Consciousness is the perhaps the most important common ground for psychology and philosophy, explored best through writing, to say. The traditional belief of a soul – an immaterial, conscious entity responsible for all observable behavior and subjective thinking processes – has long been rejected by adherents of reductionist approaches in science. Some, however, had the guts to actually relate the immaterial concepts to their material origins inside the body, and specifically in the brain, for psychological phenomena. Michael S.A. Graziano puts his expertise in neuroscience and his art of writing to work together in explaining how our immaterial, social, or spiritual concepts are created by our nervous system as explained in his latest book God Soul Mind Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Reflections on the Spirit World (Leapfrog Press 2010).
In easy, clear language, and with helpful examples, Graziano allows the reader to understand the basic mechanisms at work in our nervous system while we experience the reality around and inside of us. He shows how particular areas in the brain function as a system to create perception, including social perception of immaterial entities – god, soul, and morality – which to our understanding are as real as anything. This doesn’t discredit any beliefs as nonsensical or intrinsically false; rather, it shows how all of us own the unique gift of perception that is capable of creating and sustaining the realities that we all need and live (even die) for. Best of all, our realities are essentially alike on the perceptual level; none is more scientific than the other, which is why we would respect science, or neuroscience specifically, as an egalitarian platform.
God Soul Mind Brain is a relatively short book which gets straight to its topic. The way Michael proceeds to let his readers explore the connection between brain, perception, reality, and culture speaks for his enviable teaching skills and clarity as an author. Provided with a list of recommended readings, this book will be worth reading for anyone interested in psychology and philosophy, especially the mind-brain discussion. And it will be a good pick for readers who like informative, interesting topics in science.