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Wider Than the Sky: The Phenomenal Gift of Consciousness

3.68  ·  Rating Details ·  279 Ratings  ·  26 Reviews
How does the firing of neurons give rise to subjective sensations, thoughts, and emotions? How can the disparate domains of mind and body be reconciled? The quest for a scientifically based understanding of consciousness has attracted study and speculation across the ages. In this direct and non-technical discussion of consciousness, Dr. Gerald M. Edelman draws on a lifeti ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published May 10th 2005 by Yale University Press (first published January 1st 2004)
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Jun 10, 2009 samm rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Brain -- is wider than the Sky --
For -- put them side by side --
The one the other will contain
With ease -- and You -- beside --

The Brain is deeper than the sea --
For -- hold them -- Blue to Blue --
The one the other will absorb --
As Sponges -- Buckets -- do --

The Brain is just the weight of God --
For -- Heft them -- Pound for Pound --
And they will differ -- if they do --
As Syllable from Sound --

-Emily Dickinson

This book is amazing. Edelman is amazing. It' not exactly light reading, and while
Chris Naylor
Feb 12, 2015 Chris Naylor rated it did not like it

You'd think that, by now, I would know better. Why did I buy a book about consciousness by an eminent scientist and expect it to shed light on the question of how brain processing relates to subjective conscious experience? Scientists are the last people to shed light on this question, because they (or at least most of them) don't even understand the question.

Why not? Because it's not a scientific question at all but a philosophical one, and I have yet to find a scientist who knows anythin
Aug 22, 2015 Anna added it
Necítím se úplně oprávněná toto hodnotit hvězdičkami. Jsem totiž jen hloupý aspirující pseudovědec a nikoli filosofující neurovědec ponořený do neurálních substrátů vědomí.

Začínalo to vážně slibně. Jak se ale objevily grafíky, tabulky a mozky s šipečkami, odborné výrazy začaly houstnout na téměř nesrozumitelnou frekvenci a nepomohl ani slovníček na konci. Z textu si toho mnoho nepamatuji, a jestli mi něco dal, tak především mentální rozcvičku před začátkem semestru a záminku k machrování před ka
Alborz Baghipour
Aug 10, 2015 Alborz Baghipour rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
یک کتاب خوب در مورد موضوع آگاهی از دانشمند برنده ی جایزه ی نوبل جرالد اِدلمن
کتابی جدی و علمی ولی به زبان ساده که مطالعه ی آن باید به طور جدی و با دقت انجام گیرد... نظریه ی "انتخاب گروهی نورونی" اِدلمن یکی از جدی ترین و پیچیده ترین نظریات در مورد آگاهی است، نمی توان آن را نشناخت و نمی توان بدون دقت به عمق آن دست یافت. آن را باید مانند هر متن دشوار بیش از یک بار خواند. هنگامی که رموز آن گشوده می شود به اهمیتی پی می بریم که بدون تردید روی تفکرات آینده ی ما موثر خواهد بود
Kayson Fakhar
Jan 11, 2015 Kayson Fakhar rated it really liked it
Mar 03, 2008 Nick rated it really liked it
Shelves: neuroanatomy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 06, 2010 Ouroboros marked it as brain-mind-neurology  ·  review of another edition
be patient - u've gotta get thru about 80 pages before the book starts getting anywhere near interesting

the [biological:] theory must show how the neural bases for consciousness could have arisen during evolution & how consciousness develops in certain animals.

causal status of consciousness:
- epiphenomenon w/o material consequences
- efficacious: causes things to happen

--> neural bases of consciousness [but not consciousness per se:] can cause things to happen

how a neural mechanism entails
Saša Tomislav
A pretty technical and dense book, Wider Than the Sky aims to provide a consistent scientific theory on the emergence of consciousness from the neural base, without delving into speculation (such as quantum consciousness) resolving to dualism (mind/body), but focusing on embodiment - the fact that brain develops in a different way for every person, and neurons are highly adaptable, making representations of concepts non-permanent in the patterns of neural firing.

The theory outlined makes a dist
Nima Nariman
کتابی جدی برای خوانندهای جدی که مایل است درباره مساله "آگاهی" به شکلی جدیتر و عمیقتر بداند. این کتاب را جرالد ادلمن٬عصبشناس مشهور نوشته که بخاطر تلاشهای تحسینبرانگیزش در راه شناخت بنیانهای زیستی-تکاملی آگاهی سالها قبل برنده جایزه نوبل پزشکی شد و چند سال پیش هم از دنیا رفت. استاد بسیار گرانقدرم دکتر رضا نیلیپور عزیز این کتاب را به روانترین شکل ممکن ترجمه کرده است٬با این وجود همانطور که در مقدمه گیرای این کتاب که دکتر خسرو پارسا (جراح مغز و اعصاب) نگاشته میخوانید برای یک خواننده کاملا معمولی و بدو ...more
Mar 10, 2009 Sharon rated it liked it
This book is very interesting, but very difficult. Edelman starts by describing the neural anatomy that sensory perceptions and then processed information travels through in order for our brains to process information, then describes how this process of ordering info is primary consciousness. Combined with value systems with instinctual responses to stimuli, the development of communication & then language, our brains evolved to also process abstract thoughts. How our brains process language ...more
Mark Valentine
Jan 17, 2016 Mark Valentine rated it liked it
Great. I read, skipped, and jumped to the final chapter only to realize that I had misapplied a symbol in Edelman's formula for higher-order consciousness and now realize that I need to re-read the book. By the time I arrived at the final chapter, it all made sense--I now had the right meaning attached to the right symbol--and I was exhausted. I wish that Edelman had elected to place his final chapter as the introduction. I don't know if it would helped my addle-brained reading though.

