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Wider Than the Sky: The Phenomenal Gift of Consciousness (英語) ハードカバー – 2004/2/9

5つ星のうち 5.0 1 件のカスタマーレビュー

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How does the firing of neurons give rise to subjective sensations, thoughts, and emotions? How can the disparate domains of mind and body be reconciled? The quest for a scientifically based understanding of consciousness has attracted study and speculation across the ages. In this direct and non-technical discussion of consciousness, Dr. Gerald M. Edelman draws on a lifetime of scientific inquiry into the workings of the brain to formulate answers to the mind-body questions that intrigue every thinking person.
Concise and understandable, the book explains pertinent findings of modern neuroscience and describes how consciousness arises in complex brains. Edelman explores the relation of consciousness to causation, to evolution, to the development of the self, and to the origins of feelings, learning, and memory. His analysis of the brain activities underlying consciousness is based on recent remarkable advances in biochemistry, immunology, medical imaging, neuroscience, and evolutionary biology, yet the implications of his book extend farther—beyond the worlds of science and medicine into virtually every area of human inquiry.


“[An] elegant . . . laudable, [and] accessible exploration of what’s happening in neuroscience, biochemistry, and other disciplines, and an insightful examination of the trait that defines humans above all other organisms.”—San Diego Union-Tribune

“Highly readable.”—Oliver Sacks, New York Review of Books

“Consciousness is a hot topic, but still a mystery. One of the leaders of the scientific approach to the study of consciousness, Gerald Edelman has written a book that is a good roadmap for the lay reader.”—Francis Crick, author of The Astonishing Hypothesis



  • ハードカバー: 224ページ
  • 出版社: Yale University Press (2004/2/9)
  • 言語: 英語
  • ISBN-10: 0300102291
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300102291
  • 発売日: 2004/2/9
  • 商品パッケージの寸法: 21.4 x 14.6 x 2.1 cm
  • おすすめ度: 5つ星のうち 5.0 1 件のカスタマーレビュー
  • Amazon 売れ筋ランキング: 洋書 - 19,936位 (洋書の売れ筋ランキングを見る)
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5つ星のうち 5.0


形式: ハードカバー
~2004年になって「意識」の科学的解明における2組のパイオニアがそれぞれの手による書物を刊行した。その一つがこのGerald Edelmanによる"Wider than sky(sky)"であり、もう一つがCristof Koch(とFrancis Crick)による"The quest for~~ consciousness(Quest)"である。脳科学の知識を多分に必要とする専門書の体裁をとった"Quest"に対し、"Sky"は脳科学の知識をもたない一般人を対象としているため極めて平易な、しかし好奇心をかき立てる表現で「意識」の科学的探求の成果と諸問題について語っている。そのため脳科学の知識を持たなくとも1冊の辞書を手元に用意するだけで「脳がどのように意識を生~~み出すか」、「意識について何が分かっており、何が分かっていないのか」についての概要を知ることができる。そして、彼はこの書の中で何度も越境を試み、哲学、認知科学、言語学、ひいては精神神経医学との交流を果たす。心や脳について一度でも考えたことのあるものであれば、この書物を読み終えるまでに幾度も興奮することがあるだろう。同じノーベル賞受~~賞者である2組のグループがそれぞれ「意識」に関する脳科学的アプローチを牽引してきたとは言え、2組の立場は鮮明に異なっており、ここではCrickやKochに対する批判も見受けられる。しかし...続きを読む ›
コメント 16人のお客様がこれが役に立ったと考えています. このレビューは参考になりましたか? はい いいえ 評価を送る...

