under the conscious roof, than emotions and feelings are an intricate component of thought itself. This along with other research leads me belief this is the case. [4273] In a section entitled “The Feeling of Conscious Will” he says: “Someone who share{s} this view is Dan Wegner, who describes conscious will as ‘the somatic marker of personal authorship, an emotion that authenticates the action’s owner as the self. With the feeling of doing an act, we get a conscious sensation of will attached to the action.’” Although neither Wegner or Damasio would necessarily agree with me that free will is indeed an emotion or feeling, I think their work can support such a notion. [4824] “The problem, some will say the mystery, has to do with how a phenomenon [consciousness] that is regarded as nonphysical—the mind—can exert its influence on the very physical nervous system that moves us to action.” I ask why it cannot be physical. Vision is physical with light impinging on our eyes and processed in the brain, and light is composed of photons. Light seemingly nonphysical is actually physical, so why not mind. Not a knock out drag out argument, but seemingly in support that mind is a physical process. I know I have commented a lot on my idea that we do not think in language. But, the things I kept reading in the book kept reminding of it throughout. I cannot say that Damasio would be in total agreement with me on this. I think—probably not. I am on board with Damasio’s major premise. This is that consciousness, including human self-consciousness, arises from brain functioning. He fully admits that he has not proven this in a surefire way. He does amass enough evidence from his and others’ research to make it a reasonable assumption, but he realizes there is more research that needs to be done in order to make it a scientific certainty.* I enjoyed the book, but became slightly bored with Damasio’s discussion of brain contents (brain stem, amygdala, nuclei, and such things). Although, these things are important in understanding how the brain works. I have to say I am more of a materialist and it consequences than him. Seeing how he is primarily a scientist, and I am concerned with philosophy of mind, this is understandable from my perspective. I will also say that I learned many new things by reading this book (brain structure, better understanding of emotions and feelings, images and mappings, and more). If you are interested in the brain, especially consciousness, I would highly recommend this book. I will practically guarantee that you will gain from reading this book. For those that need a bit more on basic brain structure and functioning there is a decent appendix covering these things as I already mention, which may come in handy for those not so conversant on these things. * Scientific certainty is not a final certainty. All theories and findings in science are provisional to some degree or other. However, some things in science are certain to a very high degree, and I think this is what Damasio is ultimately after.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Maggie

    i'm fascinated with all things being found out about neurological research. the brain is complex and the research tools are sophisticated; consequently, the knowledge being gathered is fascinating. but i remain a lay person. i hardly know all the terms that can be applied to the different sections of the brain and the way the brain operates. add in the concepts of self and of consciousness and i'm really a babe in the woods. a keenly interested babe but still far from knowing what i'm reading. s i'm fascinated with all things being found out about neurological research. the brain is complex and the research tools are sophisticated; consequently, the knowledge being gathered is fascinating. but i remain a lay person. i hardly know all the terms that can be applied to the different sections of the brain and the way the brain operates. add in the concepts of self and of consciousness and i'm really a babe in the woods. a keenly interested babe but still far from knowing what i'm reading. so with this book, i suspect i was operating at about a 27% comprehension level and whereas that might seem like a not-worth-it effort, it was. i absorbed "more" knowledge and am glad for it. the book is very well organized although the technical terms used kept me from grasping more even as they added gravitas to the book's point of view. i especially appreciated damasio's perspective that consciousness and self begin in the body and not in the mind. the mapping onto the brain of our experiences was another aspect of this book that i sensed was well done. more to learn ... yes of course. and this book, although beyond me, gave me a list of thoughts and terms that i am glad for. a very thorough job of writing about "self" coming to mind/existence. i cannot recommend or not recommend this book. you will have to try it if you are interested and get through it as best you can being glad for the bits of information and understanding the well written book presents. do with it what you can. second reading december 2016 ... got SO MUCH MORE out of this EXCELLENT book with the second reading ... i suspect my first reading was heard from a totally new understanding of how the brain/mind/body/emotions function as a whole and so with this second reading a few years later and after quite a bit more exposure to this neurological information, more details and their accurate picture of this part of the human being came into sharp focus ... thank you, mr. damasio

