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

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G.P. Putnam, 1994 - Philosophy - 312 pages
87 Reviews
"Although I cannot tell for certain what sparked my interest in the neural underpinnings of reason, I do know when I became convinced that the traditional views on the nature of rationality could not be correct." Thus begins a book that takes the reader on a journey of discovery, from the story of Phineas Gage, the famous nineteenth-century case of behavioral change that followed brain damage, to the contemporary recreation of Gage's brain; and from the doubts of a young neurologist to a testable hypothesis concerning the emotions and their fundamental role in rational human behavior.
Drawing on his experiences with neurological patients affected by brain damage (his laboratory is recognized worldwide as the foremost center for the study of such patients), Antonio Damasio shows how the absence of emotion and feeling can break down rationality. In the course of explaining how emotions and feelings contribute to reason and to adaptive social behavior, Damasio also offers a novel perspective on what emotions and feelings actually are: a direct sensing of our own body states, a link between the body and its survival-oriented regulations, on the one hand, and consciousness, on the other.
Descartes' Error leads us to conclude that human organisms are endowed from the very beginning with a spirited passion for making choices, which the social mind can use to build rational behavior.

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Powerful and fascinant in a technical language writing - Goodreads
I need to make more sense of the introduction. - Goodreads
Personally it wasn't a page turner for me! - Goodreads

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

User Review  - Jim Angstadt - Goodreads

I need to make more sense of the introduction. I suspect that the meat of the book is embedded in the intro. Chap 1 and 2 deal with Phineas Gage and his modern day incarnation. This is an effective ... Read full review

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

User Review  - Eric - Goodreads

Well-argued and annotated with plenty of references to the then-current literature, Damasio makes a cogent argument for his hypothesis that emotions and reason are intimately connected. Read full review

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Gages Brain Revealed
A Modern Phineas Gage
In Colder Blood

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About the author (1994)

Antonio R. Damasio, M.D., Ph.D., is the M. W. Van Allen Professor of Neurology and head of the department of neurology at the University of Iowa College of Medicine, Iowa City. He is also adjunct professor at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, La Jolla, California.

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