Analogy is the core of all thinking.
This is the simple but unorthodox premise that Pulitzer Prize — winning author Douglas Hofstadter and French psychologist Emmanuel Sander defend in their new work. Hofstadter has been grappling with the mysteries of human thought for over thirty years. Now, with his trademark wit and special talent for making complex ideas vivid, he has partnered with Sander to put forth a highly novel perspective on cognition.
We are constantly faced with a swirling and intermingling multitude of ill-defined situations. Our brain’s job is to try to make sense of this unpredictable, swarming chaos of stimuli. How does it do so? The ceaseless hail of input triggers analogies galore, helping us to pinpoint the essence of what is going on. Often this means the spontaneous evocation of words, sometimes idioms, sometimes the triggering of nameless, long-buried memories.
Why did two-year-old Camille proudly exclaim, “I undressed the banana!”? Why do people who hear a story often blurt out, “Exactly the same thing happened to me!” when it was a completely different event? How do we recognize an aggressive driver from a split-second glance in our rearview mirror? What in a friend’s remark triggers the offhand reply, “That’s just sour grapes”? What did Albert Einstein see that made him suspect that light consists of particles when a century of research had driven the final nail in the coffin of that long-dead idea?
The answer to all these questions, of course, is analogy-making — the meat and potatoes, the heart and soul, the fuel and fire, the gist and the crux, the lifeblood and the wellsprings of thought. Analogy-making, far from happening at rare intervals, occurs at all moments, defining thinking from top to toe, from the tiniest and most fleeting thoughts to the most creative scientific insights.
Like GÃ¶, Escher, Bach before it, Surfaces and Essences will profoundly enrich our understanding of our own minds. By plunging the reader into an extraordinary variety of colorful situations involving language, thought, and memory, by revealing bit by bit the constantly churning cognitive mechanisms normally completely hidden from view, and by discovering in them one central, invariant core — the incessant, unconscious quest for strong analogical links to past experiences — this book puts forth a radical and deeply surprising new vision of the act of thinking.
For decades you’ve been told that addiction is an irreversible disease, a biological force over which you have no control. That defeatist message not only is without scientific foundation, but actually prevents your overcoming addiction.
Now, world-renowned addiction expert Stanton Peele demystifies addiction and offers a groundbreaking program that puts at your disposal what does work in treatment and recovery. For four decades, Dr. Peele has challenged our understanding of addiction and recovery. He has developed approaches that break the cycle of addiction and empower us to take control of our lives–including understanding that we are able to direct our own brains to change. In Recover!Dr. Peele’s PERFECT Program takes you through the key concepts of mindfulness–that is, your ability to detach from your addictive experience and to see that it is not who you are–combined with the Buddhist idea of loving kindness, or self-acceptance. It’s an easily grasped, yet multifaceted program that allows your true self to overcome your addictive urges.
Instead of focusing on what’s wrong with you, the PERFECT Program will help you discover, embrace, and build your recovery on what’s already right about you. Combining the best evidence-based treatments with the mindful use of meditation, Recover!presents a life-transforming philosophy for freeing yourself from addiction forever.
No one can escape a sense of awe when reflecting on the workings of the mind: we see, we hear, we feel, we are aware of the world around us. But what is the mind? What do we mean when we say we are “aware” of something? What is this peculiar state in our heads, at once utterly familiar and bewilderingly mysterious, that we call awareness or consciousness?
In Physics in Mind, eminent biophysicist Werner R. Loewenstein argues that to answer these questions, we must first understand the physical mechanisms that underlie the workings of the mind. And so begins an exhilarating journey along the sensory data stream of the brain, which shows how our most complex organ processes the vast amounts of information coming in through our senses to create a coherent, meaningful picture of the world. Bringing information theory to bear on recent advances in the neurosciences, Loewenstein reveals a web of immense computational power inside the brain. He introduces the revolutionary idea that quantum mechanics could be fundamental to how our minds almost instantaneously deal with staggering amounts of information, as in the case of the information streaming through our eyes.
Combining cutting-edge research in neuroscience and physics, Loewenstein presents an ambitious hypothesis about the parallel processing of sensory information that is the heart, hub, and pivot of the cognitive brain. Wide-ranging and brimming with insight, Physics in Mind breaks new ground in our understanding of how the mind works.
