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ID: The Quest for Identity in the 21st Century Hardcover – 15 May 2008

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Sceptre (15 May 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340936002
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340936009
  • Product Dimensions: 14.2 x 22.3 x 3.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 702,674 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

Susan Greenfield enthrals and intrigues her readers in equal measure . . . a force of intellect and a force of nature (John Humphrys)

Asks good questions, describes intriguing facts and makes some interesting suggestions (Financial Times)

Susan Greenfield is often described as the foremost female scientist in Britain, but she is one of the best of any gender, anywhere, at getting complicated ideas across (Independent on Sunday)

Greenfield is an entertaining writer, a brilliant neuroscientist and an excellent exponent of the latest advances in brain chemistry (New Humanist)

she is so fluent and persuasive a writer that just reading this important book perks up the grey cells (Telegraph)

Book Description

A stark warning from one of the worlds leading neuroscientists about the threats to our individuality from modern living and what we can do about it.

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Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Bm Levitan on 14 May 2012
Format: Paperback
Susan Greenfield is a neuroscientist, so she knows her stuff when it comes to the brain. In this fascinating and accessible book, she explores the idea of identity. As you might expect, it's complex and not explained by any simple factor or mechanism within the brain, and in fact is not really fully understood. However she clearly describes three main types of identity, ranging from Someone, through Anybody to Nobody.

In brief, Someone is the sense of self as a unique individual, separate from everyone else. Anybody is being part of a group, where you can lose your sense of individuality and become part of a bigger group identity. Finally Nobody is where neither of these is experienced and in a sense your identity is simply a stream of physical sensations.

These three states are present to some extent in all of us - for example being taken up in the joint thrill of a football crowd (if that's your thing) is to be Anybody, or loosing yourself by becoming drunk (or on drugs) is to be Nobody.

The first part of the book is perhaps the most difficult because she lays down the basics of how the brain works: but it's a necessary foundation for what follows. Then towards the end she explores how the modern digital age might presage change - in fact she argues that the changes wrought could be so profound that a post-digital society might have a completely different way of identifying self as a result.

You may not agree with all her ideas, but they are certainly thought provoking and always clearly argued. It's about 4 years old now, but doesn't feel out of date. If anything the latter parts seem even more relevant now.
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By david terry on 20 Jun. 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
clear examination of the effects of digital technology on culture, society and our brains
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14 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Rosyparrott on 6 Jun. 2008
Format: Hardcover
One of the interesting aspects of these frameworks for identity is the absence of the physical body. As Greenfield is talking about the Consumer Society, which begs us to treat our bodies in terms of having rather than being, this dislocation is strange.
Greenfield is enthusiastic - and it is always good to read something written with passion.
And, other reviewer: books are three dimensional, highly tactile objects, utterly different from attempting to read or study using an e-book. Try it.
I can play computer games for hours, may be it'll be the problems of reading a pdf, but I can only bear an e-book for 30 minutes.
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2 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Simon Laub on 25 Jan. 2010
Format: Paperback
- As IT is merging cyberworld with reality,
nano technology is merging human bodies with
the outside and biotechnology promise
to create healthier, enhanced humans with prolonged
lifespans -
What will the 21st century be like?
What should we hope for?
Will we be more comfortable and have more fun,
but without a real human identity and without
experiencing real ''meaning'' in our lives?

This book presents a number of the emerging
technologies along with the possible
consequences:

In one version of the future, human identity
and individuality might be threatened, as people here
live ''screen-dwelling' lives with short attention
spans, thinking in icons rather than abstract ideas.
Good at hectic ''fact''-field activities,
but no longer capable or good at placing isolated events
in a context.
Sure, the absence of self consciousness might be desirable as
an intermittent state. Drugs and fast-paced sports
(whose dominant feature is the raw
quality of the sensations, devoid of cognitive content, where one momentary
experience is superseded by the next) have always been popular
activities. As have excessively strong sensory stimulus
from music/wine/food or sports/sex in rapid succession.
All the stuff that leaves us
with no time to think about content and meaning.

But in the long run surely you would want a full
personal identity, as well as full selfconsciousness
from time to time....
Something the reactive,''screen-dwelling'' life
of many future cyberworld realities obviously wont give you.
Read more ›
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