Thursday, February 18, 2016

Self Comes to Mind: constructing the conscious brain

by Antonio Damasio

I love-love-loved Damasio's 2003 book Looking for Spinoza: Joy, Sorrow, and the Feeling Brain (which instigated my interest in Spinoza, whose biography I recently read). This book is good too, but quite a bit more challenging science-wise. Probably his other two books, from 2000 and 2005, are more up my alley. But I'm glad that I persevered and finished this book. Doing so was a satisfying achievement on a purely intellectual level, and I learned a lot from this book that builds on what I've learned (from Damasio and others) about biology, neurophysiology, my self and my emotions.

In this book, Damasio builds his theory of consciousness from the starting point of a single neuron all the way to the detailed architecture of the human brain's 100 trillion connections, explaining how the layering and nesting of neuronal structures and the recursive, self-referential quality of those neurons and structures generate the seemingly incorporeal idea of a self.

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