  12. 4 out of 5

    Sasha

    Antonio Damasio does an admirable job in hypothesizing neural/biological connections to the seemingly immeasurable existence of self and consciousness. I appreciated how he worked from the ground up, beginning with the development of a single cell organism and relating its basic properties to its more complex manifestations in the modern human. I was also fascinated by the concept of single cells exhibiting a “will to live”—a need for survival and adaptation that possibly became the foundation f Antonio Damasio does an admirable job in hypothesizing neural/biological connections to the seemingly immeasurable existence of self and consciousness. I appreciated how he worked from the ground up, beginning with the development of a single cell organism and relating its basic properties to its more complex manifestations in the modern human. I was also fascinated by the concept of single cells exhibiting a “will to live”—a need for survival and adaptation that possibly became the foundation for consciousness. I thought that was such a profound and creative idea—that a stepping stone to human consciousness was the neuron’s imitation of a body cell’s inherent will to survive. Damasio also tackles emotions and their effect on memory and identity. He relates cultural development and creativity with a sort of social homeostasis, a way that our creative impulses correct imbalances in our constant search for well-being, which was an interesting thought. All of these ingredients came together in an intriguing hypothesis about the unique emergence of the self and consciousness, things we know are there but are still trying to explain.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Broodingferret

    This book is basically the updated edition of The Feeling of What Happens: Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness, and I found it just as engaging. Damasio's multi-layered model of consciousness not only has an intuitive appeal, but also benefits from being empirically testable (and the tests that have been done to date seem to support, or at least not contradict, the model). His main conceptual additions in this book are his take on consciousness being a trait that was actively selecte This book is basically the updated edition of The Feeling of What Happens: Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness, and I found it just as engaging. Damasio's multi-layered model of consciousness not only has an intuitive appeal, but also benefits from being empirically testable (and the tests that have been done to date seem to support, or at least not contradict, the model). His main conceptual additions in this book are his take on consciousness being a trait that was actively selected for (as opposed to the often-heard 'accidental side effect' model for consciousness) for its influence on fitness, and his idea that typical evolutionary pressures caused human culture to develop as a kind of extended homeostatic regulation system. The former point is argued well, but that latter one needs some more work to be convincing. Finally, Damasio's writing in this book is a bit more conversational than I remember his past works being, making the work a tad more approachable.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Greg Carroll

    Though it might be a weird choice, after reading it three times I think this is my favorite book. Definitely the best approach to consciousness/the self-process that I've come across, even if it doesn't solve the hard problem. I think he's correct, neurologically speaking (i.e. nucleus tractus solitarius and parabrachial nucleus being a basis for primordial feelings--I love this idea), about nearly everything he proposes, even if some things he states are somewhat intuitive or fundamental (i.e. Though it might be a weird choice, after reading it three times I think this is my favorite book. Definitely the best approach to consciousness/the self-process that I've come across, even if it doesn't solve the hard problem. I think he's correct, neurologically speaking (i.e. nucleus tractus solitarius and parabrachial nucleus being a basis for primordial feelings--I love this idea), about nearly everything he proposes, even if some things he states are somewhat intuitive or fundamental (i.e. convergence-divergence regions, consciousness being an evolutionary mechanism for life-regulation). He also has a delightful writing style and a way with words, especially considering his discipline being neurology.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Darnell

    Pretty technical and occasionally dense, but I enjoyed it overall. There were definitely sentences that I got no more out of than "[Brain region] is connected to [brain region] and [brain region] via [brain chemical.]" But I found some of the other elements fascinating and I'm interested in reading more. Pretty technical and occasionally dense, but I enjoyed it overall. There were definitely sentences that I got no more out of than "[Brain region] is connected to [brain region] and [brain region] via [brain chemical.]" But I found some of the other elements fascinating and I'm interested in reading more.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Tarafa

