Jukka's Reviews > Self Comes to Mind: Constructing the Conscious Brain

Self Comes to Mind by António R. Damásio
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's review
Mar 26, 2011

bookshelves: veggie_animal-rights, recent-reads

Self Comes to Mind - Antonio Damasio

Where does consciousness and self awareness come from?

This is extremely good and very detailed. Its also very esoteric, unless you're into neurobiology and brain science. Damasio is scientific in his approach, but also not afraid to speculate and go out on a limb; in fact he says this book is a restart for him, admitting that some of his previous works may have been preliminary and so now wrong.

I am finding one issue with this book is that the starting sections use terminology and concepts that cannot be comprehended [like his specific meaning for images and maps] until one gets a little farther along in the book. I ended up using the index to find and read paragraphs later in the book to introduce concepts used near the beginning. You also need to supplement this with a good detailed brain physiology chart. This book also needs a bibliography, and the appendixed footnotes are rather too light!

I found this all very useful for my studies and interests. The insights here would also be good for educators, game designers and authors, for AI researcher and computer scientists involved with computer consciousness topics, and also for those interested in more philosophical and social questions regarding mans existence.

I read this along with Strangers to Ourselves by Timothy Wilson, which overlaps this book somewhat, but more from a psychological angle, and centers on the part of self that is from the nonconscious. The two compliment each other well, with Strangers ... a very good introduction, and would recommend the combination to others.

I hadn't expected this, but i am adding this book to my veggie_animal rights shelf. There is considerable detail here that describe the brain and brain function in animals. Prior to reading this book i was quite sure from personal experience that non-human animals have a true consciousness. Damasio gives the persuasive scientific evidence supporting this along with his own affirming factual conclusions. [See pages 171-172.]

If you are someone interested in the detail of a topic, this is a good book for you. Others more interested in social and philosophical aspects of this, will find the final chapter completely approachable and meaningful.

A similar book to this is The Tell-tale Brain by V. S. Ramachandran, which i will be reading soon.

PS: Check out the interview in Scientific American May 2011, with Charles Limb on music improv and creativity and brain activity. Or go watch his ted talk: www.ted.com/talks/charles_limb_your_b...


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