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Who's in Charge? Audiobook

Who's in Charge?: Free Will and the Science of the Brain

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Publisher's Summary

The father of cognitive neuroscience and author of Human offers a provocative argument against the common belief that our lives are wholly determined by physical processes and we are therefore not responsible for our actions.

A powerful orthodoxy in the study of the brain has taken hold in recent years: Since physical laws govern the physical world and our own brains are part of that world, physical laws therefore govern our behavior and even our conscious selves. Free will is meaningless, goes the mantra; we live in a “determined” world.

Not so, argues the renowned neuroscientist Michael S. Gazzaniga in this thoughtful, provocative book based on his Gifford Lectures - one of the foremost lecture series in the world dealing with religion, science, and philosophy. Who's in Charge? proposes that the mind, which is somehow generated by the physical processes of the brain, “constrains” the brain just as cars are constrained by the traffic they create. Writing with what Steven Pinker has called “his trademark wit and lack of pretension”, Gazzaniga shows how determinism immeasurably weakens our views of human responsibility; it allows a murderer to argue, in effect, “It wasn’t me who did it - it was my brain.” Gazzaniga convincingly argues that even given the latest insights into the physical mechanisms of the mind, there is an undeniable human reality: We are responsible agents who should be held accountable for our actions, because responsibility is found in how people interact, not in brains.

An extraordinary book that ranges across neuroscience, psychology, ethics, and the law with a light touch but profound implications, Who’s in Charge? is a lasting contribution from one of the leading thinkers of our time.

©2011 Michael S. Gazzaniga (P)2011 Tantor

What the Critics Say

"A fascinating affirmation of our essential humanity." (Kirkus)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (357 )
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4.1 (302 )
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Performance
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  •  
    ML Carlsbad, California, USA 05-01-12
    ML Carlsbad, California, USA 05-01-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Tough listen"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    Maybe neuroscience isn't the best topic to listen to. I just didn't find myself eager to listen after a while. I was most attentive when he talked about specific examples with patients, moral dilemmas, split brain patients, how the interpreter comes up with absurd explanations for situations, and bizarre brain disorders. Too much detail, and not enough of a compelling storyline in my view. But I guess that's just how my brain perceived it, ;-)


    5 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Howard Sterling 09-01-16 Member Since 2013
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    6
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    "Puts all neuro-science together"

    Maybe too many stories and very comprehensible. He is best explainer of tough concepts like free will and mind.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    MooMaster USA 08-15-16
    MooMaster USA 08-15-16 Member Since 2015

    Moo moo moo!

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    7
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    "distribution of cognition"

    a fairly well written and interesting review of the state of neuroscience literature, the most interesting pieces are the case study split brain findings and the interplay between decision making and the interpreter module. the dive into the legal system was more philosophical than evidence driven, I wish he would've used that space to explore more about corollaries in other sciences. overall, worth your time for the many pondering points in understanding what a human is.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bernie C. 04-02-16
    Bernie C. 04-02-16 Member Since 2017
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    "narrator has deep voice; not about improving"

    i thought it would have more actions about improving use of free will and control. it was very interesting material but at times struggled with it.

    the narrator was good but sometimes his voice is so deep that it pulls me out of the story

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pablo W. 03-11-16
    Pablo W. 03-11-16 Member Since 2014
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    "Humung-kulous! "

    i liked it. advanced stuff though it is. very interesting. will listen to it again

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    tom west jordan, UT, United States 01-16-14
    tom west jordan, UT, United States 01-16-14 Member Since 2016
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    "great book!"
    If you could sum up Who's in Charge? in three words, what would they be?

    true, life, socialism.


    What did you like best about this story?

    how real it is.


    Which character – as performed by Pete Larkin – was your favorite?

    no character as I like it.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    made me realize im not the only one who thinks this way.


    Any additional comments?

    one of the best books I have ever read, makes me feel my life long intuitions have been shared by another human. he decided to write it down.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gerard Sirois 07-31-16 Member Since 2009
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    "Realy"

    Evolutionary thinking is so out of touch with the reality that we were created. PraiseHim

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    eric Croydon, Pa, United States 08-25-13
    eric Croydon, Pa, United States 08-25-13 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great book"
    Any additional comments?

    There is a lot of interesting information in this book. The title would have you believe it is about the unconscious mind but its really about the whole brain, and whole person for that matter. He does go off on a lot of different tangents, but very interesting ones.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    david keyser SILVER SPRING, MD, US 11-12-12
    david keyser SILVER SPRING, MD, US 11-12-12 Member Since 2017
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    "Needs more detail but good"

    More detail would be nice but a good start for people asking questions about free will and decision making.

    1 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Josiah emlenton, PA, United States 01-24-12
    Josiah emlenton, PA, United States 01-24-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    10
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    "Good... if a bit dry"
    Any additional comments?

    The book is good. The author does an ok job of explaining in layman's terms some the more difficult ideas. The book also delves into some of the more philosophical implications of the authors research.

    2 of 10 people found this review helpful

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