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new book – ‘The Mind Club: Who Thinks, What Feels, and Why It Matters’ by Daniel M. Wegner and Kurt Gray

March 22, 2016

The Mind Club

The Mind Club: Who Thinks, What Feels, and Why It Matters by Daniel M. Wegner and Kurt Gray (Viking, 2016)

(kindle ed.), (amazon.co.uk)

Book description from the publisher:

From dogs to gods, dive into the science of mysterious minds–including your own.   

Nothing seems more real than the minds of other people. When you consider what your boss is thinking or whether your spouse is happy, you are admitting them into the “mind club.” It’s easy to assume other humans can think and feel, but what about a cow, a computer, a corporation? What kinds of mind do they have? Daniel M. Wegner and Kurt Gray are award-winning psychologists who have discovered that minds–while incredibly important–are a matter of perception. Their research opens a trove of new findings, with insights into human behavior that are fascinating, frightening and funny. The Mind Club explains why we love some animals and eat others, why people debate the existence of God so intensely, how good people can be so cruel, and why robots make such poor lovers. By investigating the mind perception of extraordinary targets–animals, machines, comatose people, god–Wegner and Gray explain what it means to have a mind, and why it matters so much.  Fusing cutting-edge research and personal anecdotes, The Mind Club explores the moral dimensions of mind perception with wit and compassion, revealing the surprisingly simple basis for what compels us to love and hate, to harm and to protect.

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new book – ‘On Being Human: Why Mind Matters’ by Jerome Kagan

March 10, 2016

On Being Human

On Being Human: Why Mind Matters by Jerome Kagan (Yale University Press, 2016)

(kindle ed.), (amazon.co.uk), (UK kindle ed.)

Book description from the publisher:

In this thought-provoking book, psychologist Jerome Kagan urges readers to sally forth from their usual comfort zones. He ponders a series of important nodes of debate while challenging us to examine what we know and why we know it. Most critically he presents an elegant argument for functions of mind that cannot be replaced with sentences about brains while acknowledging that mind emerges from brain activity.

Kagan relies on the evidence to argue that thoughts and emotions are distinct from their biological and genetic bases. In separate chapters he deals with the meaning of words, kinds of knowing, the powerful influence of social class, the functions of education, emotion, morality, and other issues. And without fail he sheds light on these ideas while remaining honest to their complexity.

Thoughtful and eloquent, Kagan’s On Being Human places him firmly in the tradition of Renaissance essayist Michel de Montaigne, whose appealing blend of intellectual insight, personal storytelling, and careful judgment has attracted readers for centuries.

Google Books preview:

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Kindle Monthly Deal – $1.99 for ‘Story: Style, Structure, Substance, and the Principles of Screenwriting’ by Robert McKee

March 7, 2016

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new book – ‘The Tides of Mind: Uncovering the Spectrum of Consciousness’ by David Gelernter

February 22, 2016

Tides of Mind

The Tides of Mind: Uncovering the Spectrum of Consciousness by David Gelernter (Liveright, 2016)

(kindle ed.), (amazon.co.uk)

Book description from the publisher:

A “rock star” (New York Times) of the computing world provides a radical new work on the meaning of human consciousness.

The holy grail of psychologists and scientists for nearly a century has been to understand and replicate both human thought and the human mind. In fact, it’s what attracted the now-legendary computer scientist and AI authority David Gelernter to the discipline in the first place. As a student and young researcher in the 1980s, Gelernter hoped to build a program with a dial marked “focus.” At maximum “focus,” the program would “think” rationally, formally, reasonably. As the dial was turned down and “focus” diminished, its “mind” would start to wander, and as you dialed even lower, this artificial mind would start to free-associate, eventually ignoring the user completely as it cruised off into the mental adventures we know as sleep.

While the program was a only a partial success, it laid the foundation for The Tides of Mind, a groundbreaking new exploration of the human psyche that shows us how the very purpose of the mind changes throughout the day. Indeed, as Gelernter explains, when we are at our most alert, when reasoning and creating new memories is our main mental business, the mind is a computer-like machine that keeps emotion on a short leash and attention on our surroundings. As we gradually tire, however, and descend the “mental spectrum,” reasoning comes unglued. Memory ranges more freely, the mind wanders, and daydreams grow more insistent. Self-awareness fades, reflection blinks out, and at last we are completely immersed in our own minds.

With far-reaching implications, Gelernter’s landmark “Spectrum of Consciousness” finally helps decode some of the most mysterious wonders of the human mind, such as the numinous light of early childhood, why dreams are so often predictive, and why sadism and masochism underpin some of our greatest artistic achievements. It’s a theory that also challenges the very notion of the mind as a machine?and not through empirical studies or “hard science” but by listening to our great poets and novelists, who have proven themselves as humanity’s most trusted guides to the subjective mind and inner self.

In the great introspective tradition of Wilhelm Wundt and René Descartes, David Gelernter promises to not only revolutionize our understanding of what it means to be human but also to help answer many of our most fundamental questions about the origins of creativity, thought, and consciousness.

Google Books preview:

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Kindle Daily Deal for Wed. (2/17) – $2.99 for ‘Talk Like TED: The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds’

February 17, 2016

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