    This textbook is so homogeneous and symmetrical when it comes to judge the pacemaker that governs the march of ideas. What is really distinguished is the author’s ability to spin the major questions about mind and consciousness around the axis of his theory, and he makes sense in so many ways and at different levels. The main thesis is simply the book’s title. What brought consciousness to life is the marriage between the self and mind. It was so convincing to put several neurological concepts i This textbook is so homogeneous and symmetrical when it comes to judge the pacemaker that governs the march of ideas. What is really distinguished is the author’s ability to spin the major questions about mind and consciousness around the axis of his theory, and he makes sense in so many ways and at different levels. The main thesis is simply the book’s title. What brought consciousness to life is the marriage between the self and mind. It was so convincing to put several neurological concepts in a raw of linkage. The ultimate analogy between homeostasis and the biological value paved the way to explain the core motive in our behavior firstly reaching morality, and culture secondly. All our questions such as “what is this for? why should I do this? how a thing like this can make me any good?” can be reduced to inquiries about the surrounding events affecting our much needed inside equilibrium to survive. The profound respect of the main rules of biological existence is the roadmap upon which the book is created. Neuroeconomy is a widely accepted rule in the nervous system and you read that self is coming to mind as needed since autobiographical processes are power consuming and thus the degree of engagement between the self and mind is dictated by the need. Consciousness is a power consuming process and thus the organism tries hard to use it just upon demand. Any knower of basic neuroanatomy can realize that “somatotopy” is an orthodox finding that is respected at all levels of the neural axis. The term “body maps” can be used as a synonym to the above mentioned anatomical fact. Yes, creation of neural assemblies interconnected in order to represent the outside as well as the inside world into images is the greater mind project that ultimately led to the birth of the self backed up by reasoning, memory, and maybe above all language. It can be said that what brings any thing to my attention - and thus what makes it happen to me- is its ability to deviate one of my body maps from its homeostatic position. Otherwise I would be completely blind to it as if seeing a scene whose colors falls outside our visible light spectrum. In a way, this somatotopic segregation is the main skeleton for our core self. I am really thankful that this book doesn’t violate the rule of the stepwise increments in just like everything around us. It is so relaxing to say that the self starts at low levels inside the nervous system and that the brain stem is its first station and its first place to be legitimate to hold the title. Attributing “self” to the cortex alone doesn’t make sense at all and at the same time does not emulate the spirit of evolution. In the same context, putting it clear that consciousness is a mode of unconsciousness but with some leadership qualias at the expense of losing what the unconscious mind can do in terms of efficacy and multitasking, putting it clear and in this way is in accordance with what we get when we analyze the main skeleton of them both. Damasio’s consideration to affective neurobiology brings emotions and feeling the to the front lines of mind creation. Emotional brain could be the true description of what we are all about and the way we fall between the poles of like and dislike. Last but not least, I guess that these courageous and bold trials to define consciousness with all what it entails of challenge are accumulative and they serve each others in a mutual way. It is not any more allowed to discuss such dilemmas without grounding oneself to the glory of the neuroscience breakthroughs and achievements.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Lage von Dissen

