Descartes' Error offers the scientific basis for ending the division between mind and body. Antonio Damasio contends that rational decisions are not the product of logic alone - they require the support of emotion and feeling. Drawing on his experience with neurological patients affected with brain damage, Dr Damasio shows how absence of emotions ...Read MoreDescartes' Error offers the scientific basis for ending the division between mind and body. Antonio Damasio contends that rational decisions are not the product of logic alone - they require the support of emotion and feeling. Drawing on his experience with neurological patients affected with brain damage, Dr Damasio shows how absence of emotions and feelings can break down rationality. He also offers a new perspective on what emotions and feelings actually are: a direct view of our own body states; a link between the body and its survival-oriented regulation on the one hand, and consciousness on the other. Written as a conversation between the author and an imaginary listener, Descartes' Error leads us to conclude that human organisms are endowed from their very beginning with a spirited passion for making choices, which the social mind can then use to build rational behaviour.Read Less
This is the fifth time I've ordered this book to give to friends. Everyone alive should read it!
Apr 4, 2007
A DAZZLING DISPLAY OF EMOTION AND REASON
Damasio's various works were the mainstay of my Ph.D thesis, but this was the first one to catch my interest and lead my career down the path of neuropsychology. The story of Phineas Gage's famed head injury is retold with insight and compassion, and a new theory offered about how the higher and lower centres of the brain interact to produce the complexities of human behaviour. His achievemen tof pinning down the neurological localisation of 'free will' poses the fundamental question of whether that which is commonly understood to be the 'soul' can indeed be separate from the body, if if the an individual's ability to choose freely can be compromised by a head injury.
This book is also the introduction to Damasio's somatic marker theory, which emphasises the role that lower parts of the CNS and the PNS play in feeding information to the brain, and the decisions that the brain makes based on that information from the body. In other words, Damasio argues that what appear to be highly cerebral decisions may not be anywhere near as lofty as one might like to believe. Which eventually leads to the question of what logic really is.. but then Damasio didnt ask that one.
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