The Remembered Present: A Biological Theory of Consciousness

The Remembered Present: A Biological Theory of Consciousness

The Remembered Present: A Biological Theory of Consciousness

The Remembered Present: A Biological Theory of Consciousness

Synopsis

Written by Nobel Prize laureate Gerald M. Edelman, this book develops a remarkable theory of consciousness that integrates findings from the recent explosive growth of the neurosciences with current knowledge of anatomy, cell biology, and psychology. In constructing a detailed model of how we become aware of our own existence, Edelman provides an outlook that may prompt a fundamental revision in the way linguists view language, physicians classify mental disease, and philosophers look at the mind-body problem. Notes and Index.

Excerpt

All of my life, my main goal has been to understand how I could come to be--to be aware, to sense, and to remember. In pursuit of that goal, I have studied matter, then living forms, and, more recently, the activities connected with mental lives. This last pursuit has often tempted me to speculative excess, a trait, I notice, that is shared by many who have similar personal interests.

During my life as a scientist, however, I have carefully kept to a crafty empiricism. The reasons for this undoubtedly lie in my training in the skeptical bases on which experimental science rests, and in the rewards and protections that this skeptical position affords. But my pride in this habit has diminished over the years. I have come to be less convinced that there is a fundamental distinction among the intellectual procedures of science, of philosophy, and of everyday life. And certainly, I have become more impatient for insights into the origins of mental activity as the gap to personal oblivion narrows.

Impelled perhaps by that impatience, I made an attempt some time ago to formulate an explanation of some basic psychological functions in neural terms. My main focus was on perceptual categorization as it related to memory and learning. I proposed that these functions could be understood in terms of "neural Darwinism"--the idea that higher brain functions are mediated by developmental and somatic selection upon anatomical and functional variance occurring in each individual animal. The key aspect of Darwinism, population thinking, was embedded in the theory of neuronal group selection and was used to explain the manifestations and bases of perceptual categorization--the ability of certain organisms to categorize novelty and generalize upon that categorization as a basis for learning. I proposed that this ability de-

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.