The area of the mind and brain is a difficult one to present to the non-specialist, since on the one hand, it requires an understanding of traditional philosophical areas like epistemology, and modern scientific areas such as perception, psychophysics, and neurobiology. This makes it a formidable area to try to read and get some background in for the layman, but there is no more fascinating and important subject than the understanding of our own minds, brains, and selves, and yet few people, even those trained in the sciences, have a knowledge of it.
This book presents this difficult and technical area in a clear, concise and even engaging and witty way, using a cartoon-like style to illustrate and elaborate on the concepts of the text. If there is an easier way to get a basic grasp of the issues I haven't seen it, and I enjoyed reading this book although this is my own specialty and I can read the more technical literature too, because it gave me many ideas about how to explain the concepts better myself in my own conversations with people.
I just wanted to make one other comment. A long-standing and still controversial issue in the mind-brain field is the problem of psychophysical reductionism. This is the idea that the mind can ultimately be reduced to the actions of individual neurons, and to brain physiology in general. Although there is now a great amount of research to support this idea now, I didn't want to discuss idea so much as people's usual reactions to it.
The main problem here is that as human beings we seem to have an aversion to being reduced to our biology, as if this makes us some sort of machine, or at least a "biological machine." For many people, our new understanding of the brain doesn't seem to leave much room for phenomena such as consciousness, let alone the soul. Human beings are a very creative and resourceful species. Our imaginations take flight so easily, both as individuals and as a species, that we shudder at the thought that the mind can be reduced to mere matter, to "ordinary" biology.
This biology, however, is far from "ordinary." Your brain contains 60 trillion neurons, which are connected to anywhere from 3,000 to 100,000 other neurons. This is a lot of interconnections. To calculate how many connections this is, is very interesting. Mathematically, this is known as a "combinatorial explosion" problem because of the large numbers generated.
In practical terms, this means that the number of interconnections in a human brain is greater than the number of atoms in the Milky Way galaxy, which contains 80 billion stars. Another way of saying it is that your brain is the equivalent of millions of the most powerful computer chips. Your brain is thousands, probably millions, of times more complex than the most powerful computer we can build-- not bad for a blob of "mere matter" that weighs only 3 pounds.
This having been said, is it really so bad to have one's consciousness reduced to neuronal mechanisms?"
Anyway, I just wanted to make a few comments on that, since it's relevant to the subject of this book. Overall, this is a fine introductory book on the mind-body problem that should give you the background to undertake more technical books in the area.