    With vigor, Damasio attacks the mind-body problem (or more specifically the mind-brain problem) of consciousness. His approach consisted of establishing an evolutionary path to our current level of consciousness, which he calls our "autobiographical self", and exploring in some detail which parts of the brain are correlated with the fundamental aspects of consciousness. Damasio theorizes that the precursor to consciousness would have been a proto-self with primordial feelings resulting from neur With vigor, Damasio attacks the mind-body problem (or more specifically the mind-brain problem) of consciousness. His approach consisted of establishing an evolutionary path to our current level of consciousness, which he calls our "autobiographical self", and exploring in some detail which parts of the brain are correlated with the fundamental aspects of consciousness. Damasio theorizes that the precursor to consciousness would have been a proto-self with primordial feelings resulting from neurons being intimately and consistently connected to the body, forming a map of the internal state of the organism and a feedback-loop in order to maintain homeostasis. This intimate connection between brain and body (to maintain homeostatic life regulation processes) would have provided a stable foundation with which to build upon for producing consciousness. After these primordial feelings co-evolved with certain types of memory, they would generate pulses of experience (specifically of the changes to the internal state of the organism) thus forming what Damasio calls the "core self". Once the organism was aware of the feelings that were associated with internal body state changes, it became possible for this "core self" (with its own perspective) to emerge. Perhaps most importantly, the "core-self" can be defined by their being a self-known relationship between organism and "object". Finally, with an enormous expansion of memory and neural integration processes, brains/minds were able to transcend the present and establish the "autobiographical self", with an accelerated capability of learning, future planning and decision making, and a dynamic self-ascribed identity of the organism based on rich and vivid emotionally-tagged memories of its own past experiences. Damasio also discusses how the evolution of consciousness to an "autobiographical self" eventually led to the emergence of culture and this opened up an entirely new level of life regulation, which Damasio calls "sociocultural homeostasis". Sociocultural homeostasis is the ability for an entire group, culture or society to sense an imbalance in terms of its needs, and generate a response to try and correct for that imbalance. He notes that the basic biological value of life regulation, the same which applies to bacteria, multi-cellular organisms, etc., is also the driving force behind sociocultural homeostasis. The main difference is the level and complexity of the regulating/regulated system, and the relatively enormous range of homeostasis provided at those higher levels of complexity. In my opinion, it is because of this higher level of sociocultural homeostasis, that the human "extended phenotypic" diversity has been as great as it has. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in consciousness, human brain physiology/anatomy, evolutionary biology/psychology, neuroscience, and cognition.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jukka

    Self Comes to Mind - Antonio Damasio Where does consciousness and self awareness come from? This is extremely good and very detailed. Its also very esoteric, unless you're into neurobiology and brain science. Damasio is scientific in his approach, but also not afraid to speculate and go out on a limb; in fact he says this book is a restart for him, admitting that some of his previous works may have been preliminary and so now wrong. I am finding one issue with this book is that the starting section Self Comes to Mind - Antonio Damasio Where does consciousness and self awareness come from? This is extremely good and very detailed. Its also very esoteric, unless you're into neurobiology and brain science. Damasio is scientific in his approach, but also not afraid to speculate and go out on a limb; in fact he says this book is a restart for him, admitting that some of his previous works may have been preliminary and so now wrong. I am finding one issue with this book is that the starting sections use terminology and concepts that cannot be comprehended [like his specific meaning for images and maps] until one gets a little farther along in the book. I ended up using the index to find and read paragraphs later in the book to introduce concepts used near the beginning. You also need to supplement this with a good detailed brain physiology chart. This book also needs a bibliography, and the appendixed footnotes are rather too light! I found this all very useful for my studies and interests. The insights here would also be good for educators, game designers and authors, for AI researcher and computer scientists involved with computer consciousness topics, and also for those interested in more philosophical and social questions regarding mans existence. I read this along with Strangers to Ourselves by Timothy Wilson, which overlaps this book somewhat, but more from a psychological angle, and centers on the part of self that is from the nonconscious. The two compliment each other well, with Strangers ... a very good introduction, and would recommend the combination to others. I hadn't expected this, but i am adding this book to my veggie_animal rights shelf. There is considerable detail here that describe the brain and brain function in animals. Prior to reading this book i was quite sure from personal experience that non-human animals have a true consciousness. Damasio gives the persuasive scientific evidence supporting this along with his own affirming factual conclusions. [See pages 171-172.] If you are someone interested in the detail of a topic, this is a good book for you. Others more interested in social and philosophical aspects of this, will find the final chapter completely approachable and meaningful. A similar book to this is The Tell-tale Brain by V. S. Ramachandran, which i will be reading soon. PS: Check out the interview in Scientific American May 2011, with Charles Limb on music improv and creativity and brain activity. Or go watch his ted talk: www.ted.com/talks/charles_limb_your_b...

