Reviews elsewhere on the web:
Journal of Clinical Investigation (pdf)
Metapsychology
Internet Time Blog
Guardian Unlimited
Thymos

Gerald Edelman

Wider than the sky

Gerald Edelman is a well known neuroscientist, and has developed a theory of mind known as the Theory of Neuronal Group Selection, also known as Neural Darwinism. In this theory the brain structures itself as it goes along, based on external inputs and internal feedback loops. In Wider than the sky he gives a concise introuction to this theory, explaining how it leads to the emergence of consciousness.

I have several criticisms of this book. Firstly, Edelman's philosophy of mind looks to me suspiciously like parallelism/epiphenomenalism (which I think is nonsensical). However, he does put considerable effort into arguing why it isn't so maybe this is an unfair criticism. My second problem is that he is too dismissive of computer models of the mind. At one point he tells us how pigeons have been trained to recognise pictures of different species of fish. Just like neural networks, I thought, but Edelman's point was that this was unlike a computer. My major criticism however is that Edelman seems to be unable to break the habit of using excessively long words. It's not too hard to read once you get used to it, but I felt it does mean that the book is mostly for those who have read similar works and want a concise summary of Edelman's ideas, rather than for novices in the subject.

Amazon.com info
Paperback 224 pages  
ISBN: 0141015101
Salesrank: 6644393
Weight:0.4 lbs
Published: 2005 Penguin Books Ltd
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Amazon.co.uk info
Paperback 224 pages  
ISBN: 0141015101
Salesrank: 1422167
Weight:0.4 lbs
Published: 2005 Penguin
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Amazon.ca info
Paperback
ISBN: 0141015101
Salesrank: 2213776
Weight:0.4 lbs
Published: Non Basic Stock Line
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Product Description
In this, his first book aimed at the general reader, Gerald Edelman describes how consciousness arises in complex brains and how it is related to evolution, to the development of the self, and to the origins of feelings, learning, and memory. Edelman's theories offer a solution to the mind-body problem. An understanding of the workings of consciousness in scientific terms would be of enormous value in all areas of science, in medicine and psychiatry, and in the humanities.