Progress in the neurosciences is profoundly changing our conception of ourselves. Contrary to time-honored intuition, the mind turns out to be a complex of brain functions. And contrary to the wishful thinking of some philosophers, there is no stemming the revolutionary impact that brain research will have on our understanding of how the mind works.
Brain-Wise is the sequel to Patricia Smith Churchland's Neurophilosophy, the book that launched a subfield. In a clear, conversational manner, this book examines old questions about the nature of the mind within the new framework of the brain sciences. What, it asks, is the neurobiological basis of consciousness, the self, and free choice? How does the brain learn about the external world and about its own introspective world? What can neurophilosophy tell us about the basis and significance of religious and moral experiences?
Drawing on results from research at the neuronal, neurochemical, system, and whole-brain levels, the book gives an up-to-date perspective on the state of neurophilosophy—what we know, what we do not know, and where things may go from here.
About the Author
Patricia Smith Churchland is UC President’s Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, San Diego, and Adjunct Professor at the Salk Institute.
"Churchland explores the organic concept of self and nonself and what they mean both biologically and philosophically."
—Terrence Riley, MD, JAMA
"It is both lucid and profound, cutting through issues where others only obfuscate. The one to read."
—Maggie McDonald, New Scientist
"This is a unique and effective introduction to brain science from the perspective of the basic issues that frame the discipline. This should be a terrific source for the student of philosophy because it explores to what extent fundamental philosophical questions can be illuminated by empirical inquires."
—Larry Squire, School of Medicine, University of California, San Diego, and VA Medical Center, San Diego
"In an age of increasing specialization, the gap between philosophy and neuroscience can be enormous. Somehow Pat Churchland manages to connect the dots, and a deeper, richer, and more complete view of how the brain enables the mind emerges from her powerful new book. It is a great contribution."
—Michael S. Gazzaniga, Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, Dartmouth College
"A brilliant tour of what neuroscience teaches about perennial philosophical problems of self, knowledge, identity, and the nature of things. It's also a thrilling primer on how philosophy itself will change as it takes knowledge of brain science to heart. A wonderful treat for the novice and the expert!"
—Owen Flanagan, James B. Duke Professor of Philosophy, Duke University
"Sound philosophy requires a solid understanding of the nature and origin of mind, which in turn depends on the best neuroscience available. Patricia Churchland, with verve and exactitude, has taken a large step toward establishing that link."
—Edward O. Wilson, University Professor Emeritus, Harvard University
"There is a new wave in philosophy. The Queen of the Sciences is visiting the kitchen. Patricia Churchland is one of the creators of Neurophilosophy, the movement that thinks philosophers should know something about the brain. In this very sensible and readable bok she is riding on the crest of the wave. If you are seriously interested in who you are, your thoughts, your emotions and in deep questions such as consciousness, free will, and religion, this book is for you. Against a brief historical background it outlines all these issues and shows how modern neuroscience is helping to shed some light on them. It takes you from molecules to memory, from temporal lobe epilepsy to religiosity, and much more besides. There is no other book quite like it. A must for every intelligent reader."
—Francis Crick, Salk Institute for Biological Studies