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Descartes' Error: Emotion, Reason and the Human Brain

Descartes Error Emotion Reason and the Human Brain In the centuries 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 re

  • Title: Descartes' Error: Emotion, Reason and the Human Brain
  • Author: António R. Damásio
  • ISBN: 9780099501640
  • Page: 491
  • Format: Paperback
  • In the centuries 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 Antonio DamIn the centuries 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 Antonio Damasio challenged traditional ideas about the connection between emotions and rationality In this wonderfully 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 behaviour.

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    1 thought on “Descartes' Error: Emotion, Reason and the Human Brain

    1. OMG Damasio is a hand full. I think he's trying to kill me. The book starts out very readable (which is uncharacteristic of Damasio), then (about half way through) the book becomes nearly unreadable (which is typical of Damasio). I am an educated reader. I teach affective and developmental psychology. I am not a researcher or a specialist but I can say that none of the material in this book is unfamiliar to me. But I'm often lost as to the larger point Damasio is trying to make. I attribute this [...]

    2. Rene Descartes was a 17th French philosopher and scientist, often called the father of modern philosophy. Descartes argued that 'mind' is an essence that exists independent of 'brain' - this is known as 'Cartesian Dualism.' In 'Descartes' Error', Antonio Damasio argues persuasively that that mind is inextricably linked to brain - when you change the physical brain in specific, measurable ways, you induce specific and measurably changes in mind - personality and behavior.Damasio illustrates this [...]

    3. I read Descartes' Error as an undergraduate. In grad school, I learned that my advisor's wife (herself a neuroscientist of some renown) had a very poor opinion of Damasio's work. However, by that point, this book had already changed my life.Damasio provides here a popular account of research in neuroscience that started with the famous case of Phinneas Gage, who, upon having a railroad spike shoved through his head by an explosion, changed from being an upstanding, reliable citizen into a scurri [...]

    4. Having read and become involved with his later books, I have gone to the first in a series which explains the difference between emotion and feeling, which makes the mind and body one again, and which profoundly disturbs the comfortable idea of any but conventional separation of 'reason' and the passions.Damasio is of the 'sufficient but not necessary' strand when it comes to looking at the relationship between brain and mind: you can't be human with the attributes of feelings, emotions, memory [...]

    5. I had an unusually ambivalent reaction to this book and alternated between being fascinated and being, well, slightly bored. I'd say that the book is good and the author has some excellent insights, but he gets a little long-winded at times and tends to meander. For the curious, Descarte's "error" was the separation of mind and body, and consequently, an artificial dichotomy between rationality and emotion. Damasio makes an excellent case on neurological grounds that rationality simply doesn't w [...]

    6. I was captivated and fascinated by this book, start to finish. The book addresses the importance of emotion in cognition, thus pointing out Descartes' error in separating mind from body. In many ways, this book simply affirms things that I have "known" for many years, having spent 20+ years as a dancer/choreographer, but Damasio's perspective as a neuroscientist provides additional and compelling insights. I recommend this book to anyone interested in cognition, psychology, philosophy, arts, or [...]

    7. Ignore my bias of working in a body-centered cognitive neuroscience laboratory (whose nascence was likely inspired by researchers such as Demasio), but Demasio's theory resonates as a particularly well-informed "big-level" brain theory. I've read a number of others who attempt to explain away a lot of the mysteries of the brain by big-level theories, but Demasio turns out to build one of the more compelling set of explanations based mostly on evidence from his years of research in dissociation s [...]

    8. Damasio's book is terrific, and works both as an introduction and a good guide for those studying neuroscience and cognitive science. The scientific case studies are easily accessible and thorough (it features, by far, the most thorough assessment of the Phineas Gage case that I've come across) as are the discussions of circuitry. Damasio does use some unqualified terms, but he does a reasonable job at keeping the very technical discussions brief or relatively well qualified by the context of th [...]

    9. Antonio Damasio has written a fascinating book, taking as his point of departure a nineteenth century case of a man named Gage who had an iron spike neatly blown through his brain in a mining accident. Gage seemed to retain all of his faculties, amazingly enough, but failed in his later life due to emotional problems. Damasio, a neurologist, uses the case to explore the relationship between emotions and the neurological structure of the brain.A friend recommended this book to me because of our m [...]

