The well-known astronomer and astrobiologist surveys current knowledge of the development of intelligence on Earth in various forms of life and explains his persuasion that intelligence must have developed along similar paths throughout the universe.
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An interesting and intelligent book taking the reader on a well thought out journey through the development of the brain and intelligence. I have no doubt that the particulars of neuroscience have progressed since the late 1970's but as with many scientific fields the fundamentals tend to remain relevant and Sagan does appear to have a good grasp of these.
As an introduction to the ideas and a springboard for further investigation this book is thoroughly recommended.
Back in 1977, Sagan delved into the 3-layer evolution of the mammalian brain over the last 100 mn years. A worthy attempt to unravel the most complex biological assemblage (per kilo) yet known. Sagan is somewhat simplistic in the way he stresses the layering (neocortex), reptilian core etc.. instead of increases in interconnectivity & his theorising may no longer be accurate in the 21st century. He depicts the Homo Sapiens brain as an organ riven with inner conflict & adversarial hangovers. Hence the age-old dragons slain & re-slain (presumably our collective DNA memory of nocturnal mammal v. dinosaur?) Very entertaining popularisation of science nonetheless.
I bought this particular softcover edition and ended up buying it again, but went for a hardcover copy this time. The reason being this softcover edition has been printed abysmally with hardly any room between the type and the top and bottom of the pages (the footer and header). It seems by trying to save money on printing, a really good book has been sabotaged in the process. The hardcover edition is fine but steer clear of this softcover if you appreciate your books being decently printed.