What is consciousness? What does it mean to be aware of something, to be aware of our selves? To explain scientifically these questions and other aspects of mind is the ultimate goal of current brain research.
In this overview of what is now known about brain functioning, biophysicist Bernard Korzeniewski constructs a novel theory about how consciousness gradually emerged in the course of evolution from the single neuron in certain species of sea anemone to the complex neural network of the human brain.
He first explains how integrative and associative neural structures form the material substrate of the subjective conceptual network. He goes on to demonstrate how the system of instincts plus reward and punishment mechanisms makes the neural/conceptual network intentional. Finally, he argues that self-consciousness emerged when the cognitive center in the brain, which evolved to receive signals from sensory receptors, began to receive signals from itself. It thus created a representational model of itself within itself, and from this our sense of self-awareness emerged.
In the end, the author suggests that as more is learned about the working of the brain, philosophical problems that have caused centuries of speculation will simply be resolved by the facts of neurophysiology.
Rich in detail about the latest brain research yet accessible to the lay reader, this stimulating book offers much to ponder.
From Neurons to Self-Consciousness by Bernard Korzeniewski