4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
Synthesizing human existence, 13 Sep 2008
The best thing I have read in many years. Understanding of what it is to be human has been blighted by the seemingly unbridgeable chasm between studies that treat man as a disembodied spirit and those that reduce all man's thoughts and actions to the search for food and sex. Damasio's account of consciousness does not attempt to fuse these strands together in uneasy reconcilliation but rather enacts a synthesis - the synthesis that man really embodies - between insecapable physicality and a seemingly unbounded mental and emotional capacity. For Damasio the two sides are not in opposition. He shows, rather, how biology forms the basis for the evolution of these rational, emotional and creative capacities. Like Marx, Damasio's work also reveals the ongoing metabolic exchange between man and environment; how each shapes the other; man is neither a passive recipient of stimuli, nor is he the god-like being postulated by technological advancement striving forth to act upon the world. Damasio's work therefore bridges science, philosophy, psychology and the social sciences (and his writing style has the subtle but undeniable poetic feel), between which, true understanding of what it is to be human can be found.