    10. I’ve been reading Damasio “backwards”. One of the first books I read three years ago to try to understand the neuroscientific view of consciousness was Damasio’s The Feeling of What Happens: Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness published in 1999. That gave me a solid grounding in Damasio’s view of embodied consciousness, which has become a foundation of my thinking. Later, I came across Damasio’s paper on the somatic marker hypothesis, which powerfully rejects the idea tha [...]

    11. I was just finishing up chapter 8, the somatic-marker hypothesis. I find this idea fascinating! What it made me think of, interestingly enough, was my old Social Science class. My teacher had said that we are born with only a few innate behaviors and everything else is learned. Because we are learning everything we know, it is so deeply ingrained in us, that even when we actively try to be objective and to sort of turn off our cultural bias, it is impossible. He pointed to the book Return to Lau [...]

    12. A very intriguing book exploring the relationship between reason and emotion. Having grappled with how the two can complement each other for most of my life, I'm digging it. The author uses historical medical examples of bizarre cases of brain damage, such as the story of Phineas Gage, a construction foreman from the 1800s who survived a 3-foot metal rod passing through his head, suffering nothing but blindness in his left eye physically but a whole slew of mental and emotional problems due to t [...]

    13. very bad. the title takes on a literal meaning as this book is good for: 1. a further explication but just largely a complete repetition of Descartes' philosophy under the guise of a 'correction'2. never pointing out any errors Descartes actually made, and falling in to all of the same traps Descartes did, most of which were pointed out in the 17th century.

    14. Damasio takes advantage of some bizarre accidents to discover new things about the brain. Mainly, that decision making isn't rational, but involves a leap of faith. Very persuasive, and it jibes with William James's Will to Believe.

    15. I discovered Antonio Damasio with "Looking for Spinoza" in 2003. The book captivated, stimulated and entranced me. Since then I have read extensively in the realms visited by Damasio which were new to me: Spinoza himself was an old friend.Somehow there was always something more enticing than "Descartes' Error", his first book. It has been on my list for over a decade, and practically every book in this general area mentions it, thus enticing me more. Recently Sam Kean's "Dueling Neurosurgeons" p [...]

    16. I'll be honest, I'm shocked that I liked this book as much as I did! I've read Damasio's 2010 book, "Self Comes to Mind" 4 times through now, and I'm very at odds with many of its premises and claims. Having read that book first, I approached "Descartes' Error" with an antagonistic stance, ready to fight and found myself bewildered as I was highlighting and underlining key philosophical presuppositions that weave throughout the book that I agree with. Mind and body are integrally connected, rat [...]

    17. Damasio takes on Descartes: why you cannot separate emotion from reason, the body and brain from the mind, and how brain-damaged patients provide us with these insights.More accessible if you're well-versed with brain anatomy. Damasio explains how body and brain constantly construct the image of our "self", changes in body states we perceive (feelings), and how reason and emotion use the same equipment. The book constantly warns against any sort of reductionism. I wasn't well-versed with brain a [...]

    18. After having read "The Feeling of What Happens" I thought I'd give this earlier work by the same author a read,as I have recently come across numerous references to it that elevate it to somewhat of a classic in its field.The first one hundred pages read like a dream and I mistakenly thought that the author had saved his verbose and prolix style for his later works,but then I found I had been lulled into a false sense of security,by which time I was in too deep.The rest of the book took a consid [...]

    19. Fascinating stuff. The cutting edge of neuroscience as applied to philosophy. Reintegrates the mind, body, emotions and reason through more than just philosophical musings. If you pick this up, it may be helpful to note that a) this is the first of three books in which he details his research findings, b) there is a lot of anatomical and neurological info - sometimes it may be necessary to skim those parts if that's not you're field of study and c) I think his concept of reason (here) can best b [...]

