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Soul Dust

The Magic of Consciousness

Nicholas Humphrey

Soul Dust - book cover
  • Hardback
  • 6th January 2011
  • £25.00
  • ISBN: 9781849162371

  • Ebook

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'The great strength of this challenging and original foray into the 'hard question' of human consciousness is its combination of scientific rigour with exquisite sensitivity to the thoughts of philosophers, poets, religious thinkers and humanists. Humphrey also never forgets the delicacy of the problem and the need to do justice to the rich phenomena. A delightful and thought-provoking tour de force.' Simon Blackburn, Professor of Philosophy, University of Cambridge.

'A dazzling insight into understanding how and why consciousness evolved.' Bruce Hood, Professor of Psychology, University of Bristol.

'Humphrey, a theoretical psychologist at the top of his game, combines the romantic spirit of a Shelley or Keats with the razor-sharp intellect of a Sherlock Holmes. Here he brings his incisive mind to bear on one of the great riddles of science - the evolutionary origin of consciousness - and presents the best-yet solution to the supposedly insuperable problem.' V.S. Ramachandran, Professor of Psychology, University of California, San Diego.

'Scientists sometimes stand accused of missing the magic as they reduce nature to explanations. In this surprising and poetic book, Nicholas Humphrey does the opposite: he delves into the brain and discovers that the magic is the whole point of consciousness.' Matt Ridley, author of Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters.

How is consciousness possible? What biological purpose does it serve? Why do we value it so highly? In Soul Dust the psychologist Nicholas Humphrey, a leading figure in consciousness research, returns to the front-line with a startling new theory. Consciousness, he argues, is nothing less than a magical-mystery show that we stage for ourselves inside our own heads. This self-made show lights up the world for us, making us feel special and transcendent.

Tightly argued, intellectually gripping and a joy to read, Soul Dust is a keenly anticipated book that provides answers to the deepest questions. It dovetails the 'hard problem of consciousness' with the matters that obsess us all - the fear of death, how life should be lived. Resting firmly on neuroscience and evolutionary theory, it is an uncompromising yet life-affirming work that never loses sight of the majesty and mystery of consciousness.

Nicholas Humphrey is School Professor at the London School of Economics and Professor of Psychology at the New School for Social Research is a theoretical psychologist, internationally known for his work on the evolution of human intelligence and consciousness. He the only scientist ever to edit the literary
journal Granta. His books include Consciousness Regained, The Inner Eye, A History of the Mind, Leaps of Faith, The Mind Made Flesh, and Seeing Red: A Study in Consciousness.

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