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Mind in Life: Biology, Phenomenology, and the Sciences of Mind (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 2. August 2010

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I think this book deserves close study, since it offers a holistic and dynamic perspective on how life and mind interact and how mind, body, and world form an inseparable unity...Thompson has written a book that for philosophers may give a new incentive to rethink and reconceptualize our place in the world that surpasses dualistic thinking. If that was the purpose of the book, it has succeeded.--Taede A. Smedes"Metapsychology" (05/20/2008)

The book is a tremendous success and amounts to a superior contribution to recent and current debates in the philosophy of mind. Thompson displays a deeply impressive grasp of the relevant literature across a range of disciplines, including biology, phenomenology, psychology and neuroscience. Not only has he read widely, he has an admirable intellectual independence, and is confident of the arguments he wants to demonstrate and the direction he wants the sciences of the mind to take...One of the richest contributions to the study of "mind in life" in recent years. It deserves to become a major work of reference and inspiration for research in the immediate future and, indeed, for many years to come. It provides a genuine and far-reaching clarification of core issues in the philosophy and science of the mind, and is to be greatly welcomed.--Keith Ansell-Pearson"Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences" (06/01/2009)

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" (12/01/2008)

Evan Thompson has emerged as a major presence in the science of the mind. His new book is quite wonderful to read, and I found it impossible to put down. In particular, his discussion of Husserl's phenomenology is a revelation, as are his reasons for reversing his former criticisms of Husserl. His discussion of one of the central issues driving modern cognitive neuroscience, the binding problem, is particularly valuable and should compel a major reexamination of experiments being carried out in this field. Evan Thompson is doing important work in re-framing the very questions that define cognitive science.--Merlin Donald, Case Western Reserve University

Neurophenomenology is the majestic method we naturalists have been seeking to blend experience, behavior, and the brain. This long-awaited book will open up the discussion of what experience is and where it is, and how we explain the connection between the objective world of physical activity and that of pain, love, and imagining. Thompson enacts the method he espouses, neurophenomenology, in each chapter with in-depth examples that mind scientists will find compelling. A tour de force!--Owen Flanagan

There is no deeper prison of the modern mind than the Cartesian legacy that splits mind from life, and no more arduous climb to escape. Thompson provides a topo map--rich, multifaceted, superbly documented--by detailing the work of the many (but relatively few among contemporary scientists and philosophers) who recognize the impasse and strive to transcend it.--Walter J. Freeman, author of "How Brains Make Up Their Minds"

Is Mind continuous with Life? Can better phenomenology improve our scientific understanding of consciousness and cognition? In this elegant and thought-provoking treatment, Evan Thompson explores a vision of mind and life that traces a path from simple cellular organizations all the way to consciousness, intersubjectivity, and culture. A wonderful and important journey, and a compulsory trip for all those interested in the explanation of mind and experience.--Andy Clark, author of "Being There: Putting Brain, Body and World Together Again"

The overarching topic of Thompson's book is nothing less than the nature of life and mind, where life and mind are conceived not as they often are--that is, as fundamentally separate subjects in need of largely nonintersecting theoretical frameworks--but rather as tightly intertwined phenomena in need of a common explanatory language. The long-anticipated follow-up to "The Embodied Mind," this book is even better--clear, lively, original, and compelling. "Mind in Life" is a work for which a great number of thinkers in philosophy of mind and the cognitive sciences have been eagerly waiting.--Michael Wheeler, author of "Reconstructing the Cognitive World: The Next Step"

Though modesty prevents him from claiming an original theory or dramatic new synthesis, in "Mind in Life," one of the world's top philosophers offers a brilliant and inspired treatise into the so-called "explanatory gap" between life and mind, nature and consciousness. Thompson stands apart in his ability to link objective descriptions of life and mind with our subjective experience of them. Here he weaves the phenomenological analysis of experience and the latest developments in the fields of cognitive science, neuroscience and biology into a rich coordinated whole in which life and mind are seen to be intrinsically and essentially dynamic and self-organizing. Curious people who want to appreciate this hard won insight and better understand the deep continuity of life and mind will want to read this unique and illuminating book.--J.A. Scott Kelso, author of "Dynamic Patterns: the Self-Organization of Brain and Behavior" and (with David A. Engstrom) co-author of "The Complementary Nature"


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-organisation, and the self-organising 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" (co-authored 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. -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine vergriffene oder nicht verfügbare Ausgabe dieses Titels.