  19. 5 out of 5

    Angie Boyter

    In Self Comes to Mind, USC neuroscientist Antonio Damasio creates a model of consciousness and a hypothesis about how consciousness came to evolve. VERY simply put, he traces the origins of consciousness back to the will to live and to homeostasis, the balance of physical factors that enables an organism to live and reproduce. Even the simplest organisms, those without consciousness, minds, or even brains, have responses to outside stimuli that maintain their homeostasis to permit their continue In Self Comes to Mind, USC neuroscientist Antonio Damasio creates a model of consciousness and a hypothesis about how consciousness came to evolve. VERY simply put, he traces the origins of consciousness back to the will to live and to homeostasis, the balance of physical factors that enables an organism to live and reproduce. Even the simplest organisms, those without consciousness, minds, or even brains, have responses to outside stimuli that maintain their homeostasis to permit their continued existence. Through evolution, such responses become more sophisticated and lead to the development of brains and neurons that can carry out such responses appropriately. Gradually the brains develop the capacity for mapped images and patterns that permit more complex interactions with the environment and a memory bank. This is a mind, and it awakens. The awake mind gradually develops a sense of self, and it is then that consciousness emerges. It is a very convincing scenario. I have read all of Damasio's books for the general reader and enjoyed them all, but this is not a good one to start with if you have not read his writings before.(The Feeling of What Happens is my personal favorite.) Damasio is first and foremost a neurologist, a respected one whose work is quoted extensively, but this means he is fascinated by the brain. You do not have to be a trained neurologist to read Self Comes to Mind, but I believe the book assumes a somewhat more sophisticated level of knowledge than his other books, and there are rather too many passages of this sort: Why are emotions such a telltale sign of consciousness? Because the actual execution of most emotions is carried out by the periaqueductal grey (PAG) in close cooperation with the nucleus tractus solitarus (NTS) and the parabrachial nucleus (PBN), the structures whose ensemble engenders bodily felings (such as primordial feelings) and the variations thereof that we call emotional feelings. (p. 167) If this passage does not intimidate you, then bravo! If it does, do not be discouraged. Just skim over those parts and enjoy the model of the brain, mind, and consciousness that Damasio constructs. Or persist, take it all in, and apply for grad school in the neurosciences.

  20. 4 out of 5

    David Czuba

    I'm sorry I could not finish this book, and it disappoints me due to wanting to give a thorough review. Damasio makes his case with phrases that wink at the reader, as if shamefully, with assertions of how the brain works that are unfounded. Some of what he writes can be considered wishful thinking, because those stretches do not flesh out the bones with reference to peer-reviewed work. No doubt the author is distinguished, and places theories together to make a composite, but what he's asking t I'm sorry I could not finish this book, and it disappoints me due to wanting to give a thorough review. Damasio makes his case with phrases that wink at the reader, as if shamefully, with assertions of how the brain works that are unfounded. Some of what he writes can be considered wishful thinking, because those stretches do not flesh out the bones with reference to peer-reviewed work. No doubt the author is distinguished, and places theories together to make a composite, but what he's asking the reader is to suspend disbelief at the door and accept his word. The hard connections of brain wiring, and the patterns they undergo while firing, are only now being illuminated, and roughly. But what Damasio is talking about is finding a telescope that can view the living brain at work akin to Hubble peering at the distant universe. Those tools do not exist. And so, we set out deriving God from what we do not see. That the consciousness exists is not in question, or the macro-organs of the brain responsible for its action. Of the multifarious ideas Damasio strikes, the images is the most relevant, but is it of neuro-electrical pulse timing or some other function? What makes the images, sounds, and smells arriving at our sense organs, compile a frame of 'experience' that one can be subjective about: that is, sensing our sensing, and being aware of our awareness. The critique of oneself by oneself is quite the irony and example of splendid recursive thinking that our brains think all the time. Just look in the mirror. Or consider a text or photo you've just uploaded to social media. Or think about what you'd do in the future, or what you did in the past that had serious consequences for the state one is in now (or any, from any past). This is a book that gets close to naming it, however rigorously, but based on a few vaguely conceptualized qualifications that are not aligned with any operationalized constructs one can rely on showing up as variable data in a test.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Alexi Parizeau

