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Mind in Life

Mind in Life

Biology, Phenomenology, and the Sciences of Mind

Evan Thompson

ISBN 9780674057517

Publication date: 09/30/2010

How is life related to the mind? The question has long confounded philosophers and scientists, and it is this so-called explanatory gap between biological life and consciousness that Evan Thompson explores in Mind in Life.

Thompson draws upon sources as diverse as molecular biology, evolutionary theory, artificial life, complex systems theory, neuroscience, psychology, Continental Phenomenology, and analytic philosophy to argue that mind and life are more continuous than has previously been accepted, and that current explanations do not adequately address the myriad facets of the biology and phenomenology of mind. Where there is life, Thompson argues, there is mind: life and mind share common principles of self-organization, and the self-organizing features of mind are an enriched version of the self-organizing features of life. Rather than trying to close the explanatory gap, Thompson marshals philosophical and scientific analyses to bring unprecedented insight to the nature of life and consciousness. This synthesis of phenomenology and biology helps make Mind in Life a vital and long-awaited addition to his landmark volume The Embodied Mind: Cognitive Science and Human Experience (coauthored with Eleanor Rosch and Francisco Varela).

Endlessly interesting and accessible, Mind in Life is a groundbreaking addition to the fields of the theory of the mind, life science, and phenomenology.

Praise

  • The aim of Evan Thompson’s Mind in Life is to suggest a new way forward in the long-running attempt to connect biological knowledge about how body and brain work with our phenomenological experience of life. The book is an impressive work of synthesis, drawing together an array of themes in biology, neuroscience, cognitive science, phenomenology, and consciousness studies… This is a highly impressive work, of considerable scope, importance, and originality. The book is not, nor does it claim to be, an easy read for a general audience: the fields of consciousness studies and phenomenology are replete with necessary jargon, and Mind in Life builds on decades of discovery and debate. On the other hand, the argument is accessible to nonspecialists willing to take the time, for Thompson presents complex ideas with commendable fluency. For philosophers of biology, as for cognitive scientists and philosophers of mind, Mind in Life is sure to become essential reading.

    —John C. Waller, Isis

Author

  • Evan Thompson is Professor of Philosophy at the University of British Columbia.

Book Details

  • 568 pages
  • 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Belknap Press

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