Evolving the Mind: On the Nature of Matter and the Origin of Consciousness

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Overview

The next great revolution in science will undoubtedly be the emergence of a useful theory of consciousness--a theory based on our better understanding of molecules and brains and of the nature of science itself. Evolving the Mind broaches both of these themes, covering how ideas about the mind evolved in science and how the mind itself evolved in Nature. What Cairns-Smith does that is particularly compelling is to synthesize the contributions of a wide range of scientific disciplines (physics, molecular biology, brain science, and evolution) to bring science to the brink of a unified theory of consciousness. The author thoroughly explores this complex concept in a straightforward, conversational style. Few readers will be able to resist the exciting conclusion that we are closing in on a scientific theory of consciousness.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A.G. Cairns-Smith is a brilliant explainer of difficult ideas, bringing to the task an imagination that is magnificently disciplined by detailed scientific understanding. He is also open-minded. His book will tantalize participants and onlookers of all persuasions...I have never encountered a clearer or more vivid account of the spectacular ingenuity of cellular design and operation..." Daniel C. Dennett, Nature

"Cairns-Smith's book is of interest to anyone who is thinking seriously about the problem of consciousness, but it also offers a good read for those who are merely curious about the subject. For anyone who has wondered how a physical system can give rise to consciousness, Cairns-Smith gives a great tour of our present knowledge and aptly demonstrates its limitations....[H]e writes about these difficult concepts with a clarity unmatched by most other authors." David L. Wilson, Quarterly Review of Biology

"Of course, Evolving the Mind is in no way meant to embody a theory of consciousness. That would have been miraculous. But what the book does achieve is in some sense no less miraculous. It is an extremely clear, engaging, and informative account of a vast topic, one that includes physics, evolution, biochemistry, neuroscience, and psychology...Evolving the Mind is the best kind of popular science: it goes far beyond mere description, to include much of the history of scientific progress, and to analyze what science is." John J. Kim, The Boston Book Review

"...an absorbing book...We know a lot about how [the brain] works via molecular biology, but none of that explains our consciousness, our mind. There are, of course, theories--and Cairns-Smith provides one of his own as well as discussing others, in an admirably clear style. It is an enjoyable and rewarding read: throw out a couple of thrillers and take it on holiday." New Scientist

"Cairns-Smith's speculations are often unorthodox, but they never lack grounding in the several fields of study he has mastered. Very few others could have provided such a comprehensive picture of this topic, especially in broad strokes that are remarkably accessible." Choice

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521402200
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/1996
  • Pages: 340
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.87 (d)

Table of Contents

1. Material things; 2. Life; 3. Forms of intelligence; 4. Places in the brain; 5. Correlates of consciousness; 6. Dreaming aware; 7. Space time and substance; 8. Making theories; 9. Quantum theories of consciousness; 10. Conversation and coda; References; Index.
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