Applying insights from neuroscience to philosophical questions about the self, consciousness, and the healthy mind.
Can we “see” or “find” consciousness in the brain? How can we create working definitions of consciousness and subjectivity, informed by what contemporary research and technology have taught us about how the brain works? How do neuronal processes in the brain relate to our experience of a personal identity?
To explore these and other questions, Georg Northoff turns to examples of unhealthy minds. By investigating consciousness through its absence in a vegetative state, for example, we can develop a model for understanding its presence in an active, healthy person. By examining instances of distorted self-recognition in people with psychiatric disorders, like schizophrenia, we can begin to understand how the experience of “self” is established in a stable brain.
Taking an integrative approach to understanding the self, consciousness, and what it means to be mentally healthy, this book brings insights from neuroscience to bear on philosophical questions.
Reviews and Endorsements:
“It is a rare thing to be a philosopher, clinician, and neuroscientist, but George Northoff is all three. In this wonderful book, he brings his unique and deeply learned perspective to problems of self, identity, and consciousness, and shows how understanding certain clinical disorders can enlighten us on the nature of the human mind, the brain, and even the age-old questions of being and time.” — Todd E. Feinberg, MD, Professor of Psychiatry and Neurology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mt Sinai; author of From Axons to Identity
“A synopsis of consciousness as a bridge between the brain and the world, grounded and contextualized with poignant examples from neuroscience and psychiatry. Northoff projects us toward coherent understandings of the self, the mind, and experience, with far-reaching philosophical and clinical implications. A truly intriguing perspective on the intractable mind-brain-body problem.” — Jaak Panksepp, PhD, College of Veterinary Medicine, Washington State University, author of The Archaeology of Mind
About the Author:
Georg Northoff, MD, PhD, a neuroscientist, philosopher, and psychiatrist, is professor of neuroscience, psychiatry, and philosophy at the University of Ottawa Institute of Mental Health Research. He lives in Rockcliffe, Ontario.