Mind: A Journey to the Heart of Being Human

Norton. Nov. 2016. 288p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780393710533. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780393710540. PSYCH
Psychiatrist and prolific author Siegel (psychiatry, Univ. of California, Los Angeles Medical Sch.; Brainstorm) elucidates personhood and human relationships from the standpoint of neuroscience, discussing consciousness, cognition, and community from ancient philosophy to the latest in brain science. Among ten chapters are those on subjectivity, time, identity, and "ease and dis-ease." Siegel is thoughtful and stimulating: language "interconnects, illuminates and imprisons all at once, and we need to be and remain aware, as best we can, of this linkage, liberation and limitation words create in our lives." There are several helpful diagrams and illustrations. Mind is both embodied and relational: inner and inter. Topics include "energy and information flow," self-organization, and spirituality. Concluding chapters address consciousness, cognition, community, "plural self," and identity. Siegel distinguishes Newtonian and quantum mechanics: the latter lets us "view the world as filled not with absolutes, but possibilities and probabilities." The text is mostly accessible, sometimes overwrought.
VERDICT This is a welcome overview of a field in flux, a progress report on the science and philosophy of who we are.
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