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Amazon.com: 5つ星のうち 3.7 27 件のカスタマーレビュー
2 人中、2人の方が、「このレビューが参考になった」と投票しています。
5つ星のうち 4.0 Hard to see the forest for the trees and vice versa... 2013/6/17
投稿者 Brian C. - (Amazon.com)
形式: ペーパーバック Amazonで購入
This is a hard book for me to review. On the one hand, it is a very exciting read. There are few topics that are as inherently fascinating as the nature of consciousness. This book is attempting to answer what is, probably, the biggest philosophical/scientific question of our times: how is it possible for the material brain to produce consciousness? Edelman is also one of the most qualified people to address such a topic. Edelman has worked out a theory of what he calls Neural Darwinism, based on reentry dynamics in the brain, that he believes can explain consciousness. Edelman discusses a number of extremely interesting topics. He critiques the notion that the brain operates like a computer, he discusses the place of values in the scientific world, the origin of qualia and the first-person perspective, the origin of concepts and language, the origin of the distinction between conscious and nonconscious (or unconscious) processes, and personal identity. These are huge and fascinating topics. The problem is: this book is meant to be accessible to the layperson, and, it is not nearly as accessible as it could be. The book suffers, in my opinion, from two problems.

First, it is often difficult to grasp the forest for the trees. There are, for example, lots of really interesting, isolated, insights throughout the book. For example, Edelman argues that the brain is not like a computer partly because the inputs to the brain from the environment are not unambiguous (35). The brain has to constructively and creatively respond to the environment and the constructions or distinctions that survive are those that are selected based on pressures from the value systems (if I am understanding Edelman correctly). This means that there is a lot of room for individual variation, and it means that the brain is far more creative in its relation to the world than the computer model would suggest. Those are really interesting ideas. The problem is: I do not think Edelman does enough to connect them to his overall model of consciousness. Actually, I should say, he does not explain those connections clearly enough to be fully intelligible to the layperson.

Second, it is often difficult to grasp the trees for the forest. For example, I believe Edelman's primary thesis is that consciousness arises from the interactions between the thalamocortical system, the basal ganglia system, and the value systems. It is possible for the attentive reader to get that much, but Edelman does not, in my opinion, do a good enough job describing or explaining the details of how those three systems function, to allow the layperson to get a clear idea of how their interaction gives rise to consciousness. The value systems, for example, certainly play a huge role in Edelman's theory of consciousness, but he does not adequately explain what they are, and in the glossary that he provides the value systems are defined as "The constraining elements in a selectional system consisting in the brain of diffuse ascending systems such as the dopaminergic system, the cholinergic system, and the noradrenergic system" (180). All that the reader can gather from that definition is, 1) that the value systems are in some way the constraining elements in Edelman's neural darwinism (something like fitness) and 2) a list of the systems. It is difficult to get a really clear understanding of how they actually contribute to producing consciousness.

Now, I should admit that I am a layperson in the field of neuroscience. Philosophy is my field but I have recently become very interested in the philosophy of mind and problems relating to the origins of consciousness. I will say that the determined reader will be more than capable of getting a lot of interesting insights out of Edelman's book. They will also, probably, have a vague sense of Edelman's overall theory of the origins of consciousness, but, if the reader is like me, they will find it difficult to really speak intelligently about Edelman's theory after reading this book, and they probably will not come away with a really solid understanding of Edelman's theory. I think the book should have been about twice as long, with a lot more diagrams, which would have allowed Edelman to walk through the details of his theory in a step by step fashion. Perhaps he does that in his other books. Overall, I would definitely recommend reading Edelman if you are interested in problems relating to consciousness, and, if you have a fairly strong background in neuroscience, this book will probably be a breeze. However, if you do not have a strong background be prepared to work, and be prepared to be a little bit frustrated. I was particularly frustrated because I felt like I understood Edelman well enough to know that he was talking about the issues that I am most interested in, but I did not understand him well enough to know precisely what he was saying about them. I will be trying Edelman again after I have read more on the brain and, perhaps, my opinion will change.
2 人中、2人の方が、「このレビューが参考になった」と投票しています。
5つ星のうち 4.0 A very interesting and informative account of a distinguished neurologist's theory of consciousness 2010/10/6
投稿者 Jhordan Gil - (Amazon.com)
形式: ペーパーバック Amazonで購入
In this concise and informative book, author Gerald Edelman, M.D., Ph.D., attempts to provide readers an understanding of his theory of consciousness based on scientific evidence rather than philosophical inquiry. Dr. Edelman, who won a Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for his research applying Darwinian principles to his study of the diversity of antibodies, applies Darwinian principles of selection and variation to the nervous system. He is well-published in the topic of consciousness both in scholarly journals and in books such as Neural Darwinism (1987), Topobiology (1988), Remembered Present (1990), Bright Air, Brilliant Fire (1992), and A Universe of Consciousness (2000, written with Giulio Tononi). This book consists of 200 pages and is divided into a table of contents including subtitles, 12 chapters, a useful glossary, an index, and a rather limited bibliography.

