God Soul Mind Brain: A Neuroscientist's Reflections on the Spirit World

Overview

"Essential reading for the devout, the agnostic, and the atheist. In tackling the question of the religious brain, Graziano is respectful, sincere, and scientifically plausible. This might even be an Important Book."—Sam Wang, author of Welcome to Your Brain

"A beautifully crafted, tightly scripted account of how the far-flung legions of the brain's neurons give rise to social awareness and our notions of soul, religion and God."—Christof Koch, author of The Quest for ...

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God Soul Mind Brain: A Neuroscientist's Reflections on the Spirit World

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Overview

"Essential reading for the devout, the agnostic, and the atheist. In tackling the question of the religious brain, Graziano is respectful, sincere, and scientifically plausible. This might even be an Important Book."—Sam Wang, author of Welcome to Your Brain

"A beautifully crafted, tightly scripted account of how the far-flung legions of the brain's neurons give rise to social awareness and our notions of soul, religion and God."—Christof Koch, author of The Quest for Consciousness

"Lucid and engaging. . . . Moves with pace and humor."—Philip Johnson-Laird, author of Mental Models

"Do we know the origins of Gods and ghosts? This well-written book makes the bold case that new discoveries in social neuroscience can illuminate human spiritual experience."—Terry Sejnowski, PhD, Salk Institute/UC San Diego

Writing for the general public, Michael S. A. Graziano explores the controversial relationship between science and religion, first dismissing the "science versus religion" debate as outdated. The cutting-edge field of social neuroscience explains how our perceptions of our own consciousness, of other minds, and of spirits and gods depend on machinery in the brain that evolved to make us socially intelligent animals. In clear prose without technical jargon, Graziano discusses his and others' findings in this twenty-year-old science and the implications for human spirituality and religion.

Michael S. A. Graziano, professor of neuroscience, Princeton University, is the author of numerous articles on the functioning of the brain. He is internationally known for fundamental discoveries about sensory-motor coordination. His previous book on the brain, The Intelligent Movement Machine, was published by Oxford University Press in 2008.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781935248118
  • Publisher: Leapfrog Press
  • Publication date: 8/31/2010
  • Series: LeapSci
  • Pages: 170
  • Sales rank: 1,009,605
  • Product dimensions: 7.04 (w) x 11.34 (h) x 0.45 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Graziano is a professor of neuroscience at the Princeton University Neuroscience Institute, and director of the Sensory Motor Laboratory. He is the author of 56 articles on the functioning of the brain. His work regularly appears in journals such as Science, Nature, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. He is internationally known for fundamental discoveries about sensory perception and motor control in the brain. His previous book on the brain, The Intelligent Movement Machine, was published by Oxford University Press (2008).

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Table of Contents

Part 1 Mind

Chapter 1 The intention behind the event 9

Chapter 2 Perceiving the minds of other people 17

Chapter 3 Social Illusions 26

Chapter 4 Explaining consciousness 51

Chapter 5 Qualia 85

Part 2 Brain

Chapter 6 The basics of the brain 95

Chapter 7 The machinery for the perception of mind 110

Chapter 8 Mirror neurons 131

Chapter 9 Down the rabbit hole: Emotion in the depths of the brain 142

Chapter 10 Memes and the brain 151

Suggested Further Reading 167

The Author 169

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 10, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Above and Beyond: The Great Mediator

    Michael S.A. Graziano continues to amaze. Having been completely entranced by his novels of fiction, THE LOVE SONG OF MONKEY, and THE DIVINE FARCE, this reader was under the impression that his success in the literary realm was solid enough that he could well become one of the next decade's foremost novelists, so strange and compelling were these two brilliant books. But suddenly up pops this new book GOD SOUL MIND BRAIN and Graziano appears healthy on the other end of the spectrum of art to science. As a matter of interest this book erases that arc of what we all thought was a dichotomy, and in addition to encouraging us to think along the lines of growing our appreciation for the organ Brain he escorts us through the No Man's Land of religion versus science. The pleasure (or one of the many pleasures) of the book subtitled 'A Neuroscientist's Reflection on the Spirit World' is the non-confrontational manner in which Graziano approaches the concept that soul and spirit and God may be better understood by exploring the working of the human brain. He simply does not go where readers who are embedded in religion/spirituality/soul versus the devil of science stand guard of their beliefs. This small, immensely readable book is not a scientific treatise but instead is a book for the masses, a gently kind introduction to the concepts of Neuroscientific explorations that explore the neural mechanisms of the 'social brain' - the concept of perception that allows us to react to the world in an understandable way - that allow us to construct a reasonable explanation for where spiritual thoughts, the concept of soul, and indeed where the major impact that religion began and continues. The slow unraveling of Graziano's information he so comfortably shares provides a means of understanding how reasonable consciousness that can explain both science and soul. This is his neural basis of belief in the unseen. God(s) and spirits are simply additional examples of the process of social perception, a theory he explains in the most useful and unarguable manner using examples of how we all interact with each other based on perceptions our brain forms from the information it incorporates from past or learned experiences. 'The purpose of perception is not to provide you with an accurate picture of the world. The purpose is to be useful to you. Whatever is advantageous - that is what the brain computes.' Graziano's three points about perception are as follows: 1. It is a process of constructing a model in our brain of an object from the real world. 2. That model is not necessarily true to the actual object, but is simplified and altered, becoming a blend of the real and the invented. 3. The attributes don't feel like inventions, they are perceived as objective reality. He then leads the reader to the idea that 'God is the perception of a single, unified mind behind every otherwise inexplicable event: the spirit world by its dependence on the social perceptual construct is a creation of the brain. It is a perceptual illusion.'. The power of Graziano's writing comes not only from his research - it comes form his overwhelming honesty and acceptance of the world in which we live - all aspects of that world. His kindness and humanity is best quoted from his writing. He is the great mediator in the too often cruel battle between science and 'religion'. He proves himself in this superb book to be not only a brilliant writer but a contemporary philosopher.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 3, 2012

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