I really l
Dec 02, 2007 Jim rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: all
Thanks to this book, I have a way of talking about what consciousness is from a physiological perspective. They author uses the term "reentry" to describe how distinct areas of the brain are massively cross-wired with repeated feedback loops that are enriched each time one area "enters" another, is processed and merged with the distinct information unique to that area then sent back to the original area with its new layer of information only to "re-enter" again to make possible an even richer an ...more
Feb 07, 2012 Will rated it it was amazing
A lot of books on consciousness say half as much in twice the space. Gerald M. Edelman's short book is crammed with biological description and interpretation that is guaranteed to challenge and, eventually, reward the reader.

The occasional entanglements with Latin and scientific jargon are clarified by Edelman's careful interpretive remarks. In a few paragraphs he gives a clearer account of how the mind produces (or entails, as he would put it) conscious feeling than I have yet to find elsewhere
Renee Valdez
Jan 07, 2010 Renee Valdez rated it liked it
Though written for the layman, this book is a bit difficult. I'd suggest reading Francis Crick's "Astonishing Hypothesis: The Scientific Search for the Soul" before you start this book. I think Crick sets a good foundation, tackling consciousness with a focus on the brain's visual system. He's just a more accessible author and makes Edelman's book a little easier to understand.
Overall, the book was interesting and I'm glad I read it. I just wish I had read "Astonishing Hypothesis" first.
Jun 07, 2015 Katty rated it it was ok
Eh, not bad. Just not that accessible. Consciousness is already a tricky subject, even for the experts, and Edelman doesn't seem to shine any new light on it or make it easier to comprehend. Either I'm not smart enough to get it or Edelman isn't good at conveying the subject (or, most likely, a bit of both).
Feb 18, 2012 Clare rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting descriptions of the brain and neural anatomy. Challenging and rather heavy going to begin with but the occasional chapter offered delightful views of consciousness and it does eventually reward the reader. The sheer length of description was at times, intrusive, but when you persevere you find the end result all the more charming.
Oct 12, 2015 Bevan rated it it was amazing
This is the second time I am reading this book, and it hasn't gotten any easier. Nevertheless, I can learn from it. Dr. Edelman is a Nobel laureate and a neuroscientist, and this book is meant for the layperson.
Caroline Stevens
Aug 25, 2009 Caroline Stevens rated it liked it
Not finished
Amai Freeman
Nov 27, 2013 Amai Freeman rated it liked it
basic introduction
Sep 14, 2007 Ethan rated it really liked it
Dense and academic prose, but it's worth chugging along for Edelman's remarkable theory of how the brain works.
Dave Schey
Aug 25, 2012 Dave Schey rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Good overview of consciousness and how the brain works by a neurobiologist.
Brendan  McAuliffe
Nov 13, 2010 Brendan McAuliffe rated it it was ok
Mostly restates William James, doesn't really get anyplace.
Jul 28, 2008 Colin rated it really liked it
A beautifully written exploration of the grand design of human consciousness. Combine neuroscience and a Nobel laureate author and you've got yerself a winner.
Holly Gollnick
Jun 03, 2012 Holly Gollnick rated it it was amazing
I'm always looking for books like this. This one was so short but so full of just what I hoped to find. Just read the description, you'll just know if it's a book for you!
Mar 22, 2009 Kelly marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: study
Lent to ACP
May 07, 2015 Elizabeth marked it as to-read
Recommended by John h. (Got the right book this time)
Roxanne B.
Roxanne B. rated it it was amazing
Jun 11, 2014
Riccardo Ricci
Riccardo Ricci rated it liked it
Dec 06, 2016
Jordan Olischefski
Jordan Olischefski rated it liked it
Jul 31, 2009
Brendan rated it did not like it
Aug 03, 2014
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Gerald Maurice Edelman (born July 1, 1929) is an American biologist who shared the 1972 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for work with Rodney Robert Porter on the immune system.[1] Edelman's Nobel Prize-winning research concerned discovery of the structure of antibody molecules.[2] In interviews, he has said that the way the components of the immune system evolve over the life of the individu ...more
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