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Looking for Spinoza: Joy, Sorrow, and the Human Brainby Antonio Damasio
Synopses & Reviews
Joy, sorrow, jealousy, and awe — these and other feelings are the stuff of our daily lives. Thought to be too private for science to explain and not essential for understanding cognition, they have largely been ignored. But not by Spinoza, and not by Antonio Damasio.
Here, in a humane work of science, Damasio draws on his innovative research and on his experience with neurological patients to examine how feelings and the emotions that underlie them support human survival and enable the spirit's greatest creations.
Looking for Spinoza reveals the biology of our sophisticated survival mechanisms. It rediscovers a thinker whose work prefigures modern neuroscience, not only in his emphasis on emotions and feelings, but also in his refusal to separate mind and body. Together, the scientist and the philosopher help us understand what we're made of, and what we're here for. Based on laboratory investigations but moving beyond those to society and culture, Looking for Spinoza is a master work of science and writing.
Antonio Damasio, widely recognized as one of the world's leading neuroscientists, has for decades been investigating the neurobiological foundations of human life. In Descartes' Error he explored the importance of emotion in rational behavior, and in The Feeling of What Happens he developed the neurobiology of the self. Damasio's new book on feeling and emotion offers unexpected grounds for optimism about our survival and the human condition.
"Damasio has the rare talent of rendering science intelligible while also being gifted in philosophy, literature and wit." Los Angeles Times
"Damasio's fullest report so far on the nature of feelings....Given his professional background, it is not surprising that Damasio is more persuasive when talking neuroscience than philosophy. But overall, he succeeds in making the latest brain research accessible to the general reader, while his passionate Spinozist reflections make that data relevant to everyday life." Publishers Weekly
"In clear, accessible and eloquent prose, Damasio is outlining a new vision of the human soul." San Francisco Chronicle
"Compelling." Scientific American
"One of the best brain stories of the decade." New York Times Book Review
Book News Annotation:
Drawing on research and patients' case studies, leading neurologist Damasio (U. of Iowa Medical Center), author of , deconstructs the life and thought of this radical 17th century Dutch-Jewish philosopher, who anticipated modern views on mind- body unity, as a springboard for his model of the biological basis for emotions and feelings. This general audience treatment includes illustrations, a glossary, and chronology. Annotation (c)2003 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Completing the trilogy that began with Descartes' Error and continued with The Feeling of What Happens, noted neuroscientist Damasio now focuses the full force of his research on emotions as he shows how joy and sorrow are cornerstones of humankind's survival.
In the seventeenth century, the philosopher Spinoza examined the role emotion played in human survival and culture. Yet hundreds of years and many significant scientific advances later, the neurobiological roots of joy and sorrow remain a mystery. Today, we spend countless resources doctoring our feelings with alcohol, prescription drugs, health clubs, therapy, vacation retreats, and other sorts of consumption; still, the inner workings of our minds-what feelings are, how they work, and what they mean-are largely an unexplored frontier.
With scientific expertise and literary facility, bestselling author and world famous neuroscientist Antonio Damasio concludes his groundbreaking trilogy in Looking for Spinoza, exploring the cerebral processes that keep us alive and make life worth living.
The last in a trilogy of books that investigates the philosophical and scientific foundations of human life
Joy, sorrow, jealousy, and awe—these and other feelings are the stuff of our daily lives. In the seventeenth century, the philosopher Spinoza devoted much of his life's work examining how these emotions supported human survival, yet hundreds of years later the biological roots of what we feel remain a mystery. Leading neuroscientist Antonio Damasio—whose earlier books explore rational behavior and the notion of the self—rediscovers a man whose work ran counter to all the thinking of his day, pairing Spinoza's insights with his own innovative scientific research to help us understand what we're made of, and what we're here for.
About the Author
Antonio R. Damasio is the Van Allen Professor and head of the department of neurology at the University of Iowa Medical Center and is an adjunct professor at the Salk Institute in San Diego. Descartes' Error was nominated for the Los Angeles Times Book Award, and has been translated into twenty-three languages. He lives in Iowa City and Chicago.
Table of Contents
CHAPTER 1 Enter Feelings
Looking for Spinoza
In the Paviljoensgracht
CHAPTER 2 Of Appetites and Emotions
Emotions Precede Feelings
A Nesting Principle
More on the Emotion-Related Reactions: From Simple Homeostatic Regulation to Emotions-Proper
The Emotions of Simple Organisms
A Hypothesis in the Form of a Definition
The Brain Machinery of Emotion
Triggering and Executing Emotions
Out of the Blue
The Brain Stem Switch
Laughter and Some More Crying
From the Active Body to the Mind
CHAPTER 3 Feelings
What Feelings Are
Is There More to Feelings than the Perception of Body State?
Feelings Are Interactive Perceptions
Mixing Memory with Desire: An Aside
Feelings in the Brain: New Evidence
A Comment on Related Evidence
Some More Corroborating Evidence
The Substrate of Feelings
Who Can Have Feelings?
Body States versus Body Maps
Actual Body States and Simulated Body States
Hallucinating the Body
The Chemicals of Feeling
Varieties of Drug-Induced Felicity
Enter the Naysayers
CHAPTER 4 Ever Since Feelings
Of Joy and Sorrow
Feelings and Social Behavior
Inside a Decision-Making Mechanism
What the Mechanism Accomplishes
The Breakdown of a Normal Mechanism
Damage to Prefrontal Cortex in the Very Young
What If the World?
Neurobiology and Ethical Behaviors
Homeostasis and the Governance of Social Life
The Foundation of Virtue
What Are Feelings For?
CHAPTER 5 Body, Brain, and Mind
Body and Mind
The Hague, December 2, 1999
The Invisible Body
Losing the Body and Losing the Mind
The Assembly of Body Images
The Construction of Reality
About the Origins of the Mind
Body, Mind, and Spinoza
Closing with Dr. Tulp
CHAPTER 6 A Visit to Spinoza
Rijnsburg, July 6, 2000
The Hague, 1670
Ideas and Events
The Uriel da Costa Affair
Jewish Persecution and the Marrano Tradition
Beyond the Enlightenment
The Hague, 1677
Spinoza in My Mind
CHAPTER 7 Who's There?
The Contented Life
The Effectiveness of a Solution
Copyright © 2003 by Antonio Damasio
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
Requests for permission to make copies of any part of the work
should be mailed to the following address: Permissions Department,
Harcourt, Inc., 6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, Florida 32887-6777.
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