The Brain and the Meaning of Life


Book Description

Defending the superiority of evidence-based reasoning over religious faith and philosophical thought experiments, Thagard argues that minds are brains and that reality is what science can discover. Brains come to know reality through a combination of perception and reasoning. Just as important, our brains evaluate aspects of reality through emotions that can produce both good and bad decisions. Our cognitive and emotional abilities allow us to understand reality, decide effectively, act morally, and pursue the vital needs of love, work, and play. Wisdom consists of knowing what matters, why it matters, and how to achieve it."--Jacket.




The Brain and the Meaning of Life


Book Description

How brain science answers the most intriguing questions about the meaning of life Why is life worth living? What makes actions right or wrong? What is reality and how do we know it? The Brain and the Meaning of Life draws on research in philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience to answer some of the most pressing questions about life's nature and value. Paul Thagard argues that evidence requires the abandonment of many traditional ideas about the soul, free will, and immortality, and shows how brain science matters for fundamental issues about reality, morality, and the meaning of life. The ongoing Brain Revolution reveals how love, work, and play provide good reasons for living. Defending the superiority of evidence-based reasoning over religious faith and philosophical thought experiments, Thagard argues that minds are brains and that reality is what science can discover. Brains come to know reality through a combination of perception and reasoning. Just as important, our brains evaluate aspects of reality through emotions that can produce both good and bad decisions. Our cognitive and emotional abilities allow us to understand reality, decide effectively, act morally, and pursue the vital needs of love, work, and play. Wisdom consists of knowing what matters, why it matters, and how to achieve it. The Brain and the Meaning of Life shows how brain science helps to answer questions about the nature of mind and reality, while alleviating anxiety about the difficulty of life in a vast universe. The book integrates decades of multidisciplinary research, but its clear explanations and humor make it accessible to the general reader.




The Brain and the Meaning of Life


Book Description

How brain science answers the most intriguing questions about the meaning of life Why is life worth living? What makes actions right or wrong? What is reality and how do we know it? The Brain and the Meaning of Life draws on research in philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience to answer some of the most pressing questions about life's nature and value. Paul Thagard argues that evidence requires the abandonment of many traditional ideas about the soul, free will, and immortality, and shows how brain science matters for fundamental issues about reality, morality, and the meaning of life. The ongoing Brain Revolution reveals how love, work, and play provide good reasons for living. Defending the superiority of evidence-based reasoning over religious faith and philosophical thought experiments, Thagard argues that minds are brains and that reality is what science can discover. Brains come to know reality through a combination of perception and reasoning. Just as important, our brains evaluate aspects of reality through emotions that can produce both good and bad decisions. Our cognitive and emotional abilities allow us to understand reality, decide effectively, act morally, and pursue the vital needs of love, work, and play. Wisdom consists of knowing what matters, why it matters, and how to achieve it. The Brain and the Meaning of Life shows how brain science helps to answer questions about the nature of mind and reality, while alleviating anxiety about the difficulty of life in a vast universe. The book integrates decades of multidisciplinary research, but its clear explanations and humor make it accessible to the general reader.







The Emotional Life of Your Brain


Book Description

What is your emotional fingerprint? Why are some people so quick to recover from setbacks? Why are some so attuned to others that they seem psychic? Why are some people always up and others always down? In his thirty-year quest to answer these questions, pioneering neuroscientist Richard J. Davidson discovered that each of us has an Emotional Style, composed of Resilience, Outlook, Social Intuition, Self-Awareness, Sensitivity to Context, and Attention. Where we fall on these six continuums determines our own “emotional fingerprint.” Sharing Dr. Davidson’s fascinating case histories and experiments, The Emotional Life of Your Brain offers a new model for treating conditions like autism and depression as it empowers us all to better understand ourselves—and live more meaningful lives.




