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Cognitive Science

A MIND SO RARE: Evolution of Human Consciousness

A MIND SO RARE: Evolution of Human Consciousness

Author: DONALD, MERLIN
$16.95
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In this masterful rebuttal to the prevailing neuroscientific arguments that seek to explain away consciousness, Merlin Donald presents a sophisticated conception of a multilayered consciousness drawing much of its power from its cultural matrix (Booklist). Donald makes a persuasive case...for consciousness as the central player in the drama of mind (Peter Dodwell), as he details the forces, both cultural and neuronal, that power our distinctively human modes of awareness. He proposes that the human mind is a hybrid product, interweaving a super-complex form of matter (the brain) with an invisible symbolic web (culture) to form a distributed cognitive network. This hybrid mind, he argues, is our main evolutionary advantage, for it allowed humanity as a species to break free of the limitations of the mammalian brain. Donald transcends the simplistic claims of Evolutionary Psychology, ...offering a true Darwinian perspective on the evolution of consciousness.--Philip Lieberman
ACCIDENTAL MIND: HOW BRAIN EVOLUTION HAS GIVEN US LOVE, MEMORY, DREAMS & GOD

ACCIDENTAL MIND: HOW BRAIN EVOLUTION HAS GIVEN US LOVE, MEMORY, DREAMS & GOD

Author: LINDEN, DAVID
$23.00
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You've probably seen it before: a human brain dramatically lit from the side, the camera circling it like a helicopter shot of Stonehenge, and a modulated baritone voice exalting the brain's elegant design in reverent tones.

To which this book says: Pure nonsense. In a work at once deeply learned and wonderfully accessible, the neuroscientist David Linden counters the widespread assumption that the brain is a paragon of design--and in its place gives us a compelling explanation of how the brain's serendipitous evolution has resulted in nothing short of our humanity. A guide to the strange and often illogical world of neural function, The Accidental Mind shows how the brain is not an optimized, general-purpose problem-solving machine, but rather a weird agglomeration of ad-hoc solutions that have been piled on through millions of years of evolutionary history. Moreover, Linden tells us how the constraints of evolved brain design have ultimately led to almost every transcendent human foible: our long childhoods, our extensive memory capacity, our search for love and long-term relationships, our need to create compelling narrative, and, ultimately, the universal cultural impulse to create both religious and scientific explanations. With forays into evolutionary biology, this analysis of mental function answers some of our most common questions about how we've come to be who we are.

ACTION IN PERCEPTION

ACTION IN PERCEPTION

Author: NOE, ALVA
$23.00
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Perception is not something that happens to us, or in us, writes Alva Noë. It is something we do. In Action in Perception, Noë argues that perception and perceptual consciousness depend on capacities for action and thought--that perception is a kind of thoughtful activity. Touch, not vision, should be our model for perception. Perception is not a process in the brain, but a kind of skillful activity of the body as a whole. We enact our perceptual experience.

To perceive, according to this enactive approach to perception, is not merely to have sensations; it is to have sensations that we understand. In Action in Perception, Noë investigates the forms this understanding can take. He begins by arguing, on both phenomenological and empirical grounds, that the content of perception is not like the content of a picture; the world is not given to consciousness all at once but is gained gradually by active inquiry and exploration. Noë then argues that perceptual experience acquires content thanks to our possession and exercise of practical bodily knowledge, and examines, among other topics, the problems posed by spatial content and the experience of color. He considers the perspectival aspect of the representational content of experience and assesses the place of thought and understanding in experience. Finally, he explores the implications of the enactive approach for our understanding of the neuroscience of perception.

ALGEBRAIC MIND

ALGEBRAIC MIND

Author: MARCUS, GARY
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In The Algebraic Mind, Gary Marcus attempts to integrate two theories about how the mind works, one that says that the mind is a computer-like manipulator of symbols, and another that says that the mind is a large network of neurons working together in parallel. Resisting the conventional wisdom that says that if the mind is a large neural network it cannot simultaneously be a manipulator of symbols, Marcus outlines a variety of ways in which neural systems could be organized so as to manipulate symbols, and he shows why such systems are more likely to provide an adequate substrate for language and cognition than neural systems that are inconsistent with the manipulation of symbols. Concluding with a discussion of how a neurally realized system of symbol-manipulation could have evolved and how such a system could unfold developmentally within the womb, Marcus helps to set the future agenda of cognitive neuroscience.
ASTONISHING HYPOTHESIS: The Scientific Search for the Soul

