Self Comes to Mind
Constructing the Conscious Brain
A leading neuroscientist explores with authority, with imagination, and with unparalleled mastery how the brain constructs the mind and how the brain makes that mind conscious.
Antonio Damasio has spent the past thirty years researching and and revealing how the brain works. Here, in his most ambitious and stunning work yet, he rejects the long-standing idea that consciousness is somehow separate from the body, and presents compelling new scientific evidence that posits an evolutionary perspective. His view entails a radical change in the way the history of the conscious mind is viewed and told, suggesting that the brain’s development of a human self is a challenge to nature’s indifference. This development helps to open the way for the appearance of culture, perhaps one of our most defining characteristics as thinking and self-aware beings.
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When I woke up, we were descending. I had been asleep long enough to miss the announcements about the landing and the weather. I had not been aware of myself or my surroundings. I had been unconscious.
Few things about our biology are as seemingly trivial...
“Self Comes to Mind is a Big Idea book penned by a luminous thinker. . . . [A] beautifully sprawling and marvelous work.” —The Dallas Morning News
“Will give pleasure to anyone interested in original thinking about the brain. . . . Breathtakingly original.” —Financial Times
“Damasio introduces some novel ideas. . . . Intriguing.” —New Scientist
“Adventurous, courageous, and intelligent. Antonio Damasio is one of the leading workers in the ﬁeld of consciousness research. . . . I have great admiration for this book and its author.” —John Searle, The New York Review of Books
“Damasio’s most ambitious work yet. . . . A lucid and important work.” —Wired.com
“A very interesting book . . . cogent, painstaking, imaginative, knowledgeable, honest, and persuasive . . . Damasio’s quest is both thorough and comprehensive.” —New York Journal of Books
“Damasio’s continental European training sensitizes him to the reductionist traps that ensnare so many of his colleagues. His is the only one of the many consciousness books weighing down my shelves that feels it necessary to mention Freud’s . . . use of the term unconscious.” —The Guardian (Book of the Week)
“A delight. You will embark on an intellectual journey well worth the effort.” —The Wilson Quarterly
“Readers of [Damasio’s] earlier books will encounter again the clarity and the richness of a scientiﬁc theory nourished by the practice of the neurologist.” —L’Humanité (France)
“Some scientiﬁc heavyweights have dared approach consciousness. Among them, Antonio Damasio has the immense advantage of a dual knowledge of the human brain, as scientist and clinician. In Self Comes to Mind he gives us a fascinating window of this interface between the brain and the world, which is grounded in our own body.” —Le Figaro (France)
“The marvel of reading Damasio’s book is to be convinced one can follow the brain at work as it makes the private reality that is the deepest self.” —V. S. Naipaul, Nobel laureate and author of A Bend in the River
“Damasio makes a grand transition from higher- brain views of emotions to deeply evolutionary, lower- brain contributions to emotional, sensory, and homeostatic experiences. He afﬁ rms that the roots of consciousness are affective and shared by our fellow animals. Damasio’s creative vision leads relentlessly toward a natural understanding of the very font of being.” —Jaak Panksepp, author of Affective Neuroscience and Baily Endowed Chair for Animal Well- Being Science, Washington State University
“I was totally captivated by Self Comes to Mind. Damasio presents his seminal discoveries in the ﬁ eld of neuroscience in the broader contexts of evolutionary biology and cultural development. This trailblazing book gives us a new way of thinking about ourselves, our history, and the importance of culture in shaping our common future.” —Yo-Yo Ma