    [Updated Review from 2nd Reading] Two years ago I read a book by Antonio Damasio, and was completely blown away by how he combined fundamental theory (i.e. philosophy) and clinical tests (i.e. science). You'd think this was normal, but there tends to be a lot of sass between people who identify more with one or the other. That's when I decided to retrace the history of Damasio's career, going through his bibliography chronologically, along with the bibliographies of his colleagues and contemporar [Updated Review from 2nd Reading] Two years ago I read a book by Antonio Damasio, and was completely blown away by how he combined fundamental theory (i.e. philosophy) and clinical tests (i.e. science). You'd think this was normal, but there tends to be a lot of sass between people who identify more with one or the other. That's when I decided to retrace the history of Damasio's career, going through his bibliography chronologically, along with the bibliographies of his colleagues and contemporaries. Over the next two years I would read some 300+ books and countless papers, all in an effort to understand the history and context of that one book that surprised me with its bold approach. That book was "Self Comes to Mind", and I just finished it for the second time; except now I see it with new eyes, and it's more awesome than ever. [Original Review - Oct 21, 2014] This is yet another paradigm shifting book for me. I hope I never forget its profound perspective on consciousness. Definitely one of the books I'll re-read annually, if only to ensure it remains a part of my worldview.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy Begley

    I give four stars. Though I wanted, oh how I so dearly wanted, to give it 5 when I began. To begin, when writing a book about how the integration of a multiplicity of sensual perceptions led to the developement of consciousness, please, for the love of pete, use a multiplicity of sensual indulgences to illustrate your point. I hate to sound infantile, but in a book about neural functions, a single diagram showing the location of the nucleus tractus solitarius might be a slight bit illuminating w I give four stars. Though I wanted, oh how I so dearly wanted, to give it 5 when I began. To begin, when writing a book about how the integration of a multiplicity of sensual perceptions led to the developement of consciousness, please, for the love of pete, use a multiplicity of sensual indulgences to illustrate your point. I hate to sound infantile, but in a book about neural functions, a single diagram showing the location of the nucleus tractus solitarius might be a slight bit illuminating when your entire theory relies upon its placement in a nueral trinity of awareness. And color is always nice. And please, again, perceptual indulgence. If Dimasio's writing is any indication, his sex life must be as interesting as live coverage of C-span. Please, an emotional caress. I feel like I was reading a shopping list. Where was your editor?

  23. 5 out of 5

    Muskan

    Quite an exciting book for me. I have been thinking about how complex systems work, and anything which helps me to think in that direction is great fun. Moreover, given that I had taken an introductory class in Neuroscience, it was not that hard to follow up with the brain regions, otherwise, I would have been lost. It was fun to think of self the way Damasio theorizes. I have read books which tackle self philosophically, however, to think of it this way was a lot of fun. There were quite a few Quite an exciting book for me. I have been thinking about how complex systems work, and anything which helps me to think in that direction is great fun. Moreover, given that I had taken an introductory class in Neuroscience, it was not that hard to follow up with the brain regions, otherwise, I would have been lost. It was fun to think of self the way Damasio theorizes. I have read books which tackle self philosophically, however, to think of it this way was a lot of fun. There were quite a few Aha! moments. I would like to read more of his books! This adds greatly to my perspective of complex systems, self, and mainly how to think about aspects of life in a much different way. In short, I enjoyed it thoroughly.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Zac Scy

    Stopped reading at chapter 4. While I find the subject fascinating I felt it wasn't delivered in a compelling or interesting way to me. Stopped reading at chapter 4. While I find the subject fascinating I felt it wasn't delivered in a compelling or interesting way to me.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Mariana

    Important. Damasio sees the patterns. Our brain perceives in patterns. Neurology has figured out what certain brain structure do and how they work together. And basically it's all about patterns! Important. Damasio sees the patterns. Our brain perceives in patterns. Neurology has figured out what certain brain structure do and how they work together. And basically it's all about patterns!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Michiel

    Quite descriptive book on neuroscience and consciousness. Some nice ideas and explanations of certain concepts, but no big, unifying theory (IMHO).