ASTONISHING HYPOTHESIS: The Scientific Search for the Soul

Author: CRICK, FRANCIS
$17.00
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Traditionally, the human soul is regarded as a nonphysical concept that can only be examined by psychiatrists and theologists. In his new book, "The Astonishing Hypothesis", Nobel Laureate Francis Crick boldly straddles the line between science and spirituality by examining the soul from the standpoint of a modern scientist, basing the soul's existence and function on an in-depth examination of how the human brain "sees".
AUTISTIC BRAIN: Helping Different Kinds of Minds Succeed

AUTISTIC BRAIN: Helping Different Kinds of Minds Succeed

Author: GRANDIN, TEMPLE
$15.95
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Temple Grandin may be the most famous person with autism, a condition that affects 1 in 88 children. Since her birth in 1947, our understanding of it has undergone a great transformation, leading to more hope than ever before that we may finally learn the causes of and treatments for autism.

Weaving her own experience with remarkable new discoveries, Grandin introduces the advances in neuroimaging and genetic research that link brain science to behavior, even sharing her own brain scan to show which anomalies might explain common symptoms. Most excitingly, she argues that raising and educating kids on the autism spectrum must focus on their long-overlooked strengths to foster their unique contributions. The Autistic Brain brings Grandin's singular perspective into the heart of the autism revolution.

BEING THERE

BEING THERE

Author: CLARK, ANDY
$19.95
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Brain, body, and world are united in a complex dance of circular causation and extended computational activity. In Being There, Andy Clark weaves these several threads into a pleasing whole and goes on to address foundational questions concerning the new tools and techniques needed to make sense of the emerging sciences of the embodied mind. Clark brings together ideas and techniques from robotics, neuroscience, infant psychology, and artificial intelligence. He addresses a broad range of adaptive behaviors, from cockroach locomotion to the role of linguistic artifacts in higher-level thought.
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BELIEF INSTINCT: The Psychology of Souls, Destiny, and the Meaning of Life

Author: BERING, JESSE
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Lively and brilliantly argued, The Belief Instinct explains the psychology behind belief. Drawing on surprising new studies as well as on literature, philosophy, and even pop culture, The Belief Instinct will reward readers with an enlightened understanding of belief as well as the tools to break free of it."
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Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined

Author: Pinker, Steven
$20.00
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"If I could give each of you a graduation present, it would be this--the most inspiring book I've ever read."
--Bill Gates (May, 2017)

A provocative history of violence--from the New York Times bestselling author of The Stuff of Thought, The Blank Slate, and Enlightenment Now.

Believe it or not, today we may be living in the most peaceful moment in our species' existence. In his gripping and controversial new work, New York Times bestselling author Steven Pinker shows that despite the ceaseless news about war, crime, and terrorism, violence has actually been in decline over long stretches of history. Exploding myths about humankind's inherent violence and the curse of modernity, this ambitious book continues Pinker's exploration of the essence of human nature, mixing psychology and history to provide a remarkable picture of an increasingly enlightened world.

BEYOND THE SELF: CONVERSATIONS BETWEEN BUDDHISM AND NEUROSCIENCE

BEYOND THE SELF: CONVERSATIONS BETWEEN BUDDHISM AND NEUROSCIENCE

Author: RICARD, MATTHIEU
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Converging and diverging views on the mind, the self, consciousness, the unconscious, free will, perception, meditation, and other topics.

Buddhism shares with science the task of examining the mind empirically; it has pursued, for two millennia, direct investigation of the mind through penetrating introspection. Neuroscience, on the other hand, relies on third-person knowledge in the form of scientific observation. In this book, Matthieu Ricard, a Buddhist monk trained as a molecular biologist, and Wolf Singer, a distinguished neuroscientist--close friends, continuing an ongoing dialogue--offer their perspectives on the mind, the self, consciousness, the unconscious, free will, epistemology, meditation, and neuroplasticity.

Ricard and Singer's wide-ranging conversation stages an enlightening and engaging encounter between Buddhism's wealth of experiential findings and neuroscience's abundance of experimental results. They discuss, among many other things, the difference between rumination and meditation (rumination is the scourge of meditation, but psychotherapy depends on it); the distinction between pure awareness and its contents; the Buddhist idea (or lack of one) of the unconscious and neuroscience's precise criteria for conscious and unconscious processes; and the commonalities between cognitive behavioral therapy and meditation. Their views diverge (Ricard asserts that the third-person approach will never encounter consciousness as a primary experience) and converge (Singer points out that the neuroscientific understanding of perception as reconstruction is very like the Buddhist all-discriminating wisdom) but both keep their vision trained on understanding fundamental aspects of human life.