A gifted young writer explores the unexpected links between art and modern science.
From a rising journalist and Rhodes scholar, a dazzling look at how five writers, a painter, a composer, and a chef discovered the truth about the mind.
In this technology-driven age, itís tempting to believe that science can solve every mystery. After all, science has cured countless diseases and even sent humans into space. But as Jonah Lehrer argues in this sparkling and original book, science is not the only path to knowledge. In fact, where the brain is concerned, art got there first.
Focusing on a group of artists -- a painter, a poet, a chef, a composer, and a handful of novelists -- Lehrer shows how each one discovered an essential truth about the human mind that science is only now rediscovering. We learn, for example, how Proust first revealed the fallibility of memory; how George Eliot discovered the brainís malleability; how the French chef Escoffier discovered umami (the fifth taste); how Cťzanne worked out the subtleties of vision; and how Gertrude Stein exposed the deep structure of language a full half-century before Chomsky. Itís the ultimate tale of art trumping science.
More broadly, Lehrer shows that there is a cost to reducing everything to atoms and acronyms and genes. Measurement is not the same as understanding, and this is what art knows better than science. An ingenious blend of biography, criticism, and first-rate science writing, Proust Was a Neuroscientist urges science to listen more closely to art, for the right minds can combine the best of both to brilliant effect.