SECOND ­NATURE: Brain Science and Human Knowledge

From The Wislon Quarterly:

Book_3 In Second Nature, Nobel ­Prize–­winning neuroscientist Gerald Edelman proposes what he calls ­“brain-­based epistemology,” which aims at solving the mystery of how we acquire knowledge by grounding it in an understanding of how the brain ­works.

Edelman’s title is, in part, meant “to call attention to the fact that our thoughts often float free of our realistic descriptions of nature,” even as he sets out to explore how the mind and the body interact. He favors the idea that the brain and mind are unified, but has little patience with the claim that the brain is a computer. Fortunately for the general reader, his explanations of brain function are accessible, buttressed by concrete examples and ­metaphors.

Edelman suggests that thanks to the recent development of instruments capable of measuring brain structure within millimeters and brain activity within milliseconds, perceptions, thoughts, memories, willed acts, and other mind matters traditionally considered private and impenetrable to scientific scrutiny now can be correlated with brain activity. Our consciousness (a ­“first-­person affair” displaying intentionality, reflecting beliefs and desires, etc.), our creativity, even our value systems, have a basis in brain ­function.

More here.