Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Looking for Spinoza” as Want to Read:
Looking for Spinoza
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Looking for Spinoza

3.91 of 5 stars 3.91  ·  rating details  ·  943 ratings  ·  62 reviews
"Here, in a humane work of science, Damasio draws on his innovative research and on his experience with neurological patients to examine how feelings and the emotions that underlie them support the human spirit's greatest creations." Damasio's new book focuses on what feelings are and reveals the biology of our survival mechanisms. It rediscovers a thinker whose work prefi ...more
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published January 28th 2003 by Harcourt (first published January 1st 2003)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Looking for Spinoza, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Looking for Spinoza

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,133)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Jon Stout
Nov 29, 2008 Jon Stout rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: idealists and reductive materialists
Shelves: philosophy
Inspired by Descartes' Error, and interested in a neurologist's interest in philosophers, I sought out Looking for Spinoza. It rewarded me in several ways, first by extending my understanding of how emotions as a biological concept are continuous with feelings as a conscious, mental phenomenon, and second by providing a guided, personal investigation into the life of Bento-Baruch-Benedict Spinoza.

Damasio has a lot to say about emotions and the structure of the brain, some of it exhaustingly deta
Melinda Olivas
I found the book “Looking for Spinoza: Joy, Sorrow, and the Feeling Brain” by Antonio Damasio an interesting look at the relationship between emotions, feelings, and the brain. I enjoyed reading about Damasio’s almost obsession-like fascination with the philosopher Spinoza. Damasio found Spinoza’s beliefs about feelings, passions, and emotions influential and relevant to his work as a neurologist. I also enjoyed that Damasio included a bit of philosophical flavor throughout the whole of this bo ...more
This book is, by turns, interesting and frustrating. Damasio knows his stuff when it comes to the details of neuroscience (which is to be expected because this is his field) and the details he supplies are fascinating. However, he overreaches himself when he tries to fit all these separate details into his one-size-fits-all model of how emotions and feelings interact together in a living brain; everything becomes ‘evidence’ for his overarching theory. Just because we have the one word ‘feelings’ ...more
If you buy the Enlightenment belief that scientific truth can be obtained and man made better for it, then take my review with a grain of salt. If you are convinced of the fact that using the terms "bad" and "human nature" in the same sentence is pretty acceptable, you won't like this too much.

Damasio's science seems interesting enough and does pose some engaging questions. However, there are far too many condescending logical leaps for me to stomach. The low point came with the rather absurd s
Dragos C Butuzea
pe lângă alte osho, mosho şi alte cărţi de pseudo-ştiinţă, iniţiere şi de auto-cunoaştere de care vai! pute piaţa de carte, rareori găseşti cărţi de popularizare a ştiinţei aparţinând unor oameni de ştiinţă. oameni de ştiinţă onorabili, cu diplome şi catedre universitare - adevărat, nedeţinători de Adevăruri supreme, ci de mici concluzii de bun-simţ, obţinute pe baza unor cercetări laborioase de ani de zile.

să nu mă credeţi ştiinţofil şi filozofob, însă aşa m-am săturat de autori ageamii, că nu
In Looking for Spinoza: Joy, Sorrow, and the Feeling Brain Antonio Damasio uses neurological and physiological markers to delineate the process of emotions and feelings. Then, he further integrates these scientific findings with social studies. This in and of itself was quite impressive and perhaps demonstrates the fields (e.g., what individuals call the soft sciences and hard sciences) coming together and taking a different integrative perspective of how mental health can be conceptualized.

Randal Samstag
For a devastating critique of this book see:

Quoted from the review, by philosopher of mind, Colin McGinn:

"I have two things to say about this theory: it is unoriginal, and it is false. As anyone even remotely familiar with this topic is aware, what Damasio presents here is known as the ''James-Lange'' theory of emotion, after the two psychologists, William James and Carl G. Lange, who thought of it independently in the 1880's. Not once does Damasio refe
Freddie Berg
An excellent explication of many issues. Initially skipped a few sections on the complexity of neural electricity. Re-read other portions over several years, and still pick it up from time to time. Offered it to several friends. On my all time favorites shelf.
Freddie Berg
Never thought I would understand Spinoza. Never thought I would understand feelings. Never thought I would understand the psychophysiology and chemistry of the brain. Made me even more grateful to doctors and healers of all stripes and plaids.
Aprendi que emoções são diferentes de sentimentos. Embora em algumas partes o autor torne-se um bocado chato, muito técnico e repetitivo achei o tema muito interessante. Nunca pensei que fosse explicar os sentimentos assim!
So far not as good as "Blink" or "Opening Skinner's Box".
Fernando Pereira
A parte mais técnica do livro diferencia emoções de sentimentos, aborda as circunstâncias que os despoletam, as reacções que provocam, a sua relação com o nosso organismo, como tudo se processa ao nível do nosso cérebro e quais as funções que desempenham.
Uma outra parte aborda a questão da mente, da sua natureza - biológica ou etérea - e da sua relação com o corpo.
Ao longo de todo o livro o autor oferece-nos um retrato biográfico fascinante de Espinosa e dos seus pensammentos em relação aos tema
Slade Chandler
I applaud Damassio for the use of Spinoza as a backdrop in bringing to light the science of emotion and feeling. In doing so, Spinoza not only served as a catalyst for Damassio’s highly academic approach in showing that emotion is indeed a physical entity with a mechanical process like that of a synapse/axon relationship (excuse the analogy, I am a layman in comparison), but also promoted Spinoza’s work giving it its due respect in the world of the hard sciences. Damassio’s "Looking for Spinoza. ...more
Comentários à versão portuguesa : "Ao encontro de Espinosa, as emoções sociais e a neurologia do ser".

