Bright Air, Brilliant Fire: On the Matter of the Mind

Bright Air, Brilliant Fire: On the Matter of the Mind

Bright Air, Brilliant Fire: On the Matter of the Mind

Bright Air, Brilliant Fire: On the Matter of the Mind

Synopsis

We are on the verge of a revolution in neuroscience as significant as the Galilean revolution in physics or the Darwinian revolution in biology. Nobel laureate Gerald M. Edelman takes issue with the many current cognitive and behavioral approaches to the brain that leave biology out of the picture, and argues that the workings of the brain more closely resemble the living ecology of a jungle than they do the activities of a computer. Some startling conclusions emerge from these ideas: individuality is necessarily at the very center of what it means to have a mind, no creature is born value-free, and no physical theory of the universe can claim to be a "theory of everything" without including an account of how the brain gives rise to the mind. There is no greater scientific challenge than understanding the brain. Bright Air, Brilliant Fire is a book that provides a window on that understanding.

Excerpt

I have written this book because I think its subject is the most important one imaginable. We are at the beginning of the neuroscientific revolution. At its end, we shall know how the mind works, what governs our nature, and how we know the world. Indeed, what is now going on in neuroscience may be looked at as a prelude to the largest possible scientific revolution, one with inevitable and important social consequences.

But this is not a scientific book, at least not in the strict sense. It is a book about science and also about my own opinions. To write it I have had to put aside the habits of caution that are necessary to the working scientist in order to explain some rather technical matters to nonspecialist readers who occupy themselves elsewhere. So much the worse for the habits-- particularly if I can persuade those who are not in the business to be interested, to lend it their support, and to share in the excitement of being on the threshold of knowing how we know.

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