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The Brain and the Meaning of Life (2010)

by Paul Thagard

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762350,596 (3.38)None
Why is life worth living? What makes actions right or wrong? What is reality and how do we know it? The Brain and the Meaning of Life draws on research in philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience to answer some of the most pressing questions about life's nature and value. Paul Thagard argues that evidence requires the abandonment of many traditional ideas about the soul, free will, and immortality, and shows how brain science matters for fundamental issues about reality, morality, and the meaning of life. The ongoing Brain Revolution reveals how love, work, and play provide good reasons for living. Defending the superiority of evidence-based reasoning over religious faith and philosophical thought experiments, Thagard argues that minds are brains and that reality is what science can discover. Brains come to know reality through a combination of perception and reasoning. Just as important, our brains evaluate aspects of reality through emotions that can produce both good and bad decisions. Our cognitive and emotional abilities allow us to understand reality, decide effectively, act morally, and pursue the vital needs of love, work, and play. Wisdom consists of knowing what matters, why it matters, and how to achieve it. The Brain and the Meaning of Life shows how brain science helps to answer questions about the nature of mind and reality, while alleviating anxiety about the difficulty of life in a vast universe. The book integrates decades of multidisciplinary research, but its clear explanations and humor make it accessible to the general reader.… (more)
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I read this because I had approached Thagard in an attempt to do research with him; he told me he wouldn't talk to me before I read his book. After reading his book, I decided I no longer wanted to do research with him. ( )
  isovector | Dec 13, 2020 |
For more than half of the book the author writes about the view that we are mere chemical in action, the rest of the book he keeps repeating (perhaps like twenty times) that work, play and love are the columns upon which to create a meaningful life.

A quote from the book: "The fact that the universe doesn't care about you should not be horribly distressing as long as there are people who do".

I wonder if our society is actually favouring people to have meaningful jobs, forms of entertainment and relationships. I actually think Mr. Thagard is in a quite unique position in this respect, but that doesn't apply to 99% of people. ( )
  Princesca | Mar 25, 2015 |
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About the book: The Brain and the Meaning of Life by Paul Thagard was first published in 2012. The book is unique in that it explores the meaning of life through the lens of neuropsychology. With that said, it takes a very empirical approach to the subject and starts out by going over the scientific method. For those with a science background, getting through the first few chapters may be a bit tedious, while for others who are strongly religious may be slightly offended by the scientific approach.

Overall, Thagard’s book is interesting but a bit dry in many places. At times, the scientific arguments are a bit basic, and at other times they are too in-depth for the layperson. This is understandable for a popular science book, as the author must write to a general audience that comes from all types of backgrounds.
added by endev42 | editendev42 (Mar 12, 2017)
 

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For my sons, Adam and Dan.
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Why is life worth living? What makes actions right or wrong? What is reality and how do we know it? The Brain and the Meaning of Life draws on research in philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience to answer some of the most pressing questions about life's nature and value. Paul Thagard argues that evidence requires the abandonment of many traditional ideas about the soul, free will, and immortality, and shows how brain science matters for fundamental issues about reality, morality, and the meaning of life. The ongoing Brain Revolution reveals how love, work, and play provide good reasons for living. Defending the superiority of evidence-based reasoning over religious faith and philosophical thought experiments, Thagard argues that minds are brains and that reality is what science can discover. Brains come to know reality through a combination of perception and reasoning. Just as important, our brains evaluate aspects of reality through emotions that can produce both good and bad decisions. Our cognitive and emotional abilities allow us to understand reality, decide effectively, act morally, and pursue the vital needs of love, work, and play. Wisdom consists of knowing what matters, why it matters, and how to achieve it. The Brain and the Meaning of Life shows how brain science helps to answer questions about the nature of mind and reality, while alleviating anxiety about the difficulty of life in a vast universe. The book integrates decades of multidisciplinary research, but its clear explanations and humor make it accessible to the general reader.

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