A Mind So Rare: The Evolution of Human Consciousness

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W. W. Norton & Company, 2002 - Medical - 371 pages
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In this masterful rebuttal to the prevailing neuroscientific arguments that seek to explain away consciousness, Merlin Donald presents "a sophisticated conception of a multilayered consciousness drawing much of its power from its cultural matrix" (Booklist). Donald makes "a persuasive case...for consciousness as the central player in the drama of mind" (Peter Dodwell), as he details the forces, both cultural and neuronal, that power our distinctively human modes of awareness. He proposes that the human mind is a hybrid product, interweaving a super-complex form of matter (the brain) with an invisible symbolic web (culture) to form a "distributed" cognitive network. This hybrid mind, he argues, is our main evolutionary advantage, for it allowed humanity as a species to break free of the limitations of the mammalian brain. "Donald transcends the simplistic claims of Evolutionary Psychology,...offering a true Darwinian perspective on the evolution of consciousness."—Philip Lieberman
 

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Amazing & understandable info on consciousness.

Contents

Consciousness in Evolution
1
Demons and memes
3
Questions of definition
4
Building our own demons
7
How this book is organized
8
The Paradox of Consciousness
13
A limited instrument
14
Minimalist people
16
Selective binding
178
Shortterm control
184
Intermediate and longterm governance
195
Episodic awareness
200
Entertaining a radical possibility
202
Condillacs Statue
205
Minds in motion
206
Superplasticity
208

The ultimate form of deconstruction
19
The tunnel of consciousness
21
The paradox of paradoxes
25
Hardliners
28
Radical presumption
31
Even more radical presumption
35
Dennetts dangerous idea
39
Conclusion
44
The Governor of Mental Life
46
The time frame of awareness
47
Confusion over automaticity
57
Consciousness and selfgovernance
59
A case history
70
Zasetskys mirror twins
76
A literary view
78
The true reach of metacognition
83
Internalization and solipsistic awareness
87
Changing our model
88
The Consciousness Club
92
The materiality of mind
96
Eliminating the scale problem
99
Vestigial brains not so vestigial minds
106
Avoiding the scala naturae
113
Defining the domain
117
The Consciousness Club
122
Bringing extra resources to bear
130
Embodiment egocenters and homunculi
134
Defining the primate zone of proximal evolution
137
Three Levels of Basic Awareness
149
The great computational divide
153
Access to memory
157
Models of models and the tertiary regions
164
Chasing phantoms
168
Deep enculturation
211
The muchmisunderstood Statue and the birth of Constructivism
214
Mandlers dictum
227
The extraordinary mind of Helen Keller
232
Contact
239
OutsideInside
250
The First Hybrid Minds on Earth
252
Consciousness and community of mind
254
The cultural relevance of a multifocal multilayered consciousness
257
The stages of human cultural and cognitive evolution
259
Establishing the mimetic framework of human culture
262
The germ of selfconsciousness
269
Kinematic imagination
271
The spiraling coevolution of thought and symbol
274
Piggybacking language on culture
279
Our cerebral boxing match with the cultural matrix
285
The management of idealaundering schemes
287
Symbolic invention and the growth of the lexicon
290
The virtual realities of oralmythic culture
295
Collectivity of mind
298
The Triumph of Consciousness
301
The invention of symbolic technologies
305
The external memory field
308
A cerebral Trojan Horse
315
Multilayered cultures multilayered domains of awareness
320
The essential unity of the conscious hierarchy
322
Coda
324
Notes
327
References
345
Acknowledgments
363
Index
365
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About the author (2002)

Merlin Donald is a professor in the Department of Psychology, Queen's University, Ontario, Canada.

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