The book, appropriately, opens with a poem by Emily Dickinson which describes the brain as "wider than the Sky," "deeper than the sea," and "just the weight of God." In this way Dr. Edelman affirms that to explain consciousness is no easy task, but it is nonetheless the task which he undertakes, and he mostly succeeds. The most basic premise on which Dr. Edelman's theory rests is that consciousness can be explained via scientific inquiry. He attempts to answer the question: "How can the firing of neurons give rise to subjective sensations, thoughts, and emotions?" The answer is framed for the lay reader, although at times the prose becomes dense and reads more like scholarly article than a book for a general audience. Still, the contents of the book are interesting enough to encourage the reader to push past the dense portions. The book provides an excellent overview of brain anatomy related to consciousness, connection and communication between different parts of the brain, the causality between the nervous system and consciousness, and the neurological differences between non-conscious activities and consciousness.

In the first brief chapter of the book, Dr. Edelman defines what he means by "consciousness" by outlining some of the key properties which his theory attempts to explain, such as that it is continuous, continually changing, not exhaustive, and integrative. Dr. Edelman also explains that consciousness as a process is the "dynamic accomplishment of the distributed activities of neurons in many different areas of the brain." This quote, indeed, is a very neat summary of his view and is representative of his writing style.

The first section of the book consists of a brief lesson on the anatomy of the brain focusing primarily on the thalamus, cortex, brain stem, basal ganglia and the various interactions between these regions. Special attention is focused on re-entrant pathways between the thalamus and cortex as Dr. Edelman asserts that it was the development of these connections that allowed the development of consciousness by allowing organisms to integrate present inputs from the environment with memory (neuronal memory) of past events and link the two via categorization. Additionally, Dr. Edelman explains Neural Darwinism (more specifically the theory of neuronal group selection, TNGS) which essentially states that due to the extreme variation in brain chemistry and pathways, a path must be selected, and the paths that are selected are based on value-systems from the brain stem. Essentially, neuronal or genetic memories of what is good and bad for the organism drive the selection of pathways via re-entrant pathways connecting the thalamus to the cortex. Thus, consciousness results from this never-ending selection of pathways at each instant in time driven by value-systems from the anterior brain. Dr. Edelman systematically explains this concept by linking the functions of the above-mentioned brain systems to Dr. Edelman's Theory of Neuronal Group Selection.

While most of the book focuses on primary consciousness and a thorough explanation thereof, the latter part is dedicated to explaining higher order consciousness. According to Dr. Edelman, "primary consciousness is the state of being mentally aware of things in the world, of having mental images in the present." Conversely, higher order consciousness is "the ability to be conscious of being conscious, and it allows the recognition by a thinking subject of his or her own acts and affections." Thus, only an organism with higher order consciousness has a concept of past and future and can plan accordingly. Dr. Edelman asserts that only humans and some higher primates (to a lesser degree) have higher order consciousness. Rather than really explaining a neurological basis for higher order consciousness, Dr. Edelman just states that like primary consciousness, it was evolved. He also hypothesizes that higher order consciousness probably stems from the ability to formulate language and develop a semantic system. Instead of delving into the highly interesting topics of identity and the mind-body problem as implied by the titles of his last two chapters, Dr. Edelman seems to avoid the titles of these chapters and really just summarizes his theory of consciousness.