Achei o livro muito interessante. Embora não estando qualificado para emitir uma opinião técnica, as teses sobre a importância das emoções e dos sentimentos e de como evoluiram e se relacionam no nosso corpo, incluindo obviamente o cérebro, pareceram-me convincentes ainda que eventualmente, como reconhece o próprio autor, um pouco especulativas. Claro que sendo um neurologista, António Damásio d
Jason Edgar
I have often tried to conceptualize “what are feelings and emotions.” Often feelings and emotions are presented as the opposite of logic and reason. There is a common belief that logic cannot exist where emotion is present. As a therapist I have seen this theory in action many times, and have used this theory in conceptualizing the root problems of my clients. When a client presents as overly emotional, I try to inject more logical and rational thinking in their lives and on the flipside when a ...more
This was fascinating.

The sections where Damasio writes about the physical systems of reflex, emotion, and feeling, and about the multi-directional linkages between them, are clear, compelling, and enlightening. I found that the book made me conscious of what was going on in my body, and I found that I was reflecting on how much work the brain and the mind do below the level of consciousness. For a while I felt quite awkward as I brought a lot of normally unconscious things into conscious awarene
Jeff Crompton
This was not quite the book I expected, but I'm glad I read it. Damásio, a neurologist, delved more heavily into neurobiology than I was really interested in reading - I don't really care what part of the brain is the center for a particular emotion - but that part of the book was probably a necessary foundation. The main thrust concerned the difference between emotion and feeling, and how feelings make us human. Particularly interesting to me was the idea that social behaviors - ethics, convent ...more
Frans van Liempt
Heel interessant vond ik de hoofdstukken 2 en 3 over de neurobiologische inzichten in emoties en gevoelens. De gedachten dat emoties een gefaseerd verloop hebben en er een verschil is tussen emoties en gevoelens waren nieuw voor mij. Terwijl deze onderwerpen bij uitstek de specialiteit van Damasio zijn, zijn deze hoofdstukken merkwaardig genoeg het meest stroef geschreven (of vertaald). Hoofdstuk 4 sluit ook aan op de neurobiologie - en op voorwetenschappelijke noties van overleven en zelfbehoud ...more
“If we do not exist under oppression or in famine and yet cannot convince ourselves how lucky we are to be alive, perhaps we are not trying hard enough.” -Antonio Damasio in Searching for Spinoza.

“to face the music and dance [anyway]” Damasio’s conception of the human condition and what to do about it.

I enjoyed this book even though it was somewhat dry. I think Damasio's purpose is admirable. He is trying to reconcile current findings in neuroscience with philosophy. In this case, the philosophy
Janet Eshenroder
The author thoughtfully and thoroughly presented some interesting concepts. Written (I assume) for lay readers as well as professionals, it is by no means a fast and easy read (it helps to have a solid background in science).

"The contents of feelings are the configurations of body state represented in somatosensing maps. But now we can add that the transient patterns of body state do change rapidly during the unfolding of an occasion of feeling. Moreover, both the positive/negative valence of f
I am not sure I liked the philosophical part so sometimes I simply skipped those passages. But the neurobiological discussion of emotions and feelings was eye opening - both the part supported by evidence and the more speculative theories.

The discussion was clear enough even for someone like me (no acquaintance with biology outside the very basics, though I've read popular science books about evolution). I believe that the evolutionary point of view contributed a lot to demistifying and simplify
Damasio is a neurologist who has revolutionized our understanding of the interconnections of emotion and reason, mind and body. He continues this work in his latest book exploring the underpinnings of emotional experience and what purpose the conscious experience of emotion may serve. His clinical examples of brain injured patients continue to serve as enlightening examples of how severing the links of felt emotions change more about us than we might otherwise think. Damasio also explores the li ...more
Peter Mantius
Damasio tries to link cutting edge research on brain function to the 17th century philosopher who thought religion would be better off shedding its doctrines based on the supernatural. The technical sections about the brain are a bit tough to follow, but the Spinoza background and connections are fascinating.

