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
"A fascinating affirmation of our essential humanity." (Kirkus)
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, ;-)
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.
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
true, life, socialism.
how real it is.
no character as I like it.
made me realize im not the only one who thinks this way.
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.
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.
More detail would be nice but a good start for people asking questions about free will and decision making.
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.
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