Descartes' Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain by Anthony Damasio

By Anthony Damasio

Seeing that Descartes famously proclaimed, "I imagine, consequently I am," technological know-how has usually ignored feelings because the resource of a person’s precise being. Even glossy neuroscience has tended, till lately, to pay attention to the cognitive features of mind functionality, brushing aside feelings. this perspective started to swap with the booklet of Descartes’ Error in 1995. Antonio Damasio—"one of the world’s best neurologists" (The big apple Times)—challenged conventional principles concerning the connection among feelings and rationality. during this wondrously attractive publication, Damasio takes the reader on a trip of medical discovery via a chain of case stories, demonstrating what many people have lengthy suspected: feelings will not be a luxurious, they're necessary to rational considering and to basic social habit.

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The answer is simple. While other cases of neurological damage that occurred at about the same time revealed that the brain was the foundation for language, perception, and motor function, and generally provided more conclusive details, Gage’s story hinted at an amazing fact: Somehow, there were systems in the human brain dedicated more to reasoning than to anything else, and in particular to the personal and social dimensions of reasoning. The observance of previously acquired social convention and ethical rules could be lost as a result of brain damage, even when neither basic intellect nor language seemed compromised.

My friend was to learn about the brain and about those mysterious things mental, and I was to gain insights as I struggled to explain my idea of what body, brain, and mind are about. We agreed not to turn the conversation into a boring lecture, not to disagree violently, and not to try to cover too much. I would talk about established facts, about facts in doubt, and about hypotheses, even when I could come up with nothing but hunches to support them. I would talk about work in progress literally, about several research projects then under way, and about work that would start long after the conversation was over.

He was thirty-eight years old. There was no death notice in the San Francisco newspapers. WHY PHINEAS GAGE? Why is this sad story worth telling? What is the possible significance of such a bizarre tale? The answer is simple. While other cases of neurological damage that occurred at about the same time revealed that the brain was the foundation for language, perception, and motor function, and generally provided more conclusive details, Gage’s story hinted at an amazing fact: Somehow, there were systems in the human brain dedicated more to reasoning than to anything else, and in particular to the personal and social dimensions of reasoning.

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