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The Book of the Mind: Key Writings on the Mind from Plato and the Buddha through Shakespeare, Descartes, and Freud to the Latest Discoveries of Neuroscience (2003)
edited by Stephen Wilson
Bloomsbury
432 pages

I think I got a bit hoodwinked by the cover on this one.  It looks really nice with the green background and hand-drawn people, and the subtitle makes it sound like it’s much more appealing to a mainstream audience than it really is.  Though there are samples of writings from all the names mentioned in the title, the vast majority of excerpts are taken from dry academic works by scientists you’ve never heard of.

Most of the excerpts are quite short, about a page or two, so I didn’t feel like there enough space allotted to follow the thought process of any author, and instead you were just lucky if you got a hint of what they were talking about. I picked this book up mostly because I thought it would be the sort of thing that would be full of ideas that make you think and wonder – but it wasn’t anything like that at all.

The book is divided into six main sections: Perception, Memory, Emotion, Thought, Consciousness, and Self.

I think someone who is deeply interested in psychology and psychiatry at an academic level might enjoy this, though the very short excerpts may be a problem even for them.

My favourite quote in here is by Gilbert Ryle:‘The mind is its own place and in his inner life each of us lives the life of a ghostly Robinson Crusoe’ (pg.249)

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