Cover: Lessons from an Optical Illusion in PAPERBACK

Lessons from an Optical Illusion

On Nature and Nurture, Knowledge and Values

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Product Details


$38.50 • £30.95 • €34.50

ISBN 9780674525412

Publication Date: 03/25/1997


288 pages

5-5/8 x 8-3/4 inches

16 halftones, 11 line illustrations


Breathtaking… One of the most informative, amusing, knowledgeable, and inspiring readings in the decade of the brain on its results so far.—Christoph Mundt, American Journal of Psychiatry

[Peter] Kramer [author of Listening to Prozac] particularly enjoys books that stand on the boundary of psychiatry and philosophy. He says Lessons from an Optical Illusion…is a stunning and overlooked example. ‘Hundert begins with the question of how we construct reality. He walks readers through the contributions of Kant, Descartes, and Hegel before admixing the findings of neurobiology. Hundert shows how clarifying cognitive science can be for central problems of Western philosophy.’Lingua Franca (“Breakthrough Books in Cognitive Science”)

A fascinating tour beyond the old nature–nurture debate to reveal the ‘startling degree to which facts are our creation and values are woven into the fabric of the world.’Long Range Planning

The author, a psychiatrist with credentials in clinical psychiatry and philosophy, draws on both fields and on neurophysiology to examine, in this scholarly and sophisticated text, the historical development of the nature–nurture question… For those in psychiatry, as in other fields of the behavioral sciences, the book offers a thought-provoking invitation to reassess some of these assumptions. This is a significant and unique contribution to the field of mental health that should be read by all those who work in it.—William Hausman, Readings: A Journal of Reviews and Commentary in Mental Health

Hundert takes us on an exhilarating journey into the maze of interconnections of mind and nature, sweeping over contemporary research in a variety of fields… The ideas are clearly and forcefully presented [and] he provides laypersons and experts with a fascinating glimpse into the convergence of different perspectives on mind and nature.—H. C. Byerly, Choice

An extraordinary synthesis that gathers in not only evolutionary theory but epistemology, brain development, ethics, and aesthetics in a seemingly effortless, natural, and convincing way. Hundert is both a forceful thinker and a gentle, steady, teacher. This small book could become a general guide for how moderns should think.—Leston Havens, author of Making Contact and Coming to Life

Lessons from an Optical Illusion serves at once as a clear introduction and an original contribution to two important fields, philosophy and neuroscience. In Dr. Hundert’s hands, cognitive science provides a new key to central problems of epistemology, beginning with the question of how the self discovers or constructs the world. This book is one of those overlooked gems that deserves much wider recognition and readership than it has so far received.—Peter D. Kramer, author of Listening to Prozac and Should You Leave?

Edward Hundert takes us on a fascinating journey through time, revealing the evolution of thought about the functioning of the human mind. This important book captures the sometimes startling ways nature and nurture can combine as we strive toward the fulfillment of our human potential. Hundert offers great food for thought, along with much humor and wisdom, as we reflect upon our responsibility for the human future.—Jonas Salk

Awards & Accolades

  • Honorable Mention, 1995 Association of American Publishers Professional/Scholarly Publishing Award, Psychology Category
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