Synopses & Reviews
How does the firing of neurons give rise to subjective sensations, thoughts, and emotions? How can the disparate domains of mind and body be reconciled? The quest for a scientifically based understanding of consciousness has attracted study and speculation across the ages. In this direct and non-technical discussion of consciousness, Dr. Gerald M. Edelman draws on a lifetime of scientific inquiry into the workings of the brain to formulate answers to the mind-body questions that intrigue every thinking person.
Concise and understandable, the book explains pertinent findings of modern neuroscience and describes how consciousness arises in complex brains. Edelman explores the relation of consciousness to causation, to evolution, to the development of the self, and to the origins of feelings, learning, and memory. His analysis of the brain activities underlying consciousness is based on recent remarkable advances in biochemistry, immunology, medical imaging, neuroscience, and evolutionary biology, yet the implications of his book extend farther beyond the worlds of science and medicine into virtually every area of human inquiry.
"What a wonderful book! Dr. Edelman offers us an intriguing model of the biology of consciousness, mind, and creativity." Duane M. Rumbaugh, author of Intelligence of Apes and Other Rational Beings
"Highly readable." Oliver Sacks, New York Review of Books
"Edelman has impeccable credentials. But science writing for a general audience involves more than expunging scholarly references and providing a glossary of technical terms as a substitute for clear exposition." Michael Shermer, Scientific American
"Consciousness is a hot topic, but still a mystery. One of the leaders of the scientific approach to the study of consciousness, Gerald Edelman has written a book that is a good roadmap for the lay reader." Francis Crick, author of The Astonishing Hypothesis
"Magnificent! Dr. Edelman has been a driving force in bringing an increasing sophistication to our models of the biological foundations of consciousness. His contributions range from the most fundamental observations of sub-cellular mechanisms to studies of large-scale, long-range communications across the vast territories of the human brain. This book expresses an effort to share his unique conception with the general reader." Dr. Fred Plum, Cornell University
"Gerald Edelman has been one of a very small group of pioneers who have tried to develop a biological approach to thinking about consciousness and to testing ideas about its attribute and function. Wider than the Sky now summarizes his thinking in readily accessible form for the general public. This view of consciousness is intellectually ambitious, original, and imaginative." Eric Kandel, M.D., Columbia University
"In this vignette Edelman hammers another nail in the coffin of consciousness as a metaphysical entity. He argues persuasively and with exceptional clarity that consciousness is a process and gives a superb account of its brain mechanisms. A distillation of knowledge and wisdom, this book is a rare, polished gem." Apostolos Georgopoulos, University of Minnesota
In this direct and nontechnical discussion of consciousness, the Nobel Prize-winning author draws on a lifetime of scientific inquiry into the workings of the brain to formulate answers to the mind-body questions that intrigue every thinking person.
About the Author
Gerald M. Edelman, M.D., is director of the Neurosciences Institute and president of Neurosciences Research Foundation. He is also professor and chair of the Department of Neurobiology at the Scripps Research Institute. For his studies on the structure and diversity of antibodies he received the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine.
Table of Contents
1 The Mind of Man: Completing Darwin's Program 1
2 Consciousness: The Remembered Present 4
3 Elements of the Brain 14
4 Neural Darwinism: A Global Brain Theory 32
5 The Mechanisms of Consciousness 48
6 Wider Than the Sky: Qualia, Unity, and Complexity 60
7 Consciousness and Causation: The Phenomenal Transform 76
8 The Conscious and the Nonconscious: Automaticity and Attention 87
9 Higher-Order Consciousness and Representation 97
10 Theory and the Properties of Consciousness 113
11 Identity: The Self, Mortality, and Value 131
12 Mind and Body: Some Consequences 140
Bibliographic Note 181