The Transcendent Brain

Autor Alan Lightman
en Limba Engleză Hardback – 1900
"Modern science teaches us that anything can be explained in terms of atoms and forces, including the inner workings of the brain. But certain personal experiences can challenge the idea that there's nothing beyond inert matter. Communing with nature, working through a complex problem, or experiencing a piece of art, we sometimes feel a powerful sense of transcendence, of connecting with a cosmic unity that may seem unexplainable by science. But according to acclaimed physicist and novelist Alan Lightman, we can embrace these spiritual experiences without letting go of our scientific worldview. Lightman draws on a rich intellectual history to explore this fascinating intersection between religion and science. Philosopher Moses Mendelssohn's rational arguments for the soul foreground our thinking about non-materiality; Roman poet and philosopher Lucretius' ideas predict how strict materialism might explain elusive phenomena; Neuroscientist Christof Koch lays the foundation for the material basis of consciousness; and social psychologist Cynthia Frantz provides a scientific explanation of our deep connection to nature and things larger than ourselves. Lightman weaves these ideas together to argue for a concept he calls 'spiritual materialism'-the view that while spiritual experiences may arise from atoms and molecules like everything else, the physical laws of the universe may not be able to fully capture the first-person experience of transcendence. Spirituality, in this sense, is not only compatible with a strictly scientific view, but remains at the core of what it means to be human"--
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ISBN-13: 9780593317419
ISBN-10: 0593317416
Pagini: 208
Dimensiuni: 133 x 195 x 26 mm
Greutate: 0.32 kg
Editura: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group

Notă biografică

ALAN LIGHTMAN earned his PhD in physics from the California Institute of Technology and is the author of seven novels, including the international best seller Einstein’s Dreams and The Diagnosis, a finalist for the National Book Award. His nonfiction includes The Accidental Universe, Searching for Stars on an Island in Maine, and Probable Impossibilities. He has taught at Harvard and at MIT, where he was the first person to receive a dual faculty appointment in science and the humanities. He is currently a professor of the practice of the humanities at MIT. He is the host of the public television series Searching: Our Quest for Meaning in the Age of Science.


Introduction . . . . 3

1. The Ka and the Ba: A Brief History of the Soul, the Nonmaterial, and the Mind- Body Duality 13
2. Primordia Rerum: A Brief History of Materialism 44
3. Neurons and I: The Emergence of Consciousness from the Material Brain 83
4. To See a World in a Grain of Sand: From Consciousness to Spirituality 121
5. My Atoms and Yours: Science and Spirituality in the World of Today 166

Acknowledgments . . . . 173
Notes . . . . 175