Damasio is at his best when he is doing work just beyond his science. He expertly implicates neurology into the most profound aspects of life, and in the first half of the book, Damasio is on track to match his masterpiece, "Descartes' Error,' but then he goes awry. If he is at his best just beyond the realm of science, he is at his worst when he goes too far in his philosophy. For the second half of the book Damasio goes into his own particular philosophy based on his work in neurology, but his ...more
Fascinating, and not overly difficult considering the subject matter. A delicate but scientific look at feelings and emotions, mind and body.
At times technical and complex,especially when describing neurological functioning which requires the re-reading of some passages which frustrates progress.However the enmeshing of Spinoza's ethics and the way he preempted the findings of neuroscience more than redeems the short comings of the more technical sections.Having read the other two books in this trilogy I'd say this one offers the more complete overview of Damasio's theories of the emergent self and gives a suggestion of how these th ...more
Dave Bufano
This gets a bit more complicated if you care about Spinoza, or you were ever a disturbed undergrad, but a very interesting treament of some well-worn questions about the relationship between those long stringy cells that talk, and those long upright animals that talk.
The main thesis is that intelligence arises out of our autonomous systems, which is a materialistic explanation, which is something that Spinoza, our hero, would never allow. But it's one that Spinoza was interested in and would lo
Lor Du frent
Did you know an emotion and a feeling are not the same thing? Emotions are what our bodies have, feelings are generated by the interplay of thoughts and emotions. This book joins together philosophy and neuroscience in an attempt to explain what a feeling is, and why we have them. The topic is fascinating, but Damasio also wrote chapters of Spinoza's biography through the book, in order to give a wider understanding of where the philosopher's ideas may have come from. Personally, switching back ...more
Paulo Alves
Excel technical understanding and historical analisis
Some wonderful thoughts on the nature of emotions and feelings, from an empirical basis (from the POV of an external observer - a physician for example) and how it relates to our own private world, and on the philosophy of Spinoza. Fascinating to read this curious man's thoughts - a real polymath - on this subject as he struggles to probe the problem of the brain, the body, consciousness and so forth from several angles. Recommended to me by my head of department, a medic who is great friends wi ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 71 72 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Emotional Brain: The Mysterious Underpinnings of Emotional Life
  • How Brains Think: Evolving Intelligence, Then And Now
  • Sweet Dreams: Philosophical Obstacles to a Science of Consciousness
  • Out of Our Heads: Why You Are Not Your Brain, and Other Lessons from the Biology of Consciousness
  • Why We Believe What We Believe: Uncovering Our Biological Need for Meaning, Spirituality, and Truth
  • Incomplete Nature: How Mind Emerged from Matter
  • The Executive Brain: Frontal Lobes and the Civilized Mind
  • The Ego Tunnel: The Science of the Mind and the Myth of the Self
  • The Quest for Consciousness: A Neurobiological Approach
  • The Mystery Of Consciousness
  • The "God" Part of the Brain: A Scientific Interpretation of Human Spirituality and God
  • Second Nature: Brain Science and Human Knowledge
  • The Illusion of Conscious Will
  • Conversations on Consciousness: What the Best Minds Think about the Brain, Free Will, and What It Means to Be Human
  • The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World
  • The Engine of Reason, the Seat of the Soul: A Philosophical Journey Into the Brain
  • The Embodied Mind: Cognitive Science and Human Experience
  • The Ethical Brain: The Science of Our Moral Dilemmas
Damásio studied medicine at the University of Lisbon Medical School in Portugal, where he also did his medical residency rotation and completed his doctorate. Later, he moved to the United States as a research fellow at the Aphasia Research Center in Boston. His work there on behavioral neurology was done under the supervision of Norman Geschwind.

As a researcher, Dr. Damásio's main interest is the
More about Antonio R. Damasio...
Descartes' Error: Emotion, Reason and the Human Brain The Feeling of What Happens: Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness Self Comes to Mind: Constructing the Conscious Brain Neurobiology Of Decision Making (Research And Perspectives In Neurosciences) The Conscious Brain: Facts and Consequences

Share This Book

“Leaving out appraisal also would render the biological description of the phenomena of emotion vulnerable to the caricature that emotions without an appraisal phase are meaningless events. It would be more difficult to see how beautiful and amazingly intelligent emotions can be, and how powerfully they can solve problems for us.” 12 likes
More quotes…