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Damasio's Error and Descartes' Truth: An Inquiry into Consciousness, Metaphysics and Epistemology [Paperback]

Andrew Gluck
2.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
Price: 10.50 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

29 July 2008
The question of the relationship between mind and body as posed by Descartes, Spinoza, and others remains a fundamental debate for philosophers. In "Damasio's Error and Descartes' Truth," Andrew Gluck constructs a pluralistic response to the work of neurologist Antonio Damasio. Gluck critiques the neutral monistic assertions found in "Descartes' Error "and "Looking for Spinoza" from a philosophical perspective, advocating an adaptive theory--physical monism in the natural sciences, dualism in the social sciences, and neutral monism in aesthetics. Gluck's work is a significant and refreshing take on a historical debate.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 100 pages
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press (29 July 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1589661273
  • ISBN-13: 978-1589661271
  • Product Dimensions: 21.4 x 14.4 x 1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 577,804 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
By docread
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I read this book expecting to come across a new illuminating epistemological approach to the nature of consciousness informed by philosophical insights into the current findings of neurosciences.The author's thesis of pluralistic approach to ontology is poorly argued .Whereas he accepts physical monism for natural sciences and idealism for religion,he advocates dualism for the study of consciousness and social sciences.While one has to agree that a lot of the contentious issues in consciousness studies are not purely methodological or scientific I do not accept that we have to bring in religious belief to enrich our understanding,as the author implicitely suggests in his disguised theology.
The best parts of the book are the historical overview of medieval philosophy including the exposition of the metaphysical views of Ibn Gabirol,a Jewish philosopher in Muslim Spain who attempts to integrate the multiple aspects of reality in a complex hierarchical ranking of substances that includes divine will and essence,universal matter,intellectual substance,soul substance and corporeal substance.The author appears to succumb to this medievalist approach and rejects the ontological parsimony of modern empiricism initiated by Ockham.He states that metaphysical systems are complex and simplicity,while a virtue, often needs to be sacrificed in order to achieve adequacy.
The author fails to convince that a dualistic approach to social sciences and consciousness is epistemologically superior simply because it takes into account 'meaning' which depends on phenomenal consciousness.A number of these arguments needed to be developed further.
The reader would have benefited from a more logical sequencing of the chapters through grouping together at the start the historical reviews i.e.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Doesn't show Damasio's error or Descartes' truth 11 Aug 2010
As there was no review here, I went looking elsewhere and found the following review by Sandra Egege very useful...

According to Gluck, drawing metaphysical conclusions from empirical findings commits a logical fallacy in that it 'presupposes what it sets out to prove.' Not only does it assume the reality of the physical world but it confuses a narrow, limited scientific reality with 'ultimate reality' (pp. xvii-xix). In contrast to this, Gluck suggests that there may be more than one truth and puts forward a case for a pluralistic metaphysics. This does not mean he is arguing for the mutual existence of the non-physical / spiritual with the physical as within the traditional dualist metaphysical model. Rather, he is putting forward the idea that different disciplines should use different metaphysical frameworks, as dictated by the limitations of their subject matter. He suggests physical monism as the most suitable for the sciences, neutral monism for aesthetics and mind/body dualism for the social sciences. He takes this position because of the limitations of the scientific paradigm to deal with subjectivity and phenomena like consciousness.

Positing a multiple metaphysics is a controversial position, but one that could be of great import to discussions about the reality of the self and consciousness. Within science, selves have no concrete reality or, at best, have a kind of abstract existence. Could a multiple metaphysical approach help categorise anomalous phenomena like selves and qualia and offer a clearer picture of where our experienced reality fits with the scientific worldview, and vice versa? Could God still have a place?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Too many methodological problems with this book 20 Sep 2012
By Elena
Let me start by saying I'm not Damasio's biggest fan. I think he raised some very interesting questions with his Iowa Gambling Task (a neurological study which looked into the way we make decisions and choices from a neurological perspective - a study which has in itself received a great deal of criticism but also has its supporters. For anyone interested, Google it as there are some great neuro responses which include functional MRI imaging to support his theory) But, anyway, I find Damasio interesting but sometimes a little thin on methodology. However, I suspect this is because of his own academic background and it's probably true to say that scientists and social scientists often approach research quantifiably differently.

But the Gluck book is just plain sloppy. Regardless of academic discipline, it's sloppy. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that pretty much the ONLY person who could read it and find anything particularly worthwhile or well-researched in it would be someone who has never read Damasio's theory in the first place!

My problem with Gluck's book is that it seems to mostly consist of his opinion which he is attempting to present as fact or, at the very least, as empirical information. It's sometimes quite difficult to distinguish the two things as his footnoting and indexing isn't so great either. However, knowing Damasio's theory very well, I found it relatively easy to spot some fairly fundamental errors in Gluck's book. At times he appears to either misrepresent or, to put it more kindly, misunderstand Damasio's theory. At other times he just appears to be purposefully trying to obfuscate!
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent so far.. Just got it today 9 April 2013
By Patrick Moore - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I am just shaking my head, seeing all the neuroscientists .. Damasio, Ashcroft, ..., telling us that mind is nothing but the electricity in the brain. I expected a rant, but Gluck is very fair-minded.

Gluck is a professor of philosophy and he kindly explains why physiologists cannot validly tell us what does NOT exist. It is invalid for a physiologist to say, "because we can measure electricity in the brain, therefore no soul continues after death." Science isn't for that.

Gluck tells us what science is for, and how it can be used more productively. He suggests that we have certain ways of viewing ultimate truth, that may involve theology, and that we have one or two other ways to do useful research that helps people with their aims. For example, Gluck says that Damasio's brain research is very helpful to many people.

I think Gluck's message is, We need to keep the helpfulness of science, but not allow science to tell us what to believe and what not to believe.

The book is not as easy to read as Damasio's books.. Gluck is a professor of philosophy and he writes in long sentences with lots of independent and dependent clauses, like someone who reads heavy philosophy books and expects everyone else can read them. I guess the subtitle already told you that; "An inquiry into consciousness, metaphysics and epistemology.."

I will write a longer review when finished.

Also reading another great book on Descartes' Theory of Mind by Clarke Descartes's Theory of Mind Clarke shows even better than Gluck, I feel, how modern scientists and popular writers mistake what Descartes was trying to say about mind and body.
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