Soul Dust: The Magic of Consciousness

Soul Dust: The Magic of Consciousness

by Nicholas Humphrey
     
 

"Just as fairy dust sprinkled on the mundane world turns it to gold, soul dust converts animal flesh into the enchanted world of sensation and self-consciousness. The result is illusion, but the illusion in which we live. This challenging and original book combines scientific rigor and exquisite sensitivity to the thoughts of philosophers, poets, writers, religious

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Overview

"Just as fairy dust sprinkled on the mundane world turns it to gold, soul dust converts animal flesh into the enchanted world of sensation and self-consciousness. The result is illusion, but the illusion in which we live. This challenging and original book combines scientific rigor and exquisite sensitivity to the thoughts of philosophers, poets, writers, religious thinkers, and humanists. A delightful and thought-provoking tour de force."—Simon Blackburn, author of Think: A Compelling Introduction to Philosophy

"Scientists sometimes stand accused of missing the magic as they reduce nature to explanations. In this surprising and poetic book, Nicholas Humphrey does the opposite: he delves into the brain and discovers that the magic is the whole point of consciousness."—Matt Ridley, author of The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature

"As protean as consciousness itself, Nicholas Humphrey culls from neuroscience, evolutionary biology, psychology, anthropology, philosophy, and poetry to create a spirited and impassioned intellectual adventure."—Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, author of 36 Arguments for the Existence of God: A Work of Fiction

"Humphrey, a theoretical psychologist at the top of his game, combines the romantic spirit of a Shelley or Keats with the razor-sharp intellect of a Sherlock Holmes. Here he brings his incisive mind to bear on one of the great riddles of science—the evolutionary origin of consciousness—and presents the best-yet solution to the supposedly insuperable problem."—V. S. Ramachandran, author of The Tell-Tale Brain: A Neuroscientist's Quest for What Makes Us Human

"Soul Dust is a must-read for everyone who wonders about the mystery of consciousness. Humphrey has come as close as any scientist ever has to solving the 'hard problem.'"—Arien Mack, New School for Social Research

"Nicholas Humphrey is a gifted scientific humanist who is able to integrate an extraordinary range of work from cognitive neuroscience, literature, and philosophy in offering his answer to the questions of what consciousness is, why it was selected for, and how it both causes and solves the problems of the meaning of life. This is a provocative book from a sparkling writer."—Owen Flanagan, Duke University

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691138626
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
02/21/2011
Pages:
256
Sales rank:
1,004,833
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.00(d)

Table of Contents

Invitation ix

Prelude

Chapter 1: Coming-to Explained 3

Part One

Chapter 2: Being "Like Something" 27

Chapter 3: Sentition 42

Chapter 4: Looping the Loop 53

Part Two

Chapter 5: So What? 69

Chapter 6: Being There 80

Chapter 7: The Enchanted World 104

Chapter 8: So That Is Who I Am! 125

Chapter 9: Being Number One 140

Part Three

Chapter 10: Entering the Soul Niche 155

Chapter 11: Dangerous Territory 165

Chapter 12: Cheating Death 177

Envoi 203

Acknowledgments 215

Notes 217

Index 239

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