22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
The most extraordinary book on the mind yet,
By A Customer
This review is from: The Feeling Of What Happens: Body, Emotion and the Making of Consciousness (Paperback)
Antonio Damasio says that - contrary to general belief - he suspects consciousness is not after all the most difficult or interesting thing in the universe to explain. As I read this book, I came to believe that he's well on the way to explaining it. Once he brings together the evidence and the logic, it seems obvious that consciousness starts with the representation of your own body: the only thing stable enough in your experience to give you a basis for an on-going 'I'.
Part of the story comes from his wide experience of people with brain damage in different places - what damage goes with what? Damage to parts of the brain that process information from the external world never affects consciousness, whereas damage to the spot where all the various types of information about the body come together knocks it out.
(And if you've ever been tempted to wish people were more rational and less emotional, read his description of someone who has lost the ability to feel emotions. It's not that they're cold or psychopathic, they are simply incapable of surviving. If you have no (e)motivation about personal survival, what stops you from jumping out the window?)
On the way he says some wise things about the psychology of emotion (and why it was non-U for a while in the 20th century). And how obvious it is that some animals share at least something of the experience of consciousness with humans, though he talks about what humans have on top of core consciousness.
It is feeling, not reason, that must underpin consciousness. Read this book, and I challenge anyone to diagree. A profound, and hugely enjoyable book.