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Second Nature: Brain Science and Human Knowledge


reviewed by Michael L. Anderson — January 08, 2008

coverTitle: Second Nature: Brain Science and Human Knowledge
Author(s): Gerald Edelman
Publisher: Yale University Press, New Haven
ISBN: 0300120397, Pages: 224, Year: 2006
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Reading this book is, I imagine, very much like having a conversation with—by which I mean listening to—Gerald Edelman on topics of great interest: evolution; the brain; consciousness; and the nature and limits of human knowledge. Normally, this would be a great recommendation for a work, as one would assume the informality of style and intimacy of tone would make more accessible the ideas being conveyed. In this case, however, there are a couple of problems. The first is that, at any point in this particular conversation, at most one person understands what is being said; the other problem is that it isn’t always Edelman. This is to say, there are difficulties here with both style and content; indeed, each difficulty is presumably related to the other, and both to the breathtaking ambition of this work. The project of Second Nature is twofold: first, to give the reader a picture of... (preview truncated at 150 words.)


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record, Date Published: January 08, 2008
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 14874, Date Accessed: 10/21/2017 11:57:15 AM

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About the Author
  • Michael Anderson
    Franklin & Marshall College
    E-mail Author
    MICHAEL L. ANDERSON is Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at Franklin & Marshall College, and Visiting Assistant Professor at the Institute for Advanced Computer Studies at the University of Maryland, where he is also a member of the Graduate Faculty in the Program in Neuroscience and Cognitive Science.

    He earned a B.S. in pre-medical studies at the University of Notre Dame, a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Yale University (where he was a Sterling Prize Fellow), and did his post-doctoral work in Computer Science at the University of Maryland, College Park. He was recently recognized as an “emerging leader under 40” by the Renaissance Weekend, and was one of only twenty people world-wide to be invited to attend the McDonnell Project in Philosophy and the Neurosciences workshop for early career researchers.

    Dr. Anderson is author or co-author of over fifty scholarly and scientific publications in artificial intelligence, cognitive science, and philosophy of mind. His best-known article, “Embodied Cognition: A Field Guide,” was one of the most requested articles from Artificial Intelligence for 2003, 2004 and 2006, and has been adopted for courses in computer science, philosophy and psychology in several countries. His current areas of research include using graph-theory based methods to illuminate the functional structure of the cortex, by mining hundreds of brain imaging studies for information about the coactivation of neural components; and an account of the evolution of the brain via exaptation of existing neural circuitry (the “massive redeployment hypothesis”).

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