    20. Dense psychology terminology, hides a beautiful argument that probably deserves more beautiful prose. This book is all about emotions and feelings, but unlike soft-core psych (read: Self-help books) it makes a substantive argument for why they are important, indeed inextricably linked to human decision making. Sure, that may seem self-evident, but the argument and the studies that back it up are amazing. Who would have thought to test whether spinal cord injury patients feel emotions to a lesser [...]

    21. Um bom livro para quem pretende perceber os mecanismos que determinam a nossa identidade enquanto indivíduo. Ao longo do livro o autor recorre a vários termos técnicos, mas que são previamente introduzidos e explicados no texto. Apesar do assunto parecer chato (emoções, razão e cérebro), já li livros com "acção" bastante mais chatos! Um clássico! A julgar pelo número de edições, um dos livros que mais facilmente se deve encontrar na estante dos Portugueses.

    22. The book started off as easily accessible in terms of wording and concepts, but then got too academic and abstract near the end.

    23. Quando interrogammo Elliot dopo una delle molte sedute di esame di tali immagini, egli dichiarò apertamente che il suo modo di sentire era cambiato, dopo il male: avvertiva come argomenti che prima avevano suscitato in lui una forte emozione ora non provocavano alcuna reazione, né positiva né negativa. Stupefacente! Provate a immaginare quel che era accaduto: provate ad immaginare di non sentire piacere quando contemplate una pittura che vi piace, o quando ascoltate uno dei vostri brani music [...]

    24. I am not an emotional person. This is about how important emotions are to reasoning. It reminds me of The Paradox of Choice, in that it argues a certain philophical position which being strongly rooted in amazing research (in that case microeconomics, in this case nuerology). this guy realy geeks out when he gets into hardcore neurology and he's tough to follow (and as a lay reader, I didn't really feel the need to try and follow at this point anyway) and as with The Paradox, the editor could ha [...]

    25. 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 way to demonstrate that damage to specific parts of the prefrontal cortex can result in socially un-acceptable behavior, behavior that ignores long-term consequences, and is detrimental to the interests of the subject. And, significantly, all standard tests, of the time, did not show an organic problem [...]

    26. The book starts with neuroscience's cause celebre - a man whose head was pierced by a metal stake that passed through his neck and out of the top of his head. The fact that he survived is astonishing, and is where many neuroscientists in the past have stopped, having proven some point or another about neuroanatomical structure. Damasio not only provides us with gorgeous detail about the tragic accident that resulted in Phineas Gage's custom-made tamping rod exploding through his skull, he also f [...]

    27. This one took me a while to get through, probably because I deal with neuroscience on a daily basis at work, so it's not usually my first topic-of-choice when picking up a book to read. But this was a classic, and I wanted to give it a go. So I did. And it was good. The book is pretty science-y, and thus not easy reading, but it was good.Probably the biggest, most ground-breaking theory proposed in the book is the somatic marker hypothesis. This hypothesis stands on a soapbox and yells, "Hey all [...]

    28. Fascinating. I'll be reading this again. I'd be very interested in reading the responses to this 'modern classic' in neuroscience I'm sure lots has been written since this was published to support and criticize his ideas. But his two main ideas (really two parts of the same idea)-- that reason and emotion are intrinsically linked because emotion is essentially a body state reported to us and used to understand the world and make decisions and judgments, and that the body and brain cannot actuall [...]

    29. The main point of this book -revolutionary when it was first published, but now fairly commonplace- is that emotions are NOT the opposite of logic/reason, that in fact they are _integral_ to the best reasoning. Without them, reason doesn't work very well. This book is an easy read - it's short and well-written; nevertheless it dives pretty deeply into neuroscience, so much so that I'm a bit reluctant to recommend it to a general reader who has absolutely no familiarity with neuroscience. With my [...]

    30. This is fairly heavy going. I don't understand everything, but enough to have an idea of what is going on - more or lessThe author draws a connection between feelings and rationality. Just cold rationality without the involvement of feelings is defective. People with a specific braing injury retain their rationality, but it does not involve feelings, so they made some odd choices and have "rational" reactions without emotion. They also have trouble visualizing the future of choices. The brain is [...]

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