Splendours and Miseries of the Brain: Love, Creativity and the Quest for Human Happiness

Semir Zeki

Splendours and Miseries of the Brain: Love, Creativity and the Quest for Human Happiness

The brain is an evolutionary triumph of neural engineering. Its capacity to seek knowledge and form generalized concepts is boundless. In this ground–breaking new study, Semir Zeki explores the enormously elegant and efficient machinery of the brain to analyze its products in creative disciplines and discover whether or not this intricate system brings different solutions to bear in solving problems in disparate fields. Splendors and Miseries of the Brain, which is derived from Balzac’s novel of the same name, delves into the brain’s key functions of obtaining knowledge and forming concepts about the world. While these functions have been more thoroughly documented in neurobiology’s traditional disciplines—physiology, anatomy, biochemistry, pharmacology, mathematics, and computer science, to name but a few—Zeki goes beyond these fields to scientifically study the products of the brain in literature, music, art, and other fields. By studying these fields, Zeki shows that we can reach important conclusions about how the brain functions and its common processes. He also examines the heavy price to be paid in terms of human happiness that comes with the exquisite capacity of the brain and shows how misery can ultimately be turned to advantage, due to its intimate link to creativity. 4.0 out of 5 based on 1 reviews
Splendours and Miseries of the Brain: Love, Creativity and the Quest for Human Happiness

Omniscore:

Classification Non-fiction
Genre Psychology & Psychiatry
Format Hardback
Pages 240
RRP £16.99
Date of Publication November 2008
ISBN 978-1405185578
Publisher WileyBlackwell
 

The brain is an evolutionary triumph of neural engineering. Its capacity to seek knowledge and form generalized concepts is boundless. In this ground–breaking new study, Semir Zeki explores the enormously elegant and efficient machinery of the brain to analyze its products in creative disciplines and discover whether or not this intricate system brings different solutions to bear in solving problems in disparate fields. Splendors and Miseries of the Brain, which is derived from Balzac’s novel of the same name, delves into the brain’s key functions of obtaining knowledge and forming concepts about the world. While these functions have been more thoroughly documented in neurobiology’s traditional disciplines—physiology, anatomy, biochemistry, pharmacology, mathematics, and computer science, to name but a few—Zeki goes beyond these fields to scientifically study the products of the brain in literature, music, art, and other fields. By studying these fields, Zeki shows that we can reach important conclusions about how the brain functions and its common processes. He also examines the heavy price to be paid in terms of human happiness that comes with the exquisite capacity of the brain and shows how misery can ultimately be turned to advantage, due to its intimate link to creativity.

Reviews

The Guardian

Steven Rose

Excellent... Zeki has gone on to test part of his thesis in a fascinating and imaginative experiment, recruiting a group of young men and women who claimed to be "truly, deeply and madly in love" and imaging their brains as they look at photographs of their beloveds... Of course, there are always technical criticisms that can be levelled at such experiments... but the results are thought-provoking... My problem with Zeki's argument is more fundamental. In what sense is it appropriate to say that the brain, an assemblage of interconnected cells, has "concepts", whether inherited or acquired?

27/12/2008

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