The Social Brain: Discovering the Networks of the Mind

The Social Brain: Discovering the Networks of the Mind

The Social Brain: Discovering the Networks of the Mind

The Social Brain: Discovering the Networks of the Mind

Excerpt

This is a story about a scientific discovery, about its evolution and ultimately its effect on my personal understanding of social process.

Looking back over the last twenty-five years, I see how little we can foretell our future. From personal habits to scientific pursuits, our year-to-year endeavors change in ways that are totally unpredictable. What do not change are initial unanswered questions and, for me, those centered on how brain science might address problems of personal consciousness and through those a wider understanding of social processes. Some highly intelligent people can marvel over the elucidation of a phenomenon and are quite happy to leave it hanging in a factual capsule. Others are plagued with the secondary question of how a fact relates to a value, or to a personal understanding of life. While most scientific facts do not directly relate to broader social realities, some do. I think I have come across such connections, which is one reason for my writing this book.

In this book I recount how my experience in brain and psychological research has led to a mechanistic understanding of the way our brains are organized to generate our cognitions and, ultimately, our beliefs. Personal beliefs are what we are all about. We live and die by our commitments to particular views of life. What is it about the human brain that finds the formation of beliefs so central to its operation? Is there an identifiable logic to human brain organization that predicts which phenomena relate to belief formation? I address these and many other questions, but only after what I hope is an enlightening and . . .

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