What are human beings like? How is knowledge possible? What is truth? Where do moral values come from? Questions like these have stood at the center of Western philosophy for centuries. In addressing them, philosophers have made certain fundamental assumptions-that we can know our own minds by introspection, that most of our thinking about the world is literal, and that reason is disembodied and universal-that are now called into question by well-established results of cognitive science. It has been shown empirically that: Most thought is unconscious. We have no direct conscious access to the mechanisms of thought and language. Our ideas go by too quickly and at too deep a level for us to observe them in any simple way. Abstract concepts are mostly metaphorical. Much of the subject matter of philosophy, such as the nature of time, morality, causation, the mind, and the self, relies heavily on basic metaphors derived from bodily experience. What is literal in our reasoning about such concepts is minimal and conceptually impoverished. All the richness comes from metaphor. For instance, we have two mutually incompatible metaphors for time, both of which represent it as movement through space: in one it is a flow past us and in the other a spatial dimension we move along. Mind is embodied. Thought requires a body-not in the trivial sense that you need a physical brain to think with, but in the profound sense that the very structure of our thoughts comes from the nature of the body. Nearly all of our unconscious metaphors are based on common bodily experiences. Most of the central themes of the Western philosophical tradition are called into question by these findings. The Cartesian person, with a mind wholly separate from the body, does not exist. The Kantian person, capable of moral action according to the dictates of a universal reason, does not exist. The phenomenological person, capable of knowing his or her mind entirely through introspection alone, does not exist. The utilitarian person, the Chomskian person, the poststructuralist person, the computational person, and the person defined by analytic philosophy all do not exist. Then what does? Lakoff and Johnson show that a philosophy responsible to the science of mind offers radically new and detailed understandings of what a person is. After first describing the philosophical stance that must follow from taking cognitive science seriously, they re-examine the basic concepts of the mind, time, causation, morality, and the self: then they rethink a host of philosophical traditions, from the classical Greeks through Kantian morality through modern analytic philosophy. They reveal the metaphorical structure underlying each mode of thought and show how the metaphysics of each theory flows from its metaphors. Finally, they take on two major issues of twentieth-century philosophy: how we conceive rationality, and how we conceive language.
A new term has emerged from the disability movement in the past decade to help change the way we think about neurological disorders: Neurodiversity.
ADHD. Dyslexia. Autism. The number of categories of illnesses listed by the American Psychiatric Association has tripled in the past fifty years. With so many people affected by our growing — culture of disabilities, — it no longer makes sense to hold on to the deficit-ridden idea of neuropsychological illness.
With the sensibility of Oliver Sacks and Kay Redfield Jamison, psychologist Thomas Armstrong offers a revolutionary perspective that reframes many neuropsychological disorders as part of the natural diversity of the human brain rather than as definitive illnesses. Neurodiversity emphasizes their positive dimensions, showing how people with ADHD, bipolar disorder, and other conditions have inherent evolutionary advantages that, matched with the appropriate environment or ecological niche, can help them achieve dignity and wholeness in their lives.
How does your personality shape your life and what, if anything, can you do about it?
Are you hardwired for happiness, or born to brood? Do you think you’re in charge of your future, or do you surf the waves of unknowable fate? Would you be happier, or just less socially adept, if you were less concerned about what other people thought of you? And what about your “Type A” spouse: is he or she destined to have a heart attack, or just drive you to drink?
In the past few decades, new scientific research has transformed old ideas about the nature of human personality. Neuroscientists, biologists, and psychological scientists have reexamined the theories of Freud and Jung as well as the humanistic psychologies of the 1960s, upending the simplistic categorizations of personality “types,” and developing new tools and methods for exploring who we are. Renowned professor and pioneering research psychologist Brian R. Little has been at the leading edge of this new science. In this wise and witty book he shares a wealth of new data and provocative insights about who we are, why we act the way we do, what we can — and can’t — change, and how we can best thrive in light of our “nature.”
Me, Myself, and Us explores questions that are rooted in the origins of human consciousness but are as commonplace as yesterday’s breakfast conversation, such as whether our personality traits are “set” by age thirty or whether our brains and selves are more plastic. He considers what our personalities portend for our health and success, and the extent to which our well-being depends on the personal projects we pursue.
Through stories, studies, personal experiences, and entertaining interactive assessments, Me, Myself, and Us provides a lively, thought-provoking, and ultimately optimistic look at the possibilities and perils of being uniquely ourselves, while illuminating the selves of the familiar strangers we encounter, work with, and love.