Altered Egos: How the Brain Creates the Self Feinberg, T.E 2002

From Booklist
Feinberg is a neurologist whose treatment of patients with bizarre mental illnesses has led him to ponder that sense of mental unity we call experience. As brain research has progressed, that sense has remained stubbornly resistant to explication; indeed, it has grown more mysterious even as the anatomy of the living brain has become well understood. Feinberg frequently iterates this paradox before propounding his answer to it; before then, he recounts patients who exhibited, following an injury to their brains, a drastic degradation in self-awareness. Previously ordinary people can no longer recognize themselves in mirrors; believe that their limbs belong to somebody else; and, if blinded, insist their vision is 20/20. To Feinberg, these symptoms reinforce his impression of the self’s malleability and initiate his argument, with references to Descartes, about how the brain shapes the self. He offers, after refuting notions that the organ has a locus for the self as it does for vision, a version of the self-as-emergent-phenomenon idea. Avoiding undue technical jargon, Feinberg’s presentation ably elucidates for general readers the material/ethereal nexus of self-perception. Gilbert Taylor
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