De La Mettrie's Ghost: The Story Of Decisions (Macmillan Science)

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9781403994950: De La Mettrie's Ghost: The Story Of Decisions (Macmillan Science)
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This book is about how we make choices. Drawing together evidence from 21st century chemistry to Victorian politics, enlightenment philosophy, Roman drama and beyond, it is a compelling hunt for the nature of free will.

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About the Author:

CHRIS NUNN is Associate Editor of the Journal of Consciousness Studies. He has written numerous papers, articles and book reviews. His first book, Awareness, an examination of current scientific thinking about the nature of consciousness, was published by Routledge in 1996. He has spent 30 years as a consultant psychiatrist and researcher specializing in manic-depression and the senses, latterly at Southampton University in the UK.

From Booklist:

Nunn really refers to two ghosts in his book's title: that of the concept aptly named by Julien de la Mettrie's 1747 book L'homme machine, or "man a machine," and the ghost or soul within the "machine" that post-Cartesian philosophers said a human being was. The ghost of the machine Nunn dispels, and the ghost in the machine he releases, by first educing two axioms of free will from neuropsychological research findings about the workings of the brain, and then neuropsychologically explaining the existence of consciousness from the functioning of memory. Proceeding to theories of choice and finding that all involve memory, Nunn outlines the unconscious processes that underlie consciousness and then employs an imaginary but typical case study and the histories of several historical "cognitive objects" or cultural phenomena, such as weariness in the Victorian era, to show how internal and external memories organized as "stories" converge to affect freely willed personal choices. Meaty is one word for this dense little book. Rich and savory are others. Ray Olson
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