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The Engine of Reason, the Seat of the Soul: A Philosophical Journey Into the Brain

4.06 of 5 stars 4.06  ·  rating details  ·  64 ratings  ·  8 reviews
"Paul Churchland's "The Engine of Reason, the Seat of the Soul" is an outstanding philosophical achievement, integrating artificial intelligence, brain neurology, cognitive psychology, ethnology, epistemology, scientific method, and even ethics and aesthetics, into an interlocking whole".
-- W.V. Quine, Professor of Philosophy, Harvard University "...The Engine of Reason,
Paperback, 342 pages
Published July 25th 1996 by MIT Press (MA) (first published June 1st 1995)
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Jon Stout
In calculus, one can find the area under any curve by filling it with rectangles, and then making the rectangles smaller and smaller until there is no space left unfilled. In neurophilosophy, one can explain any phenomenon of consciousness by describing neurological functioning, and then making the description more and more detailed until there is nothing left to explain.

This is the agenda of Paul Churchland and neurophilosophy, and I am not sure if he succeeds because there is nothing left to e
Joshua Stein
Churchland's Engine of Reason is dated, and that's too bad, because I actually think it is one of his more well written pieces, probably even more than Plato's Camera [which I gave 5-stars]. The problem is that the change of material in neuroscience and cognitive science make it hard for writing to stay current for very long now; that's not Churchland's fault, but the way that he structures the book makes it far easier for the content to become obsolete, compared to contemporaries like Dan Denne ...more
Bob Nichols
The title of the book, "The Engine of Reason, the Seat of the Soul," provides promise. Churchland's subtitle, "A Philosophical Journey into the Soul," entices further. But the first two-thirds of his book is heavily technical and difficult. His "philosophical journey" in the latter part of the book is only marginally easier to digest. Churchland's intent to tie our cognition to others in the animal kingdom is good. Also good is his argument that we sense the world in terms of multi-sensory "pict ...more
I've never been disappointed by anything either of the Churchland's have to say. I think my only real criticisms of this book have to do with how long ago it was written. 15 years in the field of neuroscience is like a century in many other sciences. Much of Paul Churchland's speculations regarding how different brain subsystems function have been researched in the years since this book was written. fMRI and MEG are only briefly mentioned in the last few pages!

The one criticism I have that doesn
Sam Erickson
While the ending chapter was a bit idealistic with the application of recurrent networks, the book portrays the new framework of mind incredibly well.
There is lots of very good evidence supporting Churchland's view that he brings up in the book, and still acknowledge the shortcomings we have yet to address.
I liked it a lot.
Without being able to posit a closed system for the mind, Churchland's work isn't completely definitive, but it's the best neurology-oriented book on consciousness out there.
I am learning about the brain!
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  • Action in Perception
  • The Problem Of The Soul Two Visions Of Mind And How To Reconcile Them
  • Living High and Letting Die: Our Illusion of Innocence
  • The Feeling of What Happens: Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness
  • The Conscious Mind: In Search of a Fundamental Theory
  • The Executive Brain: Frontal Lobes and the Civilized Mind
  • The Embodied Mind: Cognitive Science and Human Experience
  • Philosophical Explanations
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Paul Churchland is a philosopher noted for his studies in neurophilosophy and the philosophy of mind. He is currently a Professor at the University of California, San Diego, where he holds the Valtz Chair of Philosophy. Churchland holds a joint appointment with the Cognitive Science Faculty and the Institute for Neural Computation. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh in 1969 unde ...more
More about Paul M. Churchland...
Matter and Consciousness: A Contemporary Introduction to the Philosophy of Mind Scientific Realism and the Plasticity of Mind A Neurocomputational Perspective: The Nature of Mind and the Structure of Science Neurophilosophy at Work Plato's Camera: How the Physical Brain Captures a Landscape of Abstract Universals

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