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Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
Dieses Buch ist qualitativ sehr gut. Das Preis- Leistungs- Verhältnis ist angemessen. Inhaltlich ist es anspruchsvoll und interessant zu lesen.
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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.1 von 5 Sternen 12 Rezensionen
2 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Not all it seems to be, but good as far as it goes 18. Februar 2015
Von Advisor - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
This book aims to span what the author calls "the explanatory gap" (Preface, p. x), his name for the question: "How are consciousness and subjective experience related to the brain and body?" The author says: "My aim is not to close the explanatory gap in a reductive sense, but rather to enlarge and enrich the the philosophical and scientific resources we have for addressing the gap." (Preface, p. x) As such, it discusses a very large literature on this subject and tries to knit it into one tapestry. It is an earnest and detailed attempt.

My experience in reading this book is that it requires close attention, and a lot of re-reading. There is a lot of vocabulary that needs revisiting as reading goes along, and the style is not one of emphasizing main issues, but of trying to give every author a fair treatment. One example of what I mean is that a lot of attention is given to explaining biological details, but the point of all this often seems to be to impress the reader that Thompson is up on the details, more than helping the reader understand how this work supports the project of spanning the gap.

Thompson puts much weight upon the distinction between a 'machine' and a 'living organism' and wants to find the distinction in "autopoiesis", which appears to name the distinction between a machine as something that is designed for a purpose by a designer (a watchmaker), and an organism that generates its own purpose and arranges and replaces its parts for its own ends. I think the idea here is to provide some criteria that allow a scientifically verifiable separation of living from nonliving things by observation of their operation. However useful that may be for science, it doesn't address the 'gap'. To do that, Thompson needs the added thesis that the organism's "autopoiesis" involves it in forming concepts about its environment during interaction with it, and that this process involves consciousness. I don't think Thompson establishes this thesis, although much verbiage surrounding it is provided.

In my view, the crux of the matter of human consciousness is crammed into Thompson's Chapter 13 where he finally gets around to enculturation (p. 402). To quote: "Human mentality emerges from developmental processes of enculturation and is configured by the distributed cognitive web of symbolic culture." (p. 403) He says "it makes no sense to think of culture and nature as separate developmental domains" nor to "conceptualize human cognitive development in the dichotomous framework of "nature versus culture" or "nature versus nurture" "Right from the start we need to situate the enculturation thesis in a developmental framework that explicitly rejects these dichotomous categories." (p. 403)

This framework for enculturation incorporates a very extensive review of opposition to the "selfish gene" theory and the unmerited dominance of the gene concept to the exclusion of other essential aspects of evolution and reproduction. The idea is to weaken the view that life is following a built-in program selected by evolutionary forces, and to emphasize that an active interplay between the organism and its species-specific environment is at work and is the more critical aspect. The argument against a prevalent overemphasis upon DNA occupies all of Chapter 7.

However, enculturation itself spans only the last nine pages of the book.

Although the author has given ample space to biologists and philosophers, he has ignored almost entirely the work of Erwin Schrodinger (Mind and Matter), of Thomas Kuhn (The Structure of Scientific Revolutions), Georg Northoff (Philosophy of the Brain) and of Thomas Nagel (Mind and Cosmos) (among many others) that suggests science is restricted in scope by its inability to address its own subjectivity, and by theories limited by our mental abilities, by social censorship, by funding failures, and by the segregation of scientists from the rest of society. Here are some practical sources of the explanatory gap, perhaps to be resolved by another book that more seriously explores enculturation.

Bottom line: This book is a powerful presentation of a somewhat limited thesis
40 von 42 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Mind-expanding 1. September 2010
Von Peter Fawcett - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
There's a wealth of material in this splendid book, which is of enormous scope. I have owned it for two years now, a frequent reference in following up some-or-other aspect of the nexus between mind and brain. Thompson is a great integrator, equally effective in neuroscience and philosophy, so for an interested general reader this book makes an excellent primer and anchor in the vast literature around this most fundamental of topics - just how do the objective world of life sciences and the subjective world of phenomena and consciousness relate?

