The Feeling of What Happens: Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness

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9780151003693: The Feeling of What Happens: Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness

The publication of this book is an event in the making. All over the world scientists, psychologists, and philosophers are waiting to read Antonio Damasio's new theory of the nature of consciousness and the construction of the self. A renowned and revered scientist and clinician, Damasio has spent decades following amnesiacs down hospital corridors, waiting for comatose patients to awaken, and devising ingenious research using PET scans to piece together the great puzzle of consciousness. In his bestselling Descartes' Error, Damasio revealed the critical importance of emotion in the making of reason. Building on this foundation, he now shows how consciousness is created. Consciousness is the feeling of what happens-our mind noticing the body's reaction to the world and responding to that experience. Without our bodies there can be no consciousness, which is at heart a mechanism for survival that engages body, emotion, and mind in the glorious spiral of human life. A hymn to the possibilities of human existence, a magnificent work of ingenious science, a gorgeously written book, The Feeling of What Happens is already being hailed as a classic.

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Review:

As you read this, at some level you're aware that you're reading, thanks to a standard human feature commonly referred to as consciousness. What is it--a spiritual phenomenon, an evolutionary tool, a neurological side effect? The best scientists love to tackle big, meaningful questions like this and neuroscientist Antonio Damasio jumps right in with The Feeling of What Happens, a poetic examination of interior life through lenses of research, medical cases, philosophical analysis and unashamed introspection. Damasio's perspective is, fortunately, becoming increasingly common in the scientific community; despite all the protestations of old-guard behaviourists, subjective consciousness is a plain fact to most of us and the demand for new methods of inquiry is finally being met.

These new methods are not without rigour, though. Damasio and his colleagues examine patients with disruptions and interruptions in consciousness and take deep insights from these tragic lives while offering greater comfort and meaning to the sufferers. His thesis, that our sense of self arises from our need to map relations between self and others, is firmly rooted in medical and evolutionary research but stands up well to self-examination. His examples from the weird world of neurology are unsettling yet deeply humanising--real people with serious problems spring to life in the pages but they are never reduced to their deficits. The Feeling of What Happens captures the spirit of discovery as it plunges deeper than ever into the darkest waters yet. --Rob Lightner

Review:

"One of the best brain stories of the decade...A must read book for anyone wanting a neurologist's perspective on one of the great unsolved mysteries." The New York Times
"Stunning...Unashamedly grapples with these issues, and in the process provides the first truly compelling neurobiological account of the self." Nature
"Both Descartes' Error and The Feeling of What Happens are essential reading. They are ground-breaking classics of psychology and neuroscience. These are books to buy, keep and ponder upon." Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine
"A tour de force of intuition, investigation and integration." Sunday Times (London)
"What makes his views so noteworthy is that they're grounded not in theoretical musings but in years of clinical research." Time
"This is not casual reading, but eventually anyone can master it; it will change your experience of yourself." The New York Times Book Review, Editors' Choice
"A landmark in the interdisciplinary project of consciousness research." Scientific American
"Damasio is just the one to show you how fascinating you really are." The Bloomsbury Review
"

"Antonio Damasio has done it again! Writing for the layman as well as the scientist, he constructs a compelling solution to the problem of consciousness." Victoria Fromkin, UCLA
"This is an extraordinary book. I know of nothing like it." Jerome Kagan, Harvard University
"There is no simpler way to say this: read the book to learn who you are." Jorie Graham, Poet and Pulitzer Prize Winner
"Everyone will be talking about it; everyone will have to read it." Patricia and Paul Churchland, UCSD
"

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