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Soul Made Flesh: The Discovery of the Brain--and How it Changed the World

Carl Zimmer

490 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0743272056 / ISBN 13: 9780743272056
Published by Free Press, 2005
Used Condition: Good Soft cover
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Bibliographic Details

Title: Soul Made Flesh: The Discovery of the Brain-...

Publisher: Free Press

Publication Date: 2005

Binding: Paperback

Book Condition:Good

About this title

Synopsis:

In this unprecedented history of a scientific revolution, award-winning author and journalist Carl Zimmer tells the definitive story of the dawn of the age of the brain and modern consciousness. Told here for the first time, the dramatic tale of how the secrets of the brain were discovered in seventeenth-century England unfolds against a turbulent backdrop of civil war, the Great Fire of London, and plague. At the beginning of that chaotic century, no one knew how the brain worked or even what it looked like intact. But by the century's close, even the most common conceptions and dominant philosophies had been completely overturned, supplanted by a radical new vision of man, God, and the universe.
Presiding over the rise of this new scientific paradigm was the founder of modern neurology, Thomas Willis, a fascinating, sympathetic, even heroic figure at the center of an extraordinary group of scientists and philosophers known as the Oxford circle. Chronicled here in vivid detail are their groundbreaking revelations and the often gory experiments that first enshrined the brain as the physical seat of intelligence -- and the seat of the human soul. Soul Made Flesh conveys a contagious appreciation for the brain, its structure, and its many marvelous functions, and the implications for human identity, mind, and morality.

Review:

In Soul Made Flesh, Carl Zimmer reveals the strange and complicated history of the discovery of the human brain. Amid the turmoil of 17th century England, with religious leaders and monarchs battling for control of the country, an elite group of thinkers used every scientific means at their disposal to figure out that the unassuming putty in our heads was crucial to human health and wisdom. Primary among these Oxford scholars was Thomas Willis, whom the Royal Society affectionately called "our chymist." Soul Made Flesh is as much a biography of Willis and the men who shaped him as it is a medical history. Zimmer admirably sets the stage for what would become a metaphysical revolution and spark arguments that continue to this day about what the mind is and where, if anywhere, the human soul resides:

Thomas Willis... isolated the soul from stars and demons and made the chemical workings of the brain the key to sanity and happiness. Just as important, he helped make the brain a familiar thing.
Zimmer applies the same dedicated research and quietly sparkling style to this book as he did to Parasite Rex and At the Water's Edge, distilling reams of historical and scientific information into a concise yet comprehensive narrative. The book's chapters are accompanied by drawings by Willis' contemporary Christopher Wren, whose architectural sensibilities made the brain's structure beautiful to behold. --Therese Littleton

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