Thompson's theme is that this relationship exists in a consistent set of organizational properties, from the autonomy of the cell all through to consciousness and enculturation, under the dynamics of metabolism. Perhaps unfortunately, Thompson starts off (Part One) in the middle of this hierarchy at the level of experience and cognition, but also introducing the key principles of system dynamics and emergent processes. Part Two then explores life- and developmental systems leading back to philosophies of evolution, the organism and selfhood. Part Three, half of the book, then makes an extended exploration of sentience, consciousness, awareness, emotion and enculturation.

In his exploration Thompson reassesses every one of the many -ologies and -isms which are planks in the argument; herein lies the unique character and value of the book, and the reason for my revisits. The coverage is so impressive. One would just have liked rather more on the affective mentalities (why are music and the design disciplines so ignored by psychologists?) and on dream states, anaesthesia and dementia. These must hold important clues.

So the rewards are great, but this is not an easy book on two counts.
Firstly, jargon; which one reviewer described as 'necessary' though I'm not so sure. Like this, from the very first paragraph of the Preface - "....... the self-moving flow of time-consciousness". Not user-friendly and reminding one of Bulhak's Postmodern Generator.
Secondly, accessibility; here Thompson may not have been well served by his publishing editor. The book is arranged in three Parts, whose titles inform little (Part Two offered under the weak pun "Life in Mind"), and thirteen chapters, whose titles also beg further explication. The contents schedule does not list the sub-chapter headings, though it is through these that the form of the argument begins to emerge. [For an expanded contents schedule go to [...] ]. There is no introduction or summary of each Part, let alone each chapter, and little by way of concluding summary. In short, the book needs a route map. For these reasons, and only these, the book rates at less than full score.

I really do recommend Evan Thompson's book, but am also looking forward to someone's definitive study of sentience in the slime molds.
5.0 von 5 Sternen Highly Recommend 30. November 2015
Von Chris H - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
This is incredibly pleasant to read, informative, and insightful. I would recommend maybe a short, bare bones introductory book on phenomenlogy beforehand. But I think you can get by just fine without. Reading the earlier work The Embodied Mind is also quite helpful, and Shapiro's recent introduxtory text on embodied cognition is also helpful.

Don't read this without some sort of background knowledge, it doesn't have to be super thorough, in philosophy of mind. Honestly that shouldn't need to be said.. but the number of people who randomly pick up Consciousness Explained and come away not at all understanding Dennett's view speaks otherwise.
5 von 6 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Outstanding Contribution to Embodied Mind Cognitive Science 13. April 2013
Von Blaine Snow - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
The questions being asked in this fascinating volume are, "what kind of entity can be said to be a mental entity" or "what has a mind and what doesn't," but also "where is mind - where does it begin and end"? Does a machine have mental capacity or does it just simulate mental capacity? Evan Thompson sets out to show that living things are synonymous with mental things and draws his arguments from molecular biology, evolutionary theory, neuroscience, complex systems theory, psychology, phenomenology, and analytic philosophy. Mind arises in and as the organization of living systems and their environments. Following Gregory Bateson, Erich Jantsch, Heinz von Foerester, and Francisco Varela before him, Thompson set out to show that where there is life, there is mind. Minds are not a reflection or representation of a pre-specified, external realm, but rather "enacted or brought forth by a being's autonomous agency and mode of coupling with the environment." This is postmodern biology, the situating of mind, reason, emotion and all products of interiority and the mind in bodies, environments, and worlds brought forth in co-construction of organism and environment. This is mind embodied, embedded, enacted, and extended and it is where cognitive science is currently heading.

Finally we are coming closer to an understanding that can situate and ground mental phenomena in the living bodies and environments that have always produced them rather than attributing them to disembodied transcendent-metaphysical realms or to see them as equivalent to electronic processing machines. The postmodern revolution in the social sciences and humanities that situated rationality and meaning in culture, language, and history continues into the cognitive and life sciences where it is now in the process of situating subjective experience and mind in bodies and their environments. Thompson's book is a huge contribution towards that end.
5.0 von 5 Sternen Five Stars 28. Oktober 2015
Von Anonymous - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
Very important book for scholars interested in the nature of mind.
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