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The Brain and the Meaning of Life
Paul Thagard

Book Description | Reviews
Chapter 1 [in PDF format]

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

Preface xi
Acknowledgments xv

Chapter 1: We All Need Wisdom 1
Why Live? 1
Sources of Wisdom 3
Philosophical Approaches 5
The Relevance of Minds and Brains 6
Looking Ahead 8
Conclusion 12

Chapter 2: Evidence Beats Faith 13
Faith versus Evidence 13
How Faith Works 14
How Evidence Works 20
Evidence and Inference in Science 23
Medicine: Evidence or Faith? 27
Evidence, Truth, and God 32
A Priori Reasoning and Thought Experiments 35
Conclusion 40

Chapter 3: Minds Are Brains 42
The Brain Revolution 42
Evidence That Minds Are Brains 43
Evidence for Dualism? 54
Objections to Mind-Brain Identity 59
Who Are You? 63
Conclusion 64

Chapter 4: How Brains Know Reality 67
Reality and Its Discontents 67
Knowing Objects 69
Appearance and Reality 72
Concepts 76
Knowledge beyond Perception 81
Coherence in the Brain 85
Coherence and Truth 90
Conclusion 92

Chapter 5: How Brains Feel Emotions 94
Emotions Matter 94
Valuations in the Brain 95
Cognitive Appraisal versus Bodily Perception 98
Synthesis: The EMOCON Model 100
Emotional Consciousness 105
Multilevel Explanations 108
Rationality and Affective Afflictions 111
Conclusion 116

Chapter 6: How Brains Decide 119
Big Decisions 119
Inference to the Best Plan 121
Decisions in the Brain 123
Changing Goals 126
How to Make Bad Decisions 133
Living without Free Will 137
Conclusion 140

Chapter 7: Why Life Is Worth Living 142
The Meaning of Life 142
Nihilism 143
Happiness 146
Goals and Meaning 149
Love 152
Work 158
Play 161
Conclusion 165

Chapter 8: Needs and Hopes 168
Wants versus Needs 168
Vital Needs 169
How Love, Work, and Play Satisfy Needs 171
Balance, Coherence, and Change 176
Hope versus Despair 177
Conclusion 182

Chapter 9: Ethical Brains 183
Ethical Decisions 183
Conscience and Moral Intuitions 184
Mirror Neurons 188
Empathy 190
Moral Motivation 192
Ethical Theory 195
Moral Objectivity 201
Responsibility 204
Conclusion 206

Chapter 10. Making Sense of It All 209
Connections Made 209
Wisdom Gained 213
What Kind of Government Should Countries Have? 215
How Can Creative Change Be Produced? 217
What Is Mathematical Knowledge? 221
Why Is There Something and Not Nothing? 224
The Future of Wisdom 226

Notes 231
Glossary 251
References 255
Index 271

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File created: 7/11/2014

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