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Soul made flesh : the discovery of the brain-- and how it changed the world

by Zimmer, Carl, 1966-

Format: Print Book 2004
Availability: Available at 2 Libraries 2 of 2 copies
Available (2)
Location Collection Call #
Monroeville Public Library Non-fiction 612.82 ZIMMER
Location  Monroeville Public Library
Collection  Non-fiction
Call Number  612.82 ZIMMER
Shaler North Hills Library Non-Fiction 612.81 Z
Location  Shaler North Hills Library
Collection  Non-Fiction
Call Number  612.81 Z
Soul Made Fleshis the remarkable untold story of a dramatic turning point in history -- the exciting discovery of how the human brain works. In an unprecedented examination of how the secrets of the brain were revealed in seventeenth-century England, award-winning author Carl Zimmer tells an extraordinary tale that unfurls against a deadly backdrop of civil war, plague, and the Great Fire of London. At the beginning of that turbulent century, no one knew how the brain worked or even what it looked like intact. By the century's close, the science of the brain had taken root, helping to overturn many of the most common misconceptions and dominant philosophies about man, God, and the universe. Presiding over the rise of this new scientific paradigm was the founder of modern neurology, Thomas Willis, a fascinating, sympathetic, even heroic figure who stands at the center of an extraordinary group of scientists and philosophers known as the Oxford circle. Chronicled here in vivid detail are their groundbreaking revelations and often gory experiments that first enshrined the brain as the chemical engine of reason, emotion, and madness -- indeed as the very seat of the human soul.Called "as fine a science essayist as we have" byThe New York Times,Zimmer tells the story of this scientific revolution through the lives of a colorful array of alchemists, mystics, utopians, spies, revolutionaries, and kings. He recreates the religious, ethical, and scientific struggles involved in the pioneering autopsies of the brain carried out by Thomas Willis; the discovery of the circulation of blood by William Harvey and his flight from London with his besieged king, Charles I; René Descartes's persecution by Catholics and Protestants alike for his views of the brain and soul; and the experiments and personal dramas of gifted men who forever changed the way science is practiced as they simultaneously upended our view of our human selves and our place in the world.In this distant mirror to our own time of continuing scientific revolution and worldwide social upheaval, Zimmer brings to life the painstaking, innovative discoveries of Willis and his contemporaries -- the taproots of the amazing work of today's neuroscientists, who continue to explore the brain, revealing the hidden workings of emotions, memories, and consciousness. Graced with beautiful illustrations by Christopher Wren, Soul Made Flesh conveys a contagious appreciation for the wonder of the brain, its structure, its many marvelous functions, and the implications for human identity, mind, and morality. It is the definitive history of the dawn of a world-changing science and attitude -- the age of the brain and modern consciousness.
Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "Every Renaissance history tells how seventeenth-century pioneer William Harvey finally solved the riddle of the heart. Yet even among anatomists, few know how one of Harvey's students--Thomas Willis--first systematically dissected an even more mysterious human organ: the brain. A gifted science writer, Zimmer recounts Willis' singular achievement in a narrative that illuminates not only the scientific revolution in medicine but also the cross-grained personality of one of the chief revolutionaries. Readers may marvel that Willis learned enough science to lead a revolution during an Oxford education disrupted by civil war and religious zealotry. But Zimmer recognizes how a few Oxfordians (including Christopher Wren, Robert Boyle, and Robert Hooke) instilled in Willis a deep skepticism toward inherited dogmas and a lively receptivity toward new ideas. Eventually, Willis turned one of those new ideas (a mere glimmer in the rationalist philosophy of Rene Descartes) into a fledgling new science: neurology. In language accessible to general readers (supplemented with illustrator Wren's wonderful drawings from Willis' original work), Zimmer details the groundbreaking research through which Willis mapped the brain and diagnosed its disorders. And beyond Willis' science, Zimmer adumbrates its radical metaphysical implications, which undercut moral and religious doctrines tied to the immaterial soul (doctrines in which, ironically, Willis himself fervently believed). A remarkable fusion of scientific history and cultural analysis. --Bryce Christensen Copyright 2003 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review: "The subtitle doesn't do justice to this illuminating book, which transcends the "history of X and how X changed the world" genre with a deep and contextualized exploration of two millennia's worth of human theories about consciousness and the soul. Zimmer, a columnist for Natural History and author of the highly praised Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea, is interested in how philosophers and scientists moved from a view of the human soul as immaterial and residing in the heart to the common explanation of thought as having a material grounding in the brain and nervous system. His wide-ranging narrative reaches from the days of Aristotle to a 21st-century lab in the basement of a Princeton University building. The central figure in Zimmer's tale is the oft-overlooked 17th-century scientist Thomas Willis, a member of the British Royal Society and colleague of Boyle and Hooke. Willis, a figure of fascinating contradictions, was a conservative, religious royalist raised on a farm outside Oxford, who wound up working on the frontiers of science, as physician to the highest strata of London society and as an experimenter who helped found a new science of the brain. In the end, however, this book is less about Willis in particular than about the evolving metaphysics of the soul in general, and the reader is left with a better picture of the roots of the modern understanding of the self as well as a familiarity with one of the unsung heroes of the scientific revolution. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved"
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Additional Information
Subjects Brain.
Brain -- Miscellanea.
Brain -- History.
Publisher New York :Free Press,2004
Language English
Description xii, 367 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Bibliography Notes Includes bibliographical references (pages 325-348) and index.
ISBN 0743230388
9780743272056 (pbk.)
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