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Being rational is not denying oneself emotions. The brain which thinks, calculates, and makes decisions is not a different entity to the one which laughs, cries, loves, and experiences pleasure and annoyance. The heart has reasons that reason itself is far from being ignorant of. In opposition to the old Cartesian dualism and to all those who wish to reduce the functioning of the human mind to detached calculations worthy of a supercomputer stands the results of the latest neurological research : the absence of emotions and sentiments prevents us from being really rational. Antonio R. Damasio heads the department of neurology at the University of Iowa, in the United States, and teaches at the Institute of Biological Studies of La Jolla.
When a rich English woman, a grouchy scientist, a bonobo monkey and a young man interested in religion meet together in a castle of Provence, what do they do? They talk. And what do they talk about? About the origins of life, the appearance of language, about the secrets of memory, or about the emergence of desire. Subtle and witty, J.-D. Vincent, a neurobiologist, author of The Biology of Passions, offers us here a defense and an illustration of material reason.
Where does the gift of artistic genius come from? Why Mozart, why Doestoevsky and Van Gogh? What happens in the brain of a man who devotes his life to writing, painting or music? What is it that pushes us towards the pleasure of listening to a symphony, to the emotion of contemplating a painting, to the joy of reading a poem? Roger Vigouroux is a neurologist.
For the first time, a psychoanalyst and a neurophysiologist have put their expertise together in order to progress in knowledge. The focus is rather on their ability to listen to each other, and their avoidance of concessions, than on individualistic, polemic arguments. Thus, important bridges are built between the two disciplines, which perhaps heralds the advent of another psychology. Jacques Hochmann is a professor of psychiatrics and a psychoanalyst. Marc Jeannerod is a professor of physiology and a neurophysiologist.
At once philosophical and instructive, this work offers a synthesis of a discipline that marks a revolution, both intellectual and technological, in the approach of the human spirit. John Haugeland teaches philosophy at the University of Pittsburg.
Science has completely renewed our sense of perception. We used to stand impressions, the facts of our senses, in opposition to our superior activities (language, memory, reasoning). J. Ninio shows us an alterior perceptive reasoning . His accessible prose, peppered with many examples and illustrations, presents an original analysis of today s biological and psychological research on perception.
What is it to love? Can one explain the love of Romeo for Juliet? What are desire, pleasure and pain, the taste for power and domination? Moving beyond the traditional split between body and mind, Jean-Didier Vincent proposes a new theory of emotions which brings harmony to our concept of mankind. Jean-Didier Vincent is a neurobiologist and director of the Alfred Fessard Institute of CNRS at Gif-sur-Yvette.