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3.8 out of 5 stars11
3.8 out of 5 stars
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on 4 August 1998
I found this book enlightening. True, as another reviewer said, it's not all that *original*, nor is it written absolutely well. However, I think it's wrong to think that most people are familiar with this concept. Well, lots of people may be, but so many people I know who are familiar with reductionism reject it for no more reason than a general feeling of "dislike". When I read it a few years ago, I found it enlightening to find someone so excited and astonished by something that most people find frightening. I loved his scientific view of the natural beauty the hypothesis suggests.
I'd also like to point out that, while reductionism itself may be "centuries old", Crick's deep examination and presentation of evidence in favor of an actual neurological basis for what we think of as the "soul" is only as old as neurology.
I wouldn't recommend this book to just anyone. But I would recommend it as a starting point -- just borrow it ! from your library, read the introduction, the conclusion, the bibliography, and go from there!
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on 14 November 1998
This is an excellent book by a working scientist. It shows a scientist at work, looking for answers. It demonstrates what answers are and how to find them. It addresses a topic that everyone is interested in, but few actually know anything about. I highly recommend it. It is a bit dry and technical, but after all the nonsense and fluff written on this subject, the change is delightful.
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on 6 May 1999
Happens to be one of my tippy-top favorites among the books I've read in the last 10 years. Much of it is about experiments on the visual cortex of monkeys, described in a very reader-friendly way (though not always monkey-friendly). It's real science for non-specialists, highly engaging yet scrupulously unspeculative. The narrative theme is that our souls are reducible to biophysical processes in brain and body. Before I read the book I thought this was bloody obvious and not the least bit astonishing. Afterwards I had got the feeling for how it works, in part. The excellent account of some areas of brain research is the main reason to read this book. As a bonus you get Francis Crick's great scientific spirit.
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on 22 September 2015
A thoughtful account of current scientific endeavour to demystify the nature of consciousness. As you might expect, religious nuts has fiercly attcked this scientific book. Likewise, it has touched a nerve with self-declared armchair intellectuals who have no understanding of modern science whatsoever.
Strongly recommended!
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on 3 April 1998
The problem with Crick's book--a rather common problem these days--is that it does not do what it sets out to do. According to Crick, there is this revolutionary and "astonishing" hypothesis that most people either do not know or cannot accept, namely the century-old idea that neurons, as individual and independent units of the brain, are solely responsible for all the higher functions that most people attribute to God, to mind, or to some mysterious agent. Well, if you tell this to any neuroscientist, you probably won't astonish him; if you tell this to a lay man, you won't astonish him any more than, say, the god hypothesis. So Crick, who is a reductionist in need of a little sophistication, really isn't telling us anything extraordinary. His arguments neither shock nor enlighten. The primary merit of this book lies in a solid, if technical, summary of some interesting research in recent years. It is handy as reference, but not particularly a pleasure to read. Crick is not much of a writer; nor is he competent enough in other fields to talk about some of the issues that he does talk about. The more entertaining part of the book, for me, is the delightful bibliography, in which Crick briefly describes each book that he recommends. His remarks are sometimes sharp and witty. Overall, though, this is merely an average book on a most popular subject.
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on 17 August 1999
My God!( if you'll pardon the espression).Does Crick need the money that bad? This is a good book for Neuroscientists interested in getting up to date on specific knowledge of the visual cortex. Why the cover states that this is "The Scientific Search for the Soul" is a puzzle to me.Is it to get this book on the popular science charts? As a scientist and physician I found the book mildly interesting-the resource lists at the end are quite good. As a spiritual human being and a physician I am convinced that many of the reviewers never read this book as it has NOTHING to do with soul. In addition any scientist and/or theologian knows that a "Scentific Search" for the soul is as meaningless an effort as describing the sound blue makes.Religion doesn'd need science to support it and science doesn't need religion to support it. Crick seems to know this as he never attempts to marry the two in his book.The insult is that the publishers seem to think he does! Read Paul Davies if you insist on linking these two disciplines.That can be an enjoyable and intellectually challenging endeavor.e
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on 25 February 2016
An excellent science book with one major flaw - it explicitly dismisses philosophy, then presents as its main claim a philosophical view as though it is science.

There are only three words in the title, which I don't intend as some kind of weird criticism of short titles but is a problem since two of those words don't actually describe the theory presented in the book. Not only is the hypothesis not "astonishing" (as many other reviewers have pointed out) since it is a viewpoint that has been around since, at the latest, the 1950s when philosophers started defending the identity theory, but the hypothesis is also not actually a hypothesis in the scientific sense because there is no proposed (or, arguably, conceivable) way to test for it. There is some common sense reason to think that the mind and the brain are identical (I feel things whenever I have certain brain activity), but since my evidence for my mind is not in any meaningful sense "scientific evidence" (it is simply present to me) it is more than a little ridiculous to assert that science has somehow proven that they are the same thing. In fact, while I'm at it, "The" is probably not even a good word to use in the title since there have been several theories that the mind is nothing over and above some aspect of brain activity (the identity theory, functionalism, anomalous monism...) so this book should have been called, I suppose... "An Already Well-Established Theory".

It's one thing to try to present a scientific view that is able to put a metaphysical one, such as the nature of consicousness, into a light that allows it to be studied empirically, which is a noble goal. It is quite another thing to present a metaphysical view as though it is already possible to test empirically with such utter disdain for the philosophical debate and without any argument for how to overcome these issues using the scientific method, instead simply saying that the view that the mind is nothing more than brain activity is a "scientific belief" (his actual words - page 7). You simply have to already accept that his viewpoint is correct.

But if you're looking for progress toward a scientific description of the sorts of brain processes that are active in standard accepted cases of consciousness, then this is a good book to find out about that sort of stuff.
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on 22 January 2004
Crick seems to be confusing the concept of visual perception with conciousness... and the basic idea, that conciousness is nothing more than "a vast assembly of nerve cells and their assciated molecules" is neither new nor astonishing. Isn't that blinding obvious? No pun intended An interesting read nevertheless!
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on 5 September 2014
fast delivery, item as advertised. very interesting read.
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on 11 September 1997
For those who don't use their mind to discover their souls, don't read it. But those who do.
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