Overall, Dr. Edelman accomplishes his goal of concisely and clearly explaining his theory of consciousness. However, it must be noted that some of the language in the book would be difficult for someone not accustomed to reading some scientific academic literature. Additionally, it can be vexing that Dr. Edelman does not seem to like recognizing other researchers' work within his text. Even his bibliography seems quite short given the range of information he covers. He seems to pose his theories and hypotheses as facts and does not recognize other biologically based theories of consciousness, which do exist. Additionally, he does not really address criticism of his theory. Still, I would recommend this book to anyone looking for an interesting and overall enjoyable account of a brilliant scientist's theory of one of the most interesting topics in philosophy, psychology, and now neurology.
5つ星のうち 4.0 Loved Edelman's book 2013/9/20
投稿者 Manuel A. Ramos - (Amazon.com)
形式: Kindle版 Amazonで購入
Edelman's book provides a very convincing theory of what underlies
consciousness, right up there A. Damasio's, T. Deacon's, & others , who've done serious
investigative work on the ultimate frontier: how the self, consciousness & related areas
evolve. As important, "Wider than the sky..." is generally reader friendly, tho' in some
parts focused attention is required to follow lines of reasoning & illustrations. Well worth
the reader's time in understanding the above subject area.
9 人中、8人の方が、「このレビューが参考になった」と投票しています。
5つ星のうち 3.0 Evades a lot of the issues 2009/4/25
投稿者 The Frog Lady - (Amazon.com)
形式: ペーパーバック Amazonで購入
This brief book, intended for a lay audience, is one of a series by Gerald Edelman. It lays out his concepts of the neural basis of consciousness, but I, as a neuroscientist, found it very disappointing. The problem was not the level of simplification required for helping the intended audience grasp the terminology and basic concepts of neuroscience. Rather, my discontent stemmed from Edelman's raising of testable hypotheses and then unceremoniously dropping them. For example, he posits that higher consciousness arises evolutionarily at the transition from reptiles to mammals, but he never goes on to discuss how one would really assess this intriguing idea. Can you find neuroantomical or physiological differences in the two groups that can reveal deep insights into consciousness? We are never told.
11 人中、9人の方が、「このレビューが参考になった」と投票しています。
5つ星のうち 5.0 One of our Greatest Intellectual Mysteries Finally solved 2006/3/11
投稿者 Herbert L Calhoun - (Amazon.com)
形式: ペーパーバック Amazonで購入
Building systematically and admirably on his previous work (A Universe of Consciousness), Gerald Edelman, has finally succeeded in cracking the cosmic code of the mind body problem, or how the conscious mind is a direct product of, rather than an indirect, or by-produce of, or even an epiphenomenon of, physical processes that take place in the brain.

Not only has he exhibited the brain parts, chemical processes and functions responsible for consciousness, also he has mapped them into identifiable aspects of conscious processes themselves. And more importantly, in doing so, his research meets the highest cannon of scientific enquiry: It is empirically based, definitions and hypotheses are lay out clearly; and then they are systematically and clearly proven. Every aspect of the research is transparent and replicable. It is also simply explained, but following Einstein's famous edict, it is not explained simpler than necessary. Yet, even where it is not so simple, it is clear enough that the courageous reader -- bent on following this exiciting adventure to the bitter end -- can indeed follow and understand the meaning of these important conclusions.

In an inmaterial aside, I must say I had put all my bets on another horse in this race to immortality. I thought that Dan Dennett and his computer analogies would in the end prove weightier in this important scientific foot race.

Dispite my earlier misgivings about the Edelman approach, I now know that this always was the best horse in the race. I am thus a happy loser. Two cheers and five stars for the winner.
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