Descartes' Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain

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Penguin, Sep 27, 2005 - Psychology - 336 pages
Since Descartes famously proclaimed, "I think, therefore I am," science has often overlooked emotions as the source of a person’s true being. Even modern neuroscience has tended, until recently, to concentrate on the cognitive aspects of brain function, disregarding emotions. This attitude began to change with the publication of Descartes’ Error in 1995. Antonio Damasio—"one of the world’s leading neurologists" (The New York Times)—challenged traditional ideas about the connection between emotions and rationality. In this wondrously engaging book, Damasio takes the reader on a journey of scientific discovery through a series of case studies, demonstrating what many of us have long suspected: emotions are not a luxury, they are essential to rational thinking and to normal social behavior.

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DESCARTES' ERROR: Emotion, Reason and the Human Brain

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Few neuroscientists today would defend Cartesian dualism—the idea that mind and body are separate—but Damasio takes one more leap: Not only are philosophers wrong to separate brain and body, but ... Read full review

Descartes' error: emotion, reason, and the human brain

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The idea that the mind exists as a distinct entity from the body has profoundly influenced Western culture since Descartes proclaimed, "I think, therefore I am." Damasio, head of neurology at the ... Read full review


Unpleasantness in Vermont
Gages Brain Revealed
A Modern Phineas Gage
In Colder Blood
Assembling an Explanation
Biological Regulation and Survival
Emotions and Feelings
The SomaticMarker Hypothesis
Testing the SomaticMarker Hypothesis
The BodyMinded Brain
A Passion for Reasoning
Notes and References
Further Reading

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About the author (2005)

Antonio Damasio, a neurologist and neuroscientist, is at the University of Southern California, where he directs a new brain research institute dedicated to the study of emotion and creativity. He is also an adjunct professor at the Salk Institute. The recipient of numerous awards (several shared with his wife Hanna Damasio, also a neurologist and neuroscientist), he is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is the author of two other widely acclaimed books, The Feeling of What Happens and Looking for Spinoza.

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