The Biological Mind

The Biological Mind

How Brain, Body, and Environment Collaborate to Make Us Who We Are

A pioneering neuroscientist argues that we are more than our brains

To many, the brain is the seat of personal identity and autonomy. But the way we talk about the brain is often rooted more in mystical conceptions of the soul than in scientific fact. This blinds us to the physical realities of mental function. We ignore bodily influences on our psychology, from chemicals in the blood to bacteria in the gut, and overlook the ways that the environment affects our behavior, via factors varying from subconscious sights and sounds to the weather. As a result, we alternately overestimate our capacity for free will or equate brains to inorganic machines like computers. But a brain is neither a soul nor an electrical network: it is a bodily organ, and it cannot be separated from its surroundings. Our selves aren’t just inside our heads–they’re spread throughout our bodies and beyond. Only once we come to terms with this can we grasp the true nature of our humanity.

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Genre: Nonfiction / Psychology / Cognitive Psychology & Cognition

On Sale: March 13th 2018

Price: $19.99

Page Count: 304

ISBN-13: 9781541644311

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"Taking the brain off of its pedestal, Jasanoff offers an exhaustive, comprehensible, and at times playful (e.g., why do humans now study brains instead of eat them?) look at the brain. Appropriate for both neuroscientists as well as general readers interested in gaining a better understanding of this vital organ."—Library Journal
"Jasanoff writes with admirable clarity as he argues that the modern tendency of neuroscience to take a 'brain-centered view' that overlooks external sources of behavior can lead to epistemological dead ends."—Kirkus Reviews
"Neuroscientist Alan Jasanoff has identified a widespread 'Brain Mystique'--a collection of folk theories about the brain that are scientifically false. In The Biological Mind, Jasanoff dispels these theories while leading the reader on an engaging tour of real neuroscience, from the brain to the body to the social and physical world."—George Lakoff, coauthor of The Neural Mind
"Any book that opens with a historical account of the nutritional merits of eating animal brains and concludes with an imaginary account of the author's brain being removed from his body to take up residence in a vat is certainly worth a read, and Alan Jasanoff's The Biological Mind is precisely that. Thought-provoking and enjoyable, this book will provide readers with a new conception of who they are."—Robert Whitaker, author of Anatomy of an Epidemic
"The dark side of all the wonderful new neurotechnology at researchers' fingertips is that too many experts are now over-simplifying mental illness, reducing it to mere descriptions of brain physiology. Alan Jasanoff does an outstanding job of bringing much needed nuance, humanity, and compassion to the way we think about mental illness and the brain."—Sally Satel, M.D., Lecturer in Psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine
"Alan Jasanoff's The Biological Mind provides a provocative and accessible neuroscientific defense of the 'extended mind' thesis--the idea that we are much more than our brains, and even the bodies in which they are normally housed. By the conclusion, readers will be left wondering whether Jasanoff's findings suggest something even more radical: that our brains are actually platforms for launching any number of versions of who we really are."—Steve Fuller, Auguste Comte Chair in Social Epistemology at the University of Warwick and author of Humanity 2.0