  27. 4 out of 5

    Andreea Astefanei

    Given the good feelings I got at the beggining, this book was very disappointing. Sure, it has some good ideas, but the writing is killing it. You can read the first chapters and then skip to part 3, maybe 4 and you wont miss a lot. Also, Damasio likes to invent words for concepts that already exist making some parts very confusing at first.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Teo 2050

    2016.04.21–2016.04.25 Contents Damasio AR (2010) (11:29) Self Comes to Mind - Constructing the Conscious Brain Part I: Starting Over 01. Awakening • Goals and Reasons • Approaching the Problem • The Self as Witness • Overcoming a Misleading Intuition • An Integrated Perspective • The Framework • A Preview of Main Ideas • Life and the Conscious Mind 02. From Life Regulation to Biological Value • The Implausibility of Reality • Natural Will • Staying Alive • The Origins of Homeostasis • Cells, Multicellular Organis 2016.04.21–2016.04.25 Contents Damasio AR (2010) (11:29) Self Comes to Mind - Constructing the Conscious Brain Part I: Starting Over 01. Awakening • Goals and Reasons • Approaching the Problem • The Self as Witness • Overcoming a Misleading Intuition • An Integrated Perspective • The Framework • A Preview of Main Ideas • Life and the Conscious Mind 02. From Life Regulation to Biological Value • The Implausibility of Reality • Natural Will • Staying Alive • The Origins of Homeostasis • Cells, Multicellular Organisms, and Engineered Machines • Biological Value • Biological Value in Whole Organisms • The Success of Our Early Forerunners • Developing Incentives • Connecting Homeostasis, Value, and Consciousness Part II: What's in a Brain That a Mind Can Be? 03. Making Maps and Making Images • Maps and Images • Cutting Below the Surface • Maps and Minds • The Neurology of Mind • The Beginnings of Mind • • Feeling Pain and Pleasure After Insular Destruction • • The Strange Situation of Children Deprived of the Cerebral Cortex • • A Note on the Superior Colliculus • Closer to the Making of Mind? 04. The Body in Mind • The Topic of the Mind • Body Mapping • From Body to Brain • Representing Quantities and Constructing Qualities • Primordial Feelings • Mapping Body States and Simulating Body States • The Source of an Idea • The Body-Minded Brain 05. Emotions and Feelings • Situating Emotion and Feeling • Defining Emotion and Feeling • Triggering and Executing Emotions • The Strange Case of William James • Feelings of Emotion • How Do We Feel and Emotion? • The Timing of Emotions and Feelings • The Varieties of Emotion • Up and Down the Emotional Range • An Aside on Admiration and Compassion 06. An Architecture for Memory • Somehow, Somewhere • The Nature of Memory Records • Dispositions Came First, Maps Followed • Memory at Work • A Brief Aside on Kinds of Memory • A Possible Solution to the Problem • Convergence-Divergence Zones • More on Convergence-Divergence Zones • The Model at Work • The How and Where of Perception and Recall Part III: Being Conscious 07. Consciousness Observed • Defining Consciousness • Breaking Consciousness Apart • Removing the Self and Keeping a Mind • Completing a Working Definition • Kinds of Consciousness • Human and Nonhuman Consciousness • What Consciousness Is Not • The Freudian Unconscious 08. Building a Conscious Mind • A Working Hypothesis • Approaching the Conscious Brain • Previewing the Conscious Mind • The Ingredients of a Conscious Mind • The Protoself • • Master Interoceptive Maps • • Master Organism Maps • • Maps of the Externally Directed Sensory Portal • Constructing the Core Self • The Core Self State • Touring the Brain as It Constructs a Conscious Mind 09. The Autobiographical Self • Memory Made Conscious • Constructing the Autobiographical Self • The Issue of Coordination • The Coordinators • A Possible Role for the Posteromedial Cortices • The PMCs at Work • Other Considerations on the Posteromedial Cortices • • Anesthesia Research • • Sleep Research • • The PMCs' Involvement in the Default Network • • Research on Neurological Conditions • • Coma, Vegetative State, and the Contrast to Locked-In Syndrome • A Closing Note on the Pathologies of Consciousness 10. Putting It Together • By Way of Summary • The Neurology of Consciousness • • The Brain Stem • • The Thalamus • • The Cerebral Cortex • The Anatomical Bottleneck Behind the Conscious Mind • From the Ensemble Work of Large Anatomical Divisions to the Work of Neurons • When We Feel Our Perceptions • Qualia I • Qualia II • Qualia and Self • Unfinished Business Part IV: Long After Consciousness 11. Living with Consciousness • Why Consciousness Prevailed • Self and the Issue of Control • An Aside on the Unconscious • A Note on the Genomic Unconscious • The Feeling of Conscious Will • Educating the Cognitive Unconscious • Brain and Justice • Nature and Culture • Self Comes to Mind • The Consequences of a Reflective Self Appendix: Brain Architecture • Bricks and Mortar • More on the Large-Scale Architecture • The Importance of Location • At the Interfaces Between the Brain and the World • A Note on the Mind-Brain Equivalence Hypothesis Notes Acknowledgments About the Author