Meaning in Life and Why It Matters


Book Description

Most people, including philosophers, tend to classify human motives as falling into one of two categories: the egoistic or the altruistic, the self-interested or the moral. According to Susan Wolf, however, much of what motivates us does not comfortably fit into this scheme. Often we act neither for our own sake nor out of duty or an impersonal concern for the world. Rather, we act out of love for objects that we rightly perceive as worthy of love--and it is these actions that give meaning to our lives. Wolf makes a compelling case that, along with happiness and morality, this kind of meaningfulness constitutes a distinctive dimension of a good life. Written in a lively and engaging style, and full of provocative examples, Meaning in Life and Why It Matters is a profound and original reflection on a subject of permanent human concern.




The Elephant in the Brain


Book Description

Human beings are primates, and primates are political animals. Our brains, therefore, are designed not just to hunt and gather, but also to help us get ahead socially, often via deception and self-deception. But while we may be self-interested schemers, we benefit by pretending otherwise. The less we know about our own ugly motives, the better - and thus we don't like to talk or even think about the extent of our selfishness. This is the elephant in the brain. Such an introspective taboo makes it hard for us to think clearly about our nature and the explanations for our behavior. The aim of this book, then, is to confront our hidden motives directly - to track down the darker, unexamined corners of our psyches and blast them with floodlights. Then, once everything is clearly visible, we can work to better understand ourselves: Why do we laugh? Why are artists sexy? Why do we brag about travel? Why do we prefer to speak rather than listen? Our unconscious motives drive more than just our private behavior; they also infect our venerated social institutions such as Art, School, Charity, Medicine, Politics, and Religion. In fact, these institutions are in many ways designed to accommodate our hidden motives, to serve covert agendas alongside their official ones. The existence of big hidden motives can upend the usual political debates, leading one to question the legitimacy of these social institutions, and of standard policies designed to favor or discourage them. You won't see yourself - or the world - the same after confronting the elephant in the brain.




Brain & Belief


Book Description

From its beginnings in prehistoric religion to its central importance in Western faith traditions, the soul has been a constant source of fascination and speculation. Brain & Belief seeks to understand mankind's obsession with life, death, and the afterlife. Exploring the latest insights from neuroscience, psychopharmacology, and existential psychology, McGraw exhaustively researches the various takes on the human soul and considers the meaning of the soul in a postmodern world. The ambitious scope of the book is balanced by a deeply personal voice whose sympathy for both science and religion is resonant.




Discovering the Brain


Book Description

The brain ... There is no other part of the human anatomy that is so intriguing. How does it develop and function and why does it sometimes, tragically, degenerate? The answers are complex. In Discovering the Brain, science writer Sandra Ackerman cuts through the complexity to bring this vital topic to the public. The 1990s were declared the "Decade of the Brain" by former President Bush, and the neuroscience community responded with a host of new investigations and conferences. Discovering the Brain is based on the Institute of Medicine conference, Decade of the Brain: Frontiers in Neuroscience and Brain Research. Discovering the Brain is a "field guide" to the brainâ€"an easy-to-read discussion of the brain's physical structure and where functions such as language and music appreciation lie. Ackerman examines: How electrical and chemical signals are conveyed in the brain. The mechanisms by which we see, hear, think, and pay attentionâ€"and how a "gut feeling" actually originates in the brain. Learning and memory retention, including parallels to computer memory and what they might tell us about our own mental capacity. Development of the brain throughout the life span, with a look at the aging brain. Ackerman provides an enlightening chapter on the connection between the brain's physical condition and various mental disorders and notes what progress can realistically be made toward the prevention and treatment of stroke and other ailments. Finally, she explores the potential for major advances during the "Decade of the Brain," with a look at medical imaging techniquesâ€"what various technologies can and cannot tell usâ€"and how the public and private sectors can contribute to continued advances in neuroscience. This highly readable volume will provide the public and policymakersâ€"and many scientists as wellâ€"with a helpful guide to understanding the many discoveries that are sure to be announced throughout the "Decade of the Brain."




The Meaning of Life


Book Description

This is a revision of an anthology on the meaning of life intended for introduction to philosophy and human nature courses. It includes primarily the writings by philosophers but also offers some selections from literary figures and religious thinkers.