Book Group for August 14th, "Who's In Charge" by Gazzaniga

WE WILL NOW MEET ON THE SECOND THURSDAY OF THE MONTH!!!

For THURSDAY August 14th, The CFI Book Group will read "Who's In Charge" by Michael S. Gazzaniga. This book continues on with the book groups' exploration of free will and consciousness. We will read the first 2/3 of the book, chapters 1 to 4, up to page 142.  This is a fairly quick read, so we will add additional material for the September meeting, perhaps another book.  The Washington County Library System currently show 9 copies available.

Here's the blurb from Amazon:

The father of cognitive neuroscience and author of Human offers a provocative argument against the common belief that our lives are wholly determined by physical processes and we are therefore not responsible for our actions

A powerful orthodoxy in the study of the brain has taken hold in recent years: Since physical laws govern the physical world and our own brains are part of that world, physical laws therefore govern our behavior and even our conscious selves. Free will is meaningless, goes the mantra; we live in a “determined” world.

Not so, argues the renowned neuroscientist Michael S. Gazzaniga in this thoughtful, provocative book based on his Gifford Lectures——one of the foremost lecture series in the world dealing with religion, science, and philosophy. Who’s in Charge? proposes that the mind, which is somehow generated by the physical processes of the brain, “constrains” the brain just as cars are constrained by the traffic they create. Writing with what Steven Pinker has called “his trademark wit and lack of pretension,” Gazzaniga shows how determinism immeasurably weakens our views of human responsibility; it allows a murderer to argue, in effect, “It wasn’t me who did it——it was my brain.” Gazzaniga convincingly argues that even given the latest insights into the physical mechanisms of the mind, there is an undeniable human reality: We are responsible agents who should be held accountable for our actions, because responsibility is found in how people interact, not in brains.

An extraordinary book that ranges across neuroscience, psychology, ethics, and the law with a light touch but profound implications, Who’s in Charge? is a lasting contribution from one of the leading thinkers of our time.


FOR SEPTEMBER, I am thinking about adding chapters from a book that CFI Book Group read many years ago, called "Sense and Goodness Without God" by Richard Carrier.  Specifically I am looking at Part III, Ch 4 (The Fixed Universe and Freedom of the Will), pages[masked], and Part III Ch 6 (The Nature of Mind), pages 135-160.

AND THEN THERE'S THE NEXT BOOK: I am looking at possibly "Nonbeliever Nation" by David Niose (for a change of direction), or possibly "Consciousness and the Brain" by Stanislas Dehaene or "Antifragile" by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

Any other ideas for the next book?

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  • A former member
    A former member

    So sorry to miss this but out too late last night and live in the Pearl...depend on public transport...so need more energy to make this trek! Maybe next time.
    Teri

    August 14

    • A former member
      A former member

      Thanks Pete. That would be very nice in the future...I live in the Pearl. I know Gazzaniga's work and have watched his Gifford lecture. I am just so entranced with neuroscience and neuropsychology. (Among other sciences ;-)

      August 15

    • A former member
      A former member

      I will check the library but probably a big waiting list.

      August 15

  • Pete A.

    Great! Can't wait till the next one.

    August 14

  • Pete A.

    BTW, I am now moderator and host for the Cognition and Systems Society (CSS) at PSU, a 26 year old group recently renamed to include cognition. So I will read Dehane whatever the group reads. Next CSS meeting will be Friday, Oct 3, seating and refreshments at 4, discussion starts at 4:30. I will lead this discussion of how simple network theory explains much about cognitive biases (Kahneman's "Thinking, Fast and Slow"). I am thrilled to do this. Psycologists at PSU have endorsed my approach.
    Y'ALL COME!
    After that, I'll get other discussion leaders.

    August 4

  • Pete A.

    Next book:
    "Consciousness and the Brain" by Dehane for sure. I started the book before we settled on Gazzaniga for this time. Dehane, also a leading light and fabulous writer, discusses how brain information becomes REPORTABLE

    August 4

  • Pete A.

    Wow! The more I read this book the more excited I get. This leading figure in the field of cognitive neuroscience writes for a general audience with depth and breadth. This book makes me feel like he invited me into his living room and what was in those brownies? I am getting way more than I expected and glad for every bit. See you all the 14th.

    August 4

  • Anthony T.

    Thanks Pete

    July 30

  • Pete A.

    Of just go to youtube and search for:
    "Gazzaniga: Gilford Lectures"

    July 29

  • Pete A.

    There a series of six lectures by Gazzaniga on YouTube. One of them is on August's topic, but I intend to enjoy all 6. Here is the link

    July 29

  • Anthony T.

    Dan Dennet's "Consciousness Explained"; Patricia Churchland's "Brain-Wise: Studies in Neurophilosophy"; Antonio Damasio's "The Feeling of What Happens"; Susan Blackmore's "Consciousness"; Christopher Koch's "The Quest for Consciousness"

    July 19

  • Sarah H.

    Love the free will books we've been doing; looking forward to this one!

    July 19

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