Super-quick book review: Reading in the Brain

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Super-quick book review: Reading in the Brain

I just finished reading this utterly fascinating book, Reading in the Brain, by Stanislas Dehaene, who is a French neuroscientist who either writes excellent English, or had some help from his editor/ghost-writer. Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if he wrote the English himself. This guy is also studies language, and has an apparent Eastern European ancestry, so who knows how many languages he's fluent in?

Anyway, I super-mega-ultima-recommend this book. Anyone interested in the brain, human consciousness, human evolution/origins, language, learning, memetics/culture, etc. should absolutely hunt this book down and read it.

I have to go to work right now, which is why this is a super-quick review. But something someone said in another thread sparked me to write about this to my fellow RRers.

I disagree with Dehaene's superficial dismissal of the concept of memes, but by understanding how a written symbol gets translated into *understanding* in the brain, this book will help you understand not only how reading works, but how the human mind interfaces with the elements of culture, and is changed by it, and in turn changes it.

I had so many mind-blowing experiences reading this book. That is the main reason I recommend it so strongly. This guy is a real scientist, and he explains in great detail how the brain reads culture, and he doesn't dress it up in any mumbo jumbo, but at the same time, it's very easy to follow along.

Again, any of you rational responders who want to understand how the mind works, e.g. the religious mind as well as the rational mind, get this book.

He has another book on numbers/mathematics, which I now desperately want to read, but can't afford it. (Hmm, I should start one of those wishlist things.)

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cj
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your library is a marvelous place

Both books are available at my library - it's a lot less expensive than any bookseller.   Thanks, I've got them on hold.

-- I feel so much better since I stopped trying to believe.

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Atheistextremist
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Nice tip

 

Thanks for that one - will have a look...

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck


Cpt_pineapple
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natural wrote:I disagree

natural wrote:

I disagree with Dehaene's superficial dismissal of the concept of memes, but by understanding how a written symbol gets translated into *understanding* in the brain, this book will help you understand not only how reading works, but how the human mind interfaces with the elements of culture, and is changed by it, and in turn changes it.

 

What are his arguments against them and how does he support them?

 

 


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Cpt_pineapple wrote:natural

Cpt_pineapple wrote:

natural wrote:

I disagree with Dehaene's superficial dismissal of the concept of memes, but by understanding how a written symbol gets translated into *understanding* in the brain, this book will help you understand not only how reading works, but how the human mind interfaces with the elements of culture, and is changed by it, and in turn changes it.

 

What are his arguments against them and how does he support them?

 

 

super-quick reply for same reasons (have to go to work): He presents them as a straw man, of course, as do almost all critics of memes. He says the concept of the meme eliminates (as in eliminative reductionism) the idea of personal agency, and bestows a mysterious and unexplained agency to the memes themselves. And other arguments, but that was his worst straw man.

Funny enough, he goes on to describe his own ideas of the mechanism of cultural evolution, and they are almost exactly what a memeticist would defend.

I think the word 'meme' is much like the word 'atheist'. People (e.g. agnostics) distance themselves from it because of the purported (and false) consequences of taking the idea seriously.

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