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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Michael Joel Schrift, DO, MA (University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine)
Description: This is an interesting and scholarly new book covering the influence that emotion has on rational thought in the context of evolution. The book is derived from papers and presentations given at an international conference in April 2002 at King's College in London. Written and edited by influential individuals in the fields of neuroscience and philosophy, this book is a valuable contribution to cognitive neuroscience, evolutionary psychology, and philosophy.
Purpose: The purpose is to explore for the reader the role that ideas derived from evolutionary theory can play in helping to answer the "age-old question of whether emotions are helpful or detrimental to rational thought and decision making." The editors and chapter authors have put together a very thought provoking book.
Audience: The intended audience includes neuroscientists, psychologists, and researchers in artificial intelligence.
Features: Part 1 of the book's four parts covers neuroscientific foundations and has an excellent chapter by Damasio on William James and the neurobiology of emotion. Part 2 focuses on emotion, belief, and appraisal. The chapter by Griffiths on a Machiavellian theory of emotional appraisal was fascinating. Part 3 is on evolution and the rationality of emotion and part 4 concludes with a philosophical perspective with an exceptional chapter on emotion, reason, and virtue. Each chapter ends with relevant and timely references and the book concludes with a helpful index section.
Assessment: This is an excellent, unique, and paradigm-changing book on emotion's effect on rational thinking from an evolutionary perspective. I highly recommend it.