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The Mind: Leading Scientists Explore the Brain, Memory, Personality, and Happiness


Who am “I”?
How is happiness achieved?
What is the key to memory?
How do babies become adults?
Is personality determined?
What function do emotions serve?
Are we hardwired to be moral?

The mind is a riddle that has vexed philosophers, psychologists, biologists, and artists...

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The Mind

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Who am “I”?
How is happiness achieved?
What is the key to memory?
How do babies become adults?
Is personality determined?
What function do emotions serve?
Are we hardwired to be moral?

The mind is a riddle that has vexed philosophers, psychologists, biologists, and artists for thousands of years. In this invaluable volume, John Brockman, editor and publisher of Edge, gathers the world’s most influential scientists and thinkers to present their deepest thoughts and cutting-edge theories in short, accessible essays about the essential aspects of human consciousness and the complex workings of the brain.

Contributors and topics include

Steven Pinker on how the human brain works • Martin Seligman on happiness and what it means to live a good life • Philip Zimbardo on the impact of environment on personality • V. S. Ramachandran on the question of self—who “you” are • Simon Baron-Cohen on the innate differences between boys and girls • George Lakoff on the role of the body and brain on different types of reasoning • Alison Gopnik on why human children are the best learning machines in the universe • Jonathan Haidt on the connection between emotions, morality, and religious belief

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Editorial Reviews

Scientific American
“If you want a quick introduction to some of the smartest and most interesting thinkers around—read this book.”
Library Journal
This engaging collection comes from the online science salon, where editor Brockman's (This Will Change Everything: Ideas That Will Shape the Future) 18 interviews with 16 scientists originally appeared. Interviewees include Steven Pinker, V.S. Ramachandran, Alison Gopnik, Philip Zimbardo, Frank Sulloway, and George Lakoff; their respective topics are computation, mirror neurons and self-awareness, infants, cruelty and evil, birth order and personality, and philosophy. The style is conversational, lively, and informal. Especially interesting are Gopnik's amazing babies, Lakoff's linguistics, Joseph LeDoux's discussion of emotion, Geoffrey Miller on sexual selection (including how it can affect our art and music choices), and Jonathan Haidt's conversation on morality. Darwin is frequently cited, Freud hardly ever. Interview dates range from 1997 to 2009, with only four from the last five years. The editor ignores the amount of time that has elapsed since the interviews took place, e.g., the decade-old contribution on mirror neurons asserts that the subject is "unreported." Missing from the book, among others, are Antonio Damasio, Judith Rich Harris, and Eric Kandel. VERDICT A lively and useful but somewhat dated introduction to diverse aspects of brain and behavior research, accessible to a general audience.—E. James Lieberman, George Washington Univ. Sch. of Medicine, Washington, DC
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062025845
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 8/16/2011
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 456,210
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.68 (d)

Meet the Author

John Brockman, a cultural impresario, is founder of Brockman, Inc., a literary agency. He is author of The Third Culture, founder and editor of the highly acclaimed website Edge, and editor of the Edge Annual Question book series, and the Best of Edge book series.

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Table of Contents

Introduction ix

1 Organs of Computation Steven Pinker 1

2 Phïlosophy in the Flesh George Lakoff 11

3 Parallel Memories: Putting Emotions Back into the Brain Joseph Ledoux 31

4 Sexual Selection and the Mind Geoffrey Miller 49

5 Rescuing Memory Steven Rose 63

6 How Is Personality Formed? Frank Sulloway 79

7 Mirror Neurons and Imitation Learning as the Driving Force Behind "the Great Leap Forward" in Human Evolution V. S. Ramachandran 101

8 A Self Worth Having Nicholas Humphrey 113

9 You Can't Be a Sweet Cucumber in a Vinegar Barrel Philip Zimbardo 129

10 The Neurology of Self-Awareness V. S. Ramachandran 147

11 Eudaemonia: The Good Life Martin Seligman 153

12 What Are Numbers, Really? A Cerebral Basis for Number Sense Stanislas Dehaene 169

13 The Assortative Mating Theory Simon Baron-Cohen 181

14 Toxo: The Parasite that Is Manipulating Human Behavior Robert Sapolsky 191

15 Amazing Babies Alison Gopnik 201

16 Signatures of Consciousness Stanislas Dehaene 217

17 How Can Educated People Continue to Be Radical Environmentalists? David Lykken 239

18 Moral Psychology and the Misunderstanding of Religion Jonathan Haidt 251

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