The Oxford Companion to the Mind

The Oxford Companion to the Mind

The Oxford Companion to the Mind

The Oxford Companion to the Mind

Synopsis

With 1001 A-Z entries, ranging from brief statements to substantial essays on major topics, The Oxford Companion to the Mind takes the reader on a lively tour of this endlessly fascinating subject, spanning questions and answers within the broad compass of philosophy, psychology, and the physiology of the brain. This hugely-popular reference work offers an explanatory guide to everyday mysteries--deja vu, jet-lag, humor, and optical illusions--as well as an intelligent look at the more controversial world of parapsychology, including ESP and altered states of consciousness. Current issues such as aging, artificial intelligence, and criminology are examined in depth. The book provides a special tutorial article on the workings of the nervous system, and boasts a great number of articles on 'topics of mental life', in which well-known writers discuss subjects in which they have a particular expertise or interest. The entries are arranged alphabetically and linked by a network of helpful cross-references. The 200 illustrations have been carefully chosen to amplify the text, while specialist bibliographies provide suggestions for further reading. The whole work is served by a comprehensive index, making this a Companion for instant reference as well as continuous reading.

Excerpt

This Companion to the Mind has been companion to my mind, throughout her ten years of gestation. I am grateful for her friendship; and honoured by the trust accorded me by the Oxford University Press, without whose generous help and advice through this long time she would not have been born.

Her inception followed a gleam in the far-seeing eyes of Michael Rodgers, who was then an Oxford University Press editor. He approached me to take on the task of editing a Companion to the Mind, following a perhaps too- ambitious scheme that I had submitted a year or two before for an Encyclopaedia of Concepts, or ideas, to cover the whole of science and even more as it would extend into philosophy and perhaps the arts. This scheme unfortunately foundered in the planning stage, as it was deemed impracticable; but somehow this proposal must have led to the notion of a Companion to the Mind--to be written by a wide range of authorities on as many aspects of Mind as possible: to be interesting, useful, and understandable not only to experts but to anyone interested in normal or abnormal behaviour, human potentials that might be enhanced, the biological origins and evolution of man, the deeply difficult philosophical questions of relations between Mind and matter (both in brains and computers), and those perpetually puzzling questions of free will, and what is perhaps the main mark of Mind--intentionality. Some of this is necessarily technical, and much depends on certain key concepts which (and this is a criticism) are not familiar to us from our school-days.

In particular, the structure and function of the nervous system is important for considering perception, behaviour, skill, arousal and attention, thinking, effects of drugs and of brain damage, and a great deal more. For, in a physical sense, the structure and function of the nervous system are what we are. It was, also, clearly desirable to avoid the need to define technical terms (such as 'neurone', 'synapse', and so on) in each entry where they may occur. So early on it was decided to include (for the first time in an Oxford Companion) a tutorial, on the basic plan and function of the human nervous system, together with useful definitions of often-occurring technical terms which might be unfamiliar. This tutorial ('Nervous System') is written by the distinguished neurologist Peter Nathan, from the National Hospital for Nervous Diseases, Queen's Square, London. All the entries, including this introduction to the physical basis of mind, are specially written for this book.

The range is wide, as the concept of Mind accepted here is far broader than what may (at least at first) come to mind, as one thinks of Mind: especially thinking and consciousness. We do not, however, limit 'Mind' to consciousness, or awareness, for even long before Freud it was clear that a great deal goes on 'mentally' that is beyond (or beneath, or at least outside) our awareness. Here we present contributions from over a hundred experts on . . .

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