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Looking for Spinoza: Joy, Sorrow and the Human Brain Hardcover – 1 Jan 2003

3.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 355 pages
  • Publisher: Harcourt Brace International; First edition (Jan. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0151005575
  • ISBN-13: 978-0151005574
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.4 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,769,906 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Amazon Review

Internationally renowned neuroscientist Antonio Damasio says in Looking for Spinoza that "feelings of pain or pleasure or some quality in between are the bedrock of our minds." Feelings were considered to be beyond the competence of science, even by neuroscientists until very recently. Damasio has been in the vanguard of those who realised that the neurobiology of feelings was no less viable than that of vision or memory.

Damasio has found an historical figure he can identify with in the 17th-century philosopher Bento Spinoza--a Portuguese Jew living in Holland, who, without any of the benefits of neurobiological understanding, nevertheless did come to understand the unification of body and mind and the role of emotions in human survival and culture. As the title suggests, Looking for Spinoza, includes Damasio's personal exploration of what Spinoza achieved and his desire to bring this long forgotten hero of the mind back into view.

Damasio found himself coming face to face with patients with various kinds of localised brain damage. They could not feel particular emotions such as happiness or sadness in the way that they had been able to before the damage occurred. His was forced to conclude that different brain systems controlled different feelings. When patients lost the ability to express a certain emotion, they also lost the ability to experience the corresponding feeling. But the opposite was not true. Patients who had lost the ability to experience certain feelings could still express the corresponding emotion. Damasio had to ask himself whether emotion was born first and feeling second?

Looking for Spinoza is the third in Damasio's beautifully written trilogy (including Descartes' Error and The Feeling of What Happens) that combine accounts of his personal professional explorations of the mind and what it means to be human and how our ideas about humanity have evolved through the philosophical tradition. What always comes across is his compassion and humanity whilst still being a very practical medical scientist trying to do his best for real people with very real problems. Damsio's account of his researches that have built on Spinoza's ideas, using the hard data of modern science is never less than fascinating and thought provoking. It's the sort of book that frequently makes the reader pause and look into space as the implications of what Damasio has written slowly sink in. The "sciency" bits are perfectly managable (aided by appropriate diagrams) for the general reader and there plenty of backup notes for those who want to explore further. --Douglas Palmer --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"This is an enticingly original work that offers page after page of startling insights about the workings of the mind. It creates in its entirety that rarest of effects--the quality of revelation."
- William Styron


PRAISE FOR LOOKING FOR SPINOZA
"Clear, accessible and at times eloquent . . . Nothing less than a new vision of the human soul."-San Francisco Chronicle
"Compelling."-Scientific American
"Exceptionally engaging and profoundly gratifying."-Nature


PRAISE FOR LOOKING FOR SPINOZA
"Clear, accessible and at times eloquent . . . Nothing less than a new vision of the human soul."-San Francisco Chronicle
"Compelling."-Scientific American
"Exceptionally engaging and profoundly gratifying."-Nature


"Damasio has the rare talent of rendering science intelligible while also being gifted in philosophy, literature and wit."
--Margaret Jacob "Los Angeles Times "

"Looking for Spinoza is exceptionally engaging and profoundly gratifying."
--Ray Dolan "Nature "

"In clear, accessible and eloquent prose, Damasio is outlining a new vision of the human soul."
--William Kowinski "San Francisco Chronicle "

PRAISE FOR LOOKING FOR SPINOZA
-Clear, accessible and at times eloquent . . . Nothing less than a new vision of the human soul.--San Francisco Chronicle
-Compelling.--Scientific American
-Exceptionally engaging and profoundly gratifying.--Nature


-Damasio has the rare talent of rendering science intelligible while also being gifted in philosophy, literature and wit.-
--Margaret Jacob -Los Angeles Times -

-Looking for Spinoza is exceptionally engaging and profoundly gratifying.-
--Ray Dolan -Nature -

-In clear, accessible and eloquent prose, Damasio is outlining a new vision of the human soul.-
--William Kowinski -San Francisco Chronicle - --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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