  29. 4 out of 5

    Elliott Bignell

    Damasio is a neuroscientist of considerable stature, and therefore one of that limited range of people truly qualified to contribute to the difficult subject of how mind and consciousness arise. Having an increasing feeling that philosophers have mostly fumbled this ball, with the possible exception of Daniel Dennett, I delved into this complex book with some expectations. They were initially tripped, but ultimately not disappointed. It needs to be said that the book packs in a great deal of semi Damasio is a neuroscientist of considerable stature, and therefore one of that limited range of people truly qualified to contribute to the difficult subject of how mind and consciousness arise. Having an increasing feeling that philosophers have mostly fumbled this ball, with the possible exception of Daniel Dennett, I delved into this complex book with some expectations. They were initially tripped, but ultimately not disappointed. It needs to be said that the book packs in a great deal of semitechnical jargon concerning brain architecture. I also need to add that I found the opening section - that trip that I mentioned - rather dry. After the first chapter, however, I found the book rivetting and hard to lay aside. A couple of niggles come up in the later sections regarding philosophical issues to which I will shortly come, but Damasio offers us a model of the mind rooted in evolution and backed up by encyclopaedic understanding of the working of the brain. Of course, Damasio himself is quick to admit that a full understanding of the brain's working is a long way off, but as we can now image its activities in real-time and practically read out simple commands onto a computer screen I would say he is being a little too modest. What we understand is clearly not trivial at this point, and Damasio definitely seems to be one of the initiates in this understanding. Damasio's evolutionary model to some degree flies in the face of esrlier wisdom. He sees the origins of the self in metabolic self-regulation - homoeostasis - and traces its antecedents into the brain stem. Both image-making - mind - and a sense of self, he argues, have antecedents in a protoself that has been with us for a considerable time. This probably reaches back to fish and amphibians, in fact. The layers of structure which evolution has added to the brain have added layers of architecture to the self - the protoself supports the core self on which is founded the autobiographical self, that consciously-aware self that is probably limited to so few animals and reaches its apotheosis in humans and their social, philosophical and religious accounts of themselves. The author makes a workmanlike job of diminishing the "hard" problem of qualia, but I found his case shakier on a couple of other matters. His argument about responsibility is self-defeating, I feel: if denying desires requires lengthy conscious preparation then the default is to act without it; by arguing that self-control is hard work, he leaves open the implication that we mostly don't control our selves. A further niggle is that qualia could still be an epiphenomon, in my judgement. The fact that we have expended evolutionary time and valuable chemical energy to sustain the processing of consciousness does not logically preclude that the subjectivity of consciousness is still passive. But it seems unlikely in the face of Damasio's barrage, and science is about understanding, not a philosopher's logical consistency. One startling claim is the recency of the "rebellious self", not just understanding its place in the universe but plotting to overturn it. Damasio reports a suggestion that this emerged in human minds between Iliad and Odyssey - firmly into the Axial Age and long after humans migrated from Africa and spread across the world. This would suggest that the last layer of our self was spread culturally rather than in our genes, and may not be universal. This is a disquieting thought, although plausible. This book will make demands on your concentration, but I consider it to settle plausibly some of the hardest questions of philosophy and to render them into the possession of science. A tour de force.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sharon Niv

    This book is a super accessible explanation of body map simulations and the construction of the sense of self as